Cooking Made Easy, Part Two
By Patrick F. Cannon
I had hoped to continue my culinary explorations this week with advice on how to prepare an unforgettable dinner, but fate has intervened. A massive outcry from many of my faithful readers has demanded that I give the breakfast egg more of its due.
As you will recall, I only gave advice on cooking sunny side up, over-easy and over-medium eggs. What, the angry mob demanded, happened to scrambled, poached and various kinds of boiled eggs? Do not they have a place on the breakfast plates of our great country? Upon sober reflection, I am convinced that they do.
I suspect that the first scrambled egg was a mistake. Imagine Ogg the cave man breaking an egg on the hot rock; instead of staying intact, it splatters. In frustration, Ogg attacks it with a stick, thus further scattering it about. Food being a bit harder to come by in those days, he can’t afford to throw the mess away, so he eats it. Hmm, not bad, he thinks. The scrambled egg is born of an accident, just like most stuff we eat (the oyster being the best example).
It took thousands of years to perfect the perfect recipe for this simple dish, but here it is. First of all, let your eggs reach room temperature, unless you live in an igloo. Let’s say you’re making breakfast for yourself and your inamorata. Break four eggs in a bowl, and add one quarter cup of whole cream! Not whole milk. Not almond phony milk. Not anything but whole cream. Whisk the eggs and cream until combined. Set aside for a moment and place a non-stick frying pan on a burner set to medium. Add a lot of butter.
When the butter is just melted, pour in the eggs. With a spatula, continuously work the eggs from the outside in until done to your liking. Immediately serve them. Let the eater salt and pepper to taste. Do not permit anyone to season their eggs with ketchup, mustard, or hot sauce. Such condiments may be acceptable at a cheap diner, but properly scrambled eggs should never be thus defiled.
There are those who would claim that olive oil can be substituted for butter. It is no accident that they are usually natives of Italy, Greece or Spain, where most olive oil is produced. If you go to the dairy case of your local grocer, you will find eggs, butter and cream. You will not find olive oil. Ask yourself, why?
94-percent of Americans have never poached an egg, because the thought of doing so scares them to death. If you can get your courage up, fill a pan with water and bring to a steady simmer. Add a couple of tablespoons of white vinegar. If you were to add red wine vinegar, your eggs whites would turn pink. If that thought pleases you, then give it a shot.
An extra step is very helpful. Instead of cracking the eggs directly into the water, crack them into a small bowl, then gently slide into the water. Standing at the ready with a slotted spoon, watch until the whites solidify, then scoop out. What you do with it is your own business. I favor plopping them on a piece of buttered toast. If your tastes run to Eggs Benedict, I suggest you save your sanity and just go to a good restaurant.
I’m sure you’ve heard the old expression: “He (or she) is such a bad cook, he can’t even boil an egg.” If you believe yourself to be such a person, you have no doubt been frightened by everything I’ve written above. But don’t despair. I believe with all my heart that anyone can in fact boil an egg.
Take a sauce pan and fill it with water. Place it upon a stove burner turned on to hot. When the water boils, turn the burner down until the water is just boiling. You must have a timer. Again, the eggs should be at room temperature. If you want a really soft-boiled egg, set the timer for three minutes; turn it on and put the egg in the water. When the timer goes off, take the egg out and run it briefly under cold water to stop the cooking. Eat more or less immediately, as a cold soft-boiled egg is loathsome. If you want the white to be more set, cook for four minutes. Six minutes should give you a hard-boiled egg.
There are of course other kinds of eggs – the Chinese eat something called the 100-year-old egg. I won’t tell you how to make it; otherwise you might actually have to eat it.
(Next week, finally, dinner is served!)
Copyright 2019, Patrick F. Cannon