Where would we be without eggs? From the common hen’s egg to the slightly rarer goose, duck and quail’s eggs. Eggs are part of our daily diet (except for those people who adopt the Vegan doctrine and lifestyle) and are a significant source of protein, minerals and vitamins like B6, B12, iron, calcium, riboflavin, folic acid and potassium.
Before, cardiologists encouraged heart patients to exclude eggs from their diet due to the perceived cholesterol levels. There now appears to be some argument about it, with some saying that little of the cholesterol from eggs is actually absorbed into the body and it is mostly”good” cholesterol. However, with the prevalence of the prescription of cholesterol reducing drugs, it seems improbable that a few eggs will do much harm, but that is between the individual and their doctor.
The amount of dishes and indeed, whole foods, which may be made with eggs is numerous. Of course there are the normal omelettes, fried, fried, boiled and poached varieties, often eaten for breakfast, but a hard-boiled egg can liven up the most boring salad and is delicious mashed up with mayonnaise in a sandwich (particularly with cress).
Few cakes would be complete without eggs as they aid climbing and binding. They are the significant ingredient in mayonnaise (the yolk), meringue (the white), custards like quiche, crème brulée and crème caramel and needless to say, the soufflé.
An unstable emulsion would be vinaigrette dressing, so considered as the vinegar and oil will separate, so when making mayonnaise, it is the egg yolk (and mustard, which has similar properties) which retains the olive oil, lemon juice and juice together to produce the smooth, supple, end result.
The large portion of the egg white or albumen is water, but it’s the protein material which enables the white to retain air by forming a film around it when crushed, thus leading to the light and airy dishes that are mousses, soufflés and meringues. It is possible, but to over beat an egg so that it won’t retain air and the outcome will be a rather soggy or heavy dish and in the event of a soufflé, it just won’t rise.
Eggs go with many things but an impressive looking and easy to prepare dinner party starter is this:
Butter the inside of a tiny pudding basin or mold (you will need one per person). Match the size of the base of the mould with a cutting ring and cut pieces of toast of that size. Use ready sliced brown or white bread. Put the toast in the bottom of the mould.
Bake in a bain-marie in the oven at a moderate heat for 10 – 15 minutes. This depends upon the heat of the oven, the size of the eggs and whether you like your egg yolks to be put or slightly runny. It might be sensible to try this for yourself, before that important dinner.