lunch with david tanis & incredible deviled eggs December 22, 2010

I’m a cookbook-a-holic. There’s no denying it anymore. At some point, I’m going to have to move into a house with another freestanding building on the lot that I can turn into the RWT Memorial Cookbook Library. I should loan these things out. A recent obsession was A Platter of Figs And Other Recipes by David Tanis. I loved everything about it – its simplicity, honesty and stunning photography. When I was invited to a small lunch gathering to celebrate the release of his newest book, Heart of the Artichoke and other Kitchen Journeys, I accepted immediately.

For those not familiar with David’s story, he’s long been co-chef at Chez Panisse in California. The legendary simplicity of Chez Panisse is easily recognized in the cooking featured in both of his cookbooks. The emphasis is on the quality of ingredients, the rituals of cooking and the stories that come out of being a dedicated lover of food and cooking.  Tanis cooks at Chez Panisse for 6 months out of the year and spends the other months living – and cooking – in Paris.

A small group of us gathered at local Atlanta food mecca Holeman & Finch for the intimate lunch – 12 of us, along with Mr. Tanis, enjoying recipes from his newest book prepared by James Beard nominated chef Linton Hopkins. There was no better location for this lunch – great house Rosé, sunshine streaming through the large windows, craft paper on the tables that would hold the family style platters. It was comfortable, familiar and delicious – everything that embodies the cooking in these books.

Conversation at the table was easy and often spirited. David seemed truly interested in what we all did and how we came to sit at the table with him – we were a mixed bag of Atlanta bloggers, authors and journalists. This notion of community in cooking and dining was reinforced throughout our lunch. The lost art of dining. Whether or not cooking simple food was actually harder than vertical food with six different sauces on it. His thoughts on cameras and phones in dining rooms. The idiosyncrasies that we all have in the form of our kitchen rituals. No subject was too tabu and I fully appreciate his almost stubborn dedication to the return to cooking. Even after 12 hour days at Chez Panisse, he still goes back home and cooks a midnight supper.

Let’s not lose the point of this lunch because I’m enamored with Mr. Tanis and how similar our philosophies about food are. We were there to celebrate amazing recipes gathered in this one book. All of the dishes we tried that afternoon were straight from The Heart of the Artichoke. Lemony Caesar salad that was instantly devoured. Pimento cheese paired with H&F black pepper crackers. Pickled veggie relish trays. Roasted chicken with sage and an apple-studded cabbage dish that would change any one’s mind about the lowly vegetable. We wrapped up the meal with a sublime Molasses Pecan Square that Hopkins made with local sorghum, which Tanis wholeheartedly approved of.

One of the highlights of this meal – and there were many – were the light as a feather Crab Stuffed Deviled Eggs. They were the very first thing we noshed on that afternoon…and their depth of flavor and amazing texture were the perfect bite to set the tone for a wonderful afternoon. David’s method for cooking the eggs is now my go-to method for hard(ish) boiled eggs. The yolks are fully cooked but still rich yellow orange with no shot of cooking them till they get that green cast. This recipe would be an amazing base to ad lib as you see fit – if you can’t or don’t eat crab, they’d be delicious without it, too. Paired with a simply dressed arugula salad, they made for a wonderful late lunch.

Crab-Stuffed Deviled Eggs – makes 24 halves – recipe originally found in Heart of the Artichoke and other Kitchen Journeys by David Tanis

  • 1 dozen large organic eggs
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup sour cream or creme fraiche
  • Generous pinch cayenne
  • 1 tablespoon snipped chives
  • 1/2 pound crabmeat, picked over for shells and cartilage
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Salt and pepper

– Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Carefully put the eggs into the water and cook for 10 minutes. Remove the eggs to a bowl of ice water, and when they’re cool enough, crack them gently and return to the ice water, so they’ll be easier to peel.

– Peel the eggs. Cut them in  half, scoop out the yolks, and put them in a bowl (reserve the egg white halves). Mash the egg yolks with a fork, and fold in the mustard, sour cream or creme fraiche, cayenne, and half the chives. Gently fold in the crabmeat and lemon juice, and season lightly with salt and pepper. Taste and adjust the seasoning, and spoon the mixture into the waiting egg white halves.

– Put the eggs on a platter or two, cover, and refrigerate. Just before serving, sprinkle the eggs with the rest of the chopped chives.


Caitlin Dec 22, 2010 04:12 pm

His cookbooks do look absolutely gorgeous, and dishes like that make me wish I could justify more cookbook purchases! What a great opportunity though – sounds like a fantastic way to spend an afternoon!

tami Dec 24, 2010 10:12 am

It really was, Caitlin. Both of his books are stunning & inspiring and so worth the investment :)

Dayle Moses Dec 22, 2010 04:12 pm

absolutely fabulous post! pics brilliant & really humbly written….you have a natural way….discovered you over the weekend & i am hooked! Dayle

tami Dec 24, 2010 10:12 am

Thank you so much, Dayle! Nice to know folks are out there reading. I really appreciate the kind words :)

KalynsKitchen Dec 22, 2010 06:12 pm

Wow! We are drooling here!

tami Dec 24, 2010 10:12 am

Kalyn- they’re quite possibly the best deviled egg I’ve ever eaten…and I’ve had many. :)

Jun Dec 23, 2010 07:12 am

Crab in deviled eggs. Great. I love this.

tami Dec 24, 2010 10:12 am

Jun – they’re so delicious. David’s method for boiling the eggs is seemingly foolproof!

Jenny Dec 24, 2010 12:12 am

SO jealous. I wanted to go to his appearance at Restaurant Eugene for the Eugene author series — alas, the price tag was a bit too steep. I’m lusting after that book though.

tami Dec 24, 2010 10:12 am

Jenny – the luncheon was a nice treat as I wanted to go to the dinner as well but you’re was a touch expensive with the holidays coming up. The experience, in hindsight, would have been well worth it.

Gwendolyn Thomas Jan 7, 2011 11:01 pm

I just made some deviled eggs for New Year’s Eve. They were my mother’s recipe. Always wanted to try and make it different! Can’t wait to try this recipe.

tami Jan 8, 2011 07:01 am

David’s method of cooking the eggs is now my go-to when making deviled eggs. They’re really quite perfect. I made these again for my NYE dinner and were very well received.

Allison Apr 4, 2011 06:04 pm

I’ve had this recipe bookmarked for a while, and was daydreaming about what to make for Easter dinner this year, and I think these would be perfect! All your recipes always look so delicious.

JYM May 28, 2011 08:05 pm

I know its always best to use fresh lump crab meat but if one just cannot afford it ,will using a good can version really make it much less delicious?

Shelly Mar 6, 2012 07:03 pm

I love your blog! I was writing about David Tanis in my blog and looking for a picture of his book, Heart of The Artichoke, and that’s how I found you blog. Charming!

Heidi Roth Nov 15, 2012 04:11 pm

I’ve long been enjoying your blog, Tami (and finally just now subscribed so I’ll quit missing things!) and was super excited when today I went googling a recipe for deviled eggs with crab and your site came up! As good as the recipe looks, the blog post made it even better. It sounds like a completely wonderful day. I’m right there with you when it comes to the cookbook addiction – I immediately went looking for David Tanis on :)


Heidi Roth

Colleen Falke Dec 19, 2012 10:12 am

Obviously I’m cruising back issues, but couldn’t not comment – crab always makes a deviled egg better! Thanks very belatedly for the boiling “how to” and the intro to David Tanis.

[…] thought we had heard of every unique way to use crab meat in a dish until we saw this recipe from David Tanis’ “Heart of the Artichoke and other Kitchen Journeys.” It turns out crab meat […]