Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Egg A Day Experiment Is Toast

You can't see it, but my wheels are spinning as fast as they can... In my constant hustle to make my bloated mortgage payment, I have had no time to dedicate to record my quest to do the egg a day thing. It's a pity, too, because there's still so much to say.

I'm sending the experiment off in style, though, by pimping out my favorite ingredient at a demo at the Queen Anne Farmers Market tomorrow. Making mayo, potato salad, deviled eggs. Come and I'll make sure you get a bite!

Not exactly sure what direction I'm heading next. Might make this space about yummy pics, but that's so played. Another idea I'm considering is offering simple tutorials for my daughter, who's going to have her first kitchen at school this year. Any other suggestions?

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Egg A Day Experiment, Part 53

Welcome back, appetite. I've missed you.

I have been sick with the crud for two weeks. Nothing tasted good. I've been battling this bug by slurping pho, Cream of Wheat and eating crackers. I was not hungry. I did not think about food every waking moment. This was some seriously abnormal behavior.

Who doesn't hate being sick? I think it's even worse when it's beautiful outside. But I could not buck up and get my sad sick self out of bed, let alone out the door. I am a complete wimp when it comes to being sick. I do not remember ever being this sick before, but I say this every time I get sick.

I know I must be feeling better because I'm hungry again. I'm craving protein. I want eggs again! I fried up a beauty I bought at the Pike Place Market yesterday, from Maltby Produce Market. I sure have missed the runny yolks and this one tasted extra velvety today. Beautiful. I feel ready to go out and kick some tail!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Egg A Day Experiment, Part 52

Have you seen this issue of Gastronomica? The egg as a cover girl!

I interviewed a cook recently and asked about making the perfect sunnyside up egg. He gave me a demo, showing me how to break up the slimy section of the egg with the tail end of a fork. And then slide it under the broiler for a sec. Done!

Eggs cooked that way are certainly eye candy, yes? Especially on the cover of a fancy food mag!

Monday, May 31, 2010

The Egg A Day Experiment, Part 51

Would you pay $24 for a dozen eggs? Heck no, right? But most diners think nothing of paying a little extra for an egg on top.

The other day, I went to Nettletown for the first time. I loved the welcoming vibe and the intriguing menu. So many things sounded so good, I didn't decide what I was going to choose until I got to the counter to order and then I changed my mind at the last minute.

I went with the spatezle and got a poached egg on top for $2. This cafe is all about sourcing and I really wish I would have asked about the origin of the egg because I would have felt so much better about it if it had come direct from a farmer. I suspect it did.

The dish, which included sauteed cabbage, was good. The egg was a nice touch. But I didn't love it. I wanted a little more flavor, a bit more seasoning. I wanted it to pop. Still, that doesn't mean it was a fizzle, either.

Because the energy was so positive, I'm pretty sure I'll go back again soon. Ever feel that way about a place? Like you're rooting for it even when it's not all that it should be?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Egg A Day Experiment, Part 50

I am pretty crazy about Shultzy's, the Mom-and-Pop pub in the U-District. I worked there last June and had a blast. Learned a lot, too. It's not fancy food, but food made from scratch, seasoned just right.

The sausage burgers are my favorites. Think sausage, without the casing. Whenever I go to Shultzy's, I order a Ragin Cajun with a fried egg on top. It makes the sandwich a knife and fork affair, but I don't care. I slide the top bun off and have at it.

Ever since I was a kid, I've been fascinated by the sight of a fry cook doing his/her thing, flipping eggs like they were hotcakes. If there's a chance to sit at the counter and watch, I surely will. Like at Knight's Diner in Spokane. Breakfast and a show.

Diners can see into Shultzy's tiny kitchen, kind of. But not enough to watch the fast and furious action on the grill. I interviewed the sausage king for Seattle Weekly's Voracious blog this week. He's super chill despite how hot and heavy things can get in that tight space.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Egg A Day Experiment, Part 49

Please fill in the blank:

Eggs and ... what?

Bacon? Sausage? Baked beans? Hash browns? Fried tomatoes? Spam?

What's the best accompaniment to a couple of eggs at breakfast? Something about the creamy neutral quality of the egg makes it cry out for something salty. I wonder who first came up with the now classic combo of bacon and eggs.

The other day, I met some friends for breakfast at Kona Kitchen and asked if I could swap out the burger patty on the loco moco for fried Spam instead. Yes, but it'll cost you, the server said.

It was pretty tasty, but I had an upset stomach after the meal. (I walked it off!) Probably should have gone with the straightforward bacon and eggs on my first visit to the place, to see how they handled the basics. The restaurant was packed and had a sweet family vibe, but I prefer Kauai Family Restaurant in Georgetown.

So, what's your favorite match for your morning scramble, fry or poach?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Egg A Day Experiment, Part 48

I am crazy about pepper sauce. Not just Tabasco, though there are at least four flavors of those hot numbers in my cupboard: the green, the habernero, the chipotle and the classic.

Then, there's Crystal and Frank's Red Hot. I know I'm leaving off a couple.

One of my favorite things to sprinkle pepper sauce on is eggs. It gives them a whole lot of personality. Like the icing on a cake.

And the eggs mellow out the sharp fire, too. Such a winning combo.

So, is more better? The other day, I mixed some green and red pepper sauce on my fried egg and, yes, it was pretty darned good.

The Egg A Day Experiment, Part 47

Yes, the versatile egg appears on menus morning, noon or night, but I still think of them as the breakfast of champs. If I need fuel to blast me into the late lunch land, I will scramble up a couple and heap them on a piece of toast. Nothing fancy, but it works.

Protein-packed and cheap, eggs have heft. Yes, they have cholesterol, but there's loads of good stuff in them, too. When I was growing up, my father went to work .... ever so briefly... for a company that was marketing a low-cholesterol egg. I know this because I have an old clipping from a newspaper, a photo of him holding these miracle eggs. Like I said, it was a short-lived career.

I know plenty of people must monitor their cholesterol and worry about heart disease. I'm lucky that way. I've got good numbers. It kind of cheeses off my hubs because he works out everyday and I'm a slug and his cholesterol is higher than mine. It's genetics!

So, bring on the eggs. In the morning, I love them scrambled and fried and poached or omeletized. If I eat 'em for breakfast, I'm good to go until well past the noon hour, maybe even into dinner time.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Egg A Day Experiment, Part 46

I hosted our culinary book group this month and because we're reading an obscure book called The Physiology of Taste by a French guy named Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, I wanted to make something mentioned in the book. It was written in the late 1800s and that was a bit of a challenge.

So, I went on a tried-and-true dish -- French toast bread pudding -- and gave it a twist. Taking a cue from the fab Mother's Bistro in Portland, I put some crushed cornflakes on top. Drizzled those with clarified butter and sugar. Folded in some blueberries and it turned out fine.

The recipe, which actually made two casseroles, uses half a dozen eggs, a cup of buttermilk, a cup of milk, one teaspoon vanilla and one loaf of challah bread, cubed and dried. One thing I've learned about doing eggs in a French toast recipe is that you've got to beat them before adding the milk. Otherwise, the whole thing gets gummed up.

Today, when I added the buttermilk, the liquid got so thick, I was concerned it might be too dense. So I added some milk and a couple of clugs worth of OJ. Then, I tossed that mixture with the bread and let it sit for 20 minutes or so before putting the cornflakes on top and baking it at 350 for 45-50 minutes. I do love bread pudding, both savory and sweet variations.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Egg A Day Experiment, Part 45

For many years, I didn't put hard-cooked eggs in my potato salad. Usually dressed the spuds in a balsamic vinaigrette. Heavy on the tang.

Then, I tried my sister, Laurel's potato salad. She made it for Claire's BBQ grad party last June and it was so fantastic, a mess of eggs, pickles, chopped onions, mayo and mustard. It's even better on Day 2.

So, I made Sissy's Spud Salad yesterday, but had some concerns about the hard-boiled eggs, which had been in the fridge for more than a week. I peeled them, smelled them, and then dumped them in the bowl. I might have been pushing the freshness envelope, but they sure tasted good in the potato salad.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Egg A Day Experiment, Part 44

I went to Flower World this weekend, after my whirlwind trip through Woodinville's Warehouse Wine district for a Seattle Magazine story I'm doing. But first I got lost and ended up stopping at Snoqualmie Gourmet Ice Cream's plant and parlor, where I got directions and a double shot of boozey ice cream: Kentucky bourbon made with Maker's Mark and Tennessee whiskey spiked with Jack Daniels. Freaking mmmmmmmm!

The cute counter jockey gave me directions and soon I was amid acres of green stuff. I picked up a few herbs, some lavendar, rosemary and lemon balm before getting in the long line for the cash register. Now, you know how they put stuff by the front to tempt you into one more ca-ching thing. That's when I spotted the "eggs for sale" sign. They were local eggs and quite lovely, so I took the bait.

Which, naturally, started a chain reaction. The couple behind me asked how much they were and were appalled at the price. Well, I said, what if you went to Denny's? These eggs are still cheaper than a couple of Grand Slams, right? The woman seemed mildly offended that I suggested she would patronize Denny's. "Oh, that's one place we'd never go!"

Well, what about the Maltby Cafe? Now, that's a $10 breakfast. "Yeah, but you can never get in there anyway," her hubby chimed in. I left with my purchases and never looked back to see if they bought those pricey eggs. Got home and Johnny went into sticker shock, too. "Well, you know, those eggs are $6 at the farmers market," I said.

He got over it, especially when those eggs made such a beautiful frittata on Mother's Day.

What's the most you've paid for a dozen eggs?

Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Egg A Day Experiment, Part 43

Happy Mother's Day!

Johnny's cooking breakfast, which means frittata time. He makes 'em super thin, like a pancake, but he told me he just read in a cookbook the way a traditional frittata is much thicker, more like a quiche. It's funny when you go down a path and suddenly have someone tell you that you're lost.

I like how Johnny sautes all the ingredients separately, getting those onions extra caramelized and the bacon super crispy. He finishes it by sprinkling cheese on top at the end and popping it under the broiler for a minute. Really good.

It might be interesting to try a traditional variation one of these days, but not on Mother's Day. Stick with the tried and true today.

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Egg A Day Experiment, Part 42

I first tried Bibimbap in Memphis. Everybody thinks of barbecue and fried chicken and Elvis and his peanut butter and banana sammies when they think of food in M'town, but I've got to say I was very impressed with the diversity of the global fare in that village by the Mississip!

I loved the sushi at Sekisui and Do. There was a tiny Vietnamese place I loved going. Oh, the claypot catfish... And my first Korean rice bowl with an egg on top was at a place called the Petra Cafe on Madison that had a wildly eclectic menu featuring a mix of Korean and Mediterranean. Fellow writer and brilliant musician Bill Ellis talked me into trying the bibimbap. He had lived in Japan and LOVED Korean food and he was a good guide.

But it's been a long time since I've eaten this dish. Never tried it in Seattle. Snapped this shot in Portland at the amazingly wonderful food carts you find around that crazy creative town. So, I'm on the hunt for a good Bibimbap. Know the way?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Egg A Day Experiment, Part 40

Loco moco baby!! Ono kine grindz, right brah? You got your rice, your hamburger patty, a fried egg on that and a whole mess of gravy.

I never order the loco moco when I got to Hawaiian plate lunch places. I cannot get past the katsu chicken. Oh, man, there was a place in Spokane that made a killer katsu chicken curry. Hot dang, I still crave that even though I do not remember the name of the long-defunct joint.

Went to Kauai Family Restaurant with a couple of gal pals the other day. They had never eaten Hawaiian plate lunch, so they asked the server for advice. First of all, I dug her because she told us to call her Auntie. Now, that's living Aloha!

The loco moco was on the breakfast menu and I liked it a lot. I might order it again. But what I loved was the mac salad and the kimchi cukes. And the guava cake! Da kine!!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Egg A Day Experiment Parts 36, 37, 38 and 39

It's been a good egg run the past few days, starting from the bottom and moving up with homemade biscuit sammie, a terrific happy hour pizza at Serious Pie, asparagus flan with an egg on the side and an egg tucked into a ravioli, the latter two at Saffron in Walla Walla. I saw Tom Douglas make that ravioli last summer at his culinary camp and couldn't stop thinking about it. So incredibly rich. I'm gonna learn to make that!

Again and again, eggs show off as stunningly versatile ingredients. They're chameleons. They're the stars of so many recipes, but never scream: Hey, look at me. Well, maybe on the plate with the asparagus flan. Another dish that inspires me to get in the kitchen and try to copy it.

What do you think? See anything here you'd eat?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Egg A Day Experiment, Part 35

Curried eggs!

Never would have dreamed of trying this knock-out recipe from the absolutely awesome 660 Curries unless I was embroiled in this egg exploration. Mighty glad I stretched my wings on this one, though. It was so delicious. The chalkiness of the cooked yolks turned velvety when simmered in the intense curry sauce.

The finished eggs were nested in brown rice, alongside stir-fried pea vines and red cabbage, onions and shallots I finished in a shower of balsamic vinegar in the wok. Kind of turned out like a warm slaw. Darned tasty, fairly healthy dinner, which was what I was craving after a weekend of really rich food in Portland. (See below.)

This success has inspired me to go on the hunt for more world-food egg recipes. Can you help?

Read how this experiment was hatched in Part 1.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Egg A Day Experiment, Parts 31, 32, 33, 34

The challenge with this experiment is the natural tendency to gravitate toward the familiar. I went into the weekend determined to shake things up; to seek out some wild eggs.

I found some gems in Portland, Oregon, one of my favorite eating cities. I went there to check out the cool deals offered through the Portland Perks package, including lots of breaks at area restaurants. I love the diversity of the dining scene there. The city is home to stylish venues as well as hundreds of food carts that stretch the limits of culinary creativity. I stopped at Swamp Shack and Violetta, a new truck that features local meat and produce. I was nuts about the nacho fries at Big Ass Sandwich. Now, if only they could have put an egg on top. Nuts! I guess I should have asked.

First fantastic egg of the trip was served at the lovely dining room of the Heathman Hotel, which I would make my second home if/when I win the Mega Millions. It was a poached duck egg served with trotters. Holy cow! That dish was rich, rich, rich. The duck yolk, extra golden.

Next two eye-openers were served at exotic Ping. Throughout dinner, Johnny and I kept wondering aloud: Why isn't there a place like this in Seattle? It's so fresh, so original. Asian street food done with tons of style and a great value, too. I can't say enough about the raging hot egg salad, a vinegary mix of greens and chili with sliced eggs on top. YUM!

Then, the tea-marinated egg. WOW! This hard-boiled egg took on a smoky/salty flavor. I've got to try making this at home. Is this what some cookbooks call the "100-year egg"? More research is needed!

Before hitting I-5 North, we ate a swell Sunday brunch at Nel Centro. Johnny ordered a fluffy omelette, fattened up by goat cheese and sweet spring asparagus. I got the corned beef hash topped by a pair of poached eggs. This was probably the most traditional egg dish I ordered all weekend, but it came with a twist. Not truly a "hash", this meat-and-potato saute was a refined variation of the diner specialty. A fine pedestal for those eggs.

Nothing like a couple of days out of town to stir the pot, providing fresh inspiration. Next up on my egg agenda: curried eggs.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

An Egg A Day Experiment, Part 30

Years ago, I interviewed a Memphis Grizzlies player named Bo Outlaw. I heard he was a chowhound, so I said, let's break bread together.

It was challenging. He was a one-word answer kinda guy. And when I asked why some folks didn't consider his native Texas part of the South, I thought he was going to thump me. He drew me a map on the placemat of the Barksdale, a diner in Midtown, where we met.

But finally, he cheered up when the food was set in front of him. He slid his fried eggs into a bowl of grits and stirred furiously. Hmmm. I was new to the South and had never seen that done. Well, that was the first and last time I saw a wild scramble of eggs into grits.

Now, a beautifully poached egg nestled onto a heap of rustic polenta-like grits is a whole 'nother ball game. I am madly in love with David Chang's version of shrimp and grits, which calls for an egg and bits of bacon on top. The egg serves as the sauce for this dish, the golden yolk spilling out and adding richness.

I wonder what Bo Outlaw would think of Momofuku's shrimp and grits.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Egg A Day Experiment, Part 29

Smoked salmon deviled eggs. Genius! Why didn't I think of that?

Darlene, cook extraordinaire, made them for our book group yesterday. Along with a wonderful chicken and bacon strata -- a savory bread pudding, so more eggs -- and yogurt with homemade granola. So good.

In answer to that age-old question, the deviled eggs came before the chicken strata. But seriously, which came first? My daughter Claire and I talk this one over occasionally. The egg? OK, but the chicken would have to lay the egg. But the chicken comes from an egg.

You rarely find a dish that combines chicken and eggs, right? Ah, that strata. Chicken salad with hard-cooked eggs? Maybe. Wonder what chicken salad stuffed into deviled eggs would be like?

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Egg A Day Experiment, Part 27 and 28

Today was a double egg day. Eggs in the morning, eggs at night.

Huevos Rancheros, the much-abused dish. Rarely done right. It's all about the beans, right? Because without the beans, do you have anything? Yes. Huevos (eggs) on Rancheros (red sauce) is so simple, so straightforward. But it constantly gets screwed up. Embellished with crema, mucked up by cheese.

Guess what? A food writer named Clementine was credited with introducing this dish to America in the 1950s.

I have eaten so many crappy Huevos Rancheros, I stopped ordering it. But this morning, I tried again. At Citizen. The crepe place in my neighborhood, which I like so much except. Darn it. The food is pretty average. The people are so nice, but the food is just ho-hum and served lukewarm. The eggs were overcooked. They should be runny. You know what? I took a picture, but it's just not pretty. Especially the banged up avocado. Oh, all right. I will include the pic.

The egg wasn't runny like the poached egg I perched on some asparagus. It was perfect. I love that combination of textures, the squishy egg, the tender-crisp veg. A rich layer of olive oil, shredded Parm kind of melting into the background. And so pretty!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Egg A Day Experiment, Part 25 and 26

I do not like Green Eggs and Ham. I do not like them Sam I Am.

I just read that book to my three-year-old neighbor, Lila, the other day. Of course, he ends up liking Green Eggs and Ham once he tried them. I always love the sing-songy rhythm of Dr. Seuss and I am crazy about the Green Eggs and Ham at The Crumpet Shop.

It's pesto mixed into eggs and nuked, yes, microwaved eggs. It's the only time I like eggs cooked that way, served on those thick crumpets. There are loads of things I like on that tidy menu, but the Green Eggs and Ham are at the top of the list.

Part 26

My husband, Johnny, (Mr. Nelson to the kiddos he just student-taught at Bear Creek Elementary), is a breakfast burrito master. He can go on and on about how much he loves stuffing things in tortillas, but scrambled eggs are his fave. Nothing special, he makes 'em a little toasty in the George Foreman.

We ate them standing in the kitchen this morning, as the cable guy hooked up a new HD box. We now can watch the Seattle Mariners in high definition, but the install was frustrating. Extra expenses for this and that and extra cable. Not exactly the scenario for a relaxing meal. But that's the beauty of a burrito, right? You can eat it on the go.

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Egg A Day Experiment, Part 22, 23 and 24

What do you fry your egg in? I'm talking about butter, bacon grease, olive oil...

As much as I love butter, I like a more neutral flavor for cooking a fried egg. I want don't want anything to overpower the egg-y goodness. So I use short blast of olive oil spray. I fry it hot because I like the edges of the white to get a little brown and crispy. And it works.

My grandfather was a big believer in keeping a can of bacon grease around to fry his daily egg and I think if I had to go with a fat, I would choose that over butter. Oh. Just remembered I have some duck fat in the fridge. Wonder how that would be? Guess I'll have to try it.

Part 23 and 24:

Saturday was a big day for eggs in my kitchen. I made a rhubarb upside down cake, the batter a golden yellow hue thanks to a couple of eggs. It was a smash hit. Next time, I think I might add another egg.

Also made meatballs, the egg as the binder holding the mix of ground beef, pork, chopped oregano, onions, garlic, bread crumbs. I did something a little differently this time, soaking the bread in milk. It made for a softer, almost delicate texture.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Egg A Day Experiment, Part 21

Went to a wonderful three-hour lunch in Bellevue yesterday, a media/blogger preview of Artisanal's new spring menu. The six-course meal was impressive, but there was one dish that stood out as a "what does not belong in this picture?"

It was a pork belly bowl with soba noodles. Not exactly something you'd expect to find on the menu at a French brasserie, huh? Well, guess what nudged it back toward France? The most beautiful poached egg. I wish I would have asked the chef, Terrence Brennan, how the kitchen acheived such a feat.

As it does, the egg added richness to the deeply flavored broth. It's somehow exotic, yet simple. The bowl was a hit. I'm still a little puzzled about its place on the mostly French menu. C'est la vie!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Egg A Day Experiment, Part 19 and 20

My better half makes a mean frittata, the open-faced omelet, pictured up top with ham, spinach and sharp cheddar. He sautes the various components before sliding the eggs into the pan and adding those cooked ingredients back on top and finishing it under the broiler.

But yesterday at breaky, we talked about how cool it would be if you could make an omelet like Julia Child did. Beaten eggs in the pan, shake it violently and, voila, a perfect omelet is served. She made it look so easy. Click here to watch her!

Omelet failure is what drove Johnny to fix the frittata instead. He was frustrated when the center wouldn't set. He tried cooking it fast and slow and everything in between, but it was either dry or slimy. Not cool.

Maybe what we both need is to buy a couple dozen eggs and just practice. Oui?

Part 20... I went to lovely Tilikum Place Cafe for lunch yesterday and saw a plate pass by that turned my head and stirred my rumbling tummy. It was a fried egg sitting on top of baked beans and toast. A regular English breakfast, that.

I ended up ordering something else (the special, which was kielbasa, braised red cabbage and perogi, pictured above), but it got me thinking: Why did the English breakfast never take off in this country? With the beans and the fried tomato? I lived in England when I was a college student and flopped at many cheap-o B and Bs. But no matter how tatty the accommodations, I could always look forward to a cooked breakfast. It fueled me until I could ramble into a pub and get a ploughman's lunch. (Pause for nostalgic sigh.)

OK, I'm taking a pledge right now: More beans and eggs in the morning!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Egg A Day Experiment, Part 18

So, I think I might be onto something with this egg business.

How do I gauge that? One of my most devoted blog buddies just sent me a link to a great piece that appeared earlier this week, dissecting various ways to deal with post-Easter egg overload. Thank you No Sluggo Dave for this link. If he's my thermometer, I think this egg experiment might be pretty hot. If not, heck, I gave it a shot.

Yesterday, I made meatloaf and struggled with the number of eggs to crack. Should it be one or two or even three? I went with one, but will do two next time. I know egg plus ground meat plus bread crumbs is the basic formula for meatballs and meatloaf. Because I rarely use recipes, I sometimes forget what I've done in the past. So what? I like a moving target. I think the end result is almost always better as it evolves over time.

This version including a fistful of fresh herbs from my dinky plot: two kinds of oregano, thyme, a little rosemary. Wish I had Italian parsley growing out there. I'll plant some this season. I add a small can of tomato sauce, juice it with some habanero pepper sauce. Homemade bread crumbs. Salt and pepper and ketchup on top. Organic ketchup, if that makes it seem slightly less kitschy.

I like the idea of baking hard-cooked eggs into a meatloaf. I think it would look really cool. Next time, maybe.

Just thinking about the unlikely pairing of hamburger and eggs suddenly gives me a craving for loco moco, the egg-topped burger from Hawaii. Or the special request I make at Shultzy's for an egg on top of my sausage sandwich. Wouldn't it be sad if you didn't like eggs? Because you would never know how good those dishes taste.

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Egg A Day Experiment, Part 17

When I was a food writer for daily newspapers, there were certain seasonal stories I dreaded doing: Thanksgiving leftovers, lean cuisine for post-holiday dieters, Mother's Day Brunch menus (can't you take Mom out to dinner, for heaven's sake? Why's it always about brunch?)

But I don't believe I ever wrote about the morning after Easter, when you've got cartons of hard-boiled eggs and you're wondering what the heck to do with 'em.

As I've mentioned before, hard-boiled eggs were never my thang. I wasn't crazy about the rubbery whites and the gritty yolks. Frankly, I thought egg salad stank. But that was before I tried the egg salad at Roses Bakery Cafe in Eastsound, Washington. It was a thing of beauty, served open-face, intensely seasoned. It was a treat. (My sister ordered it and let me have a few bites.)

Since then, I've been looking for a recipe that goes beyond the mix of mayo and mustard and I've yet to find anything. Though I'm tempted to try my anchovy mayo as a foundation for this sandwich spread. Anybody care to share their favorite egg salad recipe?

Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Egg A Day Experiment, Part 15 and 16

While Claire and I were out on a walk, I saw a pink Easter Bunny patting kiddos on the heads while they hunted for Easter eggs. Cute, huh?

Well, here was the problem: The lawn at the church where the Bunny had done a pretty lousy job of "hiding" eggs was covered in plastic. Who invented these foul things anyway? Probably somebody who was a victim of a wayward Easter egg that went all stinky.

It's been years since I colored eggs. Claire's hunting days are long passed. (The photo above was taken when she was 3.) And, back then, I didn't really know what to do with a bunch of hard-boiled eggs. I wasn't into deviled eggs or egg salad. The first time I remember the hard-boiled egg light going on was at a restaurant in Spokane I loved dearly. Paprika's genius chef, Karla Graves, made an enchilada with chopped hard-boiled eggs, topped with a pumpkin seed sauce. I recently found that recipe and I'm going to try to recreate that dish that was so damn exotic, yet familiar somehow.

Anyway, no Easter eggs at our house this year. Not even chocolate ones.

Part 15: Last night, I made carbonara. Sauteed pancetta, beat eggs and poured them into hot pasta. Shaved Parm, salt and pepper, some local spring asparagus on the side. So satisfying. And simple, too. I don't add cream to carbonara, relying on the eggs for the richness. It probably isn't, but it seems lighter than a heavy cream version.

You know another noodle dish that uses egg for depth and character? Pad Thai.

Friday, April 2, 2010

The Egg A Day Experiment, Part 14

I used to be afraid of making mayo. Why? It's so easy. It's crazy easy. Really!

When I was prep cooking at Alpha Sigma Phi, I got lots of practice... because the fantastic head chef Darlene Barnes (whose excellent deviled egg is pictured above) made lots of Caesar salads for the guys and the dressing was from based on an anchovy mayo. I love that anchovy mayo. It's so rich and exotic, but you cannot taste the fishy fish. It's the oboe in the symphony.

So, here's how I conquered my mayo-phobia: Drop one clove garlic and one anchovy into the whirling blade. Add a pinch of Kosher salt and one egg. I know using a raw egg can be risky, but I use farmers market eggs, so what? Then, while the blade is spinning, I drizzle in olive oil... until I hear it thicken. You'll know. Stop. Check it. Yeah, go ahead and stick your finger in that! So freaking delish, right?

If I were to finish that recipe for a Caesar, I would add some lemon juice... to taste... a dash or two or three of Worchestshire and Tabasco and some shredded Parm. Give it a whirl. Taste. Add to shredded romaine. Top with more Parm and fresh cracked pepper. OMG!

So, backing up... I use the anchovy mayo to the egg yolks for my deviled eggs, version 1. My favorite version. The dish I top with a caper and can't stop eating. They're heavenly.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Egg A Day Experiment, Part 13

Today's experiment: What happens when you deep-fry an egg?

It's dramatic: Splatter, sputter, crackle. It's done in less than 10 seconds. It was not pretty.

Why the hell did I even try? Well, because sometimes you've got to break a few eggs when you're experimenting. I already had a pot of oil going.... for my chocolate fried pies. Yes, they're as good as they sound. I've made them twice now and dang, it makes me nostalgic for the South. Where, by gum, they know how to deep-fry.

It drives me crazy to hear the fat police bashing deep-frying when bacon-wrapped-bacon is on menus or pork belly or mac-and-cheese. When done correctly, deep-frying isn't as bad as its made out to be. Besides, I walked five miles today, mostly in my kitchen. From the fridge to the counter to the sink and to the stove and back again.

Anyway, I wouldn't recommend deep-frying a plain old egg. But put some meat and breading around it and you've got Scotch eggs. The perfect pub grub?

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Egg A Day Experiment, Part 12

So, I took my deviled eggs (see Part 11) to a tapas party and they were warmly received, but the finger food that made me happiest was sardine-topped crostini. And, guess what? It had diced egg on top.

Now, I feel like most people miss the boat when it comes to sardines. The haters will say they're too fishy. But they're really pretty mild. Especially in this lovely preparation: Smear a bit of harissa paste onto a toasted piece of bread. Top with shaved shallots, sardines that have been seasoned with a little white wine vinegar and chopped eggs.

That's a whole lot of flavor, but the richness of the fish is balance by the spiciness of the chili paste. The eggs added a mellow note. They weren't the star, but an important supporting player. I am going to make that preparation myself and soon. Maybe even tonight.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Egg A Day Experiment, Part 11

I'm going to a tapas potluck tonight. Scallops from Taylor Shellfish are the star of the show and fritters from a Red Cat (the famous pub in Brooklyn) recipe. Can't wait!

So, what am I bringing?

My kick-ass deviled eggs. I've said this before, but it bears repeating: I'm a fairly recent convert to the charms of these heavenly bites. It wasn't until I lived in the South that I got to taste deviled eggs as they were meant to be, the yolks turned velvety instead of gritty because somebody had the good sense to add a little butter. Be still my sluggishly beating heart.

Since my deviled egg epiphany, I've been playing around with making my own. It's harder than you think. The biggest challenge for me is peeling the eggs. It seems like those shells would slide right off, but no... They crumble and shatter into a million sharp little pieces that you have pick off the egg one by one by one until you're ready to SCREAM!

Please, somebody show me the way! How's it done? If you share, I promise to print my secret recipe for deviled eggs that have the power to make saints into sinners.

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Egg A Day Experiment, Part 10

I picked up a loaf of Challah bread on Friday and then forgot about it. (Don't know how that happened. Bread is usually inhaled in our home.)

Nothing like stale bread to inspire a batch of French toast. After eating at Mother's Bistro in Portland last fall, I've changed up the way I make my French toast, giving the egg-and-milk-dunked bread a coating of corn flakes before frying. It might sound goofy, but I love the contrast of the rich, soft bread and the crispy cereal. (I use Trader Joe's Organic Corn Flakes.)

I spiked my French toast batter with whatever juice I have in the fridge for a little extra character. The other day that was apricot nectar. I also had some apricot syrup from the Farmers Market. Oh my goodness.

Hey, I just got another egg-y inspiration! Next time I make a breakfast bread pudding, I'm going to try topping it with corn flakes. Mmmmm!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Egg A Day Experiment, Part 9

My life is filled with good eggs. Kind, thoughtful family and friends. I have no use for bad eggs.

I did a little noodling around, trying to sniff out the origins of the term, good egg. It was used by Brit wiseacre P.G. Wodehouse in the 1920s. Maybe a prep school twist on the bad seed? Nothing definitive.

Yesterday, I went to the U-District Farmers Market and talked to the goat farmer who sold me the eggs with the fragile yolks. I told her a few of the dozen shattered when they hit the pan and asked if she had any idea why this happened. She wasn't sure, but she was sorry to hear about the bad yolks.

But she insisted I take another dozen, no charge. Well, thank you. She sure was a good egg.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Egg A Day Experiment, Part 8

I love Mario Batali's recipes. They turn out. They make home cooks look like heroes.

Yesterday, I made Barolo Short Ribs and a ricotta tart from Molto Italiano. The tart -- which I'm guessing was perfected by pastry chef extraordinaire Gina DePalma -- calls for a half a dozen eggs. Eggs in the crust. Eggs in the filling. An egg wash on top. A whole lotta eggs.

The egg wash is particularly interesting to me. The power to lacquer food is an amazing thing. I wish I understood how it worked. I think I need Harold McGee to tell me. But it does, as you can see from the photo above.

I liked how this tart wasn't too sweet. I love lemon-y desserts and this was a fine example of rich ingredients that don't feel heavy after you've eaten them. The citrus lift.

There really aren't many desserts worth eating that don't break a few eggs to achieve body and velvety texture. Oh, the custards and flan and cakes and cookies. My grandmother's rhubarb pie recipe would be a runny mess without eggs.

What's your favorite eggs-centric treat?

Read how this project was hatched.

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Egg A Day Experiment, Part 7

Breaking news: This just in from Pike Place Creamery's Nancy Nipples... after more queries on that burning question about breaking yolks, the milky detective came up with a few more possibilities:

Maybe pan was too hot.

The membrane around the yolk is delicate and a lot of jostling on the way home could’ve broken it.

When a hen starts laying again after winter and/ or when a young hen just starts laying their yolks are very fragile.

Could have to do with what is in their feed.

Finally, she dismissed the egg is old theory, saying "I am having a hard time believing that eggs you purchased at a Farmer’s Market would be old."

But then, yesterday, I stopped by the Creamery to ... pick up a dozen eggs, which the cashier decorated with a clever illustration... pictured above. And I told her those two were the only yolks that broke: "Well, then, they could be old. When I raised chickens, they used to hide their eggs. They were very sneaky."

The bit about the changing of the season makes the most sense to me. Oh, and, when I buy eggs from the Creamery, I like to get the small ones. It's one of the few places that sells them. I don't know about taste. I just like the way they look in the pan. I'm frying up a couple for breakfast.

Does size matter? Do you always go for the extra large?

Read how this project was hatched.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Egg A Day Experiment, Part 6

I would like to award the cook who first thought of breaking an egg on a disc of dough with the Nobel Pizza Prize. What genius! Especially if that egg is nested next to a pile of pancetta or prosciutto.

I first spotted this brilliant combo at Serious Pie, where it's pretty hard to draw attention from the flat-out amazing crust. It's made the day before so the flavors are really rich. The texture is chewy, but never tough. It's a crust of substance. I love that dang crust. Big kudos to Wendy and her crew in the bakery for making that crust so special!!

The lineup of toppings at Serious Pie are interesting, too. A few weeks ago, I had a pie topped with creamy stinging nettles. It was a close-your-eyes-and-moan kind of experience. What? What are you people staring at? Haven't you ever seen "When Harry Met Sally"?

On the current menu, a soft egg shares the billing with guincale (cured jowl meat) and arugula. There's a symphony's worth of flavors and textures in just a few ingredients. Wow! I tried making my own version at home and it turned out pretty darned good. That's it in the pic.

What do you think? Can you picture an egg on your pie?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Egg A Day Experiment, Part 5

Hey Bartender: Gimme a shot and a beer and an egg chaser!

I almost always think of eggs as a morning meal, the sunny yolk making waking up a little easier. But, of course, eggs show up at all hours of the day. Egg salad sammies for lunch, frittata for din-din. Hard-boiled and peeled in the dark for a late-night snack.

A very pretty egg was one of the highlights of a recent happy hour at Matt's in the Market, perched on top of a Sloppy Joe. I wonder who was the first Joe to throw an egg on top of a pile of meat? A great moment in history. Do you think it was Ben Franklin? He is, by far, my favorite egghead of all time.

When you think about it, eggs are a pretty perfect bar food. A blast of protein that fortifies the cocktail-er. Sustenance that's straightforward and easy to eat. Maybe that's why huge jars of pickled eggs were fixtures at many a dive bar. Are they still? Been a while since I've seen pickled eggs. Or pickled pig's feet, another retro bar snack.

All this talk of foods with pucker power puts me in the mood to try making my own pickled eggs. Coming right up!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Egg A Day Experiment, Part 4

I got baked this morning.

Actually, this egg was technically shirred. Or broiled. On top of a piece of ham, fresh herbs sprinkled on top. A dusting of Parm and four minutes under the flame. Simple, tasty. Why have I never shirred?

I was thumbing through Mastering the Art of French Cooking in bed last night. Yes, I keep it on my nightstand. Which can lead to some pretty saucy dreams.

Ms. Child does all sorts of interesting things to eggs, including mummifying them in aspic. Doesn't really sound appealing, but I bet it would be good. I came around on aspic while living in Memphis, tomato aspic in particular. Especially with some homemade mayo on top. That's the staple of the Lenten lunches at the Calvary Waffle Shop, a seasonal slice of heaven.

But let's get back to baking eggs. What excited me most about this morning's preparation was the casserole dish I got to use. I bought it in the French Alps years ago. It's designed especially for a potato casserole called La Tartiflette. Which, come to think of it, would be even better with an egg on top.

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Egg A Day Experiment, Part 3

Read how this experiment was hatched, Part 1.

Why do yolks break?

This runny state of affairs has vexed me so often, I gave up frying eggs. Easier to just scramble 'em in the first place.

But I love plopping a perfectly fried egg on top of a piece of toast and then cutting into the yolk, letting the river of yellow flow over the crusty bread. So, I occasional try, try again to fry.

I picked up a dozen eggs at the farmers market on Saturday and thought they would make the perfect candidate to crack into a hot skillet. The plan was to compare an egg from the supermarket and those truly farm fresh eggs. I imagined the eggs from the plucky hens to soar above those inferior supermarket eggs. Guess what? It didn't go that way. Both yolks from the $6 dozen -- yes, SIX BUCKS -- burst as soon as they hit the pan. They looked like a stove top Picasso.

The taste was no great shakes, either. Huge bummer.

I might use the rest to make deviled eggs. I've heard older eggs are the best to devil and I suspect these might not have been moving quickly at $6 a dozen.

So, I called Nancy Nipples, the owner of Pike Place Creamery, and asked: Why do yolks break?

"Honestly, I'm not sure," she said. "But let me ask around."

She called me back and still wasn't certain, though she had lots of interesting conversations about this breaking issue. "Sometimes, farmers market eggs are laid by chickens that don't get fed oyster shells, so their shells are harder. You have to whack 'em a little harder and the shell could puncture the yolk."

Guess what I found out? Ms. Nancy's adorable store is stocking goose eggs right now! They're $2.50 apiece and she says she likes to eat them poached and served on a piece of sourdough. Got to try that!!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Egg A Day Experiment, Part 2

So, I'm reading the Sunday New York Times and Sam Sifton's writing about hash browns, but also includes a recipe for scrambled eggs with trout caviar. Which might make some people cringe. Egg on egg? I was a skeptic, too, until I had the most sublime dish at the French Laundry.

I was tagging along with a whole lot of wonderful people from Viking and we were getting VIP'd, I knew it from the very start. Our amuse was a hollowed-out shell that had been filled with the most delicate custard and a dollop of caviar. It was pure bliss on mother of pearl spoon. Nobody spoke during those first few bites, just low moans of pleasure. Then we all agreed we had never tasted anything so incredible. At least until the next course. Which I do not recall... but I remember the egg.

Today, I'm making Mother's Bistro French toast for brunch. Without eggs, pain perdure would be milk toast. Which has got to be one of the most vile things ever fed to a person in the name of trying to make them feel better. My grandmother would occasionally use it to try and figure out if we were really sick. "Maybe what you need is some milk toast," Nana said, hands on hips. That would roust us quicker than the threat of a spoonful of castor oil. Another weapon in her get well toolbox.

Back then, she could have also given us the willys by offering to serve us... yup... fish eggs. When we were kids, those were the bright pink salmon eggs my grandfather used to catch trout. They stank. It was that sense memory that stuck in my head, putting me off caviar of any kind until I got hooked on the flying fish roe used on sushi. Thank goodness I turned the corner. So I could fully appreciate the caviar on that lovely November evening in Yountville in the company of Carol and Martha and LeAnne and John T.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Get Crackin'... The Egg A Day Experiment

My grandfather, Guy McMurtry Kelly, ate an egg every day of his life. And he lived to be 97.

I'm not saying there's a connection, but maybe... I was contemplating the power of the egg while reading Michael Ruhlman's Elements of Food, one of the breeziest reference books I've ever picked up. He goes on and on about how much he loves eggs. Their power to enrich and strength, to emulsify and turn oil into mayo or even better, rouille. His words stirred something in me. A new appreciation for the humble orb.

So, what better day to start something new and egg-centric than the dawning of Spring? I know it's been done to death, but I thought I'd do a daily tribute to the egg... until it gets stale. So, LET'S GET CRACKIN'!

When I cook eggs for breakfast, it's almost always scrambled. Because it's so quick and easy. You don't have to fret about breaking the yolk. You can even -- horrors! -- nuke/scramble in the microwave if you're desperate.

But Ruhlman's prose nudged me into poaching territory. He borrows a technique from Harold McGee to poach the perfect egg, cracking it into a ramekin before sliding onto a slotted spoon where the runny stuff drips out. No more ragged edges. This worked pretty well when I made Momofuku's fan-flipping-tastic Shrimp and Grits, but I don't think I'm going to fuss with it at breakfast for myself. Especially if I'm going to gently spoon that egg onto a bowl of grits.

In the photo above, those are Alber's Quick Grits I made according to the directions on the package, adding a little extra water and then finishing them by folding in shredded Drunken Goat cheese and some shaved Parm. And lots of salt and pepper. And, finally, a few dashes of Tabasco's Habenero sauce on top.

I wonder what Papa -- who liked his one fried egg on a piece of dry toast -- would have thought about that presentation.

Would love to hear any other poaching pointers!