Kitchen Gourmet: Put an Egg On It
This time of year, the humble egg reigns supreme
Asparagus And Sugar Snap Frittata
1 cup sugar snap peas
8 spears thin asparagus
6 large eggs
¼ teaspoon coarse salt
freshly ground black pepper
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon butter
Put a medium-sized sauce pan of salted water on to boil and preheat oven to 350 F. Remove strings from sugar snaps and break or cut off the woody ends of the asparagus. Blanch the sugar snaps in boiling water for one minute, then remove from pot, place in strainer or colander and run under cold water to stop the cooking. Blanch the asparagus spears for one minute also, then remove from pot, place in strainer or colander and run under cold water to stop the cooking. Cut peas and asparagus into ½-inch pieces.
Break eggs into mixing bowl and whisk. Season with salt and pepper. Add Parmesan, peas and asparagus to eggs. Melt butter in a 10-inch ovenproof skillet over medium heat. When butter foams, add egg mixture, transfer to preheated oven and bake until puffy and set around the edge of the skillet, about 8-10 minutes. Place skillet under broiler for a minute to brown the top. Makes 4 servings.
Try to imagine what cooking, baking and eating would be like without eggs. Well, you can try, but unless you are a vegan or allergic, you can’t really fathom it — eggs are so essential in the kitchen. They are an important part of our diet year round, but we tend to take them for granted and hardly give them a second thought.
Easter is the one time when the egg gets its due. On this spring day, the egg ascends to the throne as a celebratory food, a symbol of rebirth, renewal, new beginnings — a symbol of life itself, just as spring heralds the end of an austere winter and the optimistic start of a new cycle.
Eggs have been — and still are — of supreme importance for people living in hard times, particularly those in rural areas who keep chickens and rely on eggs as a source of cheap protein and as a way of extending scarce foodstuffs. In “Stir the Pot: The History of Cajun Cuisine,” the authors note that, “From the late 18th century to the post-World War II era, eggs constituted the most common source of protein in the Louisiana Acadian diet.”
You don’t often come across the practice in contemporary cookbooks, but hard boiled eggs were once routinely added to chicken gumbos. Since chickens were valuable and only slaughtered and cooked when no longer producing eggs, adding eggs to the gumbo helped to feed a large family. One acquaintance recalls that his mother even boiled the eggs in the gumbo to save fuel.
This month’s recipes feature eggs in various preparations. Deviled eggs are almost universally loved, and everyone has their favorite recipe. Mine are more assertive than most, amped up with anchovies, capers and cayenne.
In this asparagus and eggs recipe, the former is roasted and served with shaved Parmesan, plus a mollet egg — or, an egg boiled in the shell until the white is firm, but the yolk is still runny. Serve with crusty bread so you can enjoy every bit of the yolk.
Dessert custards rank high on many people’s list of favorites, but savory custards are less well known. There’s no reason that should be so. Try this simple recipe for a green pea and lettuce custard, and I think you might be a convert.
A frittata is a flat Italian omelet that can be made with almost any reasonable combination of ingredients. This one contains sugar snap peas, asparagus and Parmesan. Many recipes call for flipping the frittata after it has cooked on one side, but running it under the broiler is simpler.
Green Pea And Lettuce Custard
1 teaspoon butter
½ cup chopped romaine lettuce
¾ cup frozen green peas
4 large eggs
2 cups whole milk
½ teaspoon coarse salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter 4 10-ounce ramekins and place in a baking pan.
Cut away the center rib of romaine leaves. Chop lettuce to yield ½ cup. Divide chopped lettuce among the ramekins. Divide peas among the ramekins. In a mixing bowl, beat eggs, then add milk and salt and mix. Pour egg mixture into ramekins. Place baking pan holding ramekins on center rack of oven and add enough water to the pan to come halfway up the ramekins. Bake until custard is set, about 45 minutes. Makes 4 servings.
Deviled Eggs With Anchovies And Capers
4 eggs, at room temperature
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons mayonnaise
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
4 anchovy filets, chopped
1 teaspoon capers, chopped
freshly ground black pepper
Bring a pot of water to a boil. Using a slotted spoon, lower each egg into the water. Boil for 12 minutes. Remove from heat, drain, shake pot to crack eggshells and place under running cold water. When cool, shell eggs under running water.
Cut each egg in half lengthwise, carefully remove the yolk and place in a bowl. Mash yolks with a fork. Add mayonnaise, mustard, chopped anchovies and capers and mix well. Season to taste with freshly ground black pepper.
Fill each white with the mixture. Garnish with chopped chives and a dash of cayenne. Makes 4 servings.
Roasted Asparagus With Mollet Eggs And Shaved Parmesan
1 pound medium asparagus spears
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 eggs, at room temperature
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
slices of crusty bread
Preheat oven to 400 F. Trim asparagus. Place asparagus on a sheet pan, add olive oil and roll asparagus to coat. Roast until asparagus is tender, but still firm, about 20 minutes.
Bring a pot of water to a boil. Using a slotted spoon, carefully add eggs to water. Boil for 5 minutes, drain water from pan and place under running cold water. Shell eggs under running water.
Divide asparagus spears among 4 plates. Place an egg on each plate and cut or break egg to expose the runny yolk. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with shaved Parmesan. Serve with slices of crusty bread. Makes 4 servings.
When recipes specify room temperature eggs and yours are in the fridge, just soak them in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes