March 27, 2013

Soup to Nuts: Devilishly delicious

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with your grandma’s deviled egg recipe, but as with most comfort-food classics, today’s chefs are taking the basic idea and running with it.

By Meredith Goad
Staff Writer

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.

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Skye Bonney, sous chef at The Black Birch in Kittery, presents three of her deviled egg specialties: From left, foie gras and truffle, chipotle and cocoa, and nicoise.

Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

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Skye Bonney of The Black Birch in Kittery

Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

Additional Photos Below


• Kathy Casey's top tip for making great deviled eggs is to never use "super-fresh eggs." They will be difficult to peel. Instead, use eggs that have been refrigerated for at least seven to 10 days. Letting them sit like this allows air to enter the egg and helps separate the membrane from the shell.

• Casey says the biggest mistake people make is overcooking the eggs, which leads to a dark green ring around the yolk and a "funky" taste. But there's some disagreement here. Skye Bonney thinks harder boiled eggs make for a better, not worse filling.

"I find the more cooked the yolk is, the fluffier and lighter the filling is," Bonney said. "If they're just barely set and they're still that dark yellow and the yolk still has some moisture in it, the filling is more dense."

• What method should you use to boil the eggs?

Casey recommends the tried-and-true method of adding cold water to 1 inch above the eggs in the pan, then bringing the water to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat and cover. Let the eggs sit for 15 minutes, then rinse under cold water before peeling.

Here's Bonney's method: Let the eggs come to room temperature. Bring water to a boil in a pan, then lower the eggs into the boiling water. Let the water come back to a boil, then cover the pan and take it off the heat. Let the eggs sit for 12 minutes before draining and cooling.

• There's any number of ways you can mash the yolks and blend them with other ingredients. Bonney prefers a food processor for a lump-free filling. Casey suggests putting the filling through a ricer first for a really smooth yolk-and-mayo combination.

• Be sure to season the eggs correctly, Casey says. Taste the filling as you make it. Just using Kosher salt instead of table salt can make a big difference in taste.

• Put your filling into a pastry bag (you can buy disposable ones at a kitchen store if you don't want to invest in a professional one). This will be especially handy if you're making eggs for a crowd.

"You can make them way ahead easily if you store the filling in the pastry bag, and then just pipe them when you want them," Bonney said. "Otherwise they get that weird crust in a matter of hours."

Scoop the filling into the bag, and then tie off the end so the bag will be air tight.

• You probably won't have any leftovers. But if you do, how can you keep the eggs looking good while stored in your fridge? As Bonney noted above, it doesn't take long for the eggs to start looking old, tired and crusty.

Casey recommends lightly wetting a paper towel. Wring it out and place it gently over the eggs in the refrigerator.

"I've kept them in the refrigerator for two to three days," she said. "They're not as pretty, let me tell you, but they still taste good."

–  Meredith Goad, Staff Writer

YOU'LL FIND MORE creative deviled egg recipes on Kathy Casey's website at

TO LEARN MORE about The Black Birch, located at 2 Government St. in Kittery, go to

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."

(Continued on page 2)

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Additional Photos

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Skye Bonney works away at a batch of her high-end deviled eggs in the kitchen at The Black Birch in Kittery.

Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

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Skye Bonney’s carrot and pickled ginger deviled egg.

Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

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Emerald asparagus and sweet onion deviled eggs from Kathy Casey’s recipe in “D’Lish Deviled Eggs.”

Photo by Kathy Casey Food Studios, from “D’Lish Deviled Eggs,” Andrews McMeel Publishing

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The bloody Mary deviled eggs created by chef Kathy Casey, author of “D’Lish Deviled Eggs: A Collection of Recipes from Creative to Classic.”

Photo by Kathy Casey Food Studios, from “D’Lish Deviled Eggs,” Andrews McMeel Publishing


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