Virginia Willis Blog

Most Delicious Deviled Eggs

Spring Flowers

I took the above photograph a few weeks ago at the Chapel Hill Farmer’s Market. It was a rainy Saturday morning, overcast and cool. The light can be so nice on days like that. I just love this photo, but I can’t claim too much credit. At this farmer’s market, like many, there was not much to do. Just point and shoot! I would really like to take photography classes. (In my spare time! Ok – maybe a reward for when I complete my second book proposal.)

These deviled eggs are amazing. It’s very important to puree the yolk mixture completely, and really I prefer using a sieve or tamis. This prevents lumps and makes the mixture so much smoother as well as prettier. This is another one of those recipes that there are very few ingredients which makes the technique is so important.

I made these once for a political fundraiser at my friend Melita Easter’s house, attended by the governor of Georgia, who stood there and practically ate the whole plate. The secret is butter, a tip I picked up in culinary school that takes this Southern staple from delicious to sublime and renders people unable to use the sense God gave a cat to stop eating. (more…)

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Easter Feast: Herb-crusted Fresh Ham

Spring Flowers at the Chapel Hill Farmer's Market

Spring Flowers at the Chapel Hill Farmer’s Market

I’ve had great success with my newsletter and after a few sessions at IACP last week have decided to venture into the blogosphere. I thought I would start with sharing a recipe for Easter.

Bon Appétit Y’all!




Herb-crusted Fresh Ham

Mama and I now share the cooking at the holidays. I usually prepare the main courses, we share the side dishes, and she prepares the desserts. This ham is an Easter favorite. You may be surprised to see lavender listed as an ingredient in this herb crust. Although very commonly found in desserts, lavender—especially sweet English lavender—is an incredibly versatile herb for savory cooking. Be sure to use only pesticide-free, food-grade leaves and blossoms from an organic farmer’s market or online; lavender from florists, spas, or home décor shops are probably not appropriate to eat. The key to cooking with lavender is to start out with a small amount of flowers, and add more as you go. A little amount of the sweet, perfumed herb is wonderful, but adding too much lavender to your recipe is much like eating a bar of soap. A little goes a long way.
Author virginiawillis


  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried untreated lavender flowers
  • Half of a fresh bone-in ham 6 to 8 pounds, preferably shank end, with skin
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups chicken stock or low-fat reduced-sodium chicken broth


  1. To prepare the ham, in a small bowl, combine the thyme, rosemary, tarragon, and lavender. Season the ham with salt and pepper. Rub the herb mixture all over the ham and set aside to marinate and come to room temperature, 30 to 45 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the herb-crusted ham in a roasting pan. Bake approximately 25 minutes per pound, or until the internal temperature reaches 150°F on an instant-read thermometer inserted near the bone, 2 to 21/2 hours. Remove from the oven to a rack. Tent the ham loosely with aluminum foil and let stand until the center of the ham registers 155° to 160°F on the instant-read thermometer, 25 to 30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, to make the sauce, pour the pan drippings into a fat separator. Remove and discard the fat. Transfer the drippings into a small saucepan to make the jus. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil over high heat. Decrease the heat to medium to keep warm until serving. Taste and adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper.
  4. Once the ham has rested, transfer to a cutting board, carve, and serve with the jus on the side.

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