The Great flap about the superiority of white or brown eggs should be laid to rest. Eggs are eggs. Some chickens (Rhode Island Reds, Buff Orpingtons) lay brown eggs, others (White Leg-horns) lay white eggs. (Just to add color to the discussion, the Araconna hen lays blue eggs.) Still, an egg of any color is still an egg, despite all the cackling Eggs are one of the cheapest and richest sources of protein and a generous supplier of vitamins A and B2. Some cooks insist on using brown eggs for puddings and sauces, because the darker yellow of the yolk gives a richer appearance. Other cooks allow only white eggs in their egg baskets.
That egg basket, at room temperature, is not the best place to store eggs. In fact, to insure freshness, eggs should be stored in the refrigerator. However, being partial to old baskets, I admit to storing eggs straight from the farm in an old egg basket. After a couple of days, however, the eggs must be put in the refrigerator.
How do you tell a fresh egg? First of all, eggshells are porous and can absorb odors. A fresh egg will not have an unpleasant odor. To prevent eggs from absorbing odors from other foods in the refrigerator, keep the eggs in their original, covered container. When a fresh egg is opened, the yolk will not break easily, and will hold its shape; the white, too, will be fairly viscous and not thin, watery or excessively runny.
Eggs have always been one of our sustaining commodities. Our language is rich in references, direct and indirect, to the egg. "Don't put all your eggs in one basket" probably arose when a farm basket of eggs intended for market was dropped, and the eggs and profits smashed. Many a farm wife in the past relied on the sale of eggs to finance a new calico dress or some "fancy fixings" for the house. Eggs were frequently taken to market in a 'bustle', or 'butt' basket -- that is, a basket divided into two containers by a fairly wide crease. When astride a horse, the rider placed the basket in front of the saddle, with the crease resting on the horse's neck; the two sides of the basket, filled with eggs, balanced perfectly for the ride to market.
Here are a few more references to eggs: someone who is loathsome is "a bad egg," or "a rotten egg"; someone rapacious and dangerous is a "a fox in the hen house"; a provider of lucrative situation is described as "the goose that laid the golden egg"; someone who commits a gaffe "has egg on his face"; a natural partnership "goes together like ham and eggs" and so on.
Even the score of "love" in tennis comes from the French "l'oeuf ," meaning egg. Hold the thumb and forefinger together in egg-shape, and there you have it: l'oeuf , or zero. And who cares which came first, the chicken or the egg? Both are here to stay.
Anybody, absolutely anybody can cook eggs, but it is hopeless to lay down hard-shelled rules for egg cookery. Just as eggs are eggs, cooks are cooks, and they will cook eggs as they please. But feathers will fly among good cooks if eggs are inadvertently overcooked. Some consider over-cooked eggs barbarous, if not criminal.
The fact remains: Eggs are all they're cracked up to be. Here are some recipes to try. MARINATED ARTICHOKE AND EGG CASSEROLE (4 servings) 2 6 1/2-ounce jars marinated artichoke hearts 1 bunch scallions, chopped 1 clove garlic, mashed 1/2 teaspoon pepper 1 cup milk 4 eggs, beaten 1/2 pound cheddar cheese, grated 8 saltine crackers, crumbled coarsely
Drain artichokes, reserving the liquid. Cut in fourths. Saute scallions and garlic slightly in oil from artichokes. Combine all ingredients and bake in greased 1 1/2-quart casserole at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes, or until custard is just set. EASY POACHED EGGS (ONE METHOD)
Put 1 1/2 inches water in a skillet and bring to boil. Crack large eggs and put in water, one at a time. Push whites into neat shape with spatula. Cover pan, turn off heat and wait at least 5 minutes for eggs to set. Dip eggs out with slotted spoon. ASPARAGUS WITH EGGS PARMESAN (4 servings) 1 1/2 pounds asparagus Butter or margarine 4 to 6 eggs Salt and pepper to taste 1/2 cup grated parmesan Paprika or parsley 1 lemon, quartered
Snap off tough ends of asparagus and steam until just cooked. Arrange asparagus in 4 buttered individual baking dishes (or use 1 shallow baking dish that can go from oven to table). On top of asparagus in individual dish, break one egg. (Use 6 eggs for larger dish.) Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup parmesan cheese. Bake in 325-degree oven until eggs are set -- about 8 to 10 minutes. Garnish with paprika, parsley and lemon wedges. PAIN PERDU (4 servings) 2 eggs 1/2 cup granulated sugar 1 cup milk 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel 8 slices day-old french bread (1-inch thick) 2 tablespoons butter or margarine Confectioner's sugar (optional: preserves or syrup) Nutmeg
In small bowl, beat eggs well with granulated sugar. Stir in milk, vanilla and lemon peel. Arrange bread in single layer in shallow dish. Pour egg mixture over slices. Let stand 30 minutes. In hot butter in large skillet, saute bread until golden brown -- about 6 minutes per side. Arrange on serving plate, sprinkle with confectioners sugar and nutmeg. May be served with preserves or syrup. CRUNCHY BAKED EGGS (4 servings) 6 bacon slices, diced 2 cups cornflakes, crushed 8 eggs Salt and pepper to taste 4 teaspoons grated parmesan cheese
Grease 4 (10-ounce) custard cups. Fry bacon until crisp; drain. Toss cornflakes with 2 tablespoons of the bacon drippings. Sprinkle about 1 tablespoon bacon in bottom of each custard cup. Press cornflake mixture against sides of cups, around bacon, to form a nest. Use about 1/4 cup for each nest.
Gently slip eggs, 2 at a time, into nests. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with cheese, bake 5 to 7 minutes longer, or to desired doneness. ROQUEFORT CHEESE SCRAMBLED EGGS (4 servings) 8 eggs 1/2 cup milk 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/8 teaspoon pepper 1 1/2 tablespoons butter or margarine 6 ounces roquefort cheese spread Chopped parsley and parsley sprigs
Beat eggs, milk, salt and pepper until well blended. In larget skillet, heat butter over low heat. Add egg mixture; cook until eggs begin to set on bottom. Stir gently and continue cooking until eggs form creamy curds.Meanwhile, cut cheese into 1/2-inch cubes and sitr into eggs. Continue cooking until eggs are almost set but still soft, and cheese is slightly melted. Garnish with chopped parsley and parsley sprigs. BAKED EGGS IN TOMATOES (6 servings) 6 large, firm, perfect tomatoes Salt and pepper to taste 6 eggs 1/2 cup toasted bread crumbs 2 tablespoons butter
With a sharp knife, cut off a slice from the stem end of each tomato. Scrape out the seeds, leaving as much of the pulp as possible. Lightly salt and pepper inside of tomatoes. Place side by side in a buttered baking dish just large enough to hold the tomatoes securely. Slip an egg out of its shell and into each tomato. Sprinkle generously with the bread crumbs, dot with the bread crumbs, dot with butter. Bake at 375 to 400 degrees until whites of eggs are set -- about 25 to 30 minutes. FARMHOUSE BREAKFAST (6 servings) 6 slices bacon, cut into 2-inch slices 1 small green pepper, cut into 1-inch strips 2 tablespoons finely chopped onion 3 large potatoes, cooked, peeled and cubed 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese 6 eggs Salt and pepper
Fry bacon in a medium skillet until crisp; remove bacon to drain, reserving 3 tablespoons drippings in skillet. Add green pepper, onion and potatoes to skillet; cook over medium heat about 5 minutes or until potatoes are browned. Sprinkle cheese over potatoes and stir until cheese melts. Break eggs into skillet; cook over low heat, stirring gently until done. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with bacon and serve immediately. (Note: Leftover ham, warmed in 3 tablespoons butter and drained, may be substituted for bacon in this recipe.