Easy-Peel Hard Boiled Eggs

February 4, 2016

Today, I gave a hungry co-worker a hard-boiled egg; mentioning that I made it using a new recipe. “Hard-boiled eggs don’t have a recipe,” they laughed. While 5-years ago I would have agreed; I have marveled at the perfectness of each hard-boiled eggs that I have cooked for the past 5-years (following this recipe). Look closely at the photo below; how often do your eggs look like that? Before I began following that recipe, my answer was never.

Perfectly cooked and a notable difference in peeling

Perfectly cooked and a notable difference in peeling

While extremely simple to make, hard-boiled eggs have two perennial problems. First, there is the green coating surround the yolk, which comes from overcooking. While green eggs are perfectly harmless to eat; it smells a bit like sulfur and usually turns slimy after a day or two in the refrigerator. Why is it so easy to overcook your eggs? Because adding eggs to boiling water requires a different time depending upon how many eggs you cook. Each additional egg delays the moment when the water comes back up to a boil. Getting the timing right is key; an issue that Chis Kimball solved 5 years ago. (and continues to solve using today’s recipe).

The second problem with eggs are their sticky shells. Nearly six years ago I did a comparison of different methods for peeling hard-cooked eggs. The winning method is best, but still is perhaps 90% (at best). I usually found myself peeling eggs while they were still warm and storing them in a tightly sealed container. Chris Kimball has claimed to have solved the problem; “There’s no need to peel the eggs right away. They can be stored in their shells and peeled when needed.”


  1. The timing is for large eggs that are cold from the refrigerator.
  2. The recipe uses a steamer basket. But if you don’t have one, Chris Kimball says that you can place the eggs directly into the 1″ of water; using a spoon or tongs.  The smaller amount of water will come back to a boil more quickly that a fuller pot; which will work on 6 or few eggs without altering the timing.
  3. If you are using a steamer basket, this recipe will work on any number of eggs that will fit into a single layer.
  4. The prior cooking technique I had been using for the past 5 years is given by Cook’s Country is here.

Rating: 4-1/2 stars.
Cost: 60-cents.
How much work? Low.
How big of a mess? Low.
Start time 6:00 AM. Ready at 6:30 AM.

Chris Kimball’s original recipe for is here. My descriptions of how I prepared it today are given below:

6 large eggs

  1. Add 1″ water to a medium-saucepan. Set over high burner and bring to a rolling boil; about 5 minutes.
  2. Carefully set eggs in steamer basket and move into saucepan with boiling water. Cover and reduce burner to medium-low; maintaining a boil; and cooking for 15 minutes.
  3. When eggs are almost done; combine 2-cups of ice cubes with 2-cups of told tap water into a medium bowl.
  4. When eggs are ready use tongs or slotted spoon to move eggs into the ice bath; allowing to stand for 10 minutes before peeling.

Colombian Arepes de Queso

November 23, 2015

Lately, I have been busy at work and only heard the sad news about Chris Kimball’s departure from ATK today. He has always been the driving force behind the magazine (and later the TV shows), and I remember appreciating his methodology the first time I saw Cook’s Illustrated in 1994. While I guess this has been brewing for a few months (since summer), I never imagined that it would come to this. I know companies like to think that nobody is indispensable, but that opinion is often more of a hope than a reality. I guess we have to wait for a few months to find out about Chris Kimball’s “future endeavors”. I hope it is just a change in venue, and that I will be able to continue to cook his recipes for many years to come. The news is sad.

I first ate Arepas 20 years ago while biking through Colombia, and loved their simple deliciousness. Years later I read about stuffed arepas (which tend to be from Venezuela). Today, after 20 years, was my first time making arepas on my own.  This morning’s recipe does not come from ATK or Chris Kimball at all. It is thanks to a recent trip to Miami that I was able to buy “Pre-Cooked Corn Meal”. My technique still needs honing, but they came out delicious for a first try.


  1. Cook’s Illustrated has a description about the different types of Corn Meal here, The bottom-line is make sure that the bag says it is for arepas. Masa harina is a completely different product. The brand that I pictured is apparently the most popular.

Rating: 3-1/2 stars.
Cost: $2.
How much work? Low/Medium.
How big of a mess? Medium.
Start time: 10:00 AM. End time: 11:00 PM.

Chris Kimball does not have a recipe for arepas. The recipe as I cooked it today is as follows:

2 cups water
2 cups masarepa flour (12 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons melted or softened butter
8 to 10 slices of Muenster cheese (Today I used grated mozzarella with a little shredded Parmesan)

  1. Soften butter in microwave for between 30 to 40 seconds.
  2. Add water to a large mixing bowl, mix in 1/2 teaspoon salt until dissolved. Slowly add in arepa flour until just comes together. Stir butter into dough and knead until evenly combined. Cover masa (dough) with plastic wrap and allow to sit for 5 minutes.
  3. Divide you dough into 8 equal parts. I used a scale and measured 3-1/2 ounces per arepa.
  4. Working with one arepa at a time, roll into a ball and gradually work into a flatten disk; fixing the edges as they break. Put between two sheets of plastic and use the curvature of your cupped hands to form perfect disks. Press a second small cutting down on top of arepa to evenly flatten to approximately 5-inches across. Use cupped hands to fix any of the edges. Set aside and put plastic wrap between the arepas as you stack them.
  5. Pre-heat your griddle or large skillet over medium-high burner. Flick water onto the griddle and it will be ready when the water “dances”
  6. Cook on dry griddle (without any oil whatsoever) for 12 to 15 minutes without moving until slightly browned on the first side (see photo). Flip and top with cheese (which will slowly melt). Cook the second side for between 10 to 12 minutes.
  7. Serve immediately, or keep in a warm (but turned off oven) if you need to make them in batches.

Home Fries

February 26, 2012

I know that potatoes are scorned and avoided, and it’s always the same half-word offered as justification: “Carbs”. Personally, I love potatoes. They are my favorite side dish and Russets are my favorite variety, so right away I knew I was going to love this recipe. Pre-heating the baking sheet to 500-degrees did a great job at browning the potatoes’ crust, but without over cooking the interior. The interiors were creamy, but without being too mushy. Perfect mini-spuds; 4-stars.

Perfectly cooked; crisp and browned on the outside. Tender on the inside.

This is the last recipe from the January / February 2012 issue of Cook’s Illustrated. I left this for last not because I wasn’t excited to make them, but rather because I am not usually home for breakfast on the weekends. I naturally wake up by 6AM, and go to a cafe to blog and drink coffee while my family sleeps in until 9 or 10AM.


  1. Chris Kimball’s original recipe made a huge amount of home fries. After all, the article was entitles “home fries for a crowd”.  I cut the recipe down by one-third, and still ended up with leftovers. The recipe as I have described it below will easily serve 4 to 6 people as a side dish, but if you need to feed 6 to 8 people, then you can follow his original recipe.
  2. Chris Kimball almost never lines his baking sheet with aluminum foil, but I always do. Use heavy-duty foil for this recipe because of the scraping necessary in step 8 and 10.
  3. No matter how heavy-duty of a baking sheet you have, 500-degrees will make it warp with 100% certitude. Mine returned to its normal state within an hours after removing from the oven. I wouldn’t recommend this recipe if you only have a thin baking sheet.
  4. My supermarket was out of chives, so I substituted an equal amount of finely minced scallion greens. With this warm weather my own chives should be sprouting soon.

Rating: 4-stars
Cost: $2.
How much work? Low.
How big of a mess?  Low/Medium.
Started: 8:00 AM.  Ready:  9:00 AM

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here.  The descriptions of how I prepared it today are given below:

2-1/3 pounds russet potatoes
1/3 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Kosher salt and pepper
Pinch cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1-1/2 yellow onions
3 tablespoons minced fresh chives

  1. Peel your potatoes and dice into 3/4″ pieces, and cut your 2 tablespoons of butter into 8 equal-sized pieces.
  2. Set an oven rack to the lowest position, and place a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet on the bottom rack. Pre-heat the oven and baking sheet to 500-degrees.
  3. Set a dutch oven over a high burner and boil 8 cups of water. Add diced potatoes and 1/3 teaspoon baking soda. Return water to a boil and cook for just 1 minute.
  4. Drain potatoes in a colander and immediately return potatoes to the dry Dutch oven; reduce burner to low heat. Cook for 2 minutes until all moisture has dried from the surface of the potatoes, shake the pot occasionally to ensure complete drying. Remove Dutch oven from burner, and add the pieces of butter, 1 teaspoons salt, and pinch of cayenne.
  5. Use a rubber spatula to mix for 30 seconds; the potatoes will become coated with a thick paste.
  6. Drizzle foil-lines rimmed baking sheet with 1-1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil, then evenly spread potatoes onto baking sheet.
  7. Bake at 500-degrees for 15 minutes. Meanwhile dice your onions into 1/2″ pieces and place in bowl. Add 3/4 tablespoon vegetable oil, and 1/3 teaspoon kosher salt. Toss to combine.
  8. Remove potatoes from oven after 15 minutes, then use a thin metal spatula to scrape and turn potatoes.
  9. Clear a 8″x5″ area in center of the baking sheet in which you should place your onion mixture. Bake for another 15 minutes at 500-degrees.
  10. Using the metal spatula to scrape and turn potatoes again, but this time mixing the onions and potatoes together.
  11. Bake for another 5 or 10 minutes until the potatoes become browned and the onions become soft and are beginning to brown.
  12. Mix in minced chives and adjust with salt and pepper according to taste. Serve immediately.

Sweet Avocado Pop Tarts With Lime Glaze

November 23, 2011

I absolutely love fresh avocados; so I added these to my “to do” list a few months ago when the recipe made the rounds on TasteSpotting and FoodGawker. When I read the recipe in detail they seemed overly sweet, so I cut back on the sugar. Unfortunately, they were still too sweet for my taste. While my kids loved the sweetness, they didn’t care for the avocado. I’d give them 3-stars, because the lime was over-powering and didn’t let me enjoy the avocado. The lime glaze was heavenly; only the lime mixed into the filling needs to be scaled back.

Overly sweet; not just an adult version of a Pop Tart.

The boys loved the idea of making home-made Pop Tarts, but next time I’ll have to stick to a more kid-friendly fruit; cherry, strawberry, orange.

Rating: 3 stars.
Cost: $5 for 4 large pastries.
How much work? Low/Medium.
How big of a mess?  Low/Medium.
Start time 11:00 AM. Lunch: 1:20 PM.

The original recipe that I got from another blog is here. My descriptions of how I prepare it today are given below:

Pastry Dough:
2-cups all-purpose flour
2 sticks unsalted butter, chilled
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4-cup cold water
1/2 teaspoons salt

Avocado Filling:
2 Hass avocados
3 tablespoons lime juice, fresh
2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Lime Glaze:
1-cups confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons lime juice

  1. Cut 2 sticks of butter into 1/2″ cubes, then chill in freezer for 15 minutes. Add 2 cups flour, 3 tablespoons granulated sugar, and 1/2 teaspoons salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Pulse a few times to combine. Add the cubed butter and pulse for 10 one-second pulses until the mixture resembles a coarse meal with bits of butter sprinkled throughout. With the processor running, add the cold water and processing until dough forms.
  2. Remove to a floured surface and knead for 10 seconds and form a smooth, uniform ball. Separate into two evenly sized balls, wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour or up to overnight.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350° and remove your chilled dough balls to a well-floured work surface. Roll each piece of dough out into an 8″ x 12″ rectangle; about 1/4″ thick. Cut out 16 rectangles measuring 3″ x 4″ each. You may need to assemble your scraps and re-roll your dough a few times to get even pieces. If the dough becomes too hard to work with stick your cut pieces of dough back in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to be sure that they’re chilled through once you assemble and bake the tarts.
  4. Lay your pieces onto parchment-lined baking sheets, cover with plastic wrap and set aside at room temperature.
  5. Peel, pit and chop your avocados into a small dice and place in large bowl. Add the lime juice and sugar, and mash into a chunky consistency.
  6. Spoon the avocado mixture onto 4 pieces of cut pastry. Use your fingers to pre-form the second rectangle of pastry so that it is slightly cupped. Carefully place on top of each mound of avocado and use a fork to press the top and bottom of each pastry together down all four sides. Using fork; gently pierce the top of each pastry several times to allow steam to vent. Bake for 28-32 minutes or until the edges are just turning a lightly, golden brown. Remove the baked tarts to cool for 10 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile, prepare your glaze by whisking the confectioners’ sugar and lime juice together in a small bowl.
  8. Finish by glazing the top of each with the lime glaze.

Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread

September 18, 2011

Part of my weekly ritual involves going to Panera Bread and blogging in the early morning hours before my two boys wake up on Saturday or Sunday. With every coffee refill, I pass by a beautiful Cinnamon Raisin loaf. The only problem is that the $4.50 price tag seems absurd. And since Chris Kimball doesn’t have a recipe, I had to resort to Martha Stewart. True to form; Martha’s recipe is basic and decent but is less fool-proof, omitting details that are “common sense” (at least to Martha Stewart). It also didn’t have enough raisins or cinnamon, plus I substituted 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract.

Can be messy if the filling oozes into the oven.

I first made this loaf one day before Huricanne Irene; as part of our “weathering the storm provisions”. The recipe includes my improvements; which I give 4-stars. My 12-year-old son called it the best bread I’ve ever made.


  1. No matter what you do, there is a danger that the filling will overflow. So put a foil-lined baking sheet pan below the loaf pan for easy clean up.
  2. As with most of my bread, I made a 1/4″-deep slice using a serrated knife down the top of the loaf. I make this release cut to promote a higher rise during the fist few minutes of baking.  Unfortunately, my release cut sliced into the filling and let it ooze from the top during baking. In the future I will not make any release cuts.
  3. The original recipe called for 45 minutes in a 425-degree oven. After just 35 minutes the crust was thick and hard, but not burnt. I had tented the loaf after 15 minutes. To rectify the problem I reduce the over temperate to 375-degrees after 5 minutes; enough time to give the loaf an “over spring” but low enough keep the crust from becoming too tough.

Rating: 4 stars.
Cost: $1.30 for one 9″x5″ loaf
How much work? Low/Medium.
How big of a mess?  Low/Medium
Start time 2:00 PM. Ready at: 5:30 PM. (plus 1 to 2 hours of cooling time)

The original recipe is here , which she credit to Martha Stewart. My descriptions of how I prepare the loaf today are given below:

Dough Ingredients:
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
7-1/2 oz warm milk (1 cup, less 1 tablespoon)
18 oz. all-purpose flour. (3-1/4 cups)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1-1/4 teaspoons salt.
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 cup raisins
Non-stick cooking spray
Confectioner’s sugar for dusting

Filling Ingredients:
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon water
1 egg

  1. If desired, measure out your 1/4-cup of sugar of which you can mix about 1 teaspoon in with your hydrating yeast. This will give the yeast additional food to give it a nice kick start.
  2. Microwave milk in 2-cup Pyrex measuring cup for 30 seconds to 105-degrees. Whisk in yeast and allow to hydrate for 5 minutes, after which you should see some bubbling.
  3. Add flour, butter, sugar, egg, salt and cinnamon to bowl of standing mixer equipped with dough hook attachment. Turn mixer to low (2 on a kitchen-aide) and slowly add yeast mixture.  When ingredients become incorporated, increase mixer speed to 4 and mix for 3 minutes until the dough is mostly smooth and clears the sides of the bowl.
  4. Slowly add the raisins until they become incorporated. Increase to 6 and continue to knead for another 3 minutes. The dough should be smooth and the raisins are evenly distributed.
  5. Spray a glass bowl and rubber spatula with non-stick cooking spray. Put the dough in the bowl and turn once to coat lightly with oil.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour until doubled in size. In winter, you’ll have to use your warmed, but turned off oven to help.
  6. Using a greased spatula, fold the dough over onto itself; rotate bowl quarter turn and fold again. Rotate bowl again and fold twice more (a total of 4 folds). Cover with plastic wrap and let rise another 40 minutes.
  7. Spray a 9″x5″ loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  8. To make the filling, combined sugar, cinnamon, vanilla and water in a small bowl.
  9. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured work surface.  Use a rolling pin to roll into a 10″x12″ rectangle.  Brush lightly with beaten egg, leaving a thin border around the edges.  Sprinkle the entire surface (less borders) evenly with cinnamon-sugar mixture.
  10. Fold in the edges along the long sides of the dough about 1″; resulting in a 10″-square.  Beginning with unfolded ends (the folds will form the loaf ends), roll the dough up into a tight spiral log, gently pressing as you go.  Pinch the seam to close, and place seam side-down in the prepared loaf pan.
  11. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rise for another 30 to 40 minutes or until the dough rises just above the edge of the pan. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 425-degrees. Place a foil-lined baking sheet on the lower shelf to catch any drippings.
  12. After the loaf has risen, brush the top of the loaf lightly with the remaining beaten egg.  Bake at 425-degrees for 5 minutes, then reduce to 375-degrees without opening the oven. Continue baking for another 35 minutes; rotating the pan after 10 minutes. Tent loosely with foil when the top crust reaches your desired darkness (I tented mine about halfway through baking).   The loaf will be done when the internal temparture reaches 195-degrees.
  13. Cool the loaf in the pan for 5 minutes. Turn out the loaf and allow to cool on a wire rack for 1-1/2 to 2 hours before slicing. Dust lightly with confectioners sugar.

Ultimate Cinnamon Buns

August 14, 2011

The last time I made these Cinnamon Buns was December 29, 2009; two days before I started this blog; and my oldest son has been begging me to make them again. The dough is rich and buttery, and the cream cheese frosting is sweet, but more flavorful than a standard sugar-only glaze.

Great tasting cinnamon buns, but there is a big flaw

It’s a bold claim for Cook’s Country to call these the ultimate cinnamon buns. While they are rich and delicious, the recipe has a fundamental problem that has occurred each of the five times I’ve made this recipe.  Chris Kimball claims that the butter and cinnamon sugar are “… baked together, [and] turned into a truly rich, gooey filling”.  But the truth is that the gooey filling oozes to the bottom of the pan, and after cooling forms a hard, unpleasant,  glass-like coating. If left too long to harden, it will permanently attach the buns to the aluminum foil used in baking. I haven’t found a solution prevent the formation of the epoxy-like coating. However, I have come up with a hard-and-fast rule to mitigate the damage: always remove the buns from the foil no more than 20 minutes after removing from the oven. Waiting the designated 30-minutes before removing from the foil will make a disaster of the already difficult process of removing the buns from the foil.


  1. Originally the recipe calls for diving the rolls into 8 pieces, but the cinnamon buns are too big. Nobody would eat a whole bun, but rather always cut them in half. So instead I divide into 12 pieces, which makes a much more manageable size.
  2. The recipe calls for a 13″ x 9″ pan size. In my kitchen I have two different Pyrex casserole dishes to choose from, so I had to choose the 14″x10″. I’m not sure if this could have impacted the filling.
  3. I strongly recommend using heavy-duty aluminum foil because of the filling problem described above.
  4. There are a few other recipes that I have not tried. They include these Yeasted Cinnamon Buns and also these non-yeasted rolls.

Rating: 4-stars.

Cost: $3 for 12 cinnamon buns.
How much work? Medium.
How big of a mess?  Medium.
Start 5 hours before serving. If making ahead, restart 2 hours before breakfast. However, the recipe only requires 30 minutes of effort.

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here (the site requires free registration, but no credit card). My descriptions of how I prepare it are given below:

3/4 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
3 eggs
4-1/4 cups all-purpose flour (22-3/8 ounces)
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter

1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter

4 ounces cream cheese
1 tablespoon whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

  1. Set eggs and 2 sticks of butter out for 30 minutes to warm to room temperature. Cut butter into 16 equal pieces.
  2. Adjust your oven rack to middle position. Preheat oven to 200 degrees, then it shut off. This will provide a warm environment for the dough to rise.
  3. Line a large Pyrex casserole dish with heavy-duty aluminum foil, allowing excess to hang over the edges. Apply some butter to foil.
  4. Heat milk in 2-cup Pyrex measuring cup in microwave for 50 seconds to 110 degrees.
  5. Whisk yeast into milk and let hydrate for 5 minutes, then whisk in eggs (still in measuring cup).
  6. Add flour, cornstarch, sugar, and salt to bowl of a standing mixer. Attach the dough hook.
  7. Turn mixer on low (2 on a kitchen-aide), and slowly pour milk mixture in a steady stream. Mix for 1 minute until dough comes together.
  8. Increase mixer speed to medium (4 on a kitchen-aide). One piece at a time, add butter and mix for 10 minutes. The dough should be smooth and come away from sides of bowl. If the dough is still wet and sticky, one tablespoon of flour at a time until the dough releases from the sides of the bowl.
  9. Turn dough out onto clean surface and knead to form a smooth, round ball. Transfer dough to large bowl sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.
  10. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and put in warm, but turned-off, oven. Let dough rise for 45 minutes until it doubles in size.
  11. After 40 minutes, combine brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt in small bowl. Lightly flour a surface, and turn out dough, and roll dough into an 18″ square.
  12. Spread the 4 tablespoons of softened butter over the top surface of the dough, but leave a 1/2″ border around edges. Evenly sprinkle the sugar mixture over the buttered dough, and gently press down on the sugar so that it sticks to the dough.
  13. Starting with the closest edge, tightly roll the dough into a cylinder. Pinch the seam to seal and turn so that the seam side is down.
  14. Use a knife to cut in half, then in half again; then each piece into thirds, yielding 12 rolls. Place the pieces, cut-side facing upward, into prepared pan and cover with plastic wrap. If you plan to finish them tomorrow, refrigerate now for up to 24 hours. If you plan to continue today, then let them rise near the oven (or other warm spot) for 1 hour. If you refrigerated the dough, let it sit at room temperature for 1 hour before baking.
  15. After 30 minutes begin preheating the oven to 350 degrees. Add the softened cream cheese, milk, vanilla, and confectioners sugar to a medium bowl. Using a fork, mix together until smooth.
  16. Remove the plastic wrap and bake for 27 to 30 minutes. The buns will be golden brown and filling will have melted.
  17. Transfer to a wire rack, and evenly apply 1/2 cup of glaze to the tops of the buns. This will be the “primer coat”.
  18. Allow to cool for 20 minutes, then use the foil overhang to lift the buns from the pan. After 10 more minutes top with remaining glaze, and serve.

Hash Brown Mania and other Craziness

October 13, 2010

There was a period over several months when I ate hash browns twice a day; for breakfast and dinner. No, I am not crazy (at least not for hash browns). I was biking across the altiplano of Bolivia. It was several day’s ride between towns, and the only food available was potatoes. But not just potatoes; the world’s most bountiful variety of tubers.  With hundreds of varieties of potatoes, every color in the rainbow, every shape imaginable; I don’t think I ate the same type twice. But enough was enough, after I road down the back side of the Andes into the Chaco desert of Paraguay, I swore I would never eat hash browns again. Now, more than 10 years later I am going to break my promise to myself and make Chris Kimball’s Classic Hash Browns.


Wringing before cooking makes for better taste and texture.


Classic recipe is here, but there are other variations here. So what makes this recipe different is the technique of drying the potatoes. Place in clean cloth towel and twist until they have released their water. Here I mixed with 2 tablespoons of grated onion and 1/4 cup of cheddar cheese.

3-1/2 stars. Overall, these rate better than my Bolivian Hash Browns; though how many people have eaten purple Hash Browns?

Rating: 3-1/2 stars.
Cost: $0.50.
How much work? Low.
How big of a mess?  Low/Medium.
Started: 8:30 AM.  Ready:  9:00 AM.

Classic Deviled Eggs

August 26, 2010

This was the first summer my kids have gone to summer camp, and my contribution to the end-of-the-summer-camp feast was Classic Deviled Eggs (published by CI in 2000).  I haven’t made any hard-boiled egg dish since Easter, and today’s recipe is different than my Easter Deviled Eggs (published by CI in 2006).  Unsure why Chris Kimball has two Deviled Egg Recipes, I wanted to try them both. Which one is better? The 2000 Recipe gets higher reviews for taste, but the 2006 recipe is easier and has better texture because of some new techniques; notably this one.

With the "Egg Scare" I wanted to be sure to cook these all the way through.

First, I hard-boiled the eggs using Chris Kimball’s favorite technique. I put the eggs in cold water and brought them to a boil. I let them boil for 5 minutes, then removed them from heat, covered and let them sit for 10 minutes. This method ensures that the yolks are cooked all the way through, but the yolks aren’t green (Sam I am).

Recipe is here. I peeled the eggs, sliced carefully and put yolks in a bowl. I mashed the yolks using a fork (see issues below) and added the 3 tablespoons of mayonnaise,  3/4 teaspoon of grainy mustard, 1-1/2 teaspoons of cider vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce. I used my pastry decorator to fill the egg halves (see more issues described below).

I give this recipe 4-stars, which tasted better than the other one from April (which only got 3-stars). I like the complexity added by the Worcestershire sauce (more than the sour cream from the other recipe).   But next time I will use my ricer to process the yolks; which will save time and provide for a fluffier filling.


  1. I followed the recipe and mashed the yolks with a fork (in lieu of using my ricer). The yolk filling’s texture was denser, not light and fluffy as it had been in April.  I though clean-up would be quicker, but the fork ended up costing me an extra 10 minutes of aggravation.
  2. The major problem caused by the fork was that my pastry tip constantly jammed. Though I tried to mash the yolks well, there were still chunks that wouldn’t fit through my pastry tip. I couldn’t get through more than 3 or 4 eggs at a time without removing and cleaning the tip.
  3. The jammed pastry tip caused ascetic flaws in the filling too, no nice even swirl.  Bottom line: use your ricer (or a sieve) it’ll save time and aggravation, plus give you a fluffier and better looking filling.

Rating: 4-star.
Cost: $1.00 for 18 halves.
How much work? Low.
How big of a mess?  Low.
Started: 7:00.  Ready:  7:30 AM.

More English Muffins

August 23, 2010

I spent the weekend with old friend in Saratoga in upstate New York. Having loved the book Last of the Mohicans, the nearby towns are straight from the book: Lake George, Fort William-Henry, Fort Edwards, Glenn Falls. But having read the book in early adulthood, I imagined the savagery of the frontier wilderness of the 1750’s. Today, it is mostly corn and dairy farms. We played tennis, just 10 miles from where Hawkeye jumped into the falls to escape the pursuing Magua.

I baked two kinds of English Muffins for my friends; buttermilk English muffins, and also wheat-honey-raisin muffins. I modified the Buttermilk recipe to use a starter (same starter as the Focaccia), which was a winning idea.  The starter gave much more tang and interesting flavors. (first time I made English Muffins last week)

A choice of English muffins in the morning.

The wheat-honey-raisin English muffins did not use a starter (as they were sweeter). I used a combination of wheat-and-all-purpose flour, a technique Chris Kimball recommends to avoid “hockey puck syndrome”. Also the wheat version uses water instead of buttermilk. I added the raisins just before kneading. Otherwise I made them side-by-side in two separate bowls, each following the same general steps.

Personally, I though the Buttermilk with butter was the winner. But my kids were also insistent that the honey-raisin with homemade grape jelly was the winner. I stored the left over muffins in a zip-lock bag which we ate on Sunday morning, and their was no loss of freshness.

Rating: 4-1/2 stars.
Cost: $1.50, for 19 muffins.
How much work? Small/Medium.
How big of a mess?  Small/Medium.
Start at: 6:00 AM. Ready at: 9:00 AM.

1/4 cup (1 1/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
1/6 cup (1 1/3 ounces) 105-degree water
1/8 teaspoon active dry yeast


2 1/4 cups flour (12 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon sugar
1 package or 2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
Cornmeal for sprinkling

Wheat and Raisin:
1-1/4 cup all-purpose flour (6-1/4 ounces)
1 cups whole wheat flour (5 ounces)
1 tsp salt
1-1/2 cup warm water (6 ounces)
1 tablespoon butter
2 tbsp honey
1 package or 2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
3/4 cup raisins
Cornmeal for sprinkling

  • Mix together ingredients for starter. Cover and let sit at room temperature for 8 to 24 hours.
  • The next day, measure flour(s) and salt into large bowl with the starter.
  • Turn on oven, and then turn it off immediately once it reaches 200-degrees.
  • If substituting clabbered milk for buttermilk, add 1 tablespoon lemon juice to 1 cup of regular milk and let stand for 10 minutes.
  • In a Pyrex measuring cup, heat buttermilk and butter in microwave for 55 seconds until reaches between 100 and 110 degrees. Whisk in sugar (or honey), and dry yeast. Stir and let sit for 10 minutes.
  • Slowly add milk/yeast mixture to flour, mix with a wooden spoon until no dry flour remains.
  • Flour counter and knead by hand for 1 minute. Wash bowl and spray with vegetable spray.
  • Put dough into prepared bowl, cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in warm (turned off) oven for 1 hour.
  • Gently scrape out onto a floured surface, without punching down. Shape or roll to about 1/2-to-3/4 -inch thick.
  • Using a 3-1/2-inch biscuit cutter to form rounds. (I used large overturned plastic cup, also tin can)
  • Spread cornmeal over wax or parchment paper. Place the circles of dough onto the cornmeal.
  • Dust tops liberally with cornmeal. Top with plastic wrap, and let rise for another hour.
  • Preheat a dry griddle or large skillet over medium heat for 2 minutes.
  • Carefully use a spatula to place a few rounds onto the skillet. Brown each side for 5 to 6 minutes.
  • Let cool for 20 minutes on wire rack. Split using a fork (never a knife).
  • Toast before serving.
  • Preparation time is 3 hours.

French Toast

July 31, 2010

It’s been a few weeks since we had a family breakfast, so I planned French Toast as this morning’s breakfast. (Note: The planning only consisted of buying a special kind of bread.) As expected, the whole family was instantly transformed into a great mood. But unexpectedly, the boys immediately ran outside after breakfast and started working in the garden. Wow, the best $1.50 I’ve spent in a long time.

A sure way to start out the weekend right.

French Toast Recipe is here. Start by toasting the bread in oven for 20 minutes. Meanwhile melt butter and whisk together all ingredients in bowl, and pour into a medium Pyrex casserole dish. Working two slices at a time, soak each side for 30 seconds. Cook in non-stick skillet for 2 to 3 minutes per side.

Results: 4-1/2 stars. The flavor was great. Definitely not too eggy, which was the problem when I was growing up.  Still, the texture was a little tough; no worse than any other French Toast.


  1. I cut the recipe by 1/3, because there is so much extra. The full recipe is certainly enough for 12 slices.
  2. I increased to 1-1/2 teaspoons the cinnamon. The first time I made this they seemed a little bland.
  3. Between the second and third batches, I found it better to wipe the skillet with a paper towel, so that the bits of burnt butter don’t accumulate too much.
  4. Tongs are useless here. Use your fingers for dredging and a spatula for flipping.

Rating: 4-1/2 stars.
Cost: $1.50 for 8 slices.
How much work? Small.
How big of a mess?  Medium.
Start time 9:10 AM. Breakfast time 10:00 AM

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