“He that but looketh on a plate of ham and eggs to lust after it hath already committed breakfast with it in his heart.”

Sunday, January 30, 2011

EGGsotic: Spicy and Sour Steamed Eggs!


Suddenly I get the feeling this search for the best egg recipe is like re-inventing the wheel. You won't believe the number of blogs and websites my Googling fingers have taken me to. And then I stumbled on this:


I found the mother lode! The blog post starts thus:

According to legend (a.k.a. wikipedia), the folds in a chef’s hat used to represent the number of ways s/he knew how to cook an egg, with the vaunted 100-fold hat reserved for the heads of only the most knowledgeable culinary experts. But are there really 100 ways to prepare eggs? ES set out on an exploration across the food blogosphere to find out, and our answer is a decidedly delicious "yes."
We’re reporting back and presenting our 100 favorite ways to cook an egg. If you’ve ever looked in the fridge and said, “I’ve got tons of eggs, but no idea what to cook with them,” well, you have no excuse to ever do that again. Just come right back here. Or better yet, print this out and hang it in your kitchen.
Now tell me if you aren't as curious as I am to check them out!
I plan to start with a Thai dish: Spicy and Sour Steamed Eggs 





INGREDIENTS:

  • 200 g. white prawns
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. chopped chilles.
  • 1 tbsp. coriander leaves
  • 1 tbsp. chopped garlic
  • 2 tbsp. fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp. lime juice

Cooking:

  • Wash shrimps and remove the shells and the heads but leave the tail fins intact.
  • Cut them open along the back and remove the vein.
  • Put the chillies, garlic, lime juice, and fish sauce in a bowl, stir to mix, and set aside.
  • Break the eggs into a mixing bowl and beat just enough to break the yolks.
  • Divide the beaten egg, putting some into each of several small bowls.
  • Bring the water in the steamer to a boil then put the eggs in. Lower to medium heat.
  • When the egg is almost done just put one prawn into each cup. When done remove from the heat.
  • Pour some of the sauce from step 2 into each cup and sprinkle with the coriander leaves and serve.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Eggspert Tip: How to Get an Egg Shell Out of a Cracked Egg




Quoted from: http://nocturnalmoth.deviantart.com/art/nothing-to-see-....672649

I guess I just have to be more careful. Much like cracking an egg - you have to make sure there isn't the tiniest bit of eggshell there. I know some people prefer their fried eggs with crispy whites, but no matter how crispy the edges get, the crunch of an eggshell would still be unmistakable. 



There's a trick to fishing out the wayward eggshell, by the way. Use another eggshell! I can't explain it, but another eggshell works where a spoon, a fork or a finger won't do.




And oh! In case you still don't know, THE YOLK OF THE EGGS IS YELLOW.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

McMakeover


Who knew the humble Egg McMuffin could get all gussied up and gourmet? 



Baked Eggs Ala "ODE"


I know. My first attempt at baking eggs in cream was a dismal failure because a) I didn't really bake them, and b) I couldn't control the heat on the stove. So this is me trying to atone for such a pathetic performance. 

It was Google time. I typed in three key words: "baked" "eggs" "cream" and was amazed at the countless ways you can bake eggs in cream. 

The differences lie first of all in the bed you lay your eggs on. Leeks. Onions. Spinach. Cheese. Ham. Bacon. Tomatoes. Your choice of veggies, actually. Then there are the spices. Garlic. Tarragon. Paprika. Parsley. Thyme. You could go all the way to Scarborough Fair, if you want. *sing: Are you going to Scarborough Fair? Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme.* (If you do, remember me to Simon and Garfunkel, will you?) Then you can choose to top the eggs with cheese, or bread crumbs, or salsa, or minced herbs - or stick to the basics and just top them with the cream. 

Oh delicious indecision! A smorgasbord of choices where making a mistake would not be an option. But wait, I also found out that the dish goes by other names. Shirred Eggs: oh so veddy veddy Brit. And across the Channel, Oeufs en Cocotte. (Oeuf = egg; Cocotte = the little casserole/ramekin the egg is baked in. And that's it. Nothing to do with coquettes, unlike Pasta Putanesca. But that's another story.)

So let's play a little game. I have the very basic baked egg in cream here: 



To make this, I preheated the oven to 325° Then I lightly buttered a ramekin and broke an egg into it. I seasoned this with salt and pepper. Then I spooned 1 tablespoon cream over the egg and put it in the oven. I knew it was done when the white had set completely, while the yolk was just beginning to thicken. It took about 13 minutes. I started checking on it at 10 minutes, actually, but decided to wait another 3, to make sure the yolk was cooked. (I think my stove-top eggsperiment failed because the heat was too high.) 

Now choose from this smorgasbord and bake an egg with your stamp on it. 

Any one, or a combination of these can be the bed for your baked eggs. Saute the vegetables in butter first, before lining the ramekins with them. 



Flavor your eggs with any of these spices: 



Finally, pick a topping. Here are three examples of what your baked eggs might look like, depending on how you top them. 










Now fill in the blank: Baked Eggs in Cream a la ____________.  Name it after yourself, why don't you? And if your name just happens to be Coquette, oooof!

EggGenie. WANT. Paging the Universe...





"Now you can cook perfect soft, medium and hard boiled eggs at the touch of a button. Egg Genie cooks up to 7 eggs at once-with no guesswork, no underdone or overdone eggs. Just add the indicated amount of water. Press "on"and your work is done. The Egg Genie automatically steams eggs and alerts you when they're ready. Great for breakfast, snacks, appetizers and more. Features built-in timer, auto-off and steel piercing pin. Comes with measuring cup and poaching tray."



Monday, January 24, 2011

Tea (Egg) Party!



Next week, twenty-five percent of the world will be celebrating the New Year. Kung Hei Fat Choi! The Chinese celebrate the start of another year with fifteen days of festivities. You can imagine how much food is prepared and consumed during these fifteen days! The thing is, each food item is carefully selected for their symbolism. 



There are bamboo shoots, black moss seaweed, egg rolls, whole fish, oranges and pomelo - all these symbolize prosperity and abundance. There is dried bean curd, for happiness. Note that fresh tofu is shunned at this time, because of its color: white is associated with death and misfortune. There is chicken, symbolizing happiness and marriage. It is served whole, with head and feet, because that means there will be unity, or a reunification of the family. There are tangerines for luck. And of course there are the ubiquitous noodles, served long and uncut, symbolizing - what else - a long life. And oh yes, peanuts symbolize long life too, much like those Chinese garlic chives. 

What else do the Chinese wish for on New Year's? Hint: It has something to do with seeds. Seeds are included in the feast - lotus seeds, watermelon seeds - because these symbolize large numbers of kids. And to ensure that couples get their wish for many children, they are served eggs - the symbol of fertility.

Now we're talking. 

Naturally I wondered how they got around the fact that eggs are white, and white is a no-no. It must be why the eggs that are normally served in Chinese meals are the so-called Century Eggs, which have been preserved in a mixture of clay, ash, salt, lime and rice hulls. The process turns the yolks dark green, and the whites, dark brown. 



Another way to color (or discolor an egg) is to dip it in tea. 



Tea Eggs are sometimes called Marbled Eggs. Here is how you get an ordinary hardboiled egg to look like a marbled egg. http://chinesefood.about.com/od/chinesenewyear/r/teaeggs.htm




Place six eggs in a saucepan with the water, making sure that there is at least 1/2-inch of water above the eggs. Cover and bring to a rolling boil. Remove the saucepan from the element and let the eggs stand in the hot water for 15 - 20 minutes, until they are cooked. Remove the eggs and run them under cold running water to cool. (Reserve the water in the pan).

Tap the hard-boiled eggs gently with the back of a spoon, to make a series of cracks all over the eggshells, while making sure the shell remains intact. 

Bring the water in the pan back to a boil. Add 1 tsp salt, 2 tbsps soy sauce, 1/2 cup brewed black tea, 2 star anise broken into pieces, and 1 cinnamon stick. Add the eggs. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 2 hours, then refrigerate.
Traditionally, tea eggs are served cold.

By the way, I don't plan to test this recipe. I'm sure generations of Chinese cooks have perfected the method, and whether I give it one or five sunny side ups is of no consequence.

(Photos are from Wikipedia)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Viva EGGspaña!


What a crazy weekend that was. First the chicken sat on the baby bunnies. Then Frank Sinatra kept singing in the elevator *every time it rains it rains, pennies from heaven* so I just had to run outside to see if it was raining men. No such luck. But I did catch me a cat and a dog and a cold.

It was tempting to go back under the covers, but the eggoholic me rallied. You see,  I'd made more than enough deviled eggs for my weekend visitors, since I intended to try out how well they translated into Spanish Baked Eggs. Plus I had all the ingredients on hand. So I traded the blanket for an apron. 

I sauteed the celery and onions in butter until soft. I added the flour, tomatoes, seasonings and sugar, and waited until the sauce thickened. I then poured it into a casserole, and arranged my six purposely leftover deviled eggs on top. I then lightly covered everything with buttered bread crumbs and baked it at 425 degrees for 12.5 minutes. (The recipe said, 10 - 15 minutes. I was happy to split the difference.)

Then I died and went to heaven. I'll send you a postcard when I recover from the bliss. Spanish Baked Eggs, I give you five sunny side ups.


Friday, January 21, 2011

Eggs Olé!



There's been one faithful commenter on this blog, since the beginning, and his comments more often than not send me running for my English-Spanish dictionary. Today, I acknowledge him. Oye, Ernesto, este es para ti. http://www.directoalpaladar.com/categoria/recetas-de-huevos-y-tortillas
Unfortunately, the entire site is in Spanish, and despite Google's best efforts to translate, I am afraid something will get lost. For instance, one recipe for Tortilla Cachonda translates into Tortilla Horny. Ahem. 
May I suggest, Ernesto, that you click on the site yourself, and read everything in the original Spanish. And if you can provide me a faithful translation in English, then perhaps we can cook something up. 


I did find other recipes that all claim to be Spanish: for instance, there's a Spanish Egg Pie from http://www.essortment.com/all/recipeeggspie_rujw.htm

SPANISH EGG PIE 
INGREDIENTS:
8 oz. thawed shortcrust pastry, rolled out to 1/4 inch thick
2 cups boiled eggs, shelled and halved
2 cups sweet green peppers, deseeded and sliced
2 cups Cheddar cheese, grated
1 cup sour cream
1 cup steamed new potatoes, sliced
1 egg, beaten

METHOD:
Heat oven to 400 F (200 C). Half pastry and line a pie dish. Reserve the remaining pastry for the lid. Set aside.
Layer new potatoes, boiled eggs and peppers. In a bowl, combine Cheddar cheese and sour cream. Spoon mixture onto the pie. Assure that mixture completely fills all the space.
Moisten edges of pie shell with half the beaten egg. Put on pastry lid and crimp edges to seal.
Using remaining egg, brush lid to glaze. Bake for 45 minutes or until golden. Serve hot with a light salad and soft rolls.

Then there were Spanish Baked Eggs from http://www.cooks.com/rec/view/0,199,157166-251194,00.html

SPANISH BAKED EGGS      
1/3 c. butter
1/3 c. chopped onions
1/3 c. chopped celery
4 tbsp. flour
1 qt. canned tomatoes
Pepper, garlic and salt to taste
1 tbsp. sugar
6 deviled eggs
1/2 c. buttered bread crumbs

Saute celery and onions in butter until soft. Add flour, then tomatoes, seasonings and sugar. Cook until thickened. Place in casserole and arrange the six deviled eggs (12 halves) on top. Cover with buttered crumbs and bake at 425 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes.

The recipe calls for Deviled Eggs. This is where it gets interesting - because I found a whole website devoted to Deviled Eggs! http://www.deviledeggs.com/  


I think the most basic of deviled eggs recipes will do nicely for the Spanish Baked Eggs, but it wouldn't hurt to try all the other versions.

Note to self: I will make sure to wear my reading glasses, so nothing escapes me. The devil, after all, is in the details. Tune in next week for the verdict...


Thursday, January 20, 2011

I'll call your sandwich and raise you an egg salad...



I'm sure you all know how the sandwich came to be? Take one Earl, from a place called Sandwich.
Position him in front of a gambling table. Wait until he's hungry. Very hungry. Now watch and learn. Getting up to eat is out of the question. So Mr. Earl has somebody from his entourage bring him his dinner tucked in between two slabs of bread. I can imagine that dinner would be a slice of meat. (I doubt if he had any greens to go with it.)

When the others see what a practical idea that seems to be (eating with one hand, yeay! How cool is that?) they soon ask for their own dinners to be served "same as Sandwich."

Now I'm wondering - did he ever think of adding variety to his dinner, and asking for - oh, I don't know - an egg salad instead of the usual meat? 



Perhaps not. The egg salad might have made a pretty mess, what with the slippery mayonnaise it comes with. (Yes, mayonnaise was invented in the course of that Earl's lifetime. I checked.)

But you and I, we're not seated at the gambling table. We can manage the mayo, right? Or the honey. Honey? (Yes, dear?) No, I wasn't talking to you, dear. Where was I. Honey - that sweet stuff bees make. Did you know you can mix honey with a chopped-up hardboiled egg, spread it on a couple of buttered slices of bread and make a sandwich? I read about it here: http://recipes.lovetoknow.com/wiki/Egg_And_Honey_Sandwich_Recipe

I'm wary about trying it, considering my confusing experience with a sweet frittata, but if you've got a sweet tooth, then go for it! I'd appreciate the feedback.




Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Frittata Fail

Pass me my reading glasses, please.

I tried making the Frittata Dolce today. Dessert for breakfast, why ever not?! I did everything according to the recipe except for one minor detail. I overlooked the part about MINCING the fruit cocktail! So I ended up with huge chunks of fruit in a frittata that refused to be rolled into any photogenically acceptable pose. 

So on my third try, I just let it lie on the plate, like a normal frittata and not a frittata pretending to be a crepe. 
And here you have it: 





Tastewise, I give it two and a half sunny side ups. Yup, 50/50. A toss up between yummy and hmmmy. That's my way of saying I'm not totally sold on the idea. Perhaps it was the fact that my eye saw what looked like a savory dish, while my taste buds went Huh? There was a disconnect, an ambiguity that spoiled the experience. 

Bottom line? If I want fruits with my eggs, I'll stick to crepes.



(Picture courtesy of Chef Chuck Kerber of the Pittsburgh Hotplate. You can read some of his tips on how to make crepes here: http://pittsburghhotplate.com/recipe/how-to-make-crepes)

Monday, January 17, 2011

Just Desserts

Let's talk desserts. 


Merengue.



Custard.



 Creme Brulee. 


 Yemas. 




What egg lover hasn't heard of these sweet delights? But I've stumbled on something just a little different. Have you ever tried a sweet frittata? 

Frittata Dolce is an Italian dessert that was quite common in the past, but rarely served today. I found a recipe here: http://italianfood.about.com/od/sweeteggdishes/r/blr0142.htm

Ingredients: 6 eggs
                  1 tbsp sugar
                  1/2 cup cream
                  1/2 tsp vanilla extract
                  6 oz fruit cocktail (drain an 8 oz can)
                  unsalted butter
                  confectioner's sugar for dusting


Preparation:
Lightly beat the eggs with the tablespoon of sugar, the cream, and the vanilla extract. 

Drain the fruit cocktail, mince the pieces, and stir them into the egg mixture. 

Heat a pat of butter in a skillet and add a quarter of the egg mixture; cook it until the bottom firms up, then flip it (cover the skillet with a lid, flip the entire skillet while pressing the lid against it so the frittata comes to rest on the lid, and then slide the upended frittata back into the skillet) and cook a few minutes more, and then roll the frittata up and put it on a serving dish. 

Repeat the procedure three more times, dust the frittata with the confectioner's sugar, and serve. 

Yield: 4-6 servings sweet frittata.
I can't wait to try this. I can imagine it will give fruit crepes a run for its money.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Let's Get Crackin'

I thought I'd celebrate beating the flu by trying out those Cambodian Grilled Eggs I featured two posts back. I was curious about the combination of flavors - sweet, salty, spicy. By the time I got done blowing out six eggs, however, I decided to take a slight detour, and wandered off in search of something to do with my eggshells, other than stuffing the whipped eggs back into them. 


But first I cooked the eggs in the tried and tested scrambled egg way - lightly buttered pan, frequent stirring to coagulate the egg. (I wasn't about to test what sweet-salty-spicy raw eggs tasted like, you understand.) Well whaddya know, I could get used to that flavor mix. 



So I had Cambodian Ungrilled and Unsteamed Scrambled Eggs Cooked in a Pan Instead of Skewered and Grilled in Their Eggshells. Not bad, not bad at all. Will I still try the real thing one day, if I happen to find myself on a Cambodian street? Only if I get the assurance that the eggs were machine-blown out of their shells. Sorry, just saying.

About that detour. I know what you're thinking - OMG, is she gonna attempt to make Faberge-like carved eggs? 


That picture came from this site: http://theeggshellsculptor.com/Tools.html  Now did I, for just a split second, imagine myself attempting anything like it? Nope. They lost me at  the Endura, the Turbo Carver, the PowerCrafter, the SCM (really a Shofu), the Paragraver and  a Turbi-flex -  standard tools for egg carving. 

The only tool I could probably safely wield would be a lightweight hammer (hah, those two words just don't belong together!) but if ever some tool maker ignored the oxy-moronicness of it all, and actually made a lightweight hammer, I'd be first in line to get one. What could I possibly use it for, you ask? This! 



This isn't my handiwork, but if you'd like to see more, check here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/peva/sets/72157605851987009/

Admittedly, I don't really need a hammer for that. I could just crush the eggshells with my fingers. But the hammer would make me feel so professional, don't you think? And if my efforts ever amount to something that remotely resemble art, you'll be sure I'll be posting it here faster than you can blow an egg out its shell.

P.s. Please don't ask me why I bothered to painstakingly blow the eggs out of their shells. So much for good intentions.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Which came first?


That is all. Carry on. :)

Just Yolking Around ;)

An apple a day keeps the doctor away. Unfortunately for me, the same can't be said for eggs. The fact that I am a card-carrying member of Eggoholics Unanimous (thank you, new-friend Poch, for that term eggoholic!) means diddly-squat when the bugs come knocking. Thus, I am officially under the weather. That only means I won't be cooking up anything today. It doesn't mean I can't plant some seeds for thought. No, not food. Just seeds. 

Look at this picture:



It's a plant commonly called the Mother-in-Law Tongue. Hmmm...

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Around the World in Eggy Days



I'm surprised how many breeds of chicken there are. Hundreds, says Wikipedia. 

Some of them bear the names of their countries of origin: the Australorp, the Belgian d'Everburg, the Brazilian Grey, the Croatian Dwarf Chicken, the Slavonian Dwarf Naked Neck Chicken. (Can that name be even more specific?!) You get the picture. I don't have to run down the alphabet, do I? Oh good, because my research didn't produce anything that starts with a Z. *whew*

So I thought... hmmm. Might be interesting to see how many egg dishes are named after places. See how my mind works? It's what happens when I really don't feel like going to the kitchen and yet I can't take my mind off food - eggs, in particular. 

Well there's Eggs Florentine. 



If you know Eggs Benedict (half an English muffin topped with bacon or ham, a poached egg and Hollandaise sauce) you'll know Eggs Florentine. The eggs take on another nationality when you substitute spinach for the ham. In fact, the word Florentine in the title of any recipe means the dish contains spinach. Ask Popeye. And if you substitute salmon for the ham, you have Eggs Montreal! Substitute corned beef hash, and you have Irish Benedict. (The eggs disappear, but just in the translation. They'll still be on your plate.

Well, while we're in that part of the world, let's do a little hop to Scotch Eggs.



You'll find a lot of recipes on the net for Scotch Eggs, but I found this one written in a particularly engaging manner.  http://www.crumblycookie.net/2008/04/03/scotch-eggs/
You can visit that blog, to get the details, but the broad picture is this: You coat a whole hardboiled egg in a sausage patty, then deep fry. If you're worried about all that fat from frying, you can bake them too. Less authentic, but healthier.

Let's not leave the continent without a short peek at a Tortilla Espanola. 



Si no hablas Espanol, say Spanish Omelet. It is also called Tortilla de Patata because, well, uh... it's got potatoes. Lots of it. More potatoes than eggs, in fact. Check it out here: http://spanishfood.about.com/od/tapas/ss/tortilla.htm

Now how different is a Spanish Omelet from an Indian Omelet? Well, they have two things in common: eggs and onions. That's about it. Here, read the ingredients:

See? Pepper, cumin, green chillies, red chilli powder. I'm thinking, you might not be able to say "Hand me that glass of water" fast enough. But look at it here, in all its innocent splendor.
 



Exotic, huh. Not  quite. You want exotic, I'll give you exotic. Cambodian Grilled Eggs.
 



I know what you're thinking. The hardboiled eggs were skewered, so what?!  Well, number one, the eggs aren't hardboiled. Instead the raw egg is blown out of its shell, whisked with sugar, fish sauce and pepper, and then poured back into the eggshell via a funnel, and steamed. Once cooked, they are skewered, and grilled. My question, after reading about this dish was - WHY? For presentation purposes? These are, after all, just steamed scrambled eggs that just happen to be inside an eggshell. Well, yeah, the eggshell makes a neat little package, especially since this is street food. 


I wonder if it will be worth all the hassle to try this in my kitchen. I suppose there's only one way to find out...


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Paging All the King's Horses...

I'm walking on eggshells. No, really. An egg rolled out of the tray and fell on the kitchen floor, and as I stepped back, crunch. Not  a sensitive soul around, no touchy issue to deal with, just plain clumsy me. And Humpty Dumpty.

And I thought eggshells were strong! I mean, a hen has to sit on them to hatch her babies - why don't they break under her weight? Okay, admittedly, I'm much, much, MUCH heavier than a hen. Oh never mind. I don't like where this is going. Cue pretty egg picture...


But now I'm one egg short of the dozen I needed to make the Baker's Dozen Eggs on Martha Stewart.com. Hey, hey, no debating with me about how a baker's dozen is actually thirteen. I didn't name the dish, but it's safe to say whoever did might not have heard of a 13th century English statute that severely punished a baker for having shortchanged his customer. To make sure he wouldn't lose his hand to the axe, the baker would give a customer 13 loaves for every 12 paid for. Actually, Wikipedia has another explanation for the baker's dozen. It has to do with this: 



The optimum number one could arrange on a baking sheet, while avoiding the corners (which heat up and cool down faster, thus requiring a different cooking time) is ... TADAAH! Thirteen!! Hah. I learn something everyday. Admit it, you just did too.

Off to the store now to get more eggs. But if you have twelve eggs with you, try this:



Baker's Dozen Eggs



  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 12 slices extra-thin whole wheat bread
  • 1/2 pound prosciutto or Serrano ham, thinly sliced
  • 12 medium eggs
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • Chopped fresh chives, for garnish
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Manchego cheese, for garnish


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Butter a 12-cup muffin tin. Butter one side of each slice of bread. Press each slice of bread, buttered side up, gently into the bottom of a muffin cup. Transfer to oven and bake for 3 minutes.
  3. Gently press ham into each bread cup. Carefully, crack one egg on top of ham. Repeat process until all bread cups are filled. Season each with salt and pepper; top with 1/2 teaspoon cream.
  4. Carefully transfer muffin tin to oven and bake eggs until whites are just set, 10 to 15 minutes. Using an offset spatula, remove bread cups from muffin tin and transfer to a serving plate. Garnish with chives and cheese; serve immediately.

See you tomorrow!