A blog of hopeful, inspired living: cooking & baking & growing & harvesting & preserving & gleaning & eating & sharing food... while bringing positive change to my kitchen and our food system.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Ode to Eggs

lovely, mustached Ameraucana, a blue egg layer
This post should probably be called 'Ode to Chickens'.  I never liked eggs as much as I do now that I know some lovely hens that produce eggs daily.  The eggs are beautiful: brown, speckled and blue, the yokes are huge and deep orange.  Delicious.  And the chickens make me happy.  I could watch them for hours: little fluffy clowns.  They also come running up to me whenever I approach the coop.  This is a result of feeding them snacks such as persimmon ends, kale and cherry tomatoes...but I'd like to think it's because they love me (which I'm sure they do).  Backyard chickens are so 'in' right now -- urban chickening is all the rage.  Rightly so!  They are so easy to care for, quickly make their way into our hearts, and are a productive member of the family -- laying eggs, consuming yard and food scraps, turning and fertilizing our garden beds.  Don't have chickens of your own to watch? Watch the interesting array of chickens they have at the LifeLab garden in Santa Cruz via their live chicken cam.

Anyway -- on to eggs! 

I'm hesitant to write about eggs.  They seem pretty straight forward and ubiquitous.  As I try to remember to take pictures of what I'm cooking, I find myself with a large collection of egg photos.  A lot of frittatas.  Weekend morning frittatas are a go-to in my kitchen.  They are an easy, versatile way to use up all the veggies from the week, and unlike scrambled eggs or an omelet, they lend themselves well to leftovers.  The more I thought about how and where I use eggs, the less I wanted to talk about frittatas.  So this blog is less about my frittata egg stories (although I'd love your favorite frittata flavor combos!) and more about egg-spanding (har har) my repertoire of kitchen egg-speriments (I'll stop now, really).

the pavlova
from above
In addition to being a breakfast staple, eggs are used in so many baked goods.  Let's talk whites for a minute.  Egg whites are featured  in special treats such as the dainty French macron (like these delicious looking chocolate ones on Chow) and the mighty pavlova.   My sister and I pulled off Nigella Lawson's amazing Chocolate Raspberry Pavlova on my trip to visit her in Pittsburgh in 2009.  I'd never heard of a pavlova before then (poor me).  Wow.  What a cool dessert.  Thanks, sis.  You get to see photos from two angles, just to make sure you really get how cool it is.

Just because you are using the whites, doesn't mean you have to toss the yokes.  This great pudding recipe from smitten kitchen calls for an egg but is perfectly delicious substituting two yokes (or one), if you happen to have some yokes sitting in your fridge waiting to be turned into amazingness.  Just some ideas.  BTW, if you make a pavlova and then turn around and make vanilla bean pudding, you better invite me over! Other yoke-ful ideas: hollandaise sauce, homemade mayonnaise.  Or, how about some ice cream?  Olive oil ice cream?  Mmmm -- with a sprinkle of sea salt.  If you don't have a use for the yokes (or the whites), you can freeze them.  Or so I've heard -- I've never actually had an egg (or a part of an egg) need freezing. 

I can't write about eggs without linking to The Food Lab: Perfect Boiled Eggs.  I have always guessed at egg boiling and was glad to find an article that demystifies it with some interesting science, as well as with practical directions.  Too bad fresh eggs are recommended for frying and not for boiling.  

Ok.  To end, here are some frittata ideas.  If this seems  anti-climactic after all the other egg ideas, sorry.  Frittatas are yummy and practical.  And out of all these recipes, they are the ones I use the most.  Here are some common mixes in my frittatas:  mushrooms, onions, garlic, spinach (or chard) sauteed up, a dash of pesto, potatoes (sliced and parboiled), a tomato and basil (when the seasons permit) sliced on the top, a sprinkle of whatever cheese is in the fridge (goat or feta, Parmesan).  Sometimes I'll add chili flakes or a jalapeno.  Salt is important here, too.  I lightly salt my veggies as I am sauteing them, in addition to lightly salting the eggs when I beat them.  Keep in mind the cheese adds salt, too.  I cook the eggs on the stove top for about 5 minutes on medium heat and then transfer them to a preheated 375 degree oven for 15 - 20 minutes.  How many eggs?  My skillet is 8", I use 5 or 6 eggs beaten with 1/2 cup of milk for 4 - 6 servings.  If you are looking for a hyped-up frittata recipe, or some other classic egg recipes with a twist, Heidi Swanson has a Favorite Egg Recipes post -- the cilantro chili sauce she uses sounds like a winner.  You?  What are your egg secrets?  Happy chicken stories? Cheers to eggs... and to chickens!

No comments:

Post a Comment