What goes ’round, comes ’round, as the saying goes. If you have patience and can wait long enough, that is.
Eggs, recently back in the food news, are a perfect example.
Remember when the powers that be decided that eggs were bad stuff, that we should limit egg eating to once a week, if at all?
Cholesterol was the primary culprit, followed closely by the possibility of salmonella if you didn’t cook the eggs to rubber before eating.
If you paid attention to all the blather that went on regarding the evils of eggs, especially the yolks, you’d have found yourself wondering how you ever made it to adulthood.
Virtually overnight, egg substitutes appeared on market shelves, and recipes using only egg whites popped up in cookbooks and cooking articles in magazines and newspapers. Deviled eggs, mainstay of the buffet table and potluck offerings, became almost extinct. Rich, creamy Hollandaise sauce, primary ingredient of so many dishes we all knew and loved but which was made with raw eggs, was replaced by weak imitations. And, on a more personal note, we who loved soft-boiled eggs for breakfast had to do some serious mind-searching.
Frankly, I didn’t mind-search much, because a soft-boiled egg, nestled in one of my beloved egg cups, was and is my favorite breakfast. Giving it up was not an option. I grew up eating soft-boiled eggs from my grandmother’s egg cups, which are now mine, and over the years, I’ve collected egg cups from every place in the world I’ve lived and/or visited. My only problem with a soft-boiled egg is which egg cup I’m going to choose that morning.
So, you can imagine how pleased I am to read and hear that eggs are once again in favor; in fact, they’re one of the new “in” foods this year.
Fried eggs are being added to hamburgers in burger joints around the country, and in many la-de-da restaurants, sweet little poached eggs are perched atop beds of salad greens, and smoked salmon is being served in the company of, you guessed it, a soft-boiled egg.
What brought about the change? A number of factors, including a better understanding of cholesterol in foods. Because of changes in their feed, hens are now producing eggs with a lowered cholesterol content, and higher levels of Omega-3, which is why the Food and Drug Administration recently declared that it is quite all right to eat an egg every day, should you wish to do so.
Patience, they say, is a virtue. When it comes to dealing with pronouncements from on high regarding what’s good for us to eat and what’s not, patience is not only a virtue, it’s a requirement, along with a certain amount of common sense.
So many things I love were once on the “not good for you” list, including chocolate, red wine, coffee and eggs, but I knew it would only be a matter of time before that would change, and it has.
Patience, Grasshopper; have patience. This, too, shall pass.
Whether you buy “free-range” eggs, brown or white eggs, eggs from “humanely treated” chickens, all of which will cost you considerably more than the plain dozen from the egg display at your favorite supermarket, the primary factor is to look at the packing date. Not the “best if used by” date; the packing date. That way you can tell approximately how fresh the eggs are. Keep them in the carton rather than those egg trays in the door of the fridge; eggs shells are actually rather porous and can absorb odors from whatever else is moldering away in your fridge. Once they’re hard-boiled, they can be kept, refrigerated, for up to two weeks.
I often hard boil a half dozen or so and keep them on hand for those mornings when I need a quick breakfast; glass of juice, piece of toast and a hard-boiled egg; breakfast in a flash.
Other than that, here are but a few of the great things you can do with eggs, now that we don’t have to feel guilty about eating them.
I used this first recipe in a column before, but it was several years ago and, because it is one of our favorite egg recipes, I’m going to use it again for our newer readers.
This is a great recipe to have on hand for any kind of entertaining because you can use it as a breakfast dish when you have guests, or an appetizer for potlucks or a buffet get-together, and it can be made the day before. It’s called Firehouse Omelet because the recipe came from a firehouse cook in Seattle who frequently prepared this for the fire crew for breakfast.
1 cup long grain rice
1 cup chicken broth or homemade stock
1 cup water
1 stick butter, melted
1 pint small curd cottage cheese
1 cup finely diced salami or ham
1 envelope Swiss Leek Soup Mix
1 t. each, garlic salt, onion salt, and freshly ground black pepper
1 pkg. (10 oz.) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well-drained
Butter for greasing a baking dish or pan
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
Cook the rice in the broth and water, according to rice instructions. When cooked, place in a large bowl and add melted butter. Mix well. Add the cottage cheese, salami or ham, soup mix and the salts and pepper. Beat 9 eggs; stir these into the rice mixture. Add the drained spinach and mix well.
Grease an 11x16x1 baking dish or pan with butter. Sprinkle half the grated cheese on the bottom of the dish. Add the rice mixture and smooth out the top. Beat the remaining 3 eggs and pour them over the top of the dish. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and bake, uncovered in a preheated 325-degree oven for 35 to
40 min., or until firmly set and light golden on top. Allow to cool a bit before cutting into serving pieces. This actually sets up better if made a day in advance and quickly reheated in oven or microwave before serving.
Note: If using this as a breakfast dish (it’s delicious served with fruit and a scone or muffin), cut it into 3 to 4 inch squares and it will serve 8 to 12; if serving as an appetizer, cut into 1-2 inch squares, or any size you wish.
Risotto is my preferred rice, and paired with eggs to make a frittata, you have either breakfast or a vegetarian light supper, excellent with a tossed green salad.
2-3 T. olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1-3 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
1 red bell pepper, seeded, cut into thin strips
¾ cup risotto rice
2 cups simmering vegetable stock
2-3 t. butter
2½ cups button mushrooms, thinly sliced
4 T. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
Heat on low heat 1 T. of the oil in a large skillet; add onion and garlic and cook 2-3 min. until the onion begins to soften but does not brown. Add the red pepper and cook, stirring, for
4-5 min., until soft.
Stir in the rice; cook gently for 2-3 min., stirring constantly, until the grains are evenly coated with oil. Add a quarter of the vegetable stock and season with salt and pepper. Stir over low heat until the stock is absorbed. Continue to add more stock, a little at a time, stirring until liquid is absorbed, then adding more. Continue adding this way until the risotto is al dente.
In a separate small pan, heat a little of the remaining oil and some of the butter and quickly fry the mushrooms until golden. Transfer to a plate.
When the rice is tender, remove from heat and stir in cooked mushrooms and the Parmesan cheese.
Beat together the eggs with 8 T. cold water; season to taste with salt and pepper. Heat remaining oil and butter in an omelet pan and when it is heated, add the risotto mixture. Spread it out in the pan and immediately add the beaten egg, tilting the pan so that the omelet cooks evenly. Fry over med. heat 1-2 min., or until cooked to desired doneness (some like it softer/less cooked, others prefer it more firm). Transfer to a warm plate and serve immediately. Serves 4.
As for our much loved deviled eggs, try this fancied up version. Delicious.
One dozen eggs, hard boiled and peeled
2 ripe avocados, halved and pitted (sprinkle with lemon juice to avoid browning)
1-2 cloves garlic, crushed or pressed
Tabasco sauce, to taste
1 T. extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Endive leaves or crisp green lettuce leaves, for serving
Fresh basil, shredded, for garnish
Reserve 2 eggs; halve the rest and put the yolks in a mixing bowl. Blend or beat the yolks with the avocados, garlic, Tabasco, oil and salt and pepper. Check seasoning and adjust as desired. Pipe or spoon this mixture back into the halved egg whites.
Sieve the remaining egg whites and sprinkle on the filled eggs, then sieve the yolks on top. Arrange each egg half on a small endive or lettuce leaf and place on a serving platter. Sprinkle the shredded basil on the eggs before serving.
Margaret Walton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.