THE HUNT

Crème Fraîche Deviled Eggs | for the love of the south

As Easter service concluded, a parade of bright hats, pastel suits and white patent leather shoes raced out of church. I remember all the little girls dressed in floral dresses with such realistic flower prints that seemed to attract and confuse bees. Fidgety little boys donned their itchy baby blue seersucker suits and had uncharacteristically slicked back their hair. All of us were in a hurry for the same reason. We were on our way to The Hunt. We arrived prepared with baskets in hand. My basket was white with bright yellow plastic “grass” hanging over the sides. I decorated the wide, plastic handle with pastel eggs, baby chickens, and teeny bunny decals with little stickers spelling out, “Happy Easter.” (I was very proud of my decorating skills.)

Crème Fraîche Deviled Eggs | for the love of the south

All of the kids were instructed to remain inside and not to peek out the window as the adults “hid” the eggs, mostly in plain sight for the younger kids and in the nooks and crannies of the trees and in the overgrown monkey grass for the older kids. Our baskets filled up with the colorful, hand dyed eggs. Before we knew it, The Hunt was over and it was time for the adults to count our spoils, declare a winner and commenced shelling the eggs to make the best deviled eggs in the whole wide world for our Easter dinner. What I loved most about these eggs is that they were slightly hued from being dyed the day before. I adored that. Easter was the only time of the year when I could eat blushing pink, buttercup yellow and robin egg blue eggs. I cherished deviled eggs because they only seemed to grace our table at special occasions. Now, whenever these reverent beauties are prepared in my kitchen I am reminded of the mad dash of Easter attire and disheveled baskets in absolute eagerness of The Hunt.

Crème Fraîche Deviled Eggs | for the love of the south

Recipe: Crème Fraîche + Lemon Deviled Eggs

Serves 4

Note: Growing up, these eggs were a treat to have on our table. I, however, cannot wait for a special holiday to make them, so I whip these up at least once a week to devour as a midafternoon snack. Also, if you can’t get your hands on crème fraîche, you can use sour cream in a pinch.

6 hardboiled eggs, shells removed, cut in half lengthwise

4 tablespoons of crème fraîche or sour cream

2 teaspoons of whole grain mustard

1 teaspoon of lemon zest

Pinch of cayenne pepper

Salt and pepper to taste

Gently scoop the yolks out of the hardboiled eggs. Place the whites on a plate and place the yolks in a bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients to the yolks. Stir the ingredients together while breaking up the yolks with the back of a fork. Taste the deviled egg mixture for seasoning and adjust as needed.

Using two teaspoons, scoop deviled egg mixture into the egg whites. Garnish with more lemon zest, black pepper and cayenne.

 

 

 

 

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UP IN SMOKE

Skirt Steak with Chimichurri

Happy 4th of July!

In the South, summer leads up to a sweltering  4th of July where food, freedom, and family goes hand-in-hand with barbecue, sweet tea and (unfortunately) flocks of mosquitoes.

No matter how hard we tried, a trip to the store for lighter fluid and charcoal always seemed like the first order of business in the morning, that and getting pounds and pounds of both regular and smoked boudin from the local Market Basket. So with Community Coffee in hand, the women started to get to work on the fixins. Deviled eggs, which were slightly addictive from the addition of white vinegar. Slabs of French bread were sliced horizontally and brushed with melted butter and served with Jack Miller’s barbecue sauce for dipping. Pale yellow potato salad came modestly dressed with mayonnaise, mustard, salt, pepper and cayenne. Smiling half-moon slices of cold, juicy, ripe cantaloupe curiously counted as a vegetable (and not as a dessert.) Plump, meaty slices of homegrown tomatoes and skinny slices of cucumbers both covered with salt and pepper donned our holiday menu.

I can remember the subtle creak of the screen door as I stretched it open to check on the progress going on outside (the creak reminded me of the sound a grasshopper makes while scratching one leg against the other.) The combination of Louisiana humidity and smoke from the barbecue instantly made my eyes sting, but the lovely, familiar waft of meat smoking away on the pit made up for any inconveniences.

As this holiday is approaching this week, I have been reminiscing on this 4th of July memory as I sit in my yard-less, grill-less, loft in Nashville. Destined and determined, I pulled out my sturdy grill pan, cranked the heat to high on my electric stove, and seared a beautiful skirt steak to pure perfection. In my excitement, I failed to realize A) the entire place quickly began filling up with smoke, and B) I live in a loft, which means “opening up all of the doors” is not an option for ventilation. The whole place smelled of grilled meat, smoke and immediately my eyes began to water. I smiled as curiously as a cantaloupe. Success.

I hope you and your loved ones are blessed this holiday with feasts, family, and fireworks!

Recipe: Serves 2

Note: This steak is particularly amazing served with this side and this sauce! Also, this recipe has only 2 ingredients, which means the quality of the ingredients really matters. Make sure you get the best skirt steak you can find and use great quality salt as well! It makes all the difference in the world.

1, 1-1 ½ pound skirt steak, trimmed

Course sea salt

Sprinkle coarse sea salt onto both sides of the steak and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.

In the meantime, crank up a grill pan or cast-iron skillet to high. You want the pan to be smoking hot (literally.)

After 30 minutes, dab the steak with paper towels making sure the steak is as dry as can be. Season both sides of the steak with sea salt.

Once the pan is ready, place the steak in the pan/skillet and let cook for 3-4 minutes per side for medium-rare. Let the steak rest for 5-10 minutes. This step allows all of the lovely juices to evenly distribute back into the meat. Thinly slice the steak at an angle, against the grain (not straight down into the meat.) This will ensure tender, juicy pieces instead of tough, dry pieces. Enjoy!

Dear Old Faithful: Paw-paw's barbecue pit in Lake Charles, Louisiana

Dear Old Faithful: Paw-paw’s barbecue pit in Lake Charles, Louisiana

Bacon Deviled Eggs

Deviled eggs were always the last dish prepared on Easter Sunday. There was a reason for that indeed. In southern Louisiana, there is a tradition carried on every year called pâqueing (pronounced: pocking). Dyed Easter eggs are the victims in this little ritual. The sacrifice is great and the outcome even greater, multi-colored deviled eggs! Back to pâqueing though… every person grabs a dyed egg and with both little ends, you begin the tap the egg. The one that doesn’t crack, wins! Everyone goes on from person to person until all of the eggs have been used. Then we are left with cracked hard-boiled eggs…oh, you know where I am going with this…We quickly finished preparing the eggs just like we would with any other deviled eggs (or should I say angel eggs because grandma would not allow the devil to be part of Easter). Finally, we were left with a crystal egg plate filled with rainbow-colored eggs! Hallelujah!

* Note: this recipe contains normal hard-boiled eggs, not dyed ones!

Recipe: Makes 24: Adapted from Bon Appetit February 2012

12 eggs

2 tablespoons of melted butter

1/3 cup of mayonnaise

2 teaspoons of mustard

1 teaspoon of white vinegar

3 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled

1 scallion, sliced for garnish

Salt, pepper and cayenne to taste

Place eggs in a large pot. Add enough water to cover over the eggs about 1 inch. Bring the eggs to a boil, cover and remove from heat. Let the eggs sit for 10 minutes. Then transfer the eggs to an ice water bath and let cool completely. Peel and halve lengthwise while removing the yolks. Finely mash the yolks, butter, mayonnaise, vinegar, and mustard in a bowl. Season with salt, pepper and cayenne pepper. Transfer the mixture to a sealable bag and push all of the mixture to one of the corners. Snip off the end of the bag and pipe the filling into the remaining egg whites. Garnish with bacon pieces and scallions.