Ways with eggs

Eggs really are one of the most versatile ingredients.

Egg frittata

Not only eggs are used in almost every cuisine, they are cooked in many different ways, in sweet and savory dishes, and eggs can appear at breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Some recipes only use yolks, some only the whites. What to do with the rest? How long does it keep? How do you keep it? Those are some of the typical questions. Eggs are universal and there are many ways with eggs.

Cooking and handling eggs

Eggs, versatile, nutritious and fresh food fast. Eggs are a food for all seasons, all meal times.

Cracking eggs

Have a bowl or cup ready. Crack the shell sharply on the edge and let the egg pour inside. Cracking eggs one by one into a cup you won't spoil the dish you are cooking if the egg is no good, or if the recipe calls for whole yolks and one of them breaks. This method helps to prevent oil burns when frying eggs.

Separating egg whites

Prepare two small bowls. Crack the shell sharply on one. Transfer the yolk from one half shell to the other over one of the bowls allowing the white to pour into it -two or three times will be enough- and pour the yolk into the other bowl.

Whisking eggs

Use eggs brought to room temperature. Whisk vigorously with a manual or electric whisk -you can also do it with a fork, but it will take longer- to incorporate a large volume of air; use straight away.

Egg whites are whisked very much the same way. Whisked egg whites will also revert to liquid when left to stand; add a few drops of vinegar or a pinch of salt to the whites before whisking to prevent this. Perfectly beaten whites are glossy and stand in rounded peaks. When whites are stiff and pointed with no gloss they are over beaten.

Egg yolks become creamy and foamy when beaten. They double or triple their volume, but yolks never peak.

Folding in egg whites

Use a metal spoon. Pour the thicker mixture on top of the whites and fold carefully, without beating, to avoid loss of air.

Boiling eggs

The easiest way is to place the eggs in cold water and bring them to the boil. Simmer until done.

Boiling eggs small medium large
soft-boiled 2½ minutes 2¾ minutes 3 minutes
medium-boiled 3½ minutes 4 minutes 4½ minutes
hard-boiled 8 minutes 9 minutes 10 minutes

Poaching eggs

Again, the easiest way is to use a poaching pan.

To poach eggs into water use a wide shallow pan, fill with water, bring it to the boil and reduce to a very gentle simmer. Break eggs into a cup and slip them into the water, one at a time, let them simmer. Very fresh eggs are the best for poaching.

Scrambling

Beat the eggs and season with a little salt and pepper. Melt half Tbs butter and half Tbs olive oil in a heavy based pan over a low heat. Add the eggs, stirring slowly with a wooden spoon until they become thick and creamy. Turn the heat off before they are ready; the eggs will go on cooking on their own for two or three minutes more.

Omelets

You can be very creative with omelets as you can choose any kind of filling, savory or sweet. For a basic omelet, use two eggs and 1 Tbs olive oil for each person.

Break the eggs and beat lightly; season with salt and pepper to taste. Heat the oil in an omelet pan or small frying pan until it sizzles. Pour in the eggs. Tilt the pan so that the eggs cook evenly. Fold the omelet when it is almost set.

Frying

There are three ways to fry eggs. The French way, en cocotte, is the simplest of all; the eggs are served in the same pan they are cooked. You can shallow fry eggs, over easy or sunny side up, or you can deep fry eggs.

For eggs "en cocotte," use two eggs for each person. Melt 2 tsp butter in a fireproof dish. Crack the eggs, one at a time, in a cup and pour them into the pan. Cover and fry on a medium heat 4-5 minutes. Or preheat the oven to (160 C) and rub butter into individual molds; set mold into an oven tray and fill with water up to half their height. Pour an egg into each mold and season to taste. Heat up the tray on top of the stove until the water reaches the boiling point. Simmer for 1-2 minutes. Pour 1 Tbs heavy cream into each mold. Cover the tray with foil. Cook in the oven for 4 minutes. Serve straight away in the same mold.

For shallow frying, heat up two Tbs olive oil until it starts to bubble, the lower the heat as you drop the broken eggs, one at a time. Fry for about two minutes. Turn with a slice and fry for another minute. You can also use butter, bacon drippings or lard as cooking fat.

For deep-frying eggs, heat up abundant oil to (180°C) and crack the eggs, one at a time, into a cup. Pour the egg into the hot oil. Turn the egg once or twice, the white will fold the yolk. The egg will cook in under a minute. Take it out of the oil and set on to a piece of kitchen roll to absorb excess fat.

Egg tips

Eggs keep better: If you keep them with the pointed end down.

Checking for freshness: Put the egg in a bowl of cold water –do it carefully, don’t drop it. The closer to the bottom the egg stays, the fresher. A very fresh egg will sink to the bottom. If it stays in the middle, it is good enough. Any egg that floats is definitely off; throw it away.

Fluffy omelets: Add 1 tablespoon milk or yogurt to the eggs when beating them. Your omelets will come out juicy and fluffy.

Creamier scrambled eggs: Use a stainless steel pan on low heat. Add a bit of milk, light cream to the beaten eggs. If you turn the heat off when the eggs are almost ready, they will finish cooking with the accumulated heat and will not overcook.

Scrambled eggs with chives: Beat 2 eggs and 1 Tbs milk; add 1-2 tsp chopped chives. Heat 1 Tbs butter in a stainless steel pan until it melts and starts bubbling, set heat to low. Add the eggs; scrape the bottom every minute or so until they are thick and creamy. Serve on toasted buttered bread.

Cook scrambled eggs slow: and omelets very quickly.

Boiled eggs that don’t crack: To prevent boiled eggs from cracking and spilling into the boiling water, add 1 Tbs vinegar or 1 Tbs salt to the water before putting the eggs.

To keep yolk yellow: Put hard boiled eggs straight into cold water. This stops the cooking process. The yolk gets that grey-greenish exterior when it overcooks.

Boiled egg simmering times: If you drop them in boliling water, 12 minutes for hard boiled, 7 minutes for medium, 4 minutes for soft (large eggs)

Separation act: To separate an egg, you don’t need any special tools. Just crack the egg and pass the yolk back and forth between halves, letting the white drip down into a bowl.

To shell a hard-boiled egg: Tap it egg gently at both ends, and then roll on the sides to break the shell. It should come out easily, especially if you run it under cold water to stop overcooking or left them in several changes of cold water for 5-8 minutes. Make it easier to remove shells from boiled eggs by running cold water over your pot of eggs for a few minutes.

Raw or hardboiled? If you are wondering if an egg is raw or hard boiled, spin it. If the spin is wobbly, you are dealing with a raw egg. A hard boiled egg spins evenly. You can also shake it -you can "feel" the liquid interior move- or knock it -a hard boiled egg sounds thick. Be careful, in case the egg is raw.

What to do with egg whites

Freezing egg whites: Distribute the egg whites in the compartments of a flexible ice tray. Keep in the freezer until hard. Once frozen, keep the egg white cubes in a plastic bag, tightly closed, stored in the freezer until required.

The best way to defrost them is to place the frozen egg whites into a bowl and place this bowl inside another filled with hot water. In the fridge, egg whites will defrost in about 10 hours; at room temperature, about 3 hours -though this method is not recommended. It can also be done in the microwave. Once defrosted, it is as if they were freshly separated from the yolk; use as indicated in your recipe.

shiny pastry: Whenever your recipe calls for brushing with egg, egg yolk or milk, you will achieve the same result using egg whites only. Another way to use leftover egg whites.