Photos by Cathy Arkle See HER version of this week’s class at www.cathyarkle.com/shepausedforthought
I have eggs almost every morning for breakfast. I usually get the Jumbo sized, as I use mostly egg whites and want to get the most bang for my buck. But in ‘real’ cooking, the proper size to use is Large. The average Large egg is about 2 oz. The white is 1 oz, the yolk is ¾ oz and the shell is the rest.
A fresh egg should have a high-sitting yolk with the white having an obvious 2 part circle around it. Believe it or not, if you’re baking, older eggs work better-after a week or so, the white loosens up and they mix better with the other ingredients. Not being a baker, this was an interesting tidbit.
You can do a lot with eggs besides cook them.
• The yolks, when mixed with cream, make what’s called a “liaison.” This mixture is used to thicken sauces and soups and adds sheen and smoothness.
• They help gel custards and crème brule.
• The whites give volume to dishes when whipped. The air pockets that form expand when heated.
• They help create emulsions. The lecithin in the yolks helps to bind the fat to the moisture.
But what if you DO want to cook them? May gave us a demonstration of various methods of egg preparation. She made it look so easy. It should be, but my eggs never look like this! Of course, I suck at flipping them over by throwing them in the air. May looked like she could flip them as she juggled a bowling ball and chain saw. Piece of cake!!
Eggs in the Shell
When you cook eggs in the shell, never let the water boil. You want it barely simmering. Also, never put cold eggs in to cook. Get them to room temperature by sticking them in some warm water first. Make sure to use enough water to completely submerge them and lower your eggs into the water instead of putting the eggs into the empty pot. I have no idea why. If you know, tell me please!
And that green ring is the result of a chemical reaction between iron and sulfur in the yolk. You can prevent this by cooling it quickly.
Here, as well, you want the water to be just simmering. Add a tablespoon or two of white wine vinegar. This helps the egg set. When you break your eggs, put them in a small bowl. It makes it easier to slip it into the water
I do this every single morning with my eggs. OK, not EXACTLY like this, but close. When beating or whisking the eggs, add a touch of water or stock, as this makes them fluffier. You always want to cook them over a lower heat. For a softer, delicate scramble with smaller curds and creamy texture, stir constantly. For firmer eggs, let set a bit and stir less often. May removed the eggs when JUST set. I prefer my eggs a little more ‘well done,’ but this is the way restaurants serve it.
After adding the fat of your choice, butter or oil, this type of egg dish should be cooked on a higher flame. Again, break the eggs into a small bowl before putting them in the pan to ensure unbroken yolks. Like ‘em over easy? Just flip them over for a few seconds. I need a spatula for this. I haven’t mastered the art of juggling like May.
The French have their own way of making omelets. These are rolled instead of browning on both sides and folding them, like we Americans do. A rolled omelet starts like scrambled eggs, and then is left to set. Any fillings are added to the center and then the omelet is rolled off onto a plate. It comes out very soft and almost underdone. Personally, this doesn’t sound that appetizing. It just sounds someone forgot to finish cooking it.
Have you ever had a puffy omelet? These are made by separating the eggs first, whipping the egg whites, and then folding them into the yolks. The mixture is them baked in the oven. Now THIS sounds good!
Speaking of puffy, this was our hand-on project. The base of any savory soufflé is beaten egg whites along with béchamel sauce. Whites give the soufflé volume and they need to be beaten to soft, firm peaks. Then the whole mixture is baked in a ceramic or glass ramekin. The ramekin should be brushed with butter and coated with breadcrumbs. These breadcrumbs help the soufflé mix climb the sides of the dish. May’s tip for this is to take the tip of your thumb and clean up the rim and edge of the raw soufflé so it will rise cleaner. We made one-serving soufflés flavored with gruyere cheese. Don’t they look yummy? By the way, soufflés need to be served directly from the oven. They collapse after about 37 seconds. But they still taste great!