My mother’s cousin, whom I refer to as my aunt, is one of my most favorite people in the world. In fact, we often tease that I should have been her daughter and perhaps was switched as an infant (her own daughter was born just two short weeks after me.) Anyway, she is a fantastic cook and even more fantastic hostess. I love the get-togethers at her house…”Hen Parties” as her husband calls them. She had one recently and this time it was a Surprise Pot Luck. (A very uncharacteristic thing to have in my family full of control-freaks, but it worked out well.) It’s simple: Bring something to eat. Don’t tell anyone else what you are bringing.
So, yes, it means you could end up with five salads or, even better, five desserts. Or, you might wind up with a fun hodge-podge of yummy things, which is pretty much what happened.
I spent way too much time pondering what to take – or rather trying to figure out what I thought everyone else would bring! I finally decided on Italian tea-style sandwiches and deviled eggs. (And, of course, the only duplicate we had was the eggs – my aunt did them, too! See, I really was switched at birth.)
There was also some pasta, a big salad with chicken in it, pecan pie and a chocolate cake…and lots of talking and solving of important problems.
So, deviled eggs can be kind of awful if you aren’t careful. Usually, I find them to have way too much mayonnaise in the filling. There’s a million ways to season that filling, so I’m not going to give an exact recipe here…just a few words on what I think should be standard-deviled-egg-making-steps.
First, the eggs themselves. If you will store your carton of eggs on its side before boiling them, the yolk will settle in the middle of each egg making it much easier to fill since your little cup will be centered in the white. Those flimsy, thin white sides that don’t hold the filling in are kind of messy. Also, place the eggs into cold water in the pan and then turn on the heat. When the water reaches a full boil, turn it off and cover the pan for ten minutes. The residual heat is enough to finish cooking the eggs. When hard-boiled eggs are over-cooked they get that gray-green tint around the edges of the dry yolk. They’ll be prettier if not over done…and the yolks will taste better.
As for the filling, well the possibilities are endless. Pieces of shrimp. Bacon. Capers. I mean, really, you can do just about anything here. These particular eggs got a little mayo, a little more sour cream (I prefer that to cut the excess mayo taste,) a few spoonfuls of chipotle-mustard and salt and pepper. And a sprinkle of dill at the end for color.
Now for tea-style sandwiches. These are so easy. First the bread:
Aren’t these cute? I used the refrigerated Italian loaf dough in a cute little fluted bread tube. When you slice the cylinder of a loaf, you get these cute little flowers. Too much.
Then you spread each slice with some seasoned ricotta cheese (salt, pepper and Italian seasoning,) add sliced tomatoes, basil and some cucumbers, season again…and that’s it!
Secure with some toothpicks and look how fun they are piled on a platter together:
So, go plan a “Hen Party” of your own and don’t let anyone coordinate what they are bringing…see what happens!