Archive for the ‘Soft Eggs’ Category

The Perfect Egg

March 04, 2009

The value of eggs is rising like a soufflé.

The pair of cardinals that mate every spring in our yard are back singing love songs. I know this because the lusty singing starts very early in the morning and wakes up the chicks before it’s barely light. By the time I trudge out to the coop the girls already are cackling at top volume telling me the day is half gone.

The girls must also feel spring is on its way because they’ve been nesting. Not sitting over eggs in their nest, but rather creating nests wherever they feel like it. Lulu is developing quite a skill. In spite of having a clean nest box every morning, she has lately decided to play “Find the Egg” with me. She’s laid eggs in the straw at the end of the run where I can’t reach them. She’s laid eggs under the evergreen tree next to the coop and she’s laid eggs in the snow to create a frozen variation. I almost stepped on one the other night because it was dark and I had no idea it was there.


Nesting Under the Evergreen

Maybe the girls are trying to hide their precious eggs. The latest news shows that the value of eggs is rising like a soufflé. New studies point to evidence that eggs not only lower blood pressure but are good for the heart. Even dieticians are recommending one egg a day as a great way to add protein to your diet at little cost. (On a side note, with the economy sinking, the value of backyard chickens appears to be rising. There was a local theft of five hens this past weekend causing all of us to rethink our coop security.)

When I want to truly savor the fresh taste of these precious eggs I opt for something simple. Lately I’ve been on a quest to find the best soft-cooked eggs. Perfecting the soft-cooked egg is a bit of an art form. The whites should be firm but still very tender. The yolk should be creamy on the outside and soft and runny in the center. Unlike other egg dishes, there is no way to tell if you’ve got it right until you slice off the top and slide your spoon in—then it’s too late to make any changes.

I’ve tested numerous methods by chefs and home cooks alike and have had success with two very different methods. Choose your favorite.


Perfection

Perfect Soft-Cooked Eggs
Print This Recipe

Tips: Start with cold large eggs.
Choose the smallest saucepan that will fit the number of eggs in one layer.
Use gentle heat, never boil the eggs rapidly.

Method #1: Gentle Simmer
Bring a small saucepan of water to a full boil over high heat.
Gently lower the eggs into the boiling water and immediately turn the heat down to medium-low keeping the eggs at a very soft gentle simmer.
Cook the eggs for 5½ to 6 minutes, adjusting the heat as necessary.
Run the eggs under cold water for about 30 seconds to stop the cooking and serve.

Method #2: Off the Heat
Place the eggs in a small saucepan and barely cover with cold water.
Bring the water to a full rapid boil over high heat.
Immediately remove the pan from the heat and let stand, uncovered, 4 minutes.
Run the eggs under cold water for about 30 seconds to stop the cooking and serve.

A Lulu of an Egg

October 04, 2008

Crazy Lulu’s at it again. A few days ago while letting the chicks out to free-range I noticed her back area looked wet. With much concern, I tried to get a closer look. The Wild One didn’t let me get close. We were a funny sight as doubled over I almost tripped trying to sneak up on her. As she scurried away she suddenly began to waddle strangely and I became more worried.

All of a sudden in the middle a waddle out pops an egg! But it’s no ordinary egg—it’s a pre-peeled egg. The normal-sized egg was fully formed with a yolk, white and membrane. The only thing lacking was the beautiful pale blue shell. Because the membrane was surprisingly strong, I was able to pick the egg up and gently clean it before cooking it in lightly simmering water. It was delightful.


Egg Without Shell Before Cooking


After Cooking

We’ve had a few problems with Lulu laying soft eggs recently and we’re not sure why. Her diet is balanced and she eats oyster shells daily to add calcium for strong shells. She’s not sick and the other chicks are fine. I’ve discussed her situation with a vet who specializes in chickens and she’s stumped. I’ve also asked a local group of chicken enthusiasts but no one seems to have any answers. Maybe she’s starting to molt and it’s a symptom. I hope it stops soon.

I’ve never seen one of my chicks lay an egg in 1½ years. I know some people have put mini-cams in their coops but I don’t have a voyeuristic streak so I’ve avoided that route. Lulu’s recent egg drop was my first time. Even though it wasn’t a normal egg, it was still exciting.

I’ve created a dish in honor of Crazy Lulu’s egg. Even if you don’t have your own pre-peeled eggs, you’ll love the following recipe featuring softly cooked eggs.

Autumn Salad with Crisp Bacon, Apples and Softly Cooked Eggs

October 04, 2008

Print This Recipe

I love the taste of softly cooked eggs in salads. In this salad the tender white of the eggs combined with the soft yolks create the perfect contrast to the crisp tangy apple and the smoky bacon. Use the famous applewood-smoked Neuske’s Bacon www.neuskesbacon.com for the best flavor.

I’ve recently been introduced to Northern Lights Blue cheese and its creamy sweet peppery flavor is the perfect match for this salad. It’s made at the University of Minnesota and can be found in many Twin Cities cheese shops. For those of you out of state, try Maytag Blue from Iowa. It’s readily available across the country or check out their website at www.maytagdairyfarms.com.

Oregano Dressing:
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2½ teaspoons apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons minced shallots
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano or a generous ¼ teaspoon dried oregano (preferably Greek oregano)
Pinch salt and freshly ground pepper

Salad:
4 eggs
3 cups mixed greens
1 apple, unpeeled, sliced (use a crisp sweet-tart apple such as Honeycrisp)
4 strips bacon, cooked, coarsely crumbled
¼ cup pitted Kalamata olives
¼ cup crumbled blue cheese or feta cheese

Blend the all of the dressing ingredients together in a small blender, hand blender or mini food processor until combined and slightly thickened. Or make the dressing by hand. Whisk all of the ingredients except the olive oil in a small bowl and slowly whisk in the olive oil until combined.

Cover the eggs with about 1-inch of water in a small saucepan. Bring the water to a gentle boil over medium heat and boil 4 minutes, adjusting the heat when needed to keep the water at a gentle boil. Run the eggs under cold running water about 30 seconds or until they are warm, but not hot. Carefully peel the eggs, the whites will be firm but the yolks will still be slightly soft.

Meanwhile, place the greens in the center of two plates. Arrange the apples over the greens and scatter the bacon over the apples. Sprinkle the olives around the salads and top each salad with the blue cheese. Drizzle the dressing over the salads.

Place 2 eggs around each salad and cut each in half. (Because the yolks are soft you need to cut the eggs while on the salad plate so the yolks can gently ooze into the salad.) Lightly sprinkle the eggs with salt and pepper.

Serves 2 (this recipe can be easily doubled)