Chef Tim Says...

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Chef Tim Says....

Deviled Eggs

three variations on deviled eggs

Deviled eggs are really simple to make and can be a big hit at your picnic or cocktail party. The term "deviled" came from recipes in the 18th century that used mustard or other spices in the recipe. By the early 19th century, the term "deviling" came to be synonymous with making food spicy. These days that means adding mustard to get to traditional deviled eggs.

Most recipes use mayonnaise to create the creaminess of texture but with a richer flavor. Using avocado, you will need to add a bit of acid - lemon juice, lime juice or vinegar - to keep the yolk from turning brown as the avocado oxidizes. If you are in a hurry, mayonnaise is fine, but I prefer a reduced fat mayo, not because of the less fat, but because the full fat makes the egg yolk mixture too creamy in my opinion.

The basic recipe is 6 egg yolks, 2 tablespoons of avocado (or mayonnaise), 1/8 teaspoon salt, a bit of pepper and about a teaspoon of acid. You can add a lot of flavors like mustards, spices, pickles, and such, but if you do, it is best to adjust the ingredients. For example, if you are adding a pickled ingredient, you may not need the acid (because pickle juice is an acid). If you are adding something with a strong salty flavor like mustard or harissa, you may not need as much added salt.

The best part is that you can go in so many directions with deviled eggs:

1. Growing up there were deviled eggs at picnics I would go to that had a bit of sweet pickle relish in them. This works really well with avocado as the binder because the pickle juice acts as the acid to keep the egg yolk mixture from turning brown.

2. Replacing half of the mayonnaise with roasted garlic is a great way to bring a savory dimension to your deviled eggs.

3. A bit of cumin and cayenne can go a long way to spicing up your eggs. For 6 eggs, use 1/4 teaspoon of ground cumin and 1/8 teaspoon cayenne. I also like to put about a teaspoon of minced pickled banana pepper or jalapeno pepper in the mixture.

4. Mincing large black or green olives (use 3 minced for this recipe) and folding it into the egg yolk mixture along with a teaspoon of capers is delicious. You can use a some of the liquid from the capers for the acid, then garnish with slivered olives (use 3 for this recipe). For this one, you can hold the added salt (because olives are so salty).

5. Mustard is traditional, of course, and most of the recipes used when I was growing used yellow mustard. It's an option, of course, and will make the yolk filling mixture more yellow. I prefer to use Dijon or a coarse ground mustard, however. A teaspoon or two is enough for 6 eggs and adding a teaspoon of very finely minced shallot or scallion will add color as well as sharp flavor.

6. Another traditional flavor is to use a teaspoon of yellow mustard instead of the olive oil, then add a couple teaspoons of sweet pickle relish and a tablespoon or so of finely minced celery.

7. Curry powder will take this Indian. Be careful, though - you can easily overdo it. Start with a 1/4 teaspoon of curry powder and about 1/8 teaspoon of garam masala. Try adding a couple of teaspoons of minced slivered almonds or even minced golden raisins.

8. Horseradish is traditional in some of the recipes that you will find out there, but as with all of the spices mentioned above, you do have to be careful. Using too much will overwhelm the delicate flavor of the egg yolk. The horseradish will go well with a lot of finely ground black pepper and minced parsley.

You can use a pastry bag to pipe the egg yolk mixture back into the egg whites but I am not a fan of doing this. Deviled eggs are so solidly homey that the fussiness of a pastry bag swirl just seems wrong.

As you can see, it only takes a bit of imagination to make a lot of delicious variations on deviled eggs. Pack a batch in the cooler to take to your next picnic. You can make the basic recipe, divide the egg yolk and avocado mixture, and create a number of varieties from the same batch and deliver a lot of delicious, healthy food to your friends.