A few weeks ago, I dug into a new cookbook, “The Preppy Cookbook,” written by my friend Christine Nunn, a chef who once reviewed restaurants for the same newspaper I did.
Christine, who runs the kitchen at Grange in Westwood, N.J., will put foie gras and microgreens on the same menu as a casserole made with Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup. Because Christine cooks from her heart and her head.
I was thinking about her the other day when a food show spread included these deviled eggs. Garish, freaky and psychadelic, and flavorwise, nothing to write home about. It reminded me how much flavor Christine could coax out of a humble egg.
I though I’d perfected deviled eggs by mixing in shaved country ham scraps I’d buy from the Old Chickahominy House in Williamsburg, Va. I was following the lead of my grandmother, whose eggs were fortified with canned deviled ham.
But none of them could match what Christine does with such simplicity. She buys her eggs from the local chicken farm. She cooks them by the book, until the yolk is just-set (most deviled eggs are ruined by overcooking). She uses great restraint in flavoring the filling, whether it’s simple with vinegar and mustard or more complex and risky, like with truffle oil.
It’s why you’ll pay $4 for an order of three pieces and wish you’d ordered a double.
When my old newspaper, The Record in Bergen County, N.J., reviewed her restaurant, the deviled eggs were the first things mentioned.
A magazine owned by The Star-Ledger in Newark, N.J., made a rare trip into Bergen County and devoted an entire paragraph of their review to her eggs:
Deviled eggs ($4) are a Nunn signature, the ethos of her culinary philosophy, a revitalization of the ’60s-era hors d’oeuvre. Here a trio of perfectly quivery egg whites are topped by an updated whipped beehive of a yolk filling — one truffle oil, one Caesar, one chipotle. These adorable nibbles sit carefully atop a tangy cucumber salad from the same era. It’s both food and conversation piece. One taste of these witty reinterpretations and you’ll promise to make deviled eggs for your next dinner party, bewildered that you stopped doing so in the first place.
I’m sure you want the recipe.
Buy the book. Or if you’re local, swing by my kitchen and I’ll be happy to loan it out.