Tasty Business

That's what a friend said of the platter of deviled eggs at the party last weekend. Little did he know that his comment was directed at my handiwork.

So, what do you do when you are invited to a potluck and the invite says, "Bring a fork-free, nut-free appetizer to share."

Well, if you are me, the first thing that pops into your mind is deviled eggs. Why? I don't know... perhaps because we have 6 hens in the yard, and 6 dozen eggs in the fridge.

That thought was a stroke of genius! I immediately put 3 dozen eggs in cold water and put them on to boil. What's next is key: once the water boiled, I covered the pot, turned off the burner, and left them on the stove for a timed 18 minutes. The result: perfectly hard cooked eggs, with bright yellowy-orange yolks, and no green.

From there it was easy to recruit my daughter for the peeling, and as she peeled, I halved the eggs and scooped out the yolks. Once all that was done, it was on to the fun!

The yolk stuffing can go so many ways... and I was feeling like some curry or thai chili sauce would really make people's taste buds pop, but the family was more cautious. " Just do the traditional," they said, "Keep it simple."

That is so hard for me.

Well, I pulled out the mayo, some lemons, dried mustard, and I started mashing and mixing. Once again, no celery in the house, so I improvised with some romaine stalks... just the light colored middle vein of the leaf... something crunchy. I diced that up, and threw it in!

Things really started getting interesting when I noticed my wife on the way out the door with some scissors in hand. I asked her to cut me some herbs from the plants in the yard. She came back with some great sprigs of oregano, thyme, chives, and chive blossoms. Awesome!

I cleaned and chopped the thyme and in it went... same with the chives, but I save some of those for garnishing, which I decided would be the fate of the oregano too.

As I put away the mustard, and was pulling out the paprika, something caught my eye... the very thing I needed... the zing! Next thing I know, I'm sprinkling wasabi powder all over the yolk mash. Not too much, but a dusting over the bowl. Things were coming together, and I knew I had reached the optimal point of ingredients. Time to stop. And... I decided not to tell the family about the secret zing I added... that always makes things fun.

On to the filling of the egg halves with a heap of yellow goodness, and laying them out on the platter (no pun intended). The coup de grace for the deviled egg is the garnish and whatever you shake over them to give color and flavor. I gave a liberal scattering of fresh chopped oregano, fresh chopped chives, and a light dusting of paprika.

The final touch was tucking the purple chive blossoms in and around the eggs... a nice counter point to the yellow and white of the eggs. Done!

At the party, the platter was gone before I got around to the food table, but I overheard some comments about the eggs... "tasty business" was a great way to call it, and my friend admitted that he based his comment on several trials by mouth. It sure is nice to come home from a potluck with an empty server... and even better... a good story for the blog!


Amazing Chicken and Pork with Potato Salad and Pickled Ginger

You know when your kid says, "someone should put this in a cookbook," that you need to start writing this stuff down. The game: dinner improv. The objective: make those leftovers in the fridge into something new. Now.

Here's what I was working with: 3 grilled chicken breasts 1/2 lb of grilled pork loin 7-9 baked potatoes, partly peeled, somewhat dessicated from being in the fridge uncovered 1/4 bermuda union, peeled 3-4 8" long zucchini or green squash fresh cilantro 1 bottle The Ginger People Ginger Sesame Sauce Pickled ginger

I knew I wanted potato salad from the git go, so I chopped up the onion and the potato into large chunks and threw them together in a bowl. From there I was a bit stuck, because we had no celery, so I set it aside.

I julienned the chicken and pork into 1/3 inch cubed strips, and covered that with the Ginger sauce.

Next up I peeled the zucchini and sqaured off the stem and bottom. I sliced the zukes lengthwise in half then sliced each half into 1/4 inch thick slabs. The slabs, I laid out on the cutting board and cut several long thin stips from each slab. The result were long light green noodles of squash.

On with the burner medium high, and with 2 tsp of canola oil in a saute pan, I started the zucchini. That reduced over about 10 minutes, and then I moved it to the side of the pan, and in the space created I added the chicken and pork in a mound.

This is when I went back at the salad, now armed with the classic mayo spread, and a handful of chopped cilantro. But that was not enough. I like a snap to my potato salad... and this is when the magic happens. The palette of flavors that is your fridge... ahhh... with a little sniffing and searching I spied the perfect x-factor. The Pickled Ginger!

A healthy pinch of sliced, pickled ginger was diced coarsely and added to the potato mixture. The pink of the ginger and the green cilantro were perfect for the creamy potato salad.

By then the zuke and the meat were all heated up, and ready to be out on the plates... I dished it up for each on our favorite wedding-gift crockery from my friend.

What a nice surprise. A gourmet dinner... and I pulled it out of... um, let's not go there :-)

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