Deviled Eggs

Before you turn your nose up at what many consider a déclassé picnic extra, have you ever noticed that deviled eggs are the first hors d’oeuvre to disappear from any spread? Deviled eggs appeal to that childish spirit that makes all of us want to hunt for Easter eggs, and above all they taste fantastic. And since they are simple to make, and the opportunity for creative experimentation is endless, they should appeal to the adventurous spirit in each cook as well.

Here’s a starter recipe, along with some suggestions for variations. Just one thing to remember: Don’t get carried away with the mayo.

Makes 24 hors d’oeuvres 12 hard-boiled eggs ½ c. mayonnaise 2 tsp. mustard Salt and pepper to taste Paprika to garnish

Peel eggs and halve lengthwise. Remove the yolks (carefully) and place into a bowl; mix with mayonnaise, mustard, and any other ingredients you wish to blend in (see variations below), and mash with a fork until well combined. Scoop the mixture into the egg whites, garnish, and serve. You can use a pastry bag to pipe the yolk mixture back into the whites if you’re prone to such things, but there is something to be said for the simple, rustic look (and lack of cleanup) produced by spooning little dollops into each egg white.

Variations: Easter Brunch: Replace half the mayonnaise with crème fraîche or sour cream; garnish with caviar and chives. Picnic in the Park: Add finely diced sweet pickles and a dash of cayenne. Indian Inspired: Mix a tablespoon of mango chutney or 1 tsp. curry into the yolks. Garnish with green onions or parsley. Mediterranean: Combine ¼ c. finely chopped olives, 6 oz. sun-dried tomatoes, or 2 T. capers with the yolk mixture. Seaside Lunch: 2 T. fresh tarragon, a squeeze of lemon, and lobster meat make for a sophisticated side dish.

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