Many recipes in Julia Child’s archives are so low in bacon and butter that they don’t fit the stereotype that French food is gluttonous. They are rarely discussed. These recipes are found in Julia Child’s Kitchen, published in 1975. It contains kitchen advice and recipes from her PBS series. The recipes are more accessible to beginners than the classics from Mastering the Art of French Cooking. They were also probably more familiar to American audiences. For example, leek-and-potato soup, sauteed tarragon chicken breasts and tomatoes, and a variation on the deviled egg that I’m trying to save from obscurity.
I love hard-boiled eggs. I keep a few in my fridge for easy breakfasts with whole-grain toast and cinnamon, as a healthy way to add protein to a salad for lunch or snacks. I like to eat mine slightly undercooked with a thin layer of Dijon and mayo, then halved. Then, I add a few sea salt flakes.
You can use any spring vegetable in your market, including artichokes, spinach, and, I’m sure, favas, peas, and pea pods. Then, you cook it until it is fully cooked, then cool it down, puree it, and drain it. Julia tells you to wring the towel to remove all the liquid. Julia is excellent because she tells you exactly how to clean the towel so that it doesn’t set a stain. I still found that sprinkling it on paper towels and letting them sit for a few minutes was the best way. It allowed me to achieve my goal of doing minimal laundry.
These will be a pleasant surprise if you have only imagined deviled eggs as goopy and rich with mayonnaise. Dijon mustard is optional, and mayo is also an option. They taste and look like spring, no matter where it is hiding.
Asparagus Stuffed Eggs
You can substitute the asparagus puree for a puree made from another spring vegetable, such as artichoke (choke and leaves should be removed; one piece is sufficient), spinach, or favas. You’ll need about two tablespoons of drained puree for six whole eggs. Cook the vegetable until it’s tender, then blend it, drain some liquid, and mix it with the mashed yolks. You can adjust the flavoring to suit your ingredient. Artichokes are great with lemon zest, mayonnaise, and mint; peas go well with cream and fresh mint.
Yield: 12 stuffed egg halves
Six large eggs4 medium asparagus spears
Two teaspoons of very finely minced scallion, shallot, or chives, plus an extra pinch for garnish
Use three tablespoons of mayonnaise or a mixture of whipping cream, creme Fraiche, soft butter, sour cream, and creme fraiche
1/2 teaspoon smooth Dijon (optional)
Few gratings fresh lemon zest (optional)
Taste salt and pepper
You can hard-boil the eggs in any way you like. I set the timer to 9 1/2 minutes, covered my eggs with cold water, and brought it to a rolling boil. Once the timer rings, drain and cool your eggs in iced water. You can cook eggs ahead of time and store them in the refrigerator for up to four days.
In salted boiling water, cook asparagus spears until they are fully tender. This should take 4 to 5 minutes. Drain, then plunge into cold water. Spread out towels and drain again. Then, cut the spear tips in half and lengthwise. These tips will be used as a garnish. Puree the remaining asparagus. My food processor did not do well due to its small volume. Yours may. This recipe works best with a food mill that has a fine disc.
If you want to remove excess water, spread your puree for a moment on several layers of paper towels. You’ll end up with a soggy, damp filling, or as Julia put it, “a disappointing flavor and texture.”
Peel your eggs. To make a clean cut, dip your knife into the water before you split each egg in half. Each bottom should be shaved to prevent it from moving around in the dish. To sieve the yolks, remove them and place them in a fine mesh strainer. Add the pureed asparagus, shallots or chives (if using), mayonnaise or crème, Dijon, or lemon zest, and mix until smooth. Season with freshly ground black and salt pepper.
Use a piping and star tip to create a more elegant presentation. Each stuffed egg can be decorated with an asparagus tip you have saved (you will not need it) and the rest with extra shallots, chives, or scallions. Wrap the tray with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator until ready to use.