Caitlin, my nine-year-old granddaughter, is with me today for our first cooking class together. She has just returned from a family vacation at a villa in Lucca, Italy, where she had her first real cooking lesson—in fresh pasta and pesto, and decided she may want to be a chef. Kathy told her that her “YaYa,” (that's me!) has a long history of teaching cooking and writing cookbooks. To my delight, they decided I get to play in my kitchen on Wednesday afternoons for the rest of the summer with this amazing, enthusiastic, open-hearted child.
We begin our one-hour lesson by exploring something I simply love—all the fresh, fragrant herbs abundant in my summer herb garden. She loves learning to identify the scents and flavors, and we make an herb bouquet for her to take to her mom.
Back in the kitchen, I decide to introduce her to the wonderful taste of jicama, using a grooved cutter. We decide it tastes a bit like a cross between an apple and celery.
“What was your favorite thing you learned in cooking class?” I ask,
Since deviled eggs are a family favorite, I suggest we make some for her to take home. First, my favorite method for making hard-cooked eggs. While they are cooking she learns to handle a very sharp knife by cutting some green onions.
We arrange our deviled eggs on my grandmother's glass deviled egg dish.
When her mom and sister come to pick her up we show them what we've been up to.
“What? You’re kidding!” they say in unison.
“Caitlin ate an egg? She hates eggs!”
I looked at Caitlin who looked slightly chagrined and realized she had been too polite to tell me.
She had indeed eaten one, and admitted that it was pretty good. (If she actually does want to make these at home, I may just give her my grandmother's deviled egg dish!)
What a delicious way to spend an hour together!
Waving goodbye, I realize I have inadvertently demonstrated the most important lesson of all:
How we feel about cooking together is much more important than what we cook.
Older eggs are better than the freshest ones because they are easier to peel. Set them in a single layer in a saucepan without crowding and cover with cold water by one inch. Bring to a hard boil, and then remove from the heat, cover and let sit for at least 12 minutes, or up to 15.
Remove the eggs with a slotted spoon to a bowl of ice water, or pour off the hot water from the pan and cover with cold water and about 4 cups of ice. Let cool completely.
If not using right away, store in the refrigerator for up to a week. (Write an H on them with a pencil so family members who peek in the refrigerator will know what they are.
For 12 halves
7 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and cut lengthwise (this allows for an extra one to taste)
¼ cup light mayonnaise or salad dressing
2 green onions, thinly sliced and chopped
1½ teaspoons Poupon Dijon mustard
1/8 teaspoon salt (or 2-3 tablespoons crisp bacon bits)
A few grinds of black pepper
Fresh herbs for garnish (we used a chive blossom, broken into little buds)
Cut eggs lengthwise, and place the yoks in a small bowl. Arrange the whites with cavity up on a dish covered with a bed of parsley or scrunched plastic wrap, or in a deviled egg dish like my grandmother’s.