My love letter to eggs.
This is a love letter to eggs,
These ovoid forms of nature are horribly undervalued and should be given the respect they deserve as being at the heart of any kitchen. The egg is the one thing I could not give up as it forms the basis of so many amazing recipes, from the Crème anglaise to the Pâte sablée pastry.
Without this holy grail of the kitchen, I think most chefs would be pretty lost. Eggs are an ingredient that never stops giving in so many complex ways like no other, whether you want a quick omelette after a long day, to cook your child’s favourite cake or you make your own mayonnaise, you will always be reaching for the eggs.
I remember discussing it at Leith’s School of Food & Wine when we were training to be a chefs; it was unanimous that we couldn’t live without them. We had been learning about the egg, its amazing nutritional value and of course its ability to leaven, emulsify, thicken, bind, coat, seal, colour and shine. When treated with care and not overworked, the egg can produce meringues, souffles, custards, pasta, pastry, and cakes to name just a few. The list is honestly never ending and although sometimes they can be replaced, it is never the same as when an egg is used.
I think my love affair with the eggs started as a child, like so many other people. That first egg you taste unsure of what to expect; then the playful boiled egg with bread soldiers, a staple in the family home and a faith you’ll never lose.
I have the clearest memory of my Grandmother making the most wonderful egg mayonnaise sandwiches, the eggs still being warm, wrapped in beautiful homemade mayonnaise. We were lucky enough to have our own chickens and half the fun would be collecting the eggs for our breakfast, lunch or dinner and thanking the chicken on our way out. I still think of my Grandmother when I make an egg mayonnaise sandwich, food has this incredible ability to awaken distant fond precious memories.
Nutritional value of an Egg
The average large A grade egg is around 53g and packs a big punch in the nutritional league! Here is a list of what one egg will provide you with:
195 mg Cholesterol
Vit A, D, E, B12
Eggs are one of the few foods who can boast being a ‘complete protein’. This means that they contain all 9 of the essential amino acids. Amino acids help produce protein in your body which is intrinsic in the repair of body tissue, cells, growing muscle and fighting infections for example. Also if you buy eggs from chickens who have been fed on Flaxseed, they contain a good source of omega 3!
Eggs are a very good choice for anyone wanting to eat a healthy diet and they are very inexpensive.
‘The breakfast egg’ — My favourite egg time!
I cannot get bored by two eggs for breakfast and with the average eggs nutritional value of 6g protein how can you go wrong? Boiled, poached, fried, beaten, scrambled, I will enjoy every bite however many times I eat them.
My true favourite holiday breakfast egg is the benedict, this combination of egg, ham, muffin and hollandaise is impossible to beat and is a true example of how amazing the egg is with almost every part including an egg in its preparation. Sadly, the benedict is not made for daily consumption. Once you’ve experienced making hollandaise you’ll know why.
But my second favourite and a very close runner for first is avocado on toast with a poached egg! This breakfast is sure to fuel you for a long day and is absolutely delicious with some tabasco on top!
The classic victoria sponge by egg weight
Mrs Beeton in her Book of household management 1861 gave the secret to the perfect victoria sponge, weigh your eggs! In most baking, confectionary or pastry you will be advised that the key to perfect outcome is weighing everything perfectly. This is without a doubt true and with a basic sponge the easiest way to get it spot on everytime.
Mrs Beeton simply advised you to weigh the eggs in their shells and then make the cake with equal quantities of the other ingredients.
For example 250g Eggs, 250g self-raising flour, 250g sugar and 250g butter.
I have found this to be a fail safe method, creaming the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, adding the eggs one by one (add a spoonful of flour if it curdles) and then finally the flour. (You can also add a little bit of vanilla essence to the mix). I promise you this is a great way to bake a basic sponge and if you want it to be chocolate cake, replace some of the flour with cocoa powder. SUPER SIMPLE and you can fill it with all the cream and fruit you like!
As I have written in previous posts, I am a advocator of ethical and sustainable purchases. This most definitely is something to remember when buying eggs because the better the quality the better the outcome of your cooking. Nothing looks more beautiful than rich golden cake or a deep orange mayonnaise, knowing that the eggs used would have been organic, free ranged and enriched.
There is huge complication in the production of eggs and how to make it both efficient and also ethical on welfare standards. Your average basic inexpensive egg will have been produced by chickens kept in cages all their lives, let alone the welfare of the hatchery, vaccination/health program, stocking density, enrichment measures etc. This frequently will be reflected by the pale yellow colour of the yolk.
I cannot speak highly enough of spending a little time in seeking out the local farmer at the market and sourcing your eggs from him or her. Not only for the knowledge that your eggs came from a chicken that lives a happy life but also to support farmers locally.
Although you must take in consideration the health aspects, Salmonella is a common bacteria in eggs and can be life threatening. I always buy organic and would prefer it has certification so you know certain health programs will have been met.
So next time you buy your eggs, buy the best organic ones you can afford and go and experiment, make something you have always wanted to try! Here is my list of top egg based recipes I love to make regularly.
- Meringues with ground almonds
- Lemon meringue pie
- Garlic Mayonnaise — Aioli
- Fruit tart with Crème pâtissière
- Quiche Lorraine
- Carbonara pasta
- Fried egg (having left a white truffle in you egg box for a night)!!!