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Sunday, February 06, 2011

Incredible, Edible...

By Tom

Last time, we talked about baking. Today, one of the components.

I admit it. I like eggs. Not quite in an way that I'd end up in a crib in a John Waters movie, but for me if there's going to be breakfast, eggs will be involved. I think that many people who don't like them don't because they've been only ever served indifferent ones. You know those: tough, rubbery omelets, sunny side up with runny whites or hard cooked with that gross green line and chalky, dried-out yolks. Ugh. Easy fixes to these: YouTube has Julia Child showing you a perfect French omelet that takes seconds (and she does it in a mid-sixties teflon pan on an electric stove so we all can manage the same). Covering the pan for the last minute or so will set the whites of the sunny side up eggs and for perfect hard cooked ones with creamy orange yolks, start with a pan of cold water, add your eggs, bring to a low boil and immediately remove from heat, cover and let sit ten minutes or so. If you're really feeling adventurous, prick the flat end of the egg with a straight pin. That will let the air out of the eggs air pocket, guaranteeing perfect ovoids and no cracking during cooking. The most elegant dinner for two can be shirred eggs: take two 6 OZ buttered ramekins and break 2 eggs in (you can put anything you like in the bottom; ham slices, blue cheese, asparagus tips) add a dab of butter and a splosh of cream and place on a damp-to-sodden tea towel on a baking sheet in a 350F preheated oven for about 15 minutes tops- you want the whites set and the yolks to be runny. Served with a mesclun mix with a nice mustard vinaigrette, toast or pita crisps and a crisp chardonnay or a brutally dry champagne.

Note to the heterosexual males reading (insert sound of crickets): having a couple of these recipes that you can pull out at the drop of a hat can do a lot when wooing or begging forgiveness. Knowing how to make a chocolate mousse or a roquefort soufflé on command is a powerful thing.

I treat eggs like I do red meat. I don't eat a lot of them since I think moderation is best. But when I do indulge, like red meat I buy the best that I can afford. Lucky the cost of an egg from a chicken that spends all of it's time wandering around freely and eating actual food is so very much less than one of those Japanese cows that spend all day getting massages and facials before being killed by perhaps ennui and being flown to your local Bristol Farms. For a few cents more per egg you'll have something that will by color be identifiable, with rich orange yolks and a creamy whites and a deliciously fresh smell to it that will make you never want to eat one of those tasteless little future McMuffin fillers again.

I can still remember the smell of winter breakfasts on Sunday, first the bacon cooked in the cast-iron Lodge pans, the bacon in the oven to keep and the excess fat poured off and the eggs in the bacon fat to cook. Of course I was 12 and it was 12 degrees out. Don't know that I'd be replicating that in the warm Hills of Beverly. More than once a quarter. Now I'm hungry..

We have a wide-ranging group here. I'd love to read your egg-involving recipes and the memories they invoke.

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Blogger Jarvis said...

Lovely, Tom. That Julia Child video of the perfect omelette changed my life. Now my bf knows when he hears the unmistakable sound of the pan being shaken over the burner that an omelette is on its way. (Sure, it leaves scratches on the bottom of the pan, where it scrapes over the metal burner grate, but it's a small price to pay). And speaking of the bf, his favourite egg application is deviled eggs. I'll never forget the look on his face the first time I made them for him -- it had never occurred to him that he could make them at home whenever he wanted them. He was used to having them appear only when someone died in the Deep South (as they are standard fare at wakes and funerals).

12:41 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My husband makes divine ham and egg cups--wipe a muffin tin with olive oil, then chop shallots, mushrooms and thyme and cook in skillet. Line muffin cups with slice of black forest ham, put in mushroom mixture, top with raw egg. Repeat for as many muffin cups as people. Bake for about 10 minutes, till eggs are set, but not dry. Ham will have crisp edges and hold shape. Unmold, serve with toast.
Sooooo nom!

1:27 AM EST  
Blogger Maggie O'Boyle said...

The person who can make a perfect shirred egg will be forgiven anything. My son claims that any egg dish is made better with duck fat. That may be the secret of life.

5:06 AM EST  
Blogger rosarita said...

One of the very few advantages of living in the rural midwest is that farm fresh eggs at a very reasonable price are available almost year round - production slows down in the deep winter, aka now. One of our favorite winter breakfasts is to bake popovers. Such simple ingredients, eggs/milk/flour, yet they're so delicious. I make strawberry/rhubarb freezer jam in the summer just so we can enjoy it on hot, buttery popovers in the winter. I haven't baked shirred eggs in forever and never thought about blue cheese. Must try!
Oh, and thanks to Jarvis for mentioning devilled eggs. I used to make them all the time for parties, etc; one of my most requested items from children & their friends. :)

7:39 AM EST  
Anonymous Wordbird said...

I remember my first encounter with Eggs Benedict. Love at first bite.
My Mum makes the most amazing omelettes that get universal raise and requests for them as brunch dishes. She says the secret is to add a splash of cold water - NEVER milk - to the eggs before beating them. And pepper only, not salt. Fry in butter.

My eggy dish is much like yours with the ramekins - I tend to favour spinach as the bottom layer, with some crispy cubes of smoked bacon if I have them. Then a little cream over the eggs and perhaps a grating of Parmesan if I'm going all-out. Mmm-mm!

8:49 AM EST  
Blogger queen_cupcake said...

My mother always liked my omelets, and I admit they are pretty good. I don't toss them around, just fold when half cooked and cover on low heat. I always begin with a little butter and a little olive oil containing bits of garlic. Yes, even for breakfast--just not a lot of it. An omelet makes a good late night supper. Quiche is also a good thing to do with eggs, cheese, bits of leftovers, whatever. I totally agree about buying the best organic eggs available. Julia Child taught me to look for simple ingredients of the best quality available. [The verification word for my entry here is "hashout" haha]

9:51 AM EST  
Blogger taffynfontana said...

Very enjoyable read. My favorite egg recipes are Flan and chiles rellenos the first is a spanish egg custard that my mom made, she would use about 7 eggs fresh milk and sweetened condensed milk cofee liqueur and a pinch of salt blend it and strain it and then put in the oven. When it was all done she would cover it with this amazing caramel sauce.Yummmy

11:18 AM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I love deviled eggs!

11:24 AM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...


yum indeed~

11:25 AM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...


People are so hostile to animal fat. It's too bad. A little bit of duck fat adds tons of flavor.

11:28 AM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...


popovers and strawberry rhubarb jam? can I move in?

11:31 AM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...


love eggs benedict!

11:32 AM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...

queen cupcake-

I had a really nice piece of quiche the other day and it was so good..

11:34 AM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...


flan is delicious! I didn't even get into custards..

11:36 AM EST  
Anonymous Lavanya said...

I love eggs too! Watching that Julia Child video is one of the best things I did for my omelette skills. Using her technique ( though the shaking doesn't completely work for me- I have to also lift the omelette, letting the uncooked eggs run beneath the layer etc ). I buy my eggs at the local farmer's market and the difference in taste between supermarket eggs and these surprised me initially-these are so much tastier!

Some of my favorite ways to eat eggs:
egg salad sandwich, a spinach and cheese (gruyere) souffle. I also love Indian egg curry (hard boiled eggs soaking in an onion tomato garlicky sauce) but don't make it too often as my husband doesn't like the thought of curry and eggs so he's never even tasted Also love curried scrambled eggs covered in puff pastry shell and baked till the shell is crisp.


1:03 PM EST  
Anonymous Lavanya said...

oh and quiches are probably my favorites (along with souffles)- though I've never made them at home.


1:04 PM EST  
Blogger Balutakat said...

Leftover creme caramel is such a good breakfast, warm or cold depending on the season; especially if it's a reminder of a romantic dinner the night before.

4:10 PM EST  
Blogger Flora said...

To me eggs are like cheese - I can't imagine life without them but I try to keep my consumption down to a moderate amount. I don't think I have ever actually had shirred eggs, but now I really want to try it!

My newest thing is perfect scrambles using a very simple tool: a truly non-stick heavy skillet. I break the eggs into a bowl and add just a pinch of nutmeg and a grind or two of Trader Joe's Himalayan pink salt, which tastes amazing and really does make a difference - no more plain salt for me. I put just a touch of grapeseed oil in the pan, for flavor as much as ease of cooking. When the temperature is right it takes about a minute and voila, perfect eggs!

4:41 PM EST  
Anonymous Maran said...

Sarabeth's makes the fluffiest egg white omelet. After tasting hers I've started beating my whites to aerate them before adding them to the frying pan. Some sauteed mushrooms, onions and spinach rolled up safe inside- yum! That's my favorite breakfast (with a Pumpkin muffin on the side, please)! :-)

7:13 PM EST  
Blogger Elisa said...

I love eggs in purgatory (poached in tomato sauce; Smitten Kitchen has a recipe) and poached eggs in general. Smashing over chilaquiles.

9:31 PM EST  
Blogger Flora said...

Elisa, I never heard of that, but it sounds great!

11:32 PM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I'm taking notes!

12:08 AM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...


Quiches are very simple to do adequately. To do fantastic ones is hard. (Certainly for me) If you are a great baker capable of a wonderful pie crust you're there. I also think part of the secret is to reheat on a pizza stone.

12:12 AM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...

Katharine, there has never been a moment in my life where the terms "leftover" and "creme caramel" have ever intersected.. :-)

12:13 AM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I'll have to try the nutmeg! I'm a big proponent of that pink salt as well..

12:15 AM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...


that sounds wonderful!

12:15 AM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...


that sounds good, and a good way to poach eggs.

looove chilaquiles!

12:17 AM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...


It does sound wonderful, right?

12:17 AM EST  

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