Egg trivia

Officially, there is no difference between white and brown eggs, or between organic and conventional ones. However, many people claim to prefer the taste of brown eggs and I know several people who get a stomachache from eating too many conventional ones.

That said, freshness and feed do make significant differences and are difficult to track. These may be the factors that are really in play when people find differences between types of eggs. Free-range and pastured hens definitely have better diets and produce better eggs.

One way to test an egg for freshness by floating it in cold water. Fresh eggs will float on their sides while older eggs will “stand on end” in the water. Even better, crack open the egg and check the white. An old egg, while still safe to eat and legally “fresh,” will have a watery yolk that runs all over the pan; it takes a truly fresh egg to make the classic round, thick-edged fried egg.

To freeze eggs, break them into a container. Pierce the yolks with a fork and gently mix the whites and yolks, creating as little foam as possible — foam will dry out the eggs. Whites frozen by themselves do just fine, but separated yolks will do best if you add a bit of salt to those intended for cooking and a bit of sugar to those that will go into baked goods.

Note: a “no antibiotics” label on a package of chicken meat is of dubious value. Years ago, they experimented with antibiotics as a way to increase the weight of chickens, but found that it was not cost-effective — the drugs cost more than the additional weight could earn. Now, chickens seldom get antibiotics unless they need them.

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Zucchini & Corn Souffle

2 medium zucchini (about 1 1/2 pounds)
2 1/2 tsp. salt
6 eggs, separated
2 medium ears corn, shucked
2 green onions, chopped
6 Tbsp. butter
6 Tbsp. flour
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 1/4 cups milk
1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese

Shred zucchini and place in a colander over a plate or in the sink; toss with 1 tsp. salt. Let stand 30 minutes. Rinse, drain, and blot dry. Separate eggs and let stand at room temperature 30 minutes. Boil corn, covered, 3-5 minutes or until crisp-tender; drain. Let cool slightly and cut corn from cobs. Cook onions and zucchini in butter, stirring, until tender. Stir in flour, pepper, and remaining salt until blended. Gradually stir in milk and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Cook 1-2 minutes, until sauce thickens. Add to corn and stir in cheese. Stir a small amount of zucchini mixture into egg yolks to temper; return all to bowl, stirring constantly. Allow to cool slightly. Beat egg whites until stiff but not dry. Gently stir a fourth of the egg whites into zucchini mixture, then fold in remaining egg whites. Transfer to a greased and floured 2 1/2-qt. souffle dish. Bake at 350F 45-50 minutes, until top is puffed and center appears set.

Adapted from Taste of Home, June/July 2014 via Taste of Home.com

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Versión en español: this post is also available in Spanish.
Esperanta traduko: this post is also available in Esperanto, because Dana is a language geek.

Savory Black Pepper–Parmesan Cookies

2 hard-boiled egg yolks, pressed through a fine sieve
2 cups flour
1 cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated
1 tsp. salt, or to taste
1 tsp. black pepper, or to taste
3/4 cup chilled butter, chopped
2 Tbsp. heavy cream

In a food processor, pulse yolks, flour, Parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper. Add butter and pulse until it reaches the texture of coarse meal. Add cream and pulse just until dough forms a ball. Roll out between 2 sheets of parchment paper to 1/2 inch thickness. Place dough, still in the paper, on a baking sheet and freeze for 10 minutes. Remove top sheet of paper and bake 10 minutes at 350F. Remove from oven, cut into 1 1/2-inch diamonds, and return to oven to bake until golden brown, another 18–20 minutes. Cool on baking sheet placed on a wire rack.
Yield: about 6 dozen.

Adapted from a recipe by Bon Appétit.

Some more recipes to help use up all those Easter eggs:

Incredible Egg recipe collection

Curried egg salad sandwiches

Gribiche (hard-boiled egg) dressing, which can be used to make:
Arctic char with greens and gribiche dressing
New potatoes with Parmesan, black pepper, and gribiche dressing
Sauteed asparagus and morels with gribiche dressing

Bacon and egg tortellini

Campanelle with eggs and capers

And here’s a set of recipes for natural egg dyes to help start the whole circus off.

Getting the shells off
As Farmers’ Market shoppers, you’ve no doubt noticed that those lovely fresh eggs tend to cling to their shells when boiled. One way to avoid this problem (or at least attempt to) is to buy your eggs a month in advance and let them age, or buy them at a supermarket where it’s been done for you. However, since egg production increases as the chickens get more daylight, there will be more eggs closer to Easter, and anyway who wants to eat old eggs? Another option a hen-keeping friend suggests is to leave the eggs on the kitchen counter 1-2 days before cooking, which has a similar effect and adds the advantage of bringing the eggs to room temperature, which helps keep them from cracking when you cook them.

One trick I’ve had good luck with is to peel the eggs as soon as they’re cool enough to handle; not, alas, an option if you need to refrigerate the eggs overnight so you can hide them in the morning. This leaves us with the nearly-as-effective technique of peeling them under warm running water, angling the egg so the water has as good a chance as possible to seep in between the egg and shell. Yes, this goes against food safety advice, so work carefully and consider the risk. Leave the eggs in the fridge until the last moment (giving them a good many hours to rechill after being found) and work with a pot of very cold water at hand to drop the eggs into as soon as they’re naked.

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Versión en español: this post is also available in Spanish.
Esperanta traduko: this post is also available in Esperanto, because Dana is a language geek.

Newsletters: 28 July, 2010

Excerpt from the Market Newsletter originally published on 28 July, 2010. View the full newsletter for all the photos and links.

In keeping with this pause for breath, the raffle prize this week is eight yoga classes. I’m pretty excited about that, because yoga is the only “sport” I’ve ever found enjoyable (I was always the fat kid out in left field; which was fine with me, except they wouldn’t let me sit down). Now, we all know how healthy yoga is, right? Makes you look 25 until you hit 90, and you live to be 150*? But what people don’t always know is that it’s not about doing pretzel imitations. It’s about doing what you can TODAY. If that means you only touch your knees while the student on the next mat touches her toes — with her elbows — you still win, because you walked away without limping. And with time, you find yourself looking at a pretzel imitation and thinking, “wait, that’s not so hard…”. I encourage you to check out OlyYoga’s website (the “Practicing Yoga” section has a lot of good information), contact them with your questions, or just go and see. If you have money issues they’ll work with you — they have senior and low-income rates, summer specials, multi-class and unlimited cards, all kinds of options — so you can’t use that excuse.

Cooking, and reading about cooking
I went looking for something Indian to go with the yoga, but this wasn’t really what I had in mind. Don’t you just love serendipity?

Ginger Cardamom Oeufs à la Niege
3 large eggs, 2 separated
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar, divided
2 cups whole milk
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup roasted shelled pistachios, chopped
Line bottom of a small 4-sided sheet pan with parchment paper. Separate 2 eggs; add whole egg to yolks. Beat whites with a pinch of salt until they hold soft peaks. Add 1/2 cup sugar in a slow stream, beating at medium-high speed until whites hold stiff, glossy peaks. Meanwhile, bring milk, ginger, and cardamom to a bare simmer in a wide 4-quart heavy pot over medium heat. Drop 4 large dollops of beaten whites into milk and poach at a bare simmer, turning once, 4 minutes. Transfer meringues with a slotted spoon to lined pan (reserve milk). Whisk remaining 3 tablespoons sugar, cornstarch, and salt into yolk mixture. Add hot milk in a slow stream, whisking until incorporated, then return to pot. Cook, stirring often, until thickened and an instant-read thermometer registers 170°F. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean bowl. Stir in vanilla. Quick-chill custard by setting bowl in an ice bath and stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Ladle into 4 bowls and put a meringue in each. Sprinkle with nuts.

Here’s one for apricot season. I’ve always been of the opinion that ice cream is not junk food, it’s full of calcium and happiness. Vante has the quick-and-easy kind, but here’s something for when you want to get fancy.

Apricot chocolate chip ice cream
3 eggs, separated
3/4 cup caster sugar, divided into two equal parts
1 1/2 cups whipping cream
6 apricots
3/4 cup choc chips
Split apricots and remove stones. Simmer gently until tender in just enough water to cover. Drain and sieve. Set aside to cool. Beat the egg yolks with half the sugar until thick and very pale in colour. Set aside. Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Add the other half of the sugar and beat to form a meringue. Gently fold into egg yolk mixture. Whip cream until very stiff (be careful not to overbeat). Gently fold cream into egg mixture. Add apricot puree and choc chips and fold through until thoroughly mixed. Pour into a suitable freezing container and freeze until solid (overnight is best). Makes ca. 2 quarts.
Unfortunately I copied this several years ago without noting the source.

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*Results not typical.

Newsletters: 20 July, 2011

Excerpt from the Market Newsletter originally published on 20 July, 2011. View the full newsletter for all the photos and links.

In the belly
If you’re asking “Kohlrabi? What’s kohlrabi?” you’re not alone. That’s it over in the sidebar, right after the peanuts. Kohlrabi is a member of the cabbage family, is also known as a German turnip (“kohlrabi” is German for “cabbage turnip”) and is probably the same thing as Pliny the Elder’s “Corinthian turnip.” While it is often referred to as a root vegetable, you are in fact eating its swollen stem, which sits just above the soil surface; the leaves are also edible when young.

Kohlrabi is high in fiber and a very good source of various B vitamins, potassium (which helps lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of kidney stones), copper, manganese, and lots of vitamin C. It also supplies magnesium and phosphorus and is very low in calories. Kohlrabi is said to improve energy circulation and stabilize blood sugar imbalances. For some reason, kohlrabi hasn’t ever really caught on in American supermarkets, but has been gaining popularity in home gardens and farmers’ markets.

In the kitchen
This week I got to thinking about scallions (some people call them green onions, but they’re really scallions). I’ve really only seen them as a garnish or a salad ingredient, so I decided to take a look around for recipes that actually feature scallions. Good ol’ Epicurious.com, it hasn’t failed me yet!

Grilled Scallions with Lemon
10 oz. large scallions, trimmed, with most of the green part
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 lemon
2 (8-inch) wooden skewers, soaked in water for 30 minutes
Toss scallions with oil, salt, and pepper. Line up side by side on a work surface and thread first skewer crosswise through all scallions about 2 inches from one end of each. Thread second skewer similarly about 2 inches from the other end, to form a solid rectangle. Grill on a lightly oiled grill rack, uncovered, turning once or twice, until softened and charred in patches, 4 to 5 minutes total. Transfer scallions to a platter and squeeze lemon evenly over them, then remove skewers.

Scallions with Lemon Parsley Butter
10 bunches scallions
1/4 cup softened butter
1/2 teaspoon finely grated fresh lemon zest
2 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
salt and pepper to taste
Trim roots from scallions, leaving ends intact, and remove any bruised outer leaves. Trim greens, leaving a 9-inch length of white and green parts. Boil scallions in salted water until just tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir together butter, zest, and parsley; season. Drain scallions and arrange in a shallow serving dish. Gently brush with lemon parsley butter.

Seared Scallions with Poached Eggs
2 bunches scallions
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
2 large eggs
Mince 1 whole scallion and whisk with 2 tablespoons oil and lemon juice. Season. Drizzle remaining scallions with 1 tablespoon oil and toss to coat. Season and cook in a grill pan, turning occasionally, until tender and slightly charred, about 5 minutes. Divide scallions between two plates. Eggs can be poached in the microwave: Pour 1/2 cup water into each of two 8-ounce microwave-safe coffee cups. Crack 1 egg into each cup and make sure it’s completely submerged. Cover each with a saucer. Microwave 1 egg on high until white is set but yolk is runny, about 1 minute. With a slotted spoon top each plateful of scallions with an egg and drizzle with scallion sauce.

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Quail Eggs à la Romoff

1 dozen quail eggs
12 slices salami, not too thick

Boil eggs 4 minutes; drain off hot water and cool eggs in cold water.

Formal presentation: Peel and rinse eggs, letting them dry briefly in a colander or on a towel. Wrap each egg in a slice of salami, securing with a toothpick.

Informal presentation: Eggs may be peeled and rinsed before serving or served in the shell and peeled just before eating. Wrap each egg in a slice of salami and eat.

From Amelia Romoff

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Versión en español: this post is also available in Spanish.
Esperanta traduko: this post is also available in Esperanto, because Dana is a language geek.

Fresh Corn Frittata with Smoked Mozzarella

1 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels (about 3 ears)
butter or oil for cooking
1/4 cup (1 oz.) shredded smoked mozzarella cheese, divided
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
salt and pepper to taste
5 large egg whites, lightly beaten
2 large eggs, lightly beaten

Saute corn in an ovenproof skillet coated with butter or oil about 5 minutes. Remove to bowl and whisk with 2 Tbsp. cheese and the remaining ingredients. Return to oiled skillet and cook, covered, over medium heat about 5 minutes or until almost set. Sprinkle with 2 Tbsp. cheese and broil 5 minutes or until set and browned.

Adapted from Cooking Light, Aug. 2004.

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Versión en español: this post is also available in Spanish.
Esperanta traduko: this post is also available in Esperanto, because Dana is a language geek.