The Independent

A chef wears a hat in the kitchen. In the era of baseball caps it is fun to consider the chef’s hat: a toque blanche, or white hat. The hat was originally in different colors, each color representing an area of the kitchen.

The first “celebrity chef,” Marie-Antoine Careme, who lived from 1784 to 1833, was the first chef to advocate “le grande cuisine” and designed his kitchen crew and chefs to accomplish this in a very organized manner. He initiated the brigade system for kitchen organization, made the kitchen uniforms white, for sanitation and the chef hats also white, pleated and tall.

Many hats of this era were extremely tall, often as high as 18 inches, and the height and the number of pleats in the hat were the designation of the rank of the chef. The taller the hats, the more pleats, the more status the chef had in the kitchen. It is said Careme designed the pleats of the chef toques to represent the number of ways the chef knew how to cook an egg. This could be a myth or fact, but Careme did revolutionize French cooking and the original toque blanche was in his kitchen; the relation between eggs and pleats is anyone’s guess.

The Larousse Gastrominique defines 147 ways to cook an egg or use an egg in a recipe. Not 147 ways, or even 100 ways, but three great ways to prepare an egg follow:

Deviled Eggs Three Ways

 

Traditional

6 eggs, hard boiled and peeled

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1-1/2 teaspoons dry mustard powder, like Coleman’s

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

1 tablespoon tarragon vinegar, or any other white vinegar, or pickle juice

Paprika to sprinkle on top of the eggs

Slice eggs into halves, lengthwise. Remove yolks to small bowl. Mash yolks with a fork, seasoning with salt, pepper and dry mustard powder. Add tarragon vinegar. Mix well. Add mayonnaise a tablespoon at a time. Mix until yolks are creamy and smooth. If yolks are too stiff, add additional vinegar, alternately with mayonnaise in very small amounts. Taste. Adjust salt and pepper if necessary. It should have a slight vinegar tang. Fill egg whites with yolk mixture and sprinkle with paprika for classic presentation.

BLT Eggs

Prepare the deviled eggs as directed in classic recipe. Do not add additional vinegar or mayonnaise. Cook four slices of bacon and drain on paper towels. Mince two large sprigs fresh parsley. Drain 1/4 cup diced canned tomatoes completely. To the classic egg yolk mixture, add 2 tablespoons diced tomatoes, 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley and crumbled bacon from 2 slices. Mix completely, adding a small amount of additional mayonnaise if needed. Spoon egg yolk filling into egg whites. Sprinkle with paprika if desired. Using the remaining bacon, place a piece on each egg with a leaf of parsley.

Curried Shrimp Eggs

Prepare the deviled eggs as directed in classic recipe. Do not add additional vinegar or mayonnaise. Cook and peel 18 very small shrimp, or drain well one small can of prepared baby shrimp. Place on paper towels to drain. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon Old Bay or other seafood seasoning. Mince 6 shrimp and add to egg yolk mixture. Mix well. Add 1 teaspoon curry powder. Mix well. Fill egg whites with curried shrimp egg yolk mixture. Sprinkle with either Old Bay seasoning or curry powder. Top with shrimp.

Deviled Eggs can be flavored in many, many ways. A southwestern flavor could incorporate salsa instead of the vinegar, or mashed avocado or guacamole. These are just a few ideas.

Pro Tip: To boil eggs properly, place eggs in a saucepan with enough room for all eggs to be on the bottom. Do not stack eggs. Add enough water to cover eggs by 1 inch. Bring to a full boil. Set timer for 10 minutes and continue to cook at a very low boil. Remove from heat, drain, crack the shell of each egg and cover eggs immediately with cold water. Peel eggs under running water if necessary. Extremely fresh eggs will not peel well. Use eggs which are a week or more old. Because of our altitude, water boils at lower temperature (207℉ at 7,000 feet). How long the eggs should cook is hard to predict. Check one egg after 10 minutes. If the yolk is completely cooked dry, and there is no “gray ring,” a sign of overcooking, then your egg is cooked perfectly!

Quiche Three Ways

Quiche Crust: Choose either tart crust from March 21 column or the pie crust from Lemon Almond Chess Pie in this week’s column.

Asparagus Quiche

Prepared crust for quiche

5 large eggs

1 14-ounce can evaporated milk

1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg

2 cups grated cheese (I used a Cheddar and Jack combination)

1 bunch asparagus, stem ends removed and steamed for 10 minutes, then chopped bite size

Quiche Lorraine

Prepared crust for quiche

5 large eggs

1 14-ounce can evaporated milk

1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg

2 cups grated Swiss cheese.

1 medium yellow or white onion, peeled, halved, sliced very thin and sauteed until golden in color and translucent.

2 slices deli ham, cut into small dice.

Fiesta Quiche

Prepared crust for quiche

5 large eggs

1 14-ounce can evaporated milk

2 tablespoons minced green chile in adobo sauce, or the salsa of your choice, or plain green chile, chopped

1 sweet bell pepper, chopped into small pieces

1 medium-small onion, peeled chopped into small pieces, and sauteed with sweet bell pepper until onion is soft, translucent and golden.

1 large potato, peeled, chopped and cooked until very tender, drained

2 slices deli ham, cut into small pieces or 1/2 cup cooked crumbled chorizo

Directions:

Whisk eggs with a fork to blend. Add evaporated milk and combine completely. Add any seasoning, nutmeg, green chile in adobo sauce, salsa, etc. Mix well. Fill prepared crust with one-half of the cheese.

Fill with prepared filling items and top with remaining cheese. Slowly pour seasoned egg and milk mixture into quiche crust, filling completely.

Bake quiche, on a sheet pan in 350℉ until the filling souffles and is golden in color. The center should be firm. Remove from oven and cool slightly before serving.

Lemon Almond Chess Pie

8 or 9 inch pie shell, prepared and chilled

1-1/2 cups granulated sugar

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 tablespoon lemon zest

4 large eggs

1 egg yolk

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

3 ounces unsalted butter, melted

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1/3 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted and cooled

Combine sugar, cornstarch and grated lemon zest in stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, add eggs and yolk, one at a time. Stir in lemon juice, melted butter, all-purpose flour and almond extract. Mix completely. Pie filling custard will be fluffy and thick. Pour custard into prepared pie shell. Sprinkle toasted almonds on top. Bake at 350℉ for 40 minutes, until center of the pie is barely firm to the touch and the pie is deep golden brown in color. Remove from oven and cool to room temperature. Store refrigerated.

For vegan or dairy-free pie: substitute vegan or dairy-free butter. For lemon-only pie, omit almond extract and sliced toasted almonds.

Pie Crust

This is a never-fail pie crust with a different method of mixing.

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Whisk these together

1/2 cup tap water

1/2 cup additional all-purpose flour

Combine water and 1/2 cup flour

1 cup Crisco shortening, or combination half shortening, half butter.

Mixing shortening with flour, sugar and salt mix, rubbing the shortening into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs with no large lumps of shortening. Add flour and water mixture and mix until you have a “shaggy dough.” Dough will be very sticky. Divide dough into three pieces, set aside on well floured counter to rest, or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes to an hour. After chilling, roll out on heavily floured surface. Fold in half, then quarters, pick up and place in pie pan. Roll and flute edges. Yield 3 single crusts.

You may roll out and place pie dough in pie pans and finish. Wrap well or store in a ziplock bag and freeze for up to one month. Dough will not keep refrigerated.