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Whidbey Recipes

"This is probably not a good time to bring up the subject of eggs; chances are you're still trying to get rid of the post-Easter backlog. But, May has been declared National Egg Month, so rather than wait until May is almost over, I think we should deal with some hard-boiled facts about eggs right now, early in the month. That way, we'll have all the remaining days of May to make up for those long years when eggs were on everyone's no-no list.You all recall, I'm sure, the time when eggs were suddenly declared deadly, full of cholesterol, dangerous to your health at best. Everyone stopped eating soft-boiled eggs (a personal favorite) and chefs all over the world had to relearn making Hollandaise sauce. Makers of those ghastly egg substitutes laughed all the way to the bank, and the words Egg Beaters took on a whole new meaning. Yuck!Well, as usual, we were taken down the path of folly by a few published articles which, as it turned out, had no basis in actual research, but were the result of assumptions made by a few and turned into egg-hysteria by the media. Now eggs, which took such a beating for a few years, have made a dramatic comeback and are once again a popular item in the shopping basket. In fact, according to the American Egg Board, Americans will EACH eat more than 255 eggs this year, the most since 1985, primarily because 1) The cholesterol in eggs is nowhere as bad as once suspected; 2) There is less concern about salmonella because of stricter regulations about handling; and 3) High protein diets are very popular again.Here for our edification are a few hard facts about eggs:*One egg yolk contains 5 grams of fat; of that, only 1.5 grams are saturated fat, mono/polyunsaturated fats make up the rest.*Before you ever again toss out the yolk, remember that it's the yolk that contains vitamins A, D, E, B-12, B-3, B-6, choline, folic acid, biotin, inositol, niacin, riboflavin and thiamin. They don't contain any C, however, so drink a glass of orange juice with your breakfast eggs.*The quality of egg protein is so high that scientists use eggs as a standard for measuring protein quality of other foods, which means they provide higher quality protein than milk, fish, soybeans or beef.*Foods which supply significant amounts of several nutrients compared to the calories they contain are called nutrient dense. Yep, you guessed it - eggs are considered nutrient dense because one egg has only 75 calories (plus or minus a few depending upon size) but packs all those other things mentioned above.*Eggs can be stored in their carton, in the refrigerator, for 4 to 6 weeks (longer than most of us thought) without noticeable quality loss. It's leaving them at room temperature that does the damage. *And, for you hard-core free-run/fertile/brown eggs only folks, that's fine if you really believe it makes a difference. Fact is, test after test after test has shown that there is no perceptible difference, except, of course, in what you pay for your dozen. By the way, white shelled eggs are put out by hens with white feathers and ear lobes; brown shelled eggs come out of hens with red feathers and red ear lobes. How's that for a bit of chicken trivia? And just where are a chicken's ear lobes?One last bit: it takes a hen 24 to 26 hours to come up with an egg; she rests for a half-hour, then starts all over again. And we all know what happens when she can't do that anymore.So, celebrate National Egg Month with one or more of the recipes below, and may the rest of your May be sunnyside up!RecipesFrankly, because they're one of my favorite foods, I never gave up eggs during the bad years, and my file of egg recipes is one of the fattest in my overflowing collection. It's hard to pick just two or three favorites, but I'm especially partial to breakfast recipes that can serve 8 or more and can be made ahead. I've given you our all-time favorite (because it's made the day before and can be either the main offering or an appetizer) ,usually referred to just as Our Favorite Omelet, in a previous column; if you didn't get it and want it, call or email me and I'll get it to you (221-3900; falwal@whidbey.com). Meanwhile, here are a couple of others that are also excellent for guest breakfasts.Celebration Eggs1 loaf French or sourdough bread, or bread of your preference8 eggs2 cups half-and-half2 cups milk4 T. butterSalt and freshly ground pepper, to taste3/4 lb. prosciutto slices, or about 3/4 lb. quality ham, diced (either will work well)1 cup diced or grated Gruyere cheese1 cup grated or shredded cheddar cheese1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheeseGrease a large baking dish (minimum 11x13). Layer the dish with slices of bread topped with prosciutto or ham, then Gruyere and cheddar, to fill dish.Lightly beat together the eggs, half-and-half, milk and butter. Add salt, freshly ground pepper (be careful to allow for the saltiness of the prosciutto or ham). Pour this over the bread slices in the dish. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 45 to 55 minutes, or until set. Remove from oven, allow to cool a bit before slicing. You can make the slices as large or small as desired; should serve about 18 and is excellent with a fresh fruit platter and/or pitchers of cold, fresh juice.Ada's Egg Casserole1 box croutons (Ada used to use dry bread chunks; I prefer croutons now)1/4 t. onion powder1 cup grated or shredded sharp cheddar cheese8 eggs, lightly beatenDash of Tabasco (optional)2 cups milk1-2 T. dry sherry1/2 t. Dijon-style mustard2 cups cooked sausage, ham, bacon, Chorizo - or a mixture of these, crumbled and/or dicedFresh parsley or cilantro, finely choppedSpray a 2 qt. baking dish with vegetable spray. In the bottom spread the diced or crumbled sausage, ham, bacon, etc. Over this, layer the croutons, then the cheese.2. To the beaten eggs add the Tabasco, milk, sherry and mustard (you probably won't need salt because of the bacon/ham, etc.), mixing well. Pour this over the croutons/cheese and bake in a preheated 325 degree oven for about 50 minutes to an hour, or until well set. Remove from oven and allow to cool a bit, then sprinkle with a bit of minced parsley before serving. Serves about 10.And just in case you're new to boiled eggs and want hard-boiled eggs without that tinge of green around the yolk, puncture the smaller end of each egg with a pin or handy-dandy egg piercer, place in a pan large enough so the eggs have room to move a bit, cover with cold or tepid water, place on high, bring to a full boil, then turn off the heat and allow eggs to sit in the water for 20 minutes (minimum), a bit longer if they're extra-large eggs. Then pour off hot water and run cold water over the eggs to stop cooking and loosen shell. Refrigerate until ready to use."

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