Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Summertime food safety

With summer in full swing, it’s time for cookouts, picnics and outdoor celebrations. And ain't no celebration complete without deviled eggs.
Eggs can be found in 93 percent of American’s refrigerators (I suppose that means 7 percent of the U.S. population either shops irregularly, is made up of college guys and vegans), they are naturally part of summertime food favorites, like deviled eggs and egg salad.

Take extra care when preparing all dishes, including those containing eggs, to make sure they are stored, handled and cooked properly. Follow these safety tips from the National Egg Board and help your family and friends enjoy the taste and benefits of eggs all summer long.

Do not keep raw eggs, cooked eggs or egg-containing dishes out of the refrigerator for more than two hours. This includes the time spent preparing, transporting and serving them. Now, heads up for us here in Calhoun County: When the temperature is above 85, do not keep eggs out of refrigeration for more than 30 minutes.

Fresh eggs can be stored in their cartons in the refrigerator for four to five weeks beyond the carton’s packing date. Hard cooked eggs can be safely refrigerated for up to one week.

Store raw eggs in the refrigerator below 40°. Keep them in their cartons on the middle or bottom refrigerator shelf, which is where the refrigerator is coolest.

When transporting eggs or products that contain eggs, store them in a cooler with ice or cooling packs.

Dilly Deviled Eggs
1/2 cup shredded cucumber (about 1 medium)
1 teaspoon salt
6 hard-cooked eggs
1/4 cup low-fat dairy sour cream
1/4 teaspoon dill weed
Carrot, radish and celery garnishes, optional

Thoroughly combine cucumber and salt. Let stand 15 minutes. Drain well, pressing out excess liquid. Set aside.

Cut eggs in half lengthwise. Remove yolks and set whites aside.

Mash yolks with fork. Stir in sour cream and dill weed until blended. Stir in drained cucumber. Refill whites, using one heaping tablespoon yolk mixture for each half. Chill to blend flavors.

Avocado Egg Salad
2 tablespoons reduced-fat mayonnaise
2 tablespoons sour half and half or reduced-fat sour cream
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt, optional
1/4 teaspoon liquid hot pepper seasoning
6 hard-cooked eggs, sliced
2 avocados, peeled and chopped
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1/4 cup snipped fresh parsley or cilantro
Spinach or lettuce leaves, optional
Parsley sprigs, optional

In small bowl, stir together mayonnaise, sour half and half, lemon juice, salt, if desired, and hot pepper seasoning. Set aside.

Reserve 6 center egg slices for garnish. Chop remaining eggs. In large bowl, stir together chopped eggs, avocados, tomatoes, onion and parsley. Gently toss to mix. Add reserved dressing. Gently stir until well combined and ingredients are evenly coated with dressing.

Cover and chill to blend flavors.