Monday, June 2, 2008

A Word About Eggs

You don't hear too much about eggs -- the occasional Get Cracking ad, maybe. Eggs got a bad rap back in the anti-cholesterol days and they never quite recovered, even though they proved themselves to be artery-friendly.

Eggs just keep a low profile now. They're seen as kind of comical. I don't know why. Maybe because the way they're shaped or because it's so easy to draw funny faces on them.

Some people don’t like eggs. I didn’t like eggs when I was young; a) because I had to look after our chickens and they were ugly and stupid and the eggs often came out covered in poop and they tasted like whatever the chickens had been eating the day before which could have been anything from dog food to soap; and, b) because my mother believed eggs had to be eaten plain and very runny.

Then, when I was a teenager I had a job going to the Kitchener market with a neighbouring farmer. We’d leave home around 3:00 am and stop for breakfast on the way. The first day the farmer ordered breakfast for the whole crew so I ended up with a plate of fried eggs, over hard. Then they passed the ketchup. Always being up for a new taste sensation, I gave it a try. And lo – I discovered eggs were not bad when cooked to solidity and smothered in ketchup.

My enjoyment of eggs grew in proportion to the time elapsed since I tended chickens.

Some people eat quail eggs and duck eggs and ostrich eggs. I’ve never tried them.

There’s a lot of mystery about an egg. Why are some white and some brown? What’s better – organic, free-range, free-run, Omega-3 or the cheapest ones on the shelf? Is there a real difference? I always get organic free-range when I can.

Do fresh eggs float or sink? And why? (I’m going to turn this one over to the Crack Watawa Life Research Team)

Which part turns into the chicken? Is it the yolk? Is it the white? Turns out it’s neither. A tiny white spot on the yolk called the egg cell, when fertilized grows into a chick. The yolk is food for the chick and the white stuff holds water for the chick and also protects it. The little holes in the egg shell let in air and at the fat end of the egg there’s a little space for an air sac. Who knew?

Then there’s that stringy squiggly thing attached to the yolk that keeps it in place. I hate that thing. I found out it’s called the chalazae. I always pick that out before making anything with eggs.

Eggs are kind of a super-food. They contain all the amino acids a person needs at only about 75 calories for a medium egg. They’re a good source of the different vitamins and minerals we need, except Vitamin C. Eggs are 11.2% fat: 17% of which is polyunsaturated, 44% monounsaturated, & 32% saturated.

You can make hundreds of things with eggs. Some are simple, some are not so simple. My favorite simple egg thing is an omelette, preferably with goat cheese and/or mushrooms. One day I want to go to Provence and have a fresh black truffle omelette.
Here’s another yummy egg thing:

Huevos Rancheros[1]
(serves 4)
3/4 cup bottled salsa
1 medium plum tomato, chopped
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
4, 7- to 9-inch flour or corn tortillas
8 large eggs
1 1/2 cups (packed) hot pepper Monterey Jack cheese

Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix first 3 ingredients in medium saucepan; set sauce aside. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tortilla and cook until just beginning to brown, about 30 seconds. Using tongs, turn tortilla over and heat 10 seconds. Transfer to large sheet of foil. Repeat with remaining tortillas. Enclose tortillas in foil and place in oven to keep warm.

Divide remaining 2 tablespoons oil between 2 medium skillets and heat over medium heat. Break 4 eggs into each skillet; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook until just set on bottom, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle with cheese. Cover skillets; cook until eggs are cooked as desired and cheese melts, about 2 minutes. Bring sauce to boil.

Divide tortillas among 4 plates. Top each with 2 eggs, then warm sauce.

[1] From Bon Appetit Magazine


Newsguy Bob said...

XUP, you're a good egg! You crack me up!

XUP said...

Bob - here we go, bring on the soft-boiled humour

zoom said...

I wish you hadn't told us about the chalazae. I never knew it existed before and now it's giving me the creeps. you think the Crack Watawa Life Research Team can crack the Case of the Floating Egg?

robin said...

I'm sure the cracked research team can solve it. And they do it for chicken feed.

Hunters Glory said...

Don't forget to take out the 'stringy squiggly thing attached to the yolk'....we don't need that in any of our diets!

You seem to know a lot about eggs and that being the case......
which or who came first the chicken or the egg?

VioletSky said...

And then there's Delia Smith a doyenne of cookery in Britain. She had a 10 part series of "How To Cook" books that was televised. Turns out very few people actually knew how to boil an egg and needed a tv show to help them along. After her How To Boil An Egg episode aired, eggs suddenly disappeared off the shelves in the excitement of trying out this new fangled technology of boiling water and plopping an egg into it.

Delia's advice starts How to boil an egg? Answer: very carefully.

DaniGirl said...

Hey, yer back! Nice to see you blogging again. Hmm, I am suddenly craving scrambled eggs smothered in hot sauce...

Scarlet said...

My mother is into egg decorating, like Faberge eggs, very fancy. I will have to post some of her pics soon!

Now about egg dishes, just about anything goes with eggs...except wine maybe. ;) I like eggs with spinach, cheese and mushroom, and I prefer my French Toast egg-stra eggy.

Dave said...

Me gustan los huevos rancheros.

JB said...

I'm pretty sure I remember Chalazae being on the World Champion Czech hockey team in 1998.
His teammates said he was a pretty good egg, but a little soft in the corners.

Jazz said...

I love eggs. Except, since I developed IBS they cause me problems. Nevertheless, problems be damned, sometimes I just have to have them and I live with the consequences.

alison said...

Mmmmm, eggs. I'm finding that as we eat less and less meat chez Party of 3, we're eating more eggs and cheese. Well, we're all eating more cheese and I'm eating more eggs, seeing as my girls seem to have inherited their father's dislike of eggs. But Leah does like French toast, so at least she's getting some eggy goodness.

Thanks for the recipe!

XUP said...

Zoom – Really? You’ve never seen that stringy thing? The fresher the egg the more noticeable it is –maybe you’ve been eating old eggs all your life?

Robin – Thanks. I knew I could count on the WLCRT. I’ll expect your report no later than tomorrow morning.

Hunter – Ah, the age old conundrum. If you’re a creationist, of course the chicken came first. If you’re an evolutionist then I suppose it must be the egg – a mutant egg or series of mutant eggs laid by some pre-chicken type of creature. But perhaps we should check with the eggsperts.

Violet – The French are also very particular about how they cook their eggs. Making an omelette or scrambled eggs is quite a production if you do it correctly, so that you end up with eggs at their optimum flavour, texture and visual appeal.

Dani – Hi! Thanks and I hope you enjoyed your eggs.

Scarlet- How could you suggest wine doesn’t go with eggs? Blasphemy. There is nothing that can’t be enhanced with the right wine, including most egg dishes. Maybe a greasy fry-up from a truck stop would be the exception.

Dave – Ya, das schmeckt!

JB – You’re such a yolker.

Jazz – Does the method of preparation matter? I can see fried eggs or eggs mixed with dairy wouldn’t be too B friendly.

Alison – You’re welcome. I still have to disguise eggs for my kiddo. Pancakes, waffles, French toast and sometimes she can be persuaded to eat an omelette if I put a lot of stuff in it for her – onions, pepper, veggie sausage – and she drowns it in ketchup and lots of toast handy as a chaser.

robin said...

The cracked Watawa Life Research Team has solved the case of the floating eggs.

Fresh eggs don't float because they don't contain air bubbles.

This is from

Egg shells may seem pretty solid, but they are in fact slightly porous. Old eggs float in fresh cold water because of a large air cell that forms as the egg cools after being laid. As the egg ages, air enters the egg and the air cell becomes larger and this acts as a buoyancy aid.

Generally, fresh eggs will lie on the bottom of the bowl of water. Eggs that tilt so that the large end is up are older, and eggs that float are rotten. The tilting is caused by air pockets in the eggs that increase in size over time as fluid evaporates through the porous shell and oxygen and gases filter in. The older an egg gets the more gas builds up inside it. More gas = more floating!

XUP said...

Robin - about bloody time. But thanks. This is important stuff to know. You're definitely on the list to bid for the next job