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Katie Lee Joel whips up deviled eggs and Hoppin' John Salad

April 26, 2009 |  7:00 am

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Katie Lee Joel grew up in Milton, W.V., and learned to cook in her grandmother’s kitchen. She’s 27, married to singer and songwriter Billy Joel and living in New York City. She was the Season 1 host of Bravo’s “Top Chef” and is the culinary correspondent for CBS’ “The Early Show” (she’ll be on Thursday).

She appeared Saturday at the L.A. Times Festival of Books to share her culinary secrets and love of food. Joel’s cookbook, “The Comfort Table,” includes a forward by friend and fellow foodie Paula Deen.

Her newest title, “The Comfort Table: Everyday Occasions,” will be released in October, just in time for the holiday gift-giving or cooking. And she even thought to include an iPod playlist for each menu.

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The Southern girl didn’t disappoint  her audience during her time at the cooking stage (which has mirrors above so audience members can better see the food prep) and whipped up her first dish: deviled eggs. 

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“It would not be a party at the Joel house without deviled eggs,” she said.  A trick she uses for getting the yolk filling stuffed into the egg white oval without a mess? Pipe it in from the cut corner of a plastic baggy, “nice and neat, easy cleanup.”

She serves her deviled eggs on a rooster plate she picked up at a flea market in Chelsea, even though it doesn’t match her other dishes.

The best compliment a Southern chef could dream of? Deen said Joel’s deviled eggs were the best she’s ever eaten.

Next up on the menu was something called a Hoppin’ John Salad.  Joel said it's a rare find in a Southern cookbook: a mayonnaise-free recipe, a barbecue dish that could be left out all day but not spoil.

The salad fixings include rice, canned black-eyed peas, chopped onion, chopped red bell pepper, scallions and shredded white cheddar with an olive oil and red wine vinegar (among other ingredients) dressing. It became a confetti-like mix fit to be a vegetarian entrée or a tasty side dish to go with a grilled burger.

Also good to know? “The longer it sits, the better it tastes,” Joel said.

And one more recipe for good measure: Asian-style tuna meatballs with mango chutney dipping sauce. Joel buys the chutney from the Hampton Chutney Co.  and doctors it up.

An audience member wanted to know her husband's favorite foods, which she said are meatloaf and peach cobbler. Joel makes peach cobbler only in the height of peach season in August.

During the summer, she also writes for Hamptons Magazine  in addition to her year-round food column for Cosmopolitan.

--Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photos: Leslie Anne Wiggins

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