A dazzling brightness on mid-summer’s night here in the dusty valley, the summer solstice marking the longest day in the southern hemisphere. Neighbours up the road making potato latkes for Hannukah, the Festival of Lights, much party-going in the village.
The housemate and I made devilled eggs by the dozen (about three dozen) using a recipe I found in Smitten Kitchen, one of my favourite and most reliable food blogs. This is Caesar Salad Devilled Eggs, a deluxe version of devilled eggs and fairly time-consuming to make, which was not a bad idea considering how flattened and bleak I felt. We adapted this recipe to serve about 30 people, tripling the quantities and tasting as we seasoned, but I’m leaving the original with a few comments from me in italics. The eggs were a wow and not one was left.
Caesar Salad Deviled Eggs
Adapted from Good Food to Share
Serves 6 to 12
To make these and bring them to a party, Sarah-Kate suggests that you can prepare the filling and crumbs separately and assemble them when you get there. This will ensure that the yolks don’t dry out and the crumbs stay crisp and light.
6 large eggs
12 small romaine lettuce leaves [We used lots and lots of gem lettuce leaves for little cups]
2 to 3 tablespoons mayo (2 is suggested but 3 will make a creamier filling)
2 teaspoons smooth Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce (optional) [I used a mixture of Worcester sauce, light soy and balsamic]
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 anchovy fillet, minced
1 small clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/4 cups (30 grams) panko bread crumbs [I used day-old ciabatta crumbs, lightly toasted and ground]
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese or more to taste
Place the eggs in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Once water begins to boil, reduce it to medium-low and simmer eggs for exactly 10 minutes. Drain eggs and cover with cold water. Sitting them in ice water will help the eggs chill more quickly.
Do ahead: As I discovered giving your eggs two to four days to rest in the fridge ensures that they peel more easily. If you’ve got time, do this now. [We should have done the eggs a day or two before because our eggs were large organic, very fresh and hard to shell.]
Arrange 12 small lettuce leaves on a serving platter. Carefully peel the eggs and cut in half lengthwise. Remove the yolks and place them in a small bowl. Arrange the whites on leaves. Mash the yolks with the mayo, Dijon, Worcestershire (if using), lemon juice and 1 tablespoon of the parsley until smooth. Season generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Set the filling aside.
In a small skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the anchovy and garlic and cook, stirring, until the anchovy begins to dissolve into the oil, about 1 minute. Add the lemon zest and bread crumbs and saute them until golden, about 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in Parmesan and set crumbs aside.
When you’re ready to serve the eggs, spoon the yolk mixture back into the cavities of the egg whites, mounding it slightly in the center. (To make extra-cute eggs, you can pipe the filling with a star tip.) Sprinkle each egg with some of the crumb mixture (about 1 teaspoon), allowing some to spill onto the lettuce cups. Garnish with remaining chopped parsley and serve.
Then the housemate had to go and check on her home carers because there are patients ill with typhoid out on the farms. Each summer, there are cholera and typhoid outbreaks, hard to contain and heartbreaking because small children and the elderly, the most vulnerable, are the first to die.
Off I went to the party in my capri pants and shaven legs, hair washed, smile in place, bearing platters of eggs. A large acquaintance with a pony tail cornered me and lectured me about druids. This kind of thing happens at solstice. Ill-met by moonlight! I escaped and discussed the genealogy of the 1820 Settlers with another neighbour who has just discovered that her great-great-grandfather died of leprosy in the leper colony on Robben Island in 1850 and that his grandfather fled from a debtor’s prison in Somerset, England, to arrive on the banks of the Fish River in South Africa in 1820 and find that none of his English fruit farming skills were any use to him out here amidst the dry river beds and snakes.
Most of us at the party knew one another and so conversation flowed. D invited me to a musical evening at her home on the 23 January, chamber music with a supper dish of curried mussels at interval. Live dangerously! M showed me a glass lamp she had made with smoked glass and a variety of welding tools, a lovely unusual lamp in amethyst and blue. Everyone asked after the Great Dane pup who has acquired a degree of fame or notoriety. G and I had a spirited discussion on e-publishing and marketing one’s own work. T told us all about her children’s book, begun when her children were toddlers. The toddlers now have adult children of their own and the book is still without an ending. All this interrupted by the deaf former Presbyterian minister who got up and said a long grace even though we had been eating snacks for several hours, then attacked the worship of druidry right in the heart of a respectable village. The druidic pony-tailed guest looked thrilled. Ironically, we all then went out into the garden to admire a Cape Chestnut tree (Calodendrum capensus) with spreading canopy and deep green leaves. Moonlight whitening the garden, shadows deep as any woodland glade.
The druidic influence perhaps winning out on a mid-summer’s night!