One of my goals for 2016 is expanding my repertoire in the kitchen, both with recipes and with techniques. I’ve gotten lazy, thanks to Costco, and have relied on already prepared entrees far too often. Tasty and quick, these dishes nevertheless leave the ingredient quality, the amount of additives and preservatives, and anything else up to someone else. I’d prefer to be in control.
There are plenty of cookbooks on my shelf, at least 60, plus folders and binders with recipes cut from magazines and newspapers or gathered from friends. Bon Appetite magazine has arrived here and there over the years yet I find myself reading their recipes and finding them just “too much” with ingredients I don’t have, techniques I don’t know, and often far too calorie laden. Cooks and Cooks Country are more appreciated because they include the back story of the various ingredients and methods tried and how the final recipe evolved, ratings of kitchen items and grocery products which I find helpful, and photos of every completed dish. I like to know how the completed dish will look.
Ah, but back to eggs. The first thing my father taught me to cook was an egg. I know I wasn’t yet 7, and probably a couple of years younger, needing to stand on a stool to reach the top of the stove. Dad carefully placed the cast iron skillet on the stove, showing me how to be sure it was hot enough, and perfectly cracked the egg into the skillet. One whack, one perfect egg in the pan. When that was done he had me stand over the table and practice cracking a few eggs until I used just the right pressure to break them in half and not break the yolk. Next, I got to cook an egg in the pan, all by myself, but with dad watching.
Why dad? He was a cook in the U.S. Navy in WWII, graduating from Chief Commissary Steward School. He would talk about that with the same pride that Annapolis graduates speak of their accomplishments. Dad’s specialty was cracking an egg with one hand, opening it to an unbroken yolk. In his day, I’d seen him at church events cracking 2 eggs in each hand, all four yolks unbroken.
Mom was another story. Her scrambled eggs were often runny – something I did not like – and the hard boiled eggs had the tell-tale green edge around the yolk and rubbery white, identifying it was having been overcooked. It wasn’t until college that a friend, Sandy Messer, entertained us at lunch by explaining that the first thing she had learned in cooking class was how to boil an egg. What a revelation! You mean I didn’t need to boil for 30 minutes? Put eggs in a pan, cover with 1 inch of water, bring to a boil, cook for 3 minutes and let sit for 20 before immersing in cold water is the method I’ve used since then.
All of this brings me back to today and my goal for 2016. A couple of weeks ago I signed up to get the New York Times daily food/recipe articles. So far so good with a variety of chicken and a pumpkin Bundt cake with cranberries, apples, and pecans tried successfully. But today’s articles included “How To Make Eggs, A guide by Julia Moskin”, along with a tutorial on terminology. My cooking method is pretty close to what the article suggests for hard boiled but I’ve been scrambling wrong all these years. Hubby loves poached, so I’ll give those a try one morning and maybe attempt a frittatta. The article link follows (cut and paste, I’m not hyperlinking well today). Take a look and let me know what you think. Better yet, try something and invite me over for a taste.