Sunday, November 25, 2012

Wasabi Deviled Eggs

today is one of those days where the skies just open up and let loose. its absolutely bucketing down here, and my hens are probably wishing they were ducks, huddled up in the corner of their shelted pens. so, in honour of them im bringing this recipe to the table. it's a bit of a dinner party stand by, has a lot of room for improvising and has family memories that come with it.

it's that time of year for dinner parties, and being american myself, this season kicks off with a bang - Thanksgiving. my sister has (without fail) produced amazing thanksgiving dinners for upwards of 20 people every year. there's something about the dinner that instantly recalls back to memory the years of thanksgiving dinners, the memories of family and friends getting together, and giving thanks. much like christmas dinner does here in ireland. but, in my family, thanksgiving is always a bigger dinning event. chistmas eve being the second big dinner and chistmas day a more intimate family day lunch. this may seem odd to some but traditions are usually always biased, and im partial to mine!

with all these parties to consider, and the heaps of food required for these dinners, there's always three things im asked to make. every year. they are: cranberry sauce, dinner rolls, and Deviled Eggs. i can make anything in addition to these sides, but these, are 'traditionally' mine to make.

deviled eggs are hard boiled eggs that are halved and the yolks are blended with a mixture of mustard, something acidic, something spicy, and a touch of seasoning. this mixture is then piped back into the halved eggs and garnished, most commonly with paprika and curly parsley. deviled eggs and many other 'retro'  foods are getting a new lease of life, with: deviled quails eggs, green curry deviled eggs and bloody mary deviled eggs - these wasabi ones meet the modern mark on a retro canape.

my first deviled egg memories are of my grandmother, Geraldine, who was a natural entertainer. she loved food and get-togethers. as a child i can remember always being attracted to the mustardy eggs and their wiggly soft texture. probably eating far more than my share, but when you're a kid, and you like something- fair is subjective. my grandmother died when i was 6 so these types of memories are held quite dear, they usually all revolve around eating (funny, huh?): my first ketchup with scrambled eggs, discovering fresh papya, bread n' butter pickles, canned peaches, fresh curly parsley growing from the garden, and ambrosia salad. if i was only old enough to try the cocktails at her parties!

there is a key to making good, easy to peel, hard boiled eggs. the eggs need to be 'not so fresh.' aged, rather. which, if you are like me and pride yourself on the freshest eggs around, this is a tough egg to crack. most grocery store eggs are going to be a week old or older so will probably do. i recently discover from, a local egg producer, that eggs can last for 3 months! but the health department, in all their wisdom, only allow 28 days from being laid to being sold. so, its up to you to decide when to toss em. the consensus is: if the egg floats in water it's bad.

 i would by eggs as close to their 'sell by date' as possible for deviled eggs. the reason being is: an older egg has more a bit more oxygen inside its shell, from a longer absorbtion period. making the egg (once cooked), much easier to peel away from the shell. peeling fresh eggs is a nightmare and usually results in multiple crumbly throw aways. it is still possible to get a peeled egg from a fresh one, just more time consuming.

i brought these Wasabi Deviled Eggs to our Thanksgiving Dinner last thursday. they went down a treat, the wasabi adds that needed kick to the eggs, while the subtle cooling cucmber garnish mellows the flavours. wasabi is a member of the brassica family (cabbage, brocolli, mustard, etc.) and is generally called japanese horseradish, as its native to japan. but funnily enough its not of the horseradish species (which shares the same family) at all! the flavour is very similar, if not more potent, as the more familiar horseradish. you'll usually find wasabi in more well known sushi dishes as a condiment.

have fun at your next dinner party!


Wasabi Deviled Eggs
Makes 24

'classic' deviled eggs have a mixture filled with dijon mustard, minced shallots, tabasco and mayonaise; garnished with paprika. but, let your mind run wild for filling additions! for a  'bloody mary' spin try using: horseradish, worchestire sauce, lemon juice, tabasco and celery salt - garnish with finely chopped tomato, black pepper and a splash of vodka! for green curry ones try: green curry paste and lime juice with a coriander sprig garnish.

1 dozen hard boiled eggs, cooled

2 tablespoons wasabi paste
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
2 tablesppons fresh ginger, minced super fine
3 large spoonfulls of store bought mayonaise

1/4 cucumber, de-seeded and finely chopped
rice wine vinegar
chilli flakes
chives, finely chopped
  • take all but the chives for your garnish and toss together with enough rice wine vinegar to coat the cucmber pieces. set aside.
  • peel your hard boiled eggs. i do this under a running sink tap. tap them to loosen the shells.
  • dry the eggs, once peeled with kitchen paper.
  • halve you eggs with a sharp knife and remove the yolks into a mixing bowl. set the halved whites on a serving platter.
  • with a fork or whisk mash your egg yolks till smooth. add the rest of the ingreidents for the filling, mix till combined. taste the filling and adjust with what you feel it needs. we're looking for a balance of flavours, and a nice kick.
  • fill a piping bag or freezer bag with the end snipped, fitted with a star piping tip, with your filling. and pipe rosettes into the egg white 'shells'
  • garnish with your cucumber garnish, and chopped chives.
  • chill until ready to serve.


Friday, November 16, 2012

Homemade Sour Apple Vodka

im to the point of being obsessed with infused spirits, last year it was foraged blackberries and a spiced quince vodka. this year im trying out my own sour apple vodka for Sour Apple Martini's, click here for the recipe. homemade infused spirits are simple to make, time and aggitation (a good shake) are the key - my quince vodka from last year hasn't stopped improving since it was ready for consumption. 6 weeks seems to be the consensus for good flavour when infusing spirits, but a month is perfectly alright.
this year's theme is 'apples,' our cupboards are filled with a mass of infusing spirits. we've got damsons stewing away alongside, apple and cinnamon, plain apples, apple and clove and of course this Sour Apple Vodka.

a few more ideas on my infusing to-do list are: black pepper vodka for bloody mary's, cucumber gin for gin and tonics, pear brandy for well - pear brandy, rosemary vodka for a winter martini, mint whiskey for mint juleps.... its endless: ginger, pineapple, elderflower, horseradish, pumpkin, spices, herbs, fruit, leaves, brownbread (?), cardboard (?) - why not? ok, maybe those last two were a bit adventurous.

the idea is: any spirit can be infused and anything can be used to infuse it. homemade spirits are a great gift too, and are sure to be consumed and disappear. solving that age old dilema, what can i get that person that won't just sit on a shelf collecting dust? infused homemade booze is as good as it gets.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Leeks Vinaigrette with Hazelnut Oil and Ummera Smoked Bacon

Leeks Vinaigrette

gardens across the northern hemisphere are winding down. my garden has slowly become a shadow of its former self, with the beans gone and the courgettes wilted. the strong specimens of the brassica family are standing with a few less leaves from the recent windstorm. the rainbow chard has been reluctant to grow new shoots, and the lettuces will be moving into a cold frame soon enough.

winter cabbage plant with leek seedling and curly kale in background

its all fine because i've planned ahead this year and decided to have a go at a winter veg plot. usually i have a few chard plants left or some leeks but never planted with winter in mind. i found a great book on the subject, How to Grow Winter Vegetables by Charles Dowding, it has absolutely all the information you'll ever need on the subject. as well as a chapter on 'No-Dig' gardening which i'm keen to have a go at next spring.

my winter veg patch at present

most of my winter veg plants were a bit late going in but seem to be braving the elements well. i picked up curly kale, winter cauliflower and winter cabbage at the Mahon Point Farmer's Market in August. they sat outside till september when they finally had room in the veg plot, after the spuds.
i also started leeks indoors and interplanted raddichio treviso and 'pixie' cabbage between the rows.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Stuffed Dumpling Squash with Chorizo and Rocket Salad

on one of my seed buying frenzies i grabbed a packet of Sweet Dumpling Squash seeds. not knowing really what they would turn out like, i figured they were a winter squash, all the packet said was "unsual light and dark striped skin with flesh of creamy orange. perfect for stuffing or cooking whole." so i guessed i couldn't go too wrong. once they were in the poly tunnel - happily growing away, i did some research. i read they were actually summer squash, but then i read they were winter squash. so i was confused, once harvested they seemed to be a bit of both. they have stored really well since i harvested them in september, and that puts them more in the winter squash genre, in my mind. i was worried i'd end up with too many squash going off all at once, like some of my courgettes (summer squash). this wasn't the case, as im staring at three plump firm specimens as i write this. after cooking their flesh turns soft and creamy, i look forward to growing more of these next year!
after eyeing up recipes for stuffed squash i decided to stuff my lil' dumplings with my new favourite ingredient from the bakery/deli. its a fresh chorizo iberico, which means the black iberian pigs were fed on acorns from oak trees for a period and also that it requires cooking before eating, unlike cured chorizos. its pretty rich and requires no oil for sauteing, the internal oils do all the work, yum! i also grabbed some st. tola organic goats cheese, creme fraiche. the rocket (or arugula) i got from my weekly C.S.A box from Kinsale Green Growers. the flavours melded together wonderfully, and one sweet dumpling squash happily fed two people, it would be perfect for 6-8 as a side dish too.