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Eggs

When we kept chickens, eggs were a regular part of our diet, but they became much less appealing when we had to buy the pale battery produced imitations. Now that organic, free range eggs have become available its become possible to eat eggs again.

Eggs are tricky to cook and in dealing with them I have to abandon by usually cavalier techniques. The problem is that they are easily spoiled by too high a temperature. If you boil them they will become tough and rubbery and their yolks will turn green.

So, to boil an egg:

Its much better to start with eggs that are at room temperature and not straight out of the refrigerator. Hold them under running warm water to speed up the warming process.

Bring a pan of water to the boil, adding salt can help prevent them going wrong if there is a slight crack. Remove from the heat and when the bubbling subsides, gently lower the eggs into the pan and cover.

How long you leave them in depends on the size of the egg and how you like them cooked. I ripped this off from the internet:

Take a look at this link for egg size and cooking times: Link to eggs

Incidentally, one thing you very quickly learn when you keep hens is that fresh eggs are useless for hard boiling. [NOT that you boil them]

The shells stick to the whites and they are impossible to peel cleanly. Surprisingly, sometimes the supermarket eggs can be this fresh, so make sure yours are older before you try to hard boil them.

Run hard boiled eggs under the cold tap at the end of their cooking period to prevent the yolks going green.

When I was an undergraduate in Cortland, we used to frequent Dom's bar and grill. This was run by three Italian brothers, Dom, Tony and Ethan and of course I knew them well. One of the things they used to sell as bar snacks were hard boiled eggs and Ethan had a little trick with these when he had one. He would roll the egg around in his hands, then carefully peel back the shell from the narrow end and open up the inner membrane, then he would blow into the egg and off would come the shell in one piece.


Coddled

When Rosemary and I went to the States, we spent our first night in a bed and breakfast on Skeneatalis lake. This was utterly luxurious, our sandaled feet left footprints in the deep carpet pile. Our room was full of antiques and the bed was huge.

B and B

In the morning in deference to their English visitors, our hosts served us with, amongst other things, coddled eggs and breakfast hasn't been quite the same since.

B and B

Coddled

When we got back I bought egg coddlers and this is how you use them:

Start water in large pot to boiling. Butter the inside of the coddler.

Break an egg into the coddler and season with pepper and salt.

Screw on the lid and stand the coddler in a pan of boiling water, taking care that the water level comes almost up to the bottom of the lid.

Simmer for 7 to 8 minutes.

Remove the coddler from the water using the end of a fork/spoon through the lifting ring.

Serve to table in the coddler.


Souffle

Well risen souffles

I have to confess that although I have been making souffles for a very long time I have never actually had one that anyone else has made so I have no way of knowing if what I do is even remotely right!

Ingredients

  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons of flour
  • butter
  • cheese
  • vegetables, eg sweet corn, peas, onion, mushroom etc
  • milk
  • salt and pepper

Carefully separate, the yolks from the whites of the eggs. Then make a bechamelle sauce, including the egg yolks, see the recipe for Mousakka to see how to do this.

When the sauce is ready, add the cooked vegetables and grated cheese to it. Beat the egg whites until they become stiff and form 'peaks' when the mixer is removed. You will not get the whites to stiffen if you have even the tiniest bit of yolk included. Its the fat content that stops it and even a non-dishwashed mixing bowl is enough to stop the whites from thickening on a damp day.

When the whites are good and stiff, fold them into the sauce mix,pour into a souffle dish and get in the oven quickly at 200 Centigrade. Lower the temperature after 20 minutes, to 150C but don't even think about opening the oven door. Total cooking time is about 45 minutes.

If you want the thing to rise frighteningly, don't put the vegetables in the sauce as these always hold it back. I usually serve with homefries.


Omelette

Patsy's signs

The image, but not the recipes, is from Patsy's Sandwich Cafe, alas no more!

Spanish omelette

A few years ago I was involved in a Leonardo project with partners from Italy, Spain and Portugal. We had Spanish omelette for lunch one day in Portugal. There was much debate amongst the Mediterraneans about how to make it and disparaging remarks about its rustic, peasant quality from Madrid and Torino. After all, this is good peasant food and that is exactly why I like it.

It was also clear, that despite protestations to the contrary, none of the men had actually made it for themselves.

It is a good vehicle for using up left-overs but the main ingredient is boiled potatoes.

Ingredients

  • boiled potatoes
  • onions
  • peppers
  • left over vegetables [or frozen]
  • olive oil
  • 3/4 eggs
  • salt and pepper

Cook the raw vegetables first, then add and warm up the cooked ones.

Beat the whole eggs hard and then pour over the lot.

I use my cast iron skillet for this and aim to have it almost full [for two] Cover with a lid and cook gently until the eggs set. Be careful not to burn the bottom.

Move the pan around on the burner to get an even heat and periodically lift the lid to allow steam to escape. If it is reluctant to set in the middle on top, finish off under the grill.

When it's done it is a solid mass that can be cut with a knife and you can take it anywhere.

Omelette

Ingredients

  • Eggs
  • mousetrap cheese
  • onions
  • mushrooms
  • other vegetables

Fry the basic ingredients and allow the pan to cool while you beat the eggs so they approach being stiff. You won't get the whites stiff if the whole egg is beaten but this still gives a nice light omelette. Pour the beaten eggs over the vegetables and move around on the heat as above. When the egg mix is nearly set, spread grated cheese over the top. Don't try to turn over as the cheese will stick to the pan. I usually fold in half and serve from the pan.


Egg custard

Lightly whip 2 eggs and add to a pint of milk, stir in a divspoon of vanilla sugar [or add a drop of vanilla essence].

Bake in a slow oven [275C] until it sets, 30 minutes to 2 hours! Depending on the temperature.

3-4 eggs will give a set custard just the filling for a custard pie. Sprinkle a little nutmeg over the top.

Egg custard II:

This method is even easier, than method I.

Ingredients

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 300ml milk
  • 100 ml double cream for a creamier product, otherwise use 350ml milk on its own
  • 50g vanilla sugar

Whisk together the egg yolks and sugar. Heat the liquid ingredients to boiling and pour over the egg mixture, stirring the while. When it is well mixed, return to the pan and put over low heat, stirring until the custard thickens.


French Toast

Breakfast in America

French Toast

'Breakfast in America' and especially at Frank and Mary's Diner on the corner of Main Street, Cortland, has to be the best!

Tw and Rosemary regard breakfast as the most important meal of the day and when that means French Toast with sausage or English muffins and eggs easy over who is going to argue?

To make French toast: Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • About the same volume of milk
  • salt

Beat the eggs, add the salt and milk and soak thick slices of white bread in the mixture. In a diner its slapped on the griddle alongside everything else but at home you just brown it up in a well buttered skillet.

Spread with butter, smother in maple syrup and serve with small sausages cooked until they are browned right through and rather solid.


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