Validating my cookbook collection, one damn recipe at at a time

4: Food With Friends — Beet-Pickled Eggs

4: Food With Friends — Beet-Pickled Eggs

Friends, you might suspect that you’re an insufferable hipster foodie. You might even fear that you’re an insufferable hipster foodie. Or you might find yourself photographing a large jar of beet-pickled eggs for your food blog, artfully arranging the cookbook you used in the background… and then the clammy grip of knowledge grasps its lacto-fermented fingers around your iPhone-addicted heart, and you realize, “Oh for the love of Evan Kleiman, I’m that insufferable hipster foodie.”

Hello, and welcome to this week in One Damn Recipe. I’m your host, That Insufferable Hipster Foodie.

After having spent more time tangling with the video footage from the last recipe and editing it on my phone (whilst still avoiding taking my external hard drive in for diagnosis, because what I don’t know can’t make me decide between paying hundreds of dollars to restore it or losing years of photos and footage which I may never be able to recoup)… I realized that I had shot WAY more footage than I really needed.

Because — and I say this knowing that if you’re reading this, it’s because you’re either interested in the subject material or just genuinely that interested in me as a person — nobody wants to watch a long, home-produced, amateur cooking show.

I’m not calling anyone out or being self-deprecating here! I personally have an incredibly short attention span when it comes to internet videos. I’ll start, and if it takes a while to kick up, I’ll skip ahead to see if what I’m looking for is coming OR — more likely — I’ll look at the runtime and say (often out loud) “UGH I DON’T HAVE TIME FOR THIS” and shut it down.

Don’t get me wrong:
I will lose days watching the right Netflix show.
I will go on podcast binges that last for hours.
I probably will not watch an entire YouTube video that lasts longer than 10 minutes unless I really really love it.

This is all fair.

That said, I’m a fucking talker. And since I’m functioning as my own producer, editor, DP, host, light crew, sound mixer, director, janitor, etc., I’ve got a lot of shit to do and I do not have the time to weed through all my own on-camera ramblings and cut together the few pithy gems. Especially not on my iPhone. (Editing on iMovie for iPhone is basically like trying to prep a nice meal using a Swiss army knife; you can do it, but it’s not gonna be fun, not gonna be pretty, and in the end, somebody is probably getting stabbed.)

This blog here is where I get to ramble. It’s way easier for you to scan this page and go, “Blah blah, Dana’s going on about something, AH there’s the recipe!” than it is to do that with a video.

So YOU’RE WELCOME — I’ve made an executive decision to only post videos of the active stuff. The explanation, the lead-up, the journey behind it all — that’ll live here.  But the videos will be brief and (with any luck) entertaining.

Now, they always say that writers will do just about anything to avoid writing. A writer’s house is never so clean as when they need to put down some pages. I’m fully prone to this trap, but it also goes the other way. I will absolutely write to avoid cleaning. I’m doing it right now. This word. And these. And this totally pointless sentence here. All plunked out in my abject lack of desire to clean my kitchen. Or my living room, or my bathroom, or my bedroom, or — heaven help me — do my laundry. I’m a single actor/writer who lives alone and loves to cook and does not have a dishwasher or houseguests coming over at any point in the next month. Left to my own devices, I tend to let my surroundings get as messy as I can stand, until I finally break, like I’m playing squalor-chicken with myself. It doesn’t get THAT bad… but it’s bad enough that I get fully embarrassed if the maintenance man needs to come into my apartment to fix something unexpectedly. As if I need to prove I don’t really live like this. It’s OK, I do; also, he does not care.

Anyhow, I told myself that I needed to clean my apartment this afternoon, once I got the eggs a’ picklin’. “I’ll clean my apartment and I’ll simultaneously work on lines for my show while my eggs pickle for my blog, and I’ll be so goddamn productive that some Girl-Boss style trophy will actually materialize, like a hologram made solid, like it teleported into my apartment — because truly productive people don’t have time to drop shit off themselves — and I will feel such a sense of accomplishment that all the rest of the work I have to do this weekend will feel so much more satisfying, looking around at my spotless apartment.”

None of this is currently happening.

I blame it partly on having had a hard week and partly on having forgotten a couple ingredients for my egg brine. Thus, I had to run back to the grocery store (without having eaten breakfast or lunch, due to easy distraction and pure sloth), and afterward ended up on the couch having lunch for an hour-plus, eating grocery store sushi and watching the new Iliza Schlesinger special. (Side note: It’s fucking delightful.)

I even painted a spot in my living room to test out the paint I bought weeks ago but haven’t actually used yet since it’s too fucking hot to paint voluntarily right now, rather than do my dishes.

(Yes. Really.)

AND NOW I’M HERE. Sipping sparkling water from a red-wine glass as I attempt to turn 8 hard-boiled eggs bright fuschia.

The Assignment: Beet-Pickled Eggs from Food with Friends: The Art of Simple Gatherings by Leela Cyd

Why did I get this book? I could tell you I liked the premise, I could tell you I read an article on Leela Cyd from when the book launched and it got me interested, and all that is probably true. But I’m pretty sure the reason I wanted this book is because of this recipe, which is featured on the cover of the book. Because BE STILL MY INSTAGRAM-SCROLLING HEART, that’s a great damn photo of an incredibly pretty recipe.

There are certain things that beets are great at. Ruining clothing? Aces. Making you briefly worry that you’re dying several hours after you eat them? Every time. But these things all relate to that intense pigment that beets pack into their rooty little bodies. And while it’s not so cool when you’re trying to scrub beet stain out of your hands like Lady goddamned Macbeth, the natural dye is very slick if you’re pickling eggs.

And let’s not downplay this whole recipe the way I feel the name does — these aren’t JUST pickled eggs. They’re pickled AND DEVILED eggs.

Take a moment of silent reverence for the beauty and perfection that is the deviled egg.

I love them so much. And I have a lot of friends that go equally fucking nuts for the things. The only reason I can really identify that we don’t eat deviled eggs all the time as if they were their own food group (aside from the fact that we’d all probably have heart attacks) is that they are an incredible pain in the ovaries to make.

You have to boil the eggs.
Then you have to chill the eggs.
Then you have to peel the eggs, which takes for-fucking-ever and will work you to your last nerve trying not to lose too much egg white in the process.
Then you slice the eggs.
Then you mix up the filling, oh god are we still doing this.
Then you fill the eggs.
Then you inevitably transport them to another location because people almost never go through all this trouble for themselves.*

AND THEN THE DAMN THINGS ARE EATEN AND GONE IN 5 MINUTES.

All your hard work. Gone in a flash.

(Again, no shade, because I will go through a plate of deviled eggs like a possessed Dyson vacuum with PMS.)

All this to say… bruh, make yourself some deviled eggs. Enjoy a few in your own time, knowing that more will be there when you return. Maybe even take bites out of them rather than shoving an entire mayo-stuffed egg half into your mouth at once. (I know, this is some wild talk here.)

“Uh, Dana, isn’t this book called ‘Food with Friends’?”
Yo, my LIFE is food with friends; these eggs are ALL MINE.

The Recipe (directly from the book, which you should buy):

Beet-Pickled Eggs
from Food With Friends by Leela Cyd

Things to Note About the Recipe:

It calls for 8 eggs. This made me scoff pretty hard at first, because, um, why wouldn’t you want to make as many deviled eggs as possible, thus calling for a full dozen. As Justin Timberlake said in the Facebook movie, “16 deviled eggs isn’t cool. You know what’s cool? 24 deviled eggs.”

(WELL MAYBE HE SHOULD HAVE SAID THAT, AARON SORKIN.)

 

While I was initially skeptical, this actually turned out to be practical. Why? Because there’s basically a one-in-a-million chance that all 12 eggs in your dozen will come out of their shells in a pretty and presentable manner. Inevitably, several of them will turn out looking like a bad model of the moon made by a 3rd grader whose parents wouldn’t help them in an attempt to “build character.”

So this recipe allows you to remove your 4 most chewed-up looking eggs from the equation. And I truly appreciate that.

I also initially scoffed at putting it all to brine in a large jar. “Fuck that, I’ll just use a pot,” I thought… until I realized there was no way the eggs would be submerged in brine if they spread out like that. SIGH.

I loaded the eggs and brine into the jar, got them all submerged, then looked back at them an hour later to note that the spots where the eggs were pressed against the glass were a little pale, so I mixed ’em around. You may want to as well.

I did make a couple minor ingredient substitutions — not because I objected to the original. I thought I had dry mustard, and when I discovered that I did not, I refused to make a THIRD run to the grocery store, and decided to use prepared Dijon mustard instead. And I happened to have green onions at home already, so I skipped buying chives for the tablespoon the filling needed, and used those instead. It was all fine.

Additionally for the garnishes? Go ahead and use a shallot instead of cutting into a big-ass red onion for just a little topping. And while the recipe suggests fresh marjoram as a garnish, you really just need something green; I used torn parsley, and it turned out fine.

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THE VERDICT

How did they taste?

SO GOOD. Like, they tasted like very yummy deviled eggs. Perhaps not as creamy as some I’ve had, but I certainly appreciated the potent flavors. And as I was mixing up the filling, I thought “What is it I’m used to having in deviled eggs that I’m not using now… OH, pickle relish!” Because GUH-DOY, the eggs were pickled, hence lending the sweet-tangy taste that any good deviled egg should possess.

Would I make this again?

Hell yes I would! And not just because I’m a deviled egg freak — this recipe is a grade A stunner in terms of presentation, and I’m here to say that you can make a batch that looks 98% as gorgeous as those you see on the cover of the cookbook. Wanna really wow your buddies? Bust out a plate of these babies, and it may take an additional 10 seconds for them to snarf down the plateful, having taken a moment to ooh and aah at your food-styling prowess.

Do I recommend this cookbook?

I do. As much as I was all “MY EGGSES, MY PRECIOUSES!” with these things initially, a) I really like the aim of the book overall to get people together and share homemade food with one another, and b) I did end up sharing some of the eggs with my coworkers. FRIENDSHIP PREVAILS.

What’s the next recipe I want to make from this book?

One of the most sexy and alluring things in the world to me is a well-curated and artfully overloaded board o’ food, so my ambitions would steer me toward the Anything-Goes Breakfast Board… but if we’re being real, I’m more likely to make the following recipe in the book, Roasted Plums with Burrata, which allegedly serves 4 to 6, but would probably just serve me and maybe one other person if I’m feeling generous.

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One more damn recipe down! Look at me, cranking through my cookbook collecti– oh, right, there’s a whole other shelf of unpictured books here. Well, 4 out of 30 isn’t nothing. One more recipe and I’ll be, like, 1/6th through this batch!

I’ve got my recipe picked for next week, and let me just say, it’s a childhood favorite… which also has a totally fair chance of going horribly awry. Oh good. It’s been 3 weeks since my last kitchen nightmare.

See you next Tuesday…

(Wait, I didn’t mean it like that!)

 

* Honestly, if you’re transporting deviled eggs, save yourself the drama; don’t fill the fuckers til you arrive. Pack the filling in a big Ziploc bag, and once you get there, lay out the egg whites, snip a corner off the bag, and pipe the filling in. Your friends will look at you like you’re Martha Stewart in a crop top.



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