Saturday, December 11, 2010

Day 41

We spent the day perfecting the overall proper execution of eggs. We produced poached eggs, over easy eggs, an omelet, and hard boiled eggs.  

First, let me ask ....when you are at the grocery store do you buy white or brown eggs? I always spend the extra money on brown eggs assuming that they are more natural, better for me, and usually cage-free. I was so completely wrong. The shell color of an egg is determined by the breed of the hen and has no relation to the flavor, purity, or nutritional value of the egg.

 A more important thing to look at when you are buying eggs is the grade. There are three grades of eggs: AA, A, and B. These grades are determined by the USDA and the best of them is grade AA. Grade AA eggs have firm yolks and whites that stand up high when broken onto a flat surface. They also have well-centered yolks and small air sacs within their shells. 

Now for basic egg preparation. 

We produced poached eggs and a complete eggs benedict with hollandaise, canadian bacon, and potato latkes (instead of english muffins). The trick to poaching eggs is in a few tiny details. Always add a bit of white vinegar (1 tbsp per quart) to your poaching water as the vinegar helps to coagulate the egg whites faster and therefore helps the eggs better keep their shape.  Next, ensure that your water is simmering, not boiling. Cook 3-5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon. 

Next, we produced hard-boiled eggs which should not be referred to as "hard-boiled" but more so as "hard-cooked" because you should always cook them in simmering water, not ever in boiling water. This type of egg preparation is extremely simple as long as you understand what you are doing. Before you begin, bring your eggs to room temperature so that you don't  crack the shells when you drop them into the hot water. For hard-cooked eggs, 13 minutes is the ideal length of cooking time and then they must be removed and placed in an ice-water bath to stop them from cooking any further. 

In order to keep your egg yolks bright yellow and creamy you must ensure that you control cooking temperature and the length of time that your eggs are simmering. That familiar green ring that is often seen in hard-cooked eggs is caused by the sulfur in the egg whites reacting with the iron in the yolks to form iron sulfide, a compound that is green in color and as a strong odor and flavor. 

I presented my hard-cooked eggs with a simply composed mixed green salad and a dijon balsamic vinaigrette. 

There are five different types of fried eggs: sunny side up, basted, over easy, over medium, and over hard. We produced over easy eggs. First, unless you want to make things difficult for yourself, use a non-stick saute pan.  Add a little bit of oil or butter into the heated pan. Make sure that the pan is hot enough or your eggs will not set properly but not too hot or your eggs will become tough.  For over easy eggs you fry and flip once and then cook until the white is just set but the yolk is still liquid. 

Finally, we produced a basic cheese and herb French omelet. There are two main types of omelets: French and American. French omelets are rolled and American omelets are folded over. When making French omelets you need to ensure that you are using high heat and a conditioned (oiled) omelet pan. 

We also produced two types of vinaigrettes and a beet salad. The main thing to remember when it comes to vinaigrettes is that you need a 3 to 1 ratio of oil to vinegar and some sort of stabilizer like mustard, honey, or finely chopped herbs. Using these types of stabilizers will help you to created a temporary emulsion. If you wish to create a permanent emulsion you will need a true emulsifier like egg yolks which have lecithin in them. 

For my beet salad, I first roasted a red beet for about 45 minutes in the oven with some oil, salt, pepper, and orange rind. Then I chilled it and cubed it up to create a sort of play on a tartare. I stacked up the beets in a ring mold with some fresh orange segments, candied walnuts,  and frisee tossed in a citrus vinaigrette. 

Fun day in the kitchen! 

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