Eggs

what came first, the chicken or the egg?

 

Eggs are a kitchen staple. With an egg or two, you can whip up anything from breakfast to dessert. Pop into a pot of boiling water for 2-3 minutes for a simple soft boiled egg and serve with hot buttered toast soldiers.  Crack into a pan for fried eggs sunny side up or flip for over easy. Or make an omelet. For a fancy version, try my eggnet omelet recipe below. The lacy ‘net’ is made by drizzling the egg mixture all over the pan, Jackson Pollock style. And the list goes on. Try baked eggs in a spicy tomato based sauce and you can serve these anytime of the day, really.

Nutritionally, eggs are a great source of protein. And it’s the protein that makes eggs so versatile in the kitchen, too. Whisk an egg white to observe the protein bonds strengthen and trap the air within to create stable foams, meringues, mousses and soufflés. Heat also causes the proteins to bond. The meringue recipe below uses both heating and whisking the egg whites for perfect meringues.

When buying eggs, the variety on offer is endless. I always look for free range and the best quality I can afford.

To store eggs, place in the fridge for up to one month in their original carton. The pointed end should face downward. To test for freshness, place an egg in a bowl of water. A fresh egg will sink. A stale egg will have a larger air cell, which causes it to float. A few final tips for cooking eggs –use cold eggs straight from the fridge when making hardboiled eggs, as they’re easier to peel. And when poaching eggs, first break the egg into a ramekin, then add a few tablespoons of white vinegar and wait for 30 seconds, before placing in a deep pot of just simmering water. Now your eggs should be perfect.

 

Eggnet omelet with asian style duck

 

eggnet omelette photo Marina Oliphant

 

It may look fancy, but to make an eggnet omelet is actually quite easy.

Peking duck is available ready cooked at asian restaurants or prepacked from Poultry suppliers and select supermarkets. Look for the Luv a Duck brand.

 

4 large eggs

2 Peking duck breasts, warmed in the oven

1-2 tbsp vegetable oil

2 tbsp hoisin sauce

squeeze of lemon juice

salad:

¼ (quarter) small wombok cabbage finely sliced length ways

2 handfuls of bean shoots

2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds

2 tbsp soy sauce

½ (half) tbsp caster sugar

1 tbsp mirin

2 spring onions, finely sliced on an angle

1 lebanese cucumber, finely sliced on the mandolin

½ (half) long red chilli, finely sliced

handful fresh coriander and basil

Beat the eggs and strain through a sieve for a few hours or overnight, refrigerated.

Mix all salad ingredients together and sit for a couple minutes while you cook the omelet.

Heat a non-stick fry pan over medium heat, add a little oil and drizzle in the egg mix using your fingers to make a lacy eggnet. When cooked, remove gently and set aside. Repeat with remaining egg to make 4 omelets.

Shred the warmed duck and combine with the salad.

Mix the hoisin with a squeeze of lemon juice to lighten.

Place the filling in the omelets, drizzle over the hoisin and serve.

Serves 4.

Baked eggs with eggplant, chorizo and tomato

 

baked eggs photo Marina Oliphant

A hearty breakfast, delicious lunch or light dinner, these baked eggs are so versatile you can enjoy them anytime of the day.

3-4 tbs olive oil

2 Japanese eggplant, halved lengthways and sliced

2 mild chorizo sausage, sliced

400ml tomato passata

1 tsp brown sugar

1 tsp harissa (optional)

½  (half) cup marinated red pepper strips

sea salt and freshly ground pepper

4 free range eggs

½ (half) cup pitted green olives

chopped italian parsley to serve

Preheat oven to 200C.

Heat a frypan over medium heat, add olive oil and cook eggplant for a few minutes until softened. Add chorizo and continue to cook for a few minutes. Add tomato passata, sugar, harissa, and red peppers.  Bring to the boil, lower heat & allow sauce to gently simmer for approx. 10 minutes.

Divide sauce equally between four individual oven proof ramekins.

Make a small well in the sauce in each ramekin and crack eggs into these, sprinkle with olives & cover with foil. Place in oven and allow eggs to cook for 10-15 minutes or until whites are firm, but the yolks are still runny.

Sprinkle with parsley and serve with lots of crusty bread.

Serves 4.

 

Brown sugar n’ spice meringues

 

sugar n spice meringues photo Marina Oliphant

 

Based on the beauties in the Ottolenghi cook book, these meringues are made using the swiss method. Heat the eggwhites and sugar over a double boiler before whipping them for a more stable mixture. The results are spectacular.

 

6 large eggwhites

140g brown sugar

250g caster sugar

1 star anise

¼ (quarter) tsp ground cinnamon

pinch freshly grated nutmeg

dutch cocoa, for dusting

Preheat oven to 110C.

Place a medium saucepan of water over gentle heat and bring to a simmer.

Place eggwhites, brown and caster sugar in a heatproof bowl over the saucepan, ensuring that the bowl doesn’t come in contact with the water. Add star anise and stir to break up the eggwhites and mix in the sugar.

Heat for approximately 5 minutes, until a digital thermometer reaches 40C.

Remove from heat and discard star anise. Place in a bowl of a freestanding electric mixer and whisk on high speed for around 8 minutes, until the mixture has cooled.

Gently fold in cinnamon and nutmeg.

Place large spoonfuls of mix on lined baking trays, allowing room for the meringues to expand. Sprinkle over cocoa with a fine sieve.

Place in oven and bake for 1 ¼ hours. When they are ready, they will be dry underneath, but still soft in the centre.

Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Makes 10 large meringues.

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