Saturday, April 7, 2012


Prettily tinted or lavishly decorated, Easter eggs nestling in a straw basket are a happy feature of the season. Since antiquity, the egg has symbolized new life, thus its appearance at the springtime festival celebrating the Resurrection.

Hornazos are eggs baked in bread for Easter.
The traditional Easter egg in Spain is not necessarily colored, but is baked in a basket of bread dough—hornazos—or sweet dough—monas de Pascua. These can be found in bakeries at Easter.

Jewish custom also includes the egg in the springtime holiday of Passover, when it is one of the symbolic foods served at the seder dinner, representing the temple sacrifice of old.

The egg is a highly-valued food in Spain, where many will pay premium prices for fresh, free-range eggs. Many years ago when I lived in the village, I would exchange vegetable scraps with a neighbor (for feeding her pig) for a few fresh eggs. Such a delight.

Huevos solos, mil manjares y para todos.
With only eggs, a thousand dishes and enough for everybody.

Mas vale un buen dia con huevo que un mal mes con un cerdo.

Better a good day with only an egg than a bad month with a whole pig.

For years, I could never find white eggs and the brown ones just weren’t suitable for coloring. But this year, there they were, just in time for my grandson Leo to help with the tinting.

What to do with a surfeit of hard-cooked eggs after the Easter egg hunt? In Spain, sliced eggs in a fresh tomato sauce with patatas fritas, Spanish fries, on the side make an easy and satisfying supper dish. Stuffed eggs are a terrific lunch dish. The Spanish version uses tuna or shrimp in the stuffing (see that recipe here). Or, if you want something a little fancier, try these “double” eggs—they are stuffed, coated with bechamel, then dipped in crumbs and fried. These are fun to prepare (though time-consuming) and fun to eat.

"Double" eggs are stuffed, then breaded and fried.

“Double” Eggs (Croquettes with Deviled Eggs)
Huevos Dobles

The coating is thicker and crisper if the eggs are dipped twice in flour, egg, and crumbs.

The recipe makes more stuffing mixture than needed for the 6 egg whites. The leftover makes a fine sandwich spread.

 The eggs can be stuffed and fried up to 24 hours in advance and refrigerated. Bring them to room temperature. Place in an oven pan and heat in a preheated 400ºF oven 8 to10 minutes.

Serve the eggs, one per person, as a starter. Tomato sauce makes a good accompaniment.

Serves 6.

6 hard-cooked eggs
1 tablespoon olive oil plus 2 cups additional for frying
¼ cup finely chopped onion
¼ cup minced serrano or cooked ham
¼  plus ½ teaspoon salt
Pinch of caraway seed
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
Pinch of hot pimentón or cayenne
1 tablespoon plus 1 ½ cups milk
2 tablespoons butter
5 tablespoons flour plus additional ½ cup for dredging
1 to 2 eggs
1 cup fine dry bread crumbs
Tomato sauce to serve (optional)

Peel the cooked eggs. Pat them dry. Cut in half lengthwise. Remove yolks to a small bowl.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a small skillet. Sauté the onion and ham until softened, 5 minutes. Add the contents of the skillet to the yolks. Add ¼ teaspoon salt, caraway seed, mustard, pimentón, and 1 tablespoon of milk. Mash the yolks smooth. Press the yolk mixture into the hollows of the egg whites.

Cover a tray with a layer of plastic wrap. Place the egg halves, stuffed side down, 2-inches apart in a single layer. Refrigerate.

In a saucepan melt the butter. Stir in 5 tablespoons of flour and stir until smooth over a low heat. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in 1 ½ cups milk very gradually, until the mixture is smooth. Return to a medium heat. Cook, stirring, until the sauce is thick and smooth, 5 minutes.

Spoon the hot sauce over the egg halves, napping them smoothly with the sauce. Refrigerate the eggs until coating is chilled and solidified, at least 3 hours and up to 24 hours.

Roll one egg half over, stuffing side up. Pick up another egg and place it on top, so the stuffing is enclosed. Repeat with the remaining eggs. Return the tray to the refrigerator.

Place flour for dredging in a shallow pan. Beat 1 or 2 eggs and place in a shallow dish. Place half the breadcrumbs in another shallow pan.

Dredge each egg in flour. Pat off excess and gently press the two halves together. Roll the eggs in beaten egg. Place them in the tray of breadcrumbs. Sprinkle remaining half of crumbs over the eggs. Roll or pat the eggs so they are completely covered with crumbs. Allow to dry on a tray for 15 minutes.

If desired, repeat the breading, dredging the eggs first in flour, then eggs, then crumbs.

Heat oil in a deep skillet to a depth of ¾ inch. Fry the eggs, turning to brown all sides, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Serve hot or warm accompanied by tomato sauce, if desired.

Leo helped to color Easter eggs.

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