By Lisa Crockett
Menus this time of year are chock full of things that are young, tender and fresh. A tasty reminder of the annual renewal that accompanies spring: young asparagus, tender lamb, juicy strawberries. Many households also have an abundance of another young food: eggs. Specifically the hard-boiled, heavily decorated variety. A symbol of new life and fertility, in the spring, hard boiled eggs can also come to symbolize something else: total domination of the refrigerator.
Eggs this time of year are typically inexpensive and it doesn't take long to boil a large batch for decorating. And if you have children around, you're wise to make enough for everyone to exercise their creativity to the fullest – eggs can be dipped in dye, covered with glitter or wrapped in yarn for hours of old-fashioned fun. But at the end of the day, you've got a fridge full of eggs that have a limited life span (according to the Egg Safety Center, a group sponsored by the United Egg Producers, hard-cooked eggs will last about a week in your refrigerator.)
So, what to do with all those eggs? First things first, to achieve hard-boiled egg perfection: Place about a dozen eggs in a large pot, then add water to barely cover the eggs, place the pot on your stove and turn the heat to high. Once the water comes to a rolling boil, set your timer for 10 minutes. (If the water boils over the edges of your pot, turn the heat down a bit, but keep that boil rolling.) After 10 minutes, place the pot in the sink and fill the pot with cool water from the tap, letting the pot overflow and letting the water run until the water in the pot is completely cool. Next, pack your eggs with ice and allow eggs to sit in the ice water bath until they're very cold. Store eggs in the refrigerator.
Now that you have eggs worthy of a spring celebration, how to prepare them? Of course they can be served quite deliciously with just a sprinkle of salt and pepper. My friend Emily once served some bacon-and-tomato-laced deviled eggs that I unashamedly took thirds and fourths of at a buffet.
In many cultures, it's common to pickle boiled eggs (often in brine tinged red with beet juice), though I haven't had the courage to try that yet. But my favorite hard-boiled egg recipe comes from the lifestyle blog Aesthetic Nest (www.aestheticnest.com). My friend Anneliese is an artist and the creator of this inspiring blog, and these "creamed eggs" (which first appeared on the blog in April 2010) are simple to make, tasty to eat, and lovely to look at. This is delicious for breakfast, brunch or a light supper in the days after Easter. If you have dyed your eggs, this dish may be pastel-tinged, but will still be tasty.