Monday, October 09, 2006
Agony and the Eggstacy
(You guys better settle in for the long haul...we got at least one more class day involving eggs, so the egg jokes--they will be rampant!)
Today was sort of cooking eggs in the shell. We did hardboiled eggs, which we turned into deviled eggs. We did American-style and French-style omelets, spinach souffles, cheese, souffles, a corn and pepper pudding, and shirred eggs. Eggs, eggs, eggs, eggs...if I never see another egg, it maybe too soon. Note to self: If you manage to consume 4 deviled eggs, part of an omelet, part of a spinach souffle, and some corn and pepper pudding, and that's all you had to eat today, don't be suprised if you feel awfully queasy on the way home from class.
Hardboiled Eggs...who knew that there was an art to making the perfect hardboiled eggs? And that we would spend almost 30 minutes of lecture time talking about it? Everybody has their own way of doing it, but according to Chef Pantry, the secret is not to boil them. You actually simmer them, because the rapid boiling can cause them to become overcooked and get that icky green ring around the yolk, which is highly undesirable, because it is highly unattractive. Or, they might break and leak out into the water...again, highly undesirable and unattractive.
According to Chef, you should fill your pot with cold water, enough to cover the eggs by a couple of inches, add the eggs, and set pot on the stove. When the water begins to roll, reduce the heat so the water simmers. At that point, begin timing the eggs...let them simmer for about 12 minutes...maybe 13 if they are jumbo eggs. After 12 minutes, remove them and immerse them in an ice bath to cool them completely. Peel and eat.
Luckily, we all passed with flying colors and had good eggs without the icky green ring. That green ring is cause by a reaction of the sulfur in the egg yolk reacting to heat and creating sulfuric oxide gas or something like that...
Then, we had to turn our hardboiled eggs into deviled eggs.Mother Hen was sous chef today, so she had the fun of actually making the mayonnaise we used. It was kinda tasty, even if it wasn't Hellman's. : ) We used a little mayo and a little yellow mustard, along with a little salt and pepper to mix with the yolks. (The egg costume can be found at this site.)
Chef also demoed piping the egg yolk mixture (the "devil" part) into the white "shells" in a decorative manner.
So, what exactly does "deviled" or "devilled" mean when it comes to cooking? I always think of that little red devil on the Underwood Deviled Ham label...loved that little devil guy when I was a kid. (According to the Underwoodfolks, that little devil is the oldest existing trademark still in use in the United States.)
Anyway, "deviling" seems to refer to cooking with spices like cayenne or mustard--maybe hot and spicy has some sort of devilish effect on some folks? And, to kick it up a notch, we have Deep Fried Deviled Eggs:
"This departure from the usual is fun to do and fine to serve. After you have prepared your deviled eggs, dip them in fork-beaten egg, then roll in fine bread crumbs. (And this can all be done in the morning.) When cooking time comes, place the eggs in a frying basket (this is essential), and deep fry at 365 degrees Farenheit until brown. Serve at once."
---Martha Deane's Cooking for Compliments, Marian Young Taylor [M.Barrows:New York] 1954 (p. 133).
It kind of reminds me of Scotch Eggs that I had a Scottish Festival once. Talk about gastronomic delight...well, some emphasis on the "gastro" part anyway...a Scotch Egg is a hard boiled egg, wrapped in sausage (bulk-type sausage), breaded, and then deep fried. Personally, I think that puts a deep-fried Mars bar to shame...
We also worked on our omelet making. We had the option of trying either French or American style. French, or rolled, omelets are the classic 3-fold omelet. To make one, you tilt the pan almost straight up on its side (after the eggs are almost done), and fold one edge down. Then, lower the pan to the plate edge, and as it starts to slide out, help the fold over again, then let gravity be your friend...although, gravity has not been my friend in the last few years as evinced by...wait, I'm supposed to be talking about eggs and not the state of my arches or "personality." My buddy Wolfgang (Puck that is) tells a funny story about making a French omelet for a French chef and discusses how to make a French omelet.
You can see why the American style was more popular with our class, because it's just the traditional foldover you see at brunch buffets and IHOPs everywhere. Much, much simpler. I got compliments on my shape, but mine had a little too much color (pan too hot in the beginning). One of the big differences between the two styles is color--American omelet eaters are much more forgiving if the eggs get a touch browned. The true French omelet will have no color other than yellow. Again, you see why I didn't want to try it in class. But, guess what we're going to be having for dinner over the next couple of weeks, honey?!
Me and the Chiclet made Shirred Eggs (sur la plat), which involved the ramekins of doom (your doom if you break one). Place a couple of whole eggs in each buttered ramekin...don't break the yolk. Cook for about 2 minutes in a 350-degree oven until the bottom starts to set (how you will know this, I have no idea. We just guesstimated.). Then, pour a couple ounces of cream in each ramekin, top with a little tomato concasse, and put back in the oven for 4-6 minutes more, or until set. It was kind of like hard poached eggs in milk and tomatoes. I don't think any of us were truly thrilled with this offering.
The spinach souffle that another team did were the best. Damn it! I miss spinach! (We used frozen in class today.) I'm thinking that Popeye must be in dire straits by now. Bring back the leafy green stuff!!!
Tomorrow is Banquet again...test on catering contracts...much fun and hilarity will ensue, I'm sure.