* Halve the hard-cooked eggs lengthwise with a thin-bladed knife, wiping the blade clean after each egg. Remove the yolks carefully.

* Use the eggs as soon as they have cooled rather than refrigerating them for later. The still-warm yolks will have a creamy texture and can be easily mashed with the seasonings. Chilled eggs tend to have crumbly yolks that are more difficult to combine with other ingredients. If you must refrigerate hard-cooked eggs before stuffing them, press the yolks through a strainer with the back of a spoon or a rubber spatula. The sieved yolks will blend more easily, producing a smoother texture.

* With the back of a fork, mash the yolks with the other ingredients until blended. If desired, you can then beat the mixture with a wooden spoon until fluffy.

* If desired, you can cut a thin slice off the underside of each white so that the egg won't tip over as you are filling it or serving it.

* To fill eggs, scoop up a mound of stuffing in a small teaspoon and push the mound into the white with your fingertip or a small rubber spatula. Or fit a pastry bag with a round or fluted tip with a wide opening (about 1/2 inch), fill it with the stuffing and squeeze a mound into each white. If you don't have a bag and a tip, you can spoon the stuffing into a small clean plastic bag. Squeeze the stuffing into one corner of the bag. Snip off the corner with scissors to make an opening about 1/2 inch long and squeeze a mound of stuffing into each white.

-- From "The Good Egg"

by Marie Simmons

(Houghton Mifflin, 2000)