Eggs & cheese

Eggs & cheese

By
Margaret Fulton
Contains
21 recipes
Published by
Hardie Grant Books
ISBN
9781740669269
Photographer
Geoff Lung

Eggs

We can take a lesson from the French when it comes to cooking eggs. In France the egg comes into its own, not only as a simple and delicious breakfast food, but also as gourmet fare.

Eggs can be prepared in countless ways. With fresh eggs on hand you have an important ingredient for many classic dishes and delicacies. Eggs enrich soups and sauces, glaze pastries, bind meat stuffings, coat fried foods and are essential in most batters, cakes and pastries.

For best results, eggs should be cooked on a low heat. Even boiled eggs should not be cooked at a rapid boil. The exception is the omelette, which should be cooked quickly and served immediately.

Simple ways to cook eggs

To boil eggs:

A boiled egg has been a popular breakfast for hundreds of years. It is light, simple, supremely quick and very nourishing; but its cooking is a matter of split second finesse. If the egg is farm fresh, a grinding of black pepper and a little salt puts this simple food into the gourmet class.

Soft-boiled eggs have soft whites and liquid yolks. The whites of medium-boiled eggs are firm, but the yolks are still soft. Hard-boiled eggs have firm whites and yolks. To boil eggs, place in a saucepan of tepid water and bring them up to the boil. This helps to prevent cracking. Start timing when the water begins to simmer.

If the eggs you are using are cold, put a teaspoon of vinegar in the water to help set any leaking white and to stop it spreading in the pot. Often, very fresh eggs that are hard-boiled are difficult to shell. Counter this with a teaspoon of salt added to the water. Once hard-boiled, cool eggs quickly in plenty of cold water.

To poach eggs:

Poached eggs are delicious on hot buttered toast and are excellent with spinach or smoked salmon. Only fresh eggs will hold a good shape.

Take a shallow saucepan with a lid, half fill it with water and bring to the boil. If you are uncertain about the freshness of the eggs, add 1 teaspoon white vinegar to the water. Break the egg into a cup and slip it gently into the simmering water. As soon as the last egg is in, cover and remove the saucepan from the heat. In 3 1/2 minutes they should be done, or 4 minutes if you prefer firmer eggs. Lift out with an egg slice, drain on a tea towel or paper towel and then slide the egg onto buttered toast.

To scramble eggs:

Scrambled eggs are akin to omelettes, in that all sorts of delicious things can be mixed in with them.

Allow at least 2 eggs per person. Break them into a bowl. Add some salt and freshly ground pepper. Some add a little milk or cream (a tablespoon per egg). Beat with a fork, until the whites and yolks are thoroughly mixed. Melt a little butter in a small saucepan, preferably non-stick. Don’t let the butter get too hot, just foaming should do. Now add the beaten eggs and stir gently at first over a moderate heat, until eggs begin to set. Now stir more rapidly, using a scraping motion, until almost set, but still creamy. Take the eggs off the heat before they are fully cooked. The eggs continue cooking while in the hot pan. At this stage, a little more butter or cream can be added to stop further cooking and to enrich the eggs. Serve immediately on hot buttered toast.

Variations : 1 tablespoon grated cheese, 1 or 2 slices smoked salmon, cut into wide strips, or chopped herbs such as chives, parsley, tarragon and chervil may be added to eggs as you take them from the heat.

To fry eggs:

Melt some bacon fat, butter, or olive oil, 1 teaspoon to each egg, in a frying pan. Break the egg into a cup and slide it in to the pan. If the egg sizzles and splutters violently, the pan is too hot, so turn the heat down quickly. If the eggs cook too quickly, the whites toughen and are unappetising. If there is no reaction at all, the pan is not hot enough. It should be hot enough to set the whites. When done, reduce the heat. As the egg gently fries, baste with a little fat until the thin coating of white over the yolk sets. When set and still wobbly, it is done, sunny-side up. Some people like it a little firmer or turned over.

Bacon and eggs:

Remove the rind from the bacon. Melt a little bacon fat or butter, about 1 teaspoon. Add the bacon and cook slowly for 4–6 minutes. If crisp bacon is liked, keep pouring off the fat. This may be kept for frying the eggs. Do not fry the bacon too quickly or it will ‘frizzle’ and become hard. Push the bacon to the side of pan, or remove to a plate and keep hot. Slide in eggs and cook.

Storing eggs:

Never wash eggs before storing. Store with pointed end downwards and away from strong-flavoured foods. Keep eggs in a refrigerator or the coolest possible place in the house, preferably in an egg rack or in the carton they were purchased, away from the sun.

Omelettes

Many a good cook’s reputation has been built on the ability to make an omelette. The perfect omelette must be beaten quickly, cooked in seconds and served immediately. Some claim that the traditional French omelette of 2–3 eggs should be beaten, cooked and served in 90 seconds. It can be done if the stage is set, with the eggs broken in the bowl, the filling, if any, heated and at hand and the fortunate omelette eater already sitting at the table.

Hot savoury soufflés

There is usually the makings of a soufflé if you have fresh eggs and small leftovers of some fine flavoured dish in the refrigerator. Once you are familiar with the basic recipe, it’s a simple matter to make a variety of soufflés with the addition of other flavours.

Quiche Lorraine and other savoury tarts

A quiche is an open-faced tart with a savoury custard filling. Most widely known is quiche Lorraine, which traditionally contains only eggs, cream or milk, and bacon or ham. Other fillings may include cheese, tomatoes, onions, crabmeat, smoked salmon, mushrooms or other vegetables. Combine your chosen filling with a savoury custard, pour into the pastry shell and bake until puffed and brown.

Use a metal flan ring with fluted edges which can stand on a baking sheet. The tart will then easily slide onto a plate for serving. There should be a lot of creamy filling encased in very little pastry.

Quiches lend themselves to advance preparation. The flan ring lined with pastry may be made well ahead of time and chilled while the filling can also be prepared and stored in the refrigerator.

Cheese snacks

We often look to cheese when wanting a snack in a hurry. Certain types of cheese are more suited to cooking than others. The most useful varieties in the kitchen are the sharp-tasting Parmesan, the nutty Gruyère or emmenthal and the soft melting mozzarella. Cheddar is also good as it grates easily and melts well.

Featured Recipes in this Chapter

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