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Thursday, April 9, 2009

What to Do With All Those Easter Eggs? Make Egg Salad and Custard

With Easter only a few days away, who isn't thinking about eggs? When I was a kid I loved dyeing and decorating eggs. But instead of using hard boiled eggs, I thought it was infinitely cooler to de-egg my Easter eggs.

I remember using one of my mother's sewing needles to punch holes on either end of the uncooked egg. Putting my mouth against the egg, I'd huff-and-puff and blow until the raw egg dropped into a bowl.

Admittedly that was a lot of extra work and there were risks. Making the holes and blowing into the egg could crack the shell. Worse, all that huffing-and-puffing sometimes led to hyper-ventilating, so my mother kept an eye on me, just in case I got dizzy and fell off the chair.

In my child's mind, that extra effort was worth it because the feather-weight shells, brightly dyed and covered with decals, were so much more artful than the heavy hard boiled eggs.

So the raw eggs wouldn't go to waste, my mom made omelets or used them for baking. Ultimately I stopped making the feather-weight eggs. They were just too much trouble. When I reverted to using hard boiled eggs, she'd turn those into egg salad.

Egg Salad with Crispy Bacon

The egg salad will taste better if you use the freshest eggs available. We're lucky to live near the Santa Monica and Pacific Palisades Farmers' Markets where Lily's Eggs sells their eggs. The yolks are bright orange, the whites clear and silky, the flavor naturally sweet.

Yield: 4 servings
Time: 40 minutes.

Ingredients

4 eggs, farmers' market fresh
1 tablespoon Italian parsley finely chopped
1 tablespoon capers, finely chopped
1 large shallot, peeled, finely chopped
1 slice of bacon, crisp, finely chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons mayonnaise
Sea salt and pepper
Olive oil

Method

In a saucepan cover the eggs with water and gently boil for 30 minutes. That may be longer than you're used to but cooking the eggs at a lower temperature makes the yolks moist and flaky.

Let the eggs cool, then peel and chop them by hand with a chef's knife. Mix together the eggs, parsley, capers, shallot, bacon, and mayonnaise. Season with sea salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with bread, crackers, or hearts of romaine.

The Easiest Custard You'll Ever Make

Yield: 4-6 servings
Time: 90 minutes

Ingredients

2 eggs
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup
1 teaspoon vanilla (optional)
1 teaspoon sweet butter

Method

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Beat together the eggs and 1/2 cup white sugar. Add the cream and (optional) vanilla and stir well.

Butter a large 8" round oven-proof baking dish or 6 porcelain ramekins. Pour in the custard. Prepare a water bath by pouring 1" of water to a large roasting pan.

Put the custard into the water bath and bake for 45 minutes (the ramekins) or 75 minutes (the baking dish). Every 15 minutes rotate the baking dish and ramekins so they cook evenly. If the custard is browning too quickly, lay a piece of tin foil over the top.

The custard is done when it doesn't jiggle when moved.

Serve at room temperature with whipped cream, ice cream, or fresh berries.

Variations

Add 1/4 cup golden raisins, roughly chopped

Add 1/4 cup dry roasted almonds, walnuts, pistachios, or hazelnuts, roughly chopped

Add 1/4 cup high quality chocolate, roughly chopped

Add 1/4 cup espresso, reduced to 1 tablespoon

Add both the nuts and chocolate

Add the nuts, chocolate, and reduced espresso

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