KITTERY — Lots of restaurants have regulars who come in for one favorite dish or another. At The Black Birch, that favorite dish is often their tricked-out deviled eggs.

The restaurant lifts this classic comfort food up a few notches by creating unusual, original fillings, such as the ones on their current menu: Foie gras and truffle, chipotle and cocoa and nicoise.

Their biggest fan is a customer who has three deviled egg orders with every meal — one order as an appetizer, one with his entree and one for “dessert.”

“They’re our number one seller every day,” says Skye Bonney, the sous chef at The Black Birch, who is in charge of making the eggs and coming up with new flavor combinations.

If you’re wondering how to do deviled eggs differently for Easter this year, I’ve gathered some ideas that will wow your friends and family, and add a fun little twist to your Easter table.

Deviled eggs date back to Roman times, when people stuffed their eggs with ingredients like pine nuts, lovage, pepper and honey, according to chef Kathy Casey, author of the new book “D’Lish Deviled Eggs: A Collection of Recipes from Creative to Classic” (Andrews McMeel, $14.99).

The name “deviled eggs,” however, originated in 18th-century England, when the word “deviled” was used to refer to foods that were highly seasoned and spicy.

Twenty-first-century deviled egg fans probably remember the more traditional eggs from summer picnics or brunches that were stuffed with a filling of egg yolk that’s been mashed with mustard, mayonnaise and pickle relish, then topped with a sprinkle of paprika.

But today, there are so many new, delicious options.

Deviled eggs “are so making a comeback,” Casey said. “You see deviled eggs on menus across the U.S., from $15 for four truffle eggs to garnishing salads. A lot of people are doing them for small plates.”

While writing her new book, Casey experimented with all kinds of fillings and discovered that eggs yolks are, basically, a blank canvas that can take on many flavors. She’s created eggs for all kinds of special occasions, from French toast deviled eggs for a Mother’s Day brunch to firecracker BBQ pork deviled eggs for Chinese New Year.

She’s also developed a selection based on cocktails that would be perfect for a party or Sunday brunch, including dirty martini deviled eggs and bloody Mary deviled eggs (see recipe accompanying this story).

Her “California Roll” deviled eggs, with a filling that contains avocado and wasabi paste, are topped with crabmeat, cucumber, a sesame seed-seaweed sprinkle and tobiko (flying fish roe).

One of Casey’s favorites for a summer party or movie night is buttered corn deviled eggs, which have grilled corn in the filling and are topped with pieces of salty popcorn.

Some of the flavor combinations in Casey’s book may, at first, appear a little challenging. Pumpkin pie deviled eggs, for example, are not the first thing you’d think of to put on your Thanksgiving table. The eggs are soaked in a sweet cinnamon nutmeg syrup, stuffed with a savory spiced pumpkin filling and topped with salted, candied pecans.

“It’s probably not everyone’s cup of tea, but when we tested it, my whole staff really liked it,” Casey said. “The eggs are in that cinnamon nutmeg syrup for a little bit, which kind of gives the whites a sweeter flavor — not too sweet, though.”

At The Black Birch, flavor combinations have included wasabi and tobiko; bacon, chives and sour cream; sriracha and peanuts; and jalapeno, pineapple and bacon.

“It’s all about finding two or three flavors that will go well together, and they’ll go well in deviled eggs,” Bonney said. “Sometimes when I get stuck, I think of my favorite pizzas.”

Just like everything else on the menu, the deviled egg selection at The Black Birch changes from season to season. The restaurant serves three deviled egg halves on a plate for $3.

The chipotle and cocoa, made with chiles that have been packed in an adobo sauce, has just the right amount of heat, delivered in a kick a few seconds after you pop it in your mouth. The cocoa is not in the filling, but sprinkled across the plate.

Bonney initially tried making the foie gras truffle egg with the foie blended into the filling, but it was too much fat, and the filling separated. So now she places a bite of foie gras at the bottom of the egg, fills the cavity with creamy yolk and tops it with a little shave of truffle.

The nicoise contains filling of yolk blended in the food processor with black olives, then topped with a bit of tuna and a black olive.

One customer, Bonney said, looked at this trio of eggs in front of him and jokingly called it “white trash sushi.” But there’s no denying the eggs are popular. The small eatery typically goes through 20 to 40 orders of deviled eggs a day, but has sold as many as 56 orders in a single night.

For Easter, Bonney shared her recipe for carrot ginger deviled eggs. They are made by cooking sliced carrots (with minced ginger and a little ground cumin) in a little oil until they’re soft, then pureeing them and mixing in mayo and a bit of Dijon mustard. They’re topped with a slice of pickled ginger.

The carrot ginger eggs have a bit of sharp spiciness from the fresh ginger, but that is balanced by the sweetness of the carrots.

“I think (the eggs are) a familiar thing, but we do them a little bit differently, with flavors that go really well together,” Bonney said. “They’re inexpensive, and who doesn’t like deviled eggs? They’re perfect.”

 

Staff Writer Meredith Goad can be contacted at 791-6332 or at mgoad@pressherald.com

Twitter: MeredithGoad

EMERALD ASPARAGUS AND SWEET ONION DEVILED EGGS

Fresh, brilliant asparagus and sweet white onions, such as vidalia, Walla Walla, or Texas sweets, pair up to showcase the garden’s seasonal bounty in these emerald gems.

Makes: 24

1 dozen hard-cooked eggs (recipe follows)

FILLING:

12 spears baby asparagus, bottoms trimmed

3 tablespoons mayonnaise

3 tablespoons sour cream

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon finely minced fresh mint

2 tablespoons minced sweet white onion

TOPPING:

24 reserved, halved asparagus tips

In a medium pot, bring 4 cups of water to a boil, then add the asparagus and quickly blanch for 30 seconds. Immediately remove asparagus from boiling water and run under cold water to stop the cooking. Drain well. Cut the tips off, slice the tips in half lengthwise, and reserve for garnish.

Slice the stems (you should have about 1/2 cup) and puree in a food processor with the mayonnaise, sour cream, lemon juice and salt until smooth.

Halve the eggs lengthwise and transfer the yolks to a mixing bowl. Set the egg white halves on a platter, cover and refrigerate.

With a fork, mash the yolks to a smooth consistency. Add the pureed asparagus mixture and mix until smooth. (You can also do this in a mixing bowl with a whip attachment.) Stir in the mint and onion.

Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a plain or large star tip, then pipe the mixture evenly into the egg white halves. Or fill the eggs with a spoon, dividing the filling evenly.

Top each egg half with a piece of asparagus.

BLOODY MARY DEVILED EGGS

These eggs transport the essence of the classic bloody Mary into a delightful little appetizer. All of the flavors are here: Olives, vodka, tomatoes, horseradish and Tabasco. Be sure to use prepared rather than creamed horseradish for the ultimate kick of heat.

Makes: 24

1 dozen hard-cooked eggs (recipe follows)

FILLING:

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon prepared horseradish

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce

1/4 teaspoon celery seed

1/4 teaspoon salt

TOPPING:

1/2 cup tiny-diced tomatoes

2 tablespoons minced celery

4 teaspoons minced, pimento-stuffed green olives

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 teaspoons vodka

Halve the eggs lengthwise and transfer the yolks to a mixing bowl. Set the egg white halves on a platter, cover and refrigerate.

With a fork, mash the yolks to a smooth consistency. Add the mayonnaise, horseradish, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce, celery seed and salt and mix until smooth. (You can also do this in a mixing bowl with a whip attachment.)

Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a plain or large star tip, then pipe the mixture evenly into the egg white halves. Or fill the eggs with a spoon, dividing the filling evenly.

To make the topping, in a small bowl, mix together the tomatoes, celery, olives, lemon juice and vodka. Top each egg half with about 1 teaspoon of the mixture.

HARD-COOKED EGGS

1 dozen large chicken eggs

Place the eggs in a large nonreactive saucepan and add cold water to 1 inch above the eggs. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Turn off the heat and let the eggs sit for 10 minutes. Remove from the stove and run cool water over the eggs in the pan until they are cooled. When cool, carefully peel them under running water.

Recipes from “D’Lish Deviled Eggs” by Kathy Casey, Andrews McMeel Publishing

BLACK BIRCH CARROT AND PICKLED GINGER DEVILED EGGS

12 eggs, hardboiled

3 carrots, sliced thin

1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced

Salt to taste

1 teaspoon whole toasted cumin seed, ground (optional)

Small amount of oil

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 cup mayonnaise (preferably Hellman’s)

Pickled ginger to garnish

In medium saucepan bring approximately 2 quarts of water to a boil. Carefully drop eggs into boiling water. When water returns to a boil, cover and remove from heat. Let sit for 12 minutes, then drain and cool. When cool enough to handle, peel the eggs. Using a small paring knife, trim both the ends off the egg then cut through the middle. Reserve the yolks and the whites separately.

Gently cook the carrots in a small amount of oil. Season with salt, half the ground cumin and minced ginger. Cover and cook until very soft. Remove from heat and cool.

Place yolks in bowl of food processor and pulse until crumbly. Transfer to bowl. Puree carrot mixture in processor until fairly smooth. Add egg yolks, Dijon and half of the mayonnaise. Process until incorporated. Add remaining mayonnaise and process until smooth. Taste and adjust. Fill disposable pastry bag with filling and pipe into egg whites. Garnish with pickled ginger and a dusting of the ground cumin seed.