As long as I can remember, deviled eggs have been a staple hors d’oeuvre at every family party. For my family’s annual Christmas Eve dinner, I made the familiar dish but switched up the egg-cooking technique for the first time. Instead of hard boiling, I used Alton Brown’s oven method. It’s hard to say if it actually made a difference, but it was fun to experiment with a new way of hard cooking eggs.
Hard cook your eggs by boiling or baking.
After letting cooked eggs sit in an ice cold water bath for 15 minutes, peel and slice eggs in half lengthwise.
Scoop out the yolks and place them in a bowl. Add mayo, spicy dijon mustard, chopped up gherkins, salt, and pepper al to taste. I don’t have the precise measurements for this, but I usually add a spoonful of mayo and mustard at a time until I get the consistency I like. Unlike traditional recipes, I typically use more mustard than mayo for a spicier and tangier taste.
Spoon mixture into a ziplock bag with a small 1/4″ corner cut out.
One of my favorite things to do is host dinner parties. Nothing beats sharing good food and drinks with close and new friends. My apartment is hosting a guest this Labor Day weekend, so what better excuse to throw a dinner party? Hosting a dinner party doesn’t need to be stressful or elaborate. A no-cook appetizer, light main course, and simple dessert kept this hostess out of the kitchen. My favorite part of the night was starting with a large cheese board, charcuterie platter, and some wine I picked up in Calistoga.
A few notes on serving a great cheese board:
Mix animals (goat, sheep, and cow milk cheeses), textures (hard and soft), colors, and ages (fresh and aged cheeses).
Charcuterie: Add cured meats like salami and prosciutto.
Add sweet and salty elements. I served my board with roasted cashews, olives, dried apricots, and figs drizzled with honey.
Serve with toasted baguette rounds and crackers. I put out a small dish of extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar for dipping as well.
You should have a variety of knives for soft and hard cheeses. Multiple knives also make it easier for several guests to serve themselves at the same time.
Bring all cheeses to room temperature before serving (about 1 hour). This makes the cheese easier to cut and brings out the full flavor. Keep the cheese covered while bringing to room temperature to keep them from drying out.
Minimal effort, yet crowd-pleasing. What other elements do you like to include on your cheese boards?
I had always been intrigued with cheese-making, but was too intimidated to try a recipe. It wasn’t until recently that I heard ricotta is ridiculously easy to make and it’s true! I’ve used this recipe from Smitten Kitchen a few times and I’ve never made a bad batch. I use the version with less cream, but it is still incredibly rich and creamy.
This time, I added lemon zest and fresh, chopped rosemary to the ricotta to add some depth to the flavor. I spread that on some toast and topped it with sliced heirloom tomatoes, basil, and cracked pepper. It was a great appetizer for a simple dinner at home.
While browsing through Omnivore Books (a bookstore just for food and drink, conveniently located down the street from my apartment!), I came across Make the Bread, Buy the Butter. I heard great things about this book a few years ago, but never really looked into it. It’s filled with recipes and advice for making foods at home from scratch and some information on what isn’t worth the effort. As I flipped through the pages, I was inspired to begin my own series of homemade experiments. First up, pickles.
Referencing techniques and recipes from a variety of sources, including David Chang’s Momofuku, I improvised with ingredients and proportions. I used equal parts vinegar and water, added sea salt, coriander seeds, peppercorns, brown mustard seeds, fresh dill, and whole garlic. I put everything in a jar and let them sit in the refrigerator for a few weeks, testing them every week or so. The result was surprisingly good – especially for a ‘recipe’ that was thrown together. Next time, I’m going to add carrots, white onions, and jalapeños to the mix. Pickling has proven to be pretty simple, so I’ll have to try pickling other things. (I’m suddenly reminded of this Portlandia sketch).
I consider myself to be a fairly healthy eater. I love pretty much all fruits and veggies, refrain from sugar, and try to keep away from processed foods…most of the time. It’s difficult to stay on track, especially when you love to cook, bake, and of course, eat! Although one of my favorite things to do is explore new and not-so-healthy dishes, restaurants, and recipes, I know I have to find a balance. So, I’m always looking for foods that are both healthy and satisfying.
Lately I’ve been enjoying kale chips as a crispy, salty alternative to potato chips. I’ll occasionally buy them in a store, but they’re absurdly expensive. I made my own this past weekend using this recipe, but I added some cayenne for an extra kick. They were very simple to make and turned out so much better than the pre-packaged version. I’ll definitely be making more soon!