deviled eggs with bacon

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February was fast and furious. I can’t even believe it’s already over. I actually kind of love how fast this year is flying by, which is new for me since I’m usually in a panic when I feel like time is passing too quickly. But there are things I’m looking forward to later this year. So let’s keep this train a-rollin’.

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Deviled eggs, anyone?

My sister is the go-to for deviled eggs in our family. But they’ve totally been my thing this year. People are thrilled when you show up to a party with a platter of deviled eggs – I know this to be a fact. Deviled eggs are the perfect party food. They go well with champagne (and since they’re packed with protein, you can drink even more champagne and not get crunk). And they’re easy to pop in your mouth as you pass the snack table, which is a plus in my book.

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I first made these deviled eggs for this year’s New Year’s Eve soiree. A friend asked if I could show him how to make them sometime. At the time, I couldn’t actually give a recipe because there was no recipe – when I’m not baking, I have a tendency to just throw these things together without measuring. But when I made these for a baby shower last weekend, I made sure to actually measure ingredients and take notes. So, my dear Ryan, this is for you.

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What’s most important about these particular deviled eggs is that they’re topped with bacon. If you’re not into bacon, you can leave it out, the eggs will still be a hit. But there’s a reason why bacon and eggs are a breakfast staple – it’s because they’re a team. And because bacon just makes everything better. Let’s not pretend otherwise.

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deviled eggs with bacon

serves 12

12 extra large eggs (do not use farm fresh eggs; buy eggs at least 5 days before preparing for best results – it makes them easier to peel) 

3/4 cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons prepared yellow mustard

1 tablespoon lemon juice

grated zest of 1 lemon

1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

5 slices of crispy bacon, finely chopped

chives, chopped 

smoked paprika

Place eggs in a single layer in a large pot. Cover with an inch of  cold water. Place over medium heat and bring to a rolling boil. Remove from heat and cover. Let stand for 13 minutes. Remove the eggs and place them in a bowl of cold water to cool. When the eggs are cool, carefully crack and peel and place on a towel-lined plate. Pat dry.

Slice eggs in half lengthwise. Remove the yolks and place them in the bowl of a food processor. Add mayonnaise, mustard, lemon juice, zest, and pepper to the egg yolk. Process the egg yolks until the mixture becomes smooth. Add more mustard, lemon juice, and pepper to taste. Transfer the mixture to the pastry bag fitted with a large tip. You can also use a freezer bag; snip off one corner.

Arrange the egg white halves on a platter. Pipe the yolk mixture into the cavity of each egg white. Top each egg with chopped bacon and chives. Sprinkle with paprika. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.

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top-secret chocolate mousse

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Last week I subsisted on pâté and Triscuits and chocolate mousse. It was obscene. But it was that kind of week. I also might’ve been just a tiny bit concerned about asteroids and crazy meteor showers and other things that are way beyond my control. Cuckoo, I know. Don’t judge. The good news is I have chocolate mousse for you.

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I mentioned a while back that I had been contemplating chocolate mousse. I finally decided to do something about it. I ended up testing two recipes. The first wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t great. I initially liked the idea of a chocolate mousse recipe that called for egg whites and whipped cream and butter. But it was a bit labor intensive and included a lot of calories that didn’t necessarily need to be there. I felt like I needed to go back to the drawing board.

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Since I was getting together with the boys for dinner on Sunday, I figured it would be the perfect opportunity to try out a second recipe. I had a feeling when I stumbled upon Dorie’s top-secret chocolate mousse that the search was over. The recipe only called for a handful of ingredients and was super simple to whip up – I threw it together while catching up with one of the Gregs over bourbon cocktails, and did it all without a mixer.

As always, the Lady Greenspan did not disappoint. The chocolate mousse was rich, intensely chocolate, and perfectly textured – velvety and airy all at once. Totally decadent. It’s definitely a winner in my book. It was the perfect ending to our homemade pasta dinner (more about that later).

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top-secret chocolate mousse 

adapted from Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan

serves 4

3-1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate (do not exceed 61% cacao), chopped

3 large eggs, separated, at room temperature (use the freshest eggs available)

Pinch of salt

1-1/2 teaspoons sugar

3/4 cup chilled heavy whipping cream 

1 teaspoon sugar 

chocolate shavings (optional)

Gently melt the chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Stir until the chocolate is melted and smooth.

Using a whisk, stir the eggs into the chocolate one at a time until smooth.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or in a bowl with a hand mixer, beat the egg whites with the salt until they start to form peaks. Gradually add the sugar while beating. Continue to beat until the whites are shiny and hold medium-firm peaks. Be careful not to overbeat.

Spoon about one quarter of the whites over the melted chocolate and stir until the mixture is almost smooth. Spoon the rest of the whites into the chocolate mixture, and very carefully fold them in with a large rubber spatula. Be as thorough as you can without overworking the mixture.

Spoon the mousse into a serving bowl or 4 individual bowls. Serve immediately or cover and keep refrigerated until set, about 4 hours.

Beat cream and 1 teaspoon sugar in another medium bowl until peaks form. Spoon whipped cream atop mousse. Garnish with chocolate shavings.

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lentil soup with preserved lemon

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If January was the month of fun and indulgence, then February has definitely been a time for taking care of business. Self reflection. Home improvement. Getting shit done. It feels like the right time.

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But first I had to recover from my annual bout with bronchitis. I had been fighting off a cold for a few weeks, but it finally caught up with me and everything went downhill from there. I wasn’t much in the mood to cook, but I wanted a bowl of soup in a bad way. Since I couldn’t deal with a whole lot of prep or slaving over a hot stove, I busted out my crock pot (which I had only used once in my life and involved turning canned condensed milk into dulce de leche).

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I also came across some red lentils that I had bought a few months ago and forgotten about, and decided that it was a lentil soup kind of day. Then I remembered a lemony lentil soup that Sara and I had talked about a few weeks earlier. And then I started thinking about the jar of preserved lemons in my fridge. I started googling.

That night I had lentil soup with preserved lemon for dinner. It didn’t take long to find exactly what I was looking for – a recipe that requires very little prep and is packed with flavor. One cup of lentils, one carton of veggie broth, half an onion, and a few cloves of garlic transform into something hearty and satisfying while you spend the day in bed. The crockpot does all of the work for you. I could totally get used to this.

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lentil soup with preserved lemon 

adapted from Mosaic Kitchen

serves 4

4 cups vegetable broth

1 cup lentils, rinsed and picked over

½ medium onion, diced

½ cup thinly sliced carrots

2 cloves garlic, minced 

½ teaspoon ground coriander seed

4 cups coarsely chopped fresh spinach

¼ cup lemon juice

1 tablespoon preserved lemon rind, diced or fresh lemon zest, plus more for garnish (recipe here)

Salt and pepper to taste

fresh grated parmesan for garnish (optional)

Add the vegetable broth, lentils, onion, carrots, garlic and ground coriander seed to a slow cooker pot. Stir together, cover, and set on low for 8-10 hours. The lentils should be very soft.

Stir in the spinach, lemon juice, and preserved lemon. Cover and continue to cook for 20 minutes longer. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish individual bowls with chopped preserved lemon and/or parmesan. Serve hot.

Alternatively…

You can also make this on the stovetop:

Soften the onion and carrots in 2 teaspoons of olive oil in the bottom of a 3 quart soup pot. Stir in the lentils, vegetable broth, garlic, and coriander seed. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 30 minutes, or until the lentils and vegetables are very soft. Stir in the spinach, lemon juice, and preserved lemon or lemon zest, cover and continue to simmer for 10 minutes longer. Salt and pepper to taste.