Easter Monday you might find yourself standing in the kitchen holding a basket of hard boiled eggs with jelly beans stuck to them, wondering what to do.
Because I am a factoid nutcase, first here are some tips and facts about hard boiled eggs first:
1. The fresher the egg, the harder to peel. The “bubble” at the top of the egg is formed as moisture escapes through the shell and is replaced by air. The bigger the bubble, the older the egg, but also, the easier it is to peel. Here at the farm we do not wash eggs, but store them yucky, because they stay fresher that way.
2. To peel a hard boiled egg, place a towel on your kitchen counter, smack the egg firmly on to the towel and roll it back and forth so that the cracks spread. If you buy your eggs at a regular grocery store, you should have a pretty easy time removing the egg from the shell without a lot of nicks. Save the not so perfect eggs for egg salad (recipe below) and use the perfect ones for pickling or deviling or both. You can compost the shells, OR you can use them as teeny tiny seed starter pots: put a little potting soil in the half shell, plant a seed and when it sprouts, plant the whole thing.
3. If your egg salads and your deviled eggs have a gray ring in them that sort of makes the yolk look dull, your egg isn’t bad, but your cooking method is. The grayness is caused by a chemical reaction between two natural elements in eggs: sulfur and iron. The egg has actually “rusted.” Put your eggs in a pot big enough so that they are in a single layer, covered with cold water. Place them on your heat, bringing them slowly up to a rolling boil for two minutes. Shut off the heat, and let them sit for 12 minutes. Pour off the hot water and cover the eggs with ice. Let cool for half an hour. Now they will peel perfectly, with no gray.
4. Interesting but useless facts: 60 percent of the 75 billion eggs commercially produced in the United States are used at home, by consumers. 40 percent are used by assorted food service and producing industries. Over 300 billion eggs are produced by the Chinese. Eggs are one of the most popular foods in the world because although fragile, they store well for a couple of weeks without refrigeration in most climates, they are protein dense and hormone free, and are easy to cook and inexpensive.
The Resurrection of the Pickled Egg
I was first attracted to pickled eggs because they are a beautiful color. I wanted nail polish that color, maybe a blouse. But good ones are also tangy and a very satisfying snack – the additional flavoring being added by spices and beet juice, rather than fats, oils or sugars, so a pickled egg has the same calories as a regular egg, but is Fancy. Good pickled eggs have been soaking in this recipe for at least four days, and the whites are pickled pink all the way to the yellow. Any remaining white is a sign of shame.
Pennsylvania Dutch Red Beet Pickled Eggs
2 15-ounce cans beets, sliced with juice
1 small onion, thinly sliced
12 hard cooked eggs, shelled and left whole
1 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
some fresh dill sprigs
Big mouth old fashioned mason jars (plastic containers may become stained)
Remove beets from beet juice, and put aside. Heat the beet juice, vinegar, sugar in a pan and stir. Bring to just a boil until all ingredients are incorporated.
Pack eggs loosely in jars. Pour beet liquid over the eggs, put in a sprig of dill, and place lids on jars. Each day for three days, make sure lids are secure and invert jars, to make sure all surfaces of eggs are drenched in juice. You may store these in the fridge or on the counter top – the acidity of the juice should prevent any bacteria from forming. Use within a month, though.
Classic Egg Salad
6 hard-cooked eggs
1/4 cup mayo
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Mash eggs with other ingredients. Add optional ingredients if you like. Best if used immediately, store in fridge. Serve on toast or in big red pepper halves.
The BEST Deviled Eggs (Simple is better)
6 large boiled eggs
1/4 cup mayo
2 tablespoons yellow mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
Cut whole shelled boiled eggs in half. Gently pop yolks out into a bowl, reserve whites. Mash yolks with mayo, mustard, salt and pepper. Spoon back into egg halves and arrange on platter, sprinkle with paprika.
For a delightful variation, use pickled eggs instead, and add 1 teaspoon fresh horseradish. Garnish with parsley.
Really Good Macaroni, Tuna and Egg Casserole
1 cup elbow macaroni, cooked and drained
1/2 cup red onion
1/4 chopped green pepper
1 cup milk
1 can cream of mushroom soup
2 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoon flour
1 cup frozen mixed vegetables (if you have read previous blogs and have been freezing your restaurant leftovers, this is when you can use them)
1 large can or bag drained, flaked tuna
3 hard boiled eggs, coarsely chopped
salt and pepper to taste
Bread crumbs, crispy fried onion strings or old potato chip crumbs (again, if you have been gleaning your restaurant bread stuffs, this is the time to use them)
Butter a casserole dish and coat with bread crumbs, onions or potato chips. Put butter in a large skillet over medium heat; add onions and peppers. Cook until onions are softened. Add flour, milk and soup; stir until thickened. Add vegetables, tuna, mixed vegetables, chopped eggs, and cooked macaroni. Taste and add salt and pepper. Put this in prepared casserole, bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees, or until bubbly and browned.