Thursday, December 4, 2014

Last Cat Standing - Devilled Eggs

I woke up the other day with a cat sleeping on my outstretched hand.  He was curled up as cats do, a low-grade purr buzzing in his throat.  I hated to wake him up, but I had eggs to devil.

This cat, my only cat, is the Last Cat Standing.  Throughout my adult life, I have shared my home and office with numerous cats.  The last time I had just one cat was 1978.  The highest number was eight or was it nine at a time?  That, plus the three Yorkies in residence, classified us as a bona fide menagerie.  As time went on, each of my kitties, as well as some of my Yorkies, left us to go to Rainbow Bridge, each time taking a piece of my heart with them.

Ira and baby Anakin

On August 28th, last year, I lost the feline love of my life, Ira. That left just one, Darth Kitten, usually known as Anakin Skywalker. Ani, Nanny Boo. My baby.

His mother left him on my doorstep when he was 2 1/2 weeks old.  He waited for her to come back and she never did.  We took him in, and with Athene's help I was able to get the little guy past the bad  times.  No baby cat should be separated from his mother before 8 weeks, but these were exigent circumstances and we did the best we could.

He was a scrappy little thing, desperate to eat and equally desperate to avoid any attempt to clean his little muzzle after smearing it with formula.  He was a hyperactive bundle of baby cat energy, and an incipient escape artist.  When we were looking for the right name for him, my unsentimental husband said we should call him Darth Kitten.  I thought that was a bit harsh.  Rob insisted he was a devil cat and a baby Sith Lord.  I saw the good in him and named him Anakin.  Anakin Skywalker Rothfeld.  After seven years, I have to admit he does have his Darth Cat moments, but they are few and far between, especially since he is now the recipient of all the attention previously lavished on his many feline brothers and sisters.

So it was the little devil cat - he clearly was the runt of the litter - that had me pinned down that morning. In his honor, I added a little shrimp to the devilled eggs.  (Get it?  Devil cat with shrimp?  Ouch, that's worse than my last pun.

Let's set some ground rules here - I don't know when some American lexicological genius decided to change the spelling, but the British still spell the name of this recipe correctly, with two L's.  Spelling it "deviled" makes no sense, at least according to the spelling rules I was taught at P.S 119 in Brooklyn, circa 1960.  Spell it that way, the only way you can pronounce it is de-VEYE-led, just like defiled.  Seriously?  Defiled eggs?

Devilled eggs are easy to make, and a great culinary canvas for the creative cook.  There are so many different variations as to constitute a statistical universe, and they are (almost) all delicious.  The ones I've included below are very close to the traditional mayo and mustard mix.

To hard cook the eggs:  Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Place the eggs into muffin tin cups and bake for 30 minutes.  Fill a large bowl with ice water and place the finished eggs into the bowl until cool enough to handle and peel.  After they are peeled, return them to the ice water bath to finish chilling.

Good Basic Devilled Eggs

8 hard cooked eggs
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon pickle juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/8 teaspoon salt
white pepper
a few drops Crystal hot sauce
1 teaspoon fresh dill, finely chopped

Smoked paprika
Dried parsley flakes (crumbled)

Cut the eggs in half and remove the yolks to a medium mixing bowl.  Mash with a fork until they are completely broken up.  Add the remaining ingredients and mix with the fork until smooth and fluffy.  Pick out the best 12 egg white halves.  Fill them with the yolk mixture using a small spoon or a piping bag.  Garnish with the paprika and parsley.  Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.  If holding longer, cover and return to the fridge.

Another Good Basic Devilled Egg with a Shrimp Garnish

12 hardcooked eggs
1/2 cup mayo
2 teaspoons French's yellow mustard

Follow the above directions for preparing the yolks and filling the eggs.  Pick out your 20 best egg white halves.

For the garnish:
1/3 cup Goya Mayo-Ketchup (Salsa Rosada)
Salt, pepper, dried dill weed, cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon lemon juice
20 frozen extra small cooked shrimp, defrosted under cold water, drained and patted dry

Combine the first three ingredients in a small bowl.  Cover and refrigerate for an hour.  Fold in the shrimp and return to the refrigerator for an hour.  Remove each shrimp from the dressing, let some drip off and carefully place on top of an egg half, pressing the shrimp gently into the yolk.

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