published Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

Having a devil of a time with your eggs? Here are two chefs' secrets to success

This is southern eggs Benedict prepared by chef Michelle Wells, owner of catering company Events with Taste.
This is southern eggs Benedict prepared by chef Michelle Wells, owner of catering company Events with Taste.
Photo by John Rawlston.

Hard-boiled eggs have a particular purpose at Easter, but two local chefs say you can extend their life beyond boiling, dyeing and hiding.

Just take precautions to make sure the eggs don't spoil, said Michelle Huffman Wells, owner of local catering company Events With Taste.

Boiled eggs shouldn't be left out more than two hours after boiling because they dry out, she said. After Easter egg hunts, the eggs immediately should be stored in the refrigerator or used in favorite egg dishes, such as deviled eggs.

Wells said she's a purist when it comes to deviled eggs. Her favorite ingredients are Dijon and yellow mustard, dry mustard, mayonnaise, pickle relish, salt and pepper.

"I have done all sorts of alternative ingredients -- crab, bacon and smoked salmon, but I try and always start with a nice base," she said. "My dad hates it when I hide ingredients in his deviled eggs, especially spicy ingredients."

Deborah Harris Anziano, owner of Debo's Kitchen, a local meal delivery business, said she likes to try new techniques when making deviled eggs.

"I have my own take, and they're different every time," she said.

She does adhere to two "secrets" for success. When boiling eggs, she said, cover them with cold water to start. Bring to a boil and let boil for one to two minutes. Then remove from heat and cover for 10 minutes.

"This method prevents the green that forms around the yolk when overcooked," Anziano said.

Her other tip is for removing the shell from the egg. She recommends cracking the eggshell slightly and removing a piece of the shell. Then use a spoon to separate the egg from the shell.

"This keeps you from having to chip away at the eggshell and keeps from damaging the egg white for beautiful deviled eggs," she said.

Wells has another effective egg-peeling method.

"Put your fresh eggs in the refrigerator for a few days before boiling them and add a teaspoon of salt to the cold water before cooking," she said.

For dyeing and decorating eggs, Wells suggested using simple ingredients from around the house.

"Good old-fashioned food color, vinegar and crayons seem to put the best color on eggs," she said.

Wells offers the following recipes using eggs.

After Easter Casserole

3 teaspoons butter

1/4 cup minced onion

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon seasoned salt

3 tablespoons flour

11/4 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

11/2 cups milk

1 cup cheddar cheese

8 hard-boiled egg, chopped

6 strips bacon, chopped

Melt butter in heavy saucepan, and sauté onions. Add flour, and stir for 3-5 minutes; try not to brown roux. Add seasonings, Worcestershire and milk. Cook until mixture begins to thicken. Add cheddar cheese, and stir well. Blend in eggs and bacon. Put in casserole dish, and bake for 20-25 minutes until warm and bubbly. Serve over toasted English muffins or sourdough bread.

Steamed Asparagus With Egg Vinaigrette

2 pounds steamed asparagus

2 hard-boiled eggs

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard

11/2 teaspoons salt, plus a little extra to steam asparagus

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

6 tablespoons minced parsley, chives, chervil and dill, combined

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Orange or red bell peppers, diced (optional)

Steam asparagus with a little salt, and shock in cold water immediately. Dice hard-boiled egg, and set aside. Mix lemon juice, Dijon, salt, pepper and herbs. Slowly drizzle in olive oil. Place asparagus with diced eggs on platter and drizzle with the egg vinaigrette. Add diced orange or red bell peppers for color.

Egg Salad BLT

6 hard-boiled eggs, chopped

3 tablespoons gherkins, diced

1 teaspoon Dijon

1-2 tablespoons mayonnaise (or Greek yogurt)

Salt and pepper

A tiny squeeze of lemon juice

2 stalks celery, washed and chopped

1/2 bunch chives, chopped

Sourdough bread

Pepper bacon, crispy

2 slices heirloom tomatoes

Red leaf lettuce

Combine first eight ingredients to make egg salad. On sourdough bread, layer egg salad, bacon, tomatoes and lettuce. Slice in half to serve.

Spinach Stracciatella Soup

Stracciatella is an Italian egg-drop soup.

2 cups water

3 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper plus additional for serving

1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach (not thawed)

1 ounce finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (about 1/2 cup), plus additional for serving

2 large eggs, beaten

Heat water with broth, salt and pepper in a 2 to 21/2-quart saucepan over moderate heat until hot. Stir in frozen spinach and cheese and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until spinach is just tender, about 8 minutes. Add beaten eggs in a slow, steady stream, stirring constantly. Serve with freshly ground pepper and a slice of toasted baguette in the soup.

Southern Eggs Benedict

2 English muffins, split and toasted

4 pieces of country ham, grilled

4 fried green tomato slices

4 hard-boiled eggs, sliced

Smoked paprika hollandaise

Top English muffins with country ham, green tomato and hard-boiled eggs. Pour warm hollandaise over the top. Serve.

Blender Hollandaise

11/4 cups (21/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cubed

2 large egg yolks

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Fill a blender with hot water; set aside. Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until foaming. Remove pan from heat. Drain blender, and dry well. Put egg yolks and lemon juice in blender; cover and blend to combine. Working quickly and with blender running, remove lid insert and slowly pour hot butter into blender in a thin stream of droplets, discarding the milk solids in bottom of the saucepan. Blend until creamy sauce forms. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and add more lemon juice, if desired. Serve immediately.

about Karen Nazor Hill...

Feature writer Karen Nazor Hill covers fashion, design, home and gardening, pets, entertainment, human interest features and more. She also is an occasional news reporter and the Town Talk columnist. She previously worked for the Catholic newspaper Tennessee Register and was a reporter at the Chattanooga Free Press from 1985 to 1999, when the newspaper merged with the Chattanooga Times. She won a Society of Professional Journalists Golden Press third-place award in feature writing for ...

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