ASPARAGUS STUFFED EGGS (24)
4 spears fresh asparagus, woody parts of stems removed and discarded
4 tablespoons soft butter, divided
12 medium eggs
4 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon chopped sweet pickle or picalilli
salt and freshly ground black to taste
1 cup or more finely chopped fresh parsley (optional, but effective at Easter to create the appearance of eggs in the grass)
- Place the eggs in a saucepan, cover them with cold water, turn heat to medium high, and set a timer for 15 minutes. When bubbles first appear, reduce heat to medium and simmer the eggs, stirring gently from time to time (to assure that the yolks will set in the center of the eggs, creating a balanced receptacle for the stuffing.) until the timer goes off. Remove from stove, place pan in sink and run cold water over eggs for 5 minutes, until they have cooled completely. (This causes a jacket of steam to form between the egg and shell to facilitate peeling.) Peel the eggs and, using a knife run under cold water, halve them lengthwise.
- Cut the asparagus spears into 1 inch pieces and blanch them in a small saucepan of boiling, salted water until tender, about 4 minutes. Drain and saute in 1 tablespoon butter until well coated and very tender, about 1 minute. Remove from skillet, mince and allow to cool.
- Scoop the yolks from the eggs, keeping the egg white halves intact, and use a spatula to force the yolks through a fine sieve into a small bowl. Add the mayonnaise, remaining 1 tablespoon butter, pickle and salt and pepper to taste. Add asparagus and stir until well mixed.
- Shave a thin slice from the bottoms of the egg white halves so they will sit flat on a plate. Fill the whites using a pastry bag fitted with a ½ inch fluted tube.
- Cover the surface of a medium platter with the parsley and nestle the stuffed eggs in the parsley “grass”.
JULIA’S VARIATIONS (2 dozen eggs)
Cut 2 dozen peeled, hard-boiled eggs in half lengthwise with a sharp knife dipped in cold water, then remove the yolks and puree them through a sieve or food mill into a bowl. Blend in ¼ cup mayonnaise, 4 tablespoons soft butter, 2 tablespoons chopped sweet pickle or piccalilli, and salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Fill the whites using a pastry bag fitted with a fluted tube. Decorate with parsley or a bit of red pimiento. After sieving the yolks and adding the mayonnaise, butter and salt and pepper, blend in:
MUSHROOMS, MINCED AND SAUTEED WITH HERBS AND SHALLOTS, or
ONIONS MINCED AND SAUTEED IN BUTTER WITH A GOOD PINCH OF CURRY POWDER