Eggs are synonymous with Easter and spring — they symbolize birth, rebirth and renewal.
In keeping with this thinking, it only seemed appropriate to give the egg a new life in the kitchen, too. Eggs have been boxed in as a breakfast food or a baking ingredient. But if they’re given some consideration, they really are a versatile protein that can easily replace the meat portion on the dinner plate.
If you consider them a meat alternative, the egg has many positive attributes to gloat about. They are always ready: on your drive home from work, when you are trying to solve the dinner conundrum, there is no reason to chastise yourself for forgetting to take the meat out to defrost. The egg requires no before thought and is mostly a refrigerator staple.
Eggs also don’t have a strong taste, making them useful for conveying other combinations of flavours.
And then their unique protein composition — starting out as liquid and converting into a solid once cooked — is a positive attribute that will trap in ingredients like green pepper, onions or mushrooms, and not let them sink to the bottom.
Their quick cooking time also make them ideal for weekday meals.
Finally, they are a nutritious protein with only about 80 calories per egg and they are inexpensive. with each egg costing about 25 cents.
Moving the egg from the first to the last meal of the day does need a little effort, though. It may require thinking beyond poaching, scrambling and making veggie-filled omelets.
These methods may be tried and true favourites, but there are other ways that add appeal, sophistication and a little more enticement into the ordinary egg.
For instance, if you have someone whose preference is only sunnyside egg, then why not serve them with one baked in a bread bowl? Simply hollow out a Kaiser roll bun, crack an egg into it; add a tablespoon of cream, fresh herbs, green onions with a sprinkle of pepper, salt and Parmesan cheese and bake for 20 minutes. The crunchy bowl can be torn and dipped into the runny yolk. It’s alluring and adds a wow factor!
Without a doubt, quiche brings elegance to the table. Quiche is a savoury custard baked in a casserole or pie plate.
To add substance, ham, bacon and vegetables are incorporated with the eggs. The majority of quiche also includes cheese, varying from simple cheddar to fancy craft cheeses. Serve it with spring green salad to add sophistication to the eggs and have a complete meal.
When looking for ways to cook an egg, you can also take global inspiration. In China, egg drop soup is very popular — beaten eggs are stirred into hot broth chicken soup, creating delicate egg ribbon. Vegetables and tofu are included to add substance to the soup. Eating with some crusty bread gives that not stuffed but satisfied feeling.
In India, eggs are boiled or scrambled in curry powder so that they can be served over rice or eaten with chapatti or roti.
When my kids were younger, they hated the texture of ground meat, so most often scrambled eggs were flavoured with taco seasoning and stuffed into a taco with all the fixings.
According to Wikipedia, the 100 folds of the chef’s hat (toque) are said to represent the many different ways he knows to cook an egg. I am not even close to discovering the 100 but here are my top four:
Quiche with a Hash Brown Crust
4 cups shredded hash brown potatoes, defrosted
1/3 cup butter, melted
Seasoning salt to taste
1 cup diced cooked ham
¼ cup red pepper
¼ cup chopped cilantro
¼ cup chopped onion
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1 cup milk
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 425 F (220C). Grease a nine-inch pie dish. Using paper towel squeeze out water from hash brown. Press hash browns onto the bottom and sides of a 9 inch pie dish. Drizzle with melted butter, and sprinkle with seasoning salt. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until beginning to brown. Top with cheese and chopped onion. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, salt, pepper, and a little seasoning salt. Add chopped ham and pepper and cilantro. Pour egg mixture over cheese. Reduce oven temperature to 350F (175C). Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until filling is puffed and golden brown.
Baked Eggs in Bread Bowls
Crusty dinner rolls, as many as you want
Large eggs — one for each roll
Chopped fresh basil, parsley, chives, tarragon – anything you like
Salt and pepper
Grated Parmesan cheese or gruyère , or anything sharp (old cheddar, Gouda, Asiago …)
Preheat the oven to 350F. Slice the top off of each roll and remove the bread inside, leaving just the crusty shell (don’t make it too thin — leave some bread in there for insurance against leaking). Place them on a baking sheet and crack an egg into each roll. Top each egg with some herbs, salt and pepper and about a teaspoon of cream. Sprinkle with Parmesan or other cheese. Bake for about 20 minutes, until eggs are set and bread is toasted. If you like, brush the tops of the buns with a little butter or oil and add them to the sheet about the last five minutes of baking, to toast them as well.
Spinach Egg Drop Soup
5 cups chicken broth
3 cups packed baby spinach leaves
3/4 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
3/4 teaspoon Vietnamese fish sauce
3 well beaten eggs
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onion
Bring the chicken to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in the spinach leaves, sesame oil, and fish sauce and cook until the spinach begins to wilt.
Stir the mixture until the broth is quickly swirling around the saucepan. Slowly and carefully pour in the eggs, continuing to stir the broth with your other hand. The eggs should cook upon contact with the broth and create ribbons. Taste and add salt, if necessary.
Ladle into individual bowls and top with green onion.
Egg Curry in Tamarind Sauce
5 boiled eggs
1/2 onion, chopped,
red chilies (optional, to your taste)
green chilies (to your taste)
1 potato, cut in quarters then sliced
2 tomatoes, chopped
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2-3 tbsp tamarind and date chutney (found at the Target store)
water (the amount used will vary according to how much tang you want)
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
Make slits along each egg or use a toothpick to make tiny holes inside the egg. Coat the eggs with a pinch of turmeric powder and salt. Heat 2 tbsp oil in a non-stick pan over medium heat and add the eggs. Stir the eggs around the pan frequently to ensure they get evenly lightly fried. Fry until light brown. Remove and keep. In the same pan, add the sliced potatoes and fry until well cooked. Remove and keep.
To the same pan add 1/2 tbsp oil. Add the cumin seeds, mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds start to crackle, add the onions and when they turn translucent, add the garlic. Fry for about 1 minute. Lower heat. Add the red chilies, turmeric powder, garam masala and 2 tbsps water. Fry for a few seconds, taking care not to burn the spices. Raise heat to medium. Add the chopped tomatoes and fry for about three to four minutes until tomatoes mash up. Add green chilies. Add the tamarind and some water. Add salt and sugar. Reduce the heat, cover and let simmer for five to 10 minutes. Check for salt and sugar. Add the fried eggs and cooked potatoes. Cover. Add water if needed. Let the eggs simmer in the sauce for five 10 minutes. Serve!
Madhu Badoni is a Red Deer-based freelance food writer. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @madhubadoni. Watch for Madhu’s Masala-Mix blog on bprda.wpengine.com.