Health and Wellness
Recipe Rescue: January 2016
By Patrick Mathieu
There are very few ingredients in the cooking world that have the versatility, mass appeal, and recipe variation as the incredible edible egg (thanks for that one, Canadian Egg Farmers!).
By Patrick Mathieu
As one of nature’s most nutritious foods, the humble egg that was once reserved for early morning sunny-side up has hatched into one of the biggest trends in food today. From haute cuisine fine dining to beachside burger shacks, you will now find eggs on menus worldwide for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and for every course – appetizer through dessert. Eggs are everywhere!
It is easy to understand why there are entire cookbooks dedicated to egg preparation; eggs are delicious, inexpensive and there is no limit to the ways in which they can be prepared. As a bonus, eggs are also highly nutritious. Did you know that one little egg has just 70 calories, contains six grams of muscle-building and energizing protein, and provides 14 nutrients that benefit bones, teeth, skin and eyes? And, just so you know, brown and white eggs have the same nutritional value.
Eggs suffered a bad rap because of links to dietary cholesterol and coronary heart disease, but recent research shows healthy adults can enjoy an egg daily without increasing the risk of heart disease. Actually, the lutein found in egg yolks also protects against the progress of early heart disease.
Eggs are on top of the food world, delicious and nutritious, so let’s go over the many different ways to cook them like a pro in the fire house or at home.
Cooked in the shell – yes, I’m referring to boiling eggs, however, eggs cooked in their shell should never be boiled, rather simmered for the best results. Place enough water in a pot to completely submerge eggs and add a pinch of salt. Bring the water to a simmer and gently lower in your eggs with a slotted spoon or spider to not crack them. Adjust the heat to maintain a simmer and do not allow the water to come to a boil. Start the cooking time once the water reaches its simmer; five to seven minutes for soft/medium cooked, 10 to 12 minutes for hard cooked. Rinse eggs under cold running water to cool, although if you have prepared hard-cooked eggs they are much easier to peel while still warm. Serve as a garnish for salads or vegetables, prepare deviled eggs for a classic hors d’oeuvre (recipe follows), or keep a batch of hard-cooked eggs on standby for a little protein bomb on the go.
Poaching – poach eggs by slipping shelled eggs into barely simmering water with a splash of vinegar and a pinch of salt and cooking gently until the egg holds it shape, about three to four minutes. Use a slotted spoon to carefully remove the eggs and blot them with a paper towel to dry. Poached eggs are famous in eggs benedict, Florentine or on top of corned-beef hash, but now they have become hugely popular as the topper to salads (Lyonnais salad recipe follows), burgers (my favourite!), pizzas and pretty much anything that would benefit from a rich and creamy egg yolk. Also try different poaching liquids such as broth, wine, cream or even tomato sauce to experience new flavours.
Frying – it sounds easy enough, but if you fry a perfectly fresh egg, on the correct heat level, in the right amount of fat, you will notice the difference. For best results use a non-stick pan and place it over medium heat. Heat a teaspoon of fat – such as clarified butter, oil, infused oils or rendered bacon fat (the best!) – per two eggs. Allow the fat to become hot, crack the eggs into a cup and then slide them into the pan. Keep the heat at medium and cook until desired doneness, seasoning with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Properly fried eggs should have shiny, tender and fully set whites that are not blistered or browned. The yolk is up to you – cook sunny-side up, or give the eggs one flip and another 30 seconds for over easy. Fried eggs are a breakfast or sandwich staple but try them in hearty main dishes such as the famous Mexican huevos rancheros.
Scrambling and omelets – Scrambled eggs can be made two ways for either large or small curds. Start with a nonstick pan and teaspoon of fat over medium heat. For a single portion, beat three eggs and add a dash of cream and season with salt and pepper. Now you can either stir constantly over low heat for a delicate curd and creamy texture, or stir less frequently over high heat for a firm texture and larger curd. Introduce an array of flavours and textures with any variety of garnishes such as spices, fresh herbs, grated cheese, meats and vegetables. Scrambled eggs are the perfect medium for experimenting with different flavour and spice combinations from around the world. Try Nordic (smoked salmon, goat cheese and mince chives), Greek (diced tomato, garlic, olives and feta), Thai (chili, shallot, ground pork, fish sauce and soy sauce) or even Moroccan (sundried tomatoes, shallot, ground cumin, cinnamon, lemon juice and fresh cilantro). Omelet preparation begins much the same as scrambled eggs but as the eggs start to set they are simply rolled over. Again, the sky is the limit for flavours and textures. Any of the garnishes listed above can be added before rolling the omelet, or served on top.
These four methods of cooking eggs are just the tip of the iceberg; I haven’t even touched soufflés, quiches or custards yet (but I did include a recipe for you). Eggs offer so many countless recipe variations that far exceed breakfast. Master these four egg techniques and be creative and you will soon find yourself putting nature’s little super food on just about everything as well. Get cracking with these recipes!
Classic Lyonnais salad
- 5 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/2-inch strips
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 2 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 small shallot, minced
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- Frisée, torn into bite-size pieces
- 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 4 eggs
- Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium-high until bacon is crisp, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon transfer the bacon to paper towels to drain. Drain off all but three tablespoons of bacon fat from the pan and add lemon juice, mustard, shallot, salt, and pepper. While whisking slowly, drizzle in oil until vinaigrette is emulsified. In a large salad bowl toss the frisée with the vinaigrette and reserved bacon and divide between four plates.
- Boil water in a saucepan and add the vinegar. Reduce heat to medium and crack eggs, one at a time into a glass or bowl and slide into water. Cook until whites are set, about three minutes. Using a slotted spoon, divide eggs between plates; garnish with more black pepper. Enjoy!
Deviled eggs with maple ham
- 10 large eggs
- 1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp mayonnaise
- 2 tbsp Boursin soft cheese, at room temperature
- 2 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 1/2 tsp minced shallot
- 2 tsp snipped chives
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- Pinch of smoked paprika
- About 10 thin slices of deli country maple ham, torn into 20 pieces
- Place enough water in a pot to completely submerge eggs and add a pinch of salt. Bring the water to a simmer and gently lower in the eggs with a slotted spoon or spider to not crack them. Adjust the heat to maintain the simmer; do not allow it to come to a boil. Start the cooking time once the water reaches its simmer and cook for 10-12 minutes for hard cooked. Rinse eggs under cool running water and peel them while the eggs are still warm. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, mix the mayonnaise, Boursin cheese, mustard, shallot and one teaspoon of the chives. Halve the eggs lengthwise. Carefully scoop out the yolks and add them to the bowl. Mix until smooth and season with salt, pepper and smoked paprika.
- Set the egg whites on a serving platter. Scrape the egg yolk mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip and pipe the filling into the whites or carefully spoon in the filling with a teaspoon. Top each egg with a piece of ham and sprinkle with the remaining one teaspoon of chives. Enjoy!
- 2 tomatoes, finely chopped
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1 medium jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic; 1 chopped, 1 smashed
- 1 tsp hot sauce
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 415-mililitre can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter or rendered bacon fat
- 6 large eggs
- 6 6-inch corn tortillas, warmed
- 1/2 cup cojita, queso fresco, or shredded pepper-jack cheese
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 avocado, pitted and sliced
- Heat a medium skillet over low heat and add two teaspoons of olive oil. Add the tomato, onion, jalapeno and chopped garlic to the skillet. Fry until the salsa thickens slightly, about five minutes. Remove to a bowl and set aside.
- Add the beans to the same pan along with the smashed garlic, 1/2 cup warm water and a pinch of salt; cook over low heat until warmed through and slightly mash them up with a fork.
- Meanwhile, heat the butter or bacon fat in another skillet over medium/low heat. Once the butter starts to foam, slide in the eggs and fry until the whites just set and the yolks are still runny. Season with salt and pepper.
- Place a warm tortilla on each plate and divide the beans among them. Top each tortilla with a fried egg, salsa and cheese. Sprinkle with cilantro, avocado slices and serve with another drizzle of salsa. Enjoy!
Salted caramel pot de crème
- 8 cups plus 2 tbsp water, more as needed
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 3/4 cup whole milk
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 6 large egg yolks
- 2 1/2 ounces good-quality milk chocolate, coarsely chopped
- A couple pinches course sea salt flakes, plus more for garnish
- Heat the oven to 300 F and arrange a rack in the middle. Bring eight cups of the water to a simmer in a large saucepan over medium heat and keep the water just simmering. Arrange six ramekins (or small oven-safe bowls) in a large roasting pan and set aside.
- Combine the cream and milk in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat; remove from the heat and keep warm.
- Combine the sugar and remaining two tablespoons of measured water in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar has completely dissolved. Continue to cook without stirring, using a pastry brush dipped in water to brush away any sugar crystals clinging to the sides of the pan, until the mixture turns a dark amber colour, about five to six minutes. Immediately remove from the heat.
- While whisking gently, very carefully add about 1/2 cup of the warm cream mixture to the caramel. It will bubble up and sputter, so add a small amount at a time. Make sure to whisk the bottom of the pan, until the bubbles subside. Continue to slowly add the cream mixture 1/2 cup at a time while slowly whisking to incorporate it until all of the mixture has been added; set aside.
- Whisk the yolks in a small heatproof bowl until blended. While whisking continuously, slowly pour the cream mixture into the yolks until combined. Pour the cream-egg mixture back into the saucepan and whisk to combine. Add the chocolate and pinches of sea salt gently whisking until the chocolate is melted and evenly combined.
- Place a fine-mesh strainer over a large measuring cup or a bowl with a spout and pour in the custard. Remove the strainer and evenly divide the strained custard among the ramekins, filling them 3/4 full.
- Being careful not to get any water inside the ramekins, add enough of the simmering water to the roasting pan so that it reaches about halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil. Carefully transfer the pan to the oven and bake until the tops of the custards are darkened in colour and almost set – about one hour.
- Using tongs and being careful not to get any water inside the ramekins, carefully transfer each to a wire rack and let cool to room temperature. Garnish with a small sprinkle of sea salt flakes just before serving. Enjoy!
Patrick Mathieu is an acting captain at Waterloo Fire Rescue in Ontario. He was recently featured on Food Network’s Chopped Canada. email@example.com @StationHouseCCo