After Easter dinner my thoughts naturally turn to eggs: what to do with all the hard-boiled eggs and what to do with all the unused, fresh eggs I bought for cooking.
There is a perfect quick recipe for egg salad and deviled eggs in Cooking for Your Gluten-Free Teen (page 99), but producing a perfect hard-boiled egg (not soft and runny but not so hard and overcooked it is rubbery) is not so quick. First there is the large pot of boiling water full of eggs to fish out and cool. And next there is the eternal question: how long to cook them?
My friend and editor Nancy Ryan told me that she now knows how to perfectly cook a hard-boiled egg, thanks to a recent conversation she had with Ina Pinkney. Ina, as scores of Chicagoans recall, owned and operated the beloved restaurant Ina’s, open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. She closed in 2013 and some of us are still mourning. Be that as it may, after preparing and serving a gazillion breakfasts to the public, her suggestions carry weight. Ina directed Nancy to the website Food 52 and to Alton Brown’s method for perfect hard-boiled eggs—in the oven. Here is how he does it.
Lay a large damp sturdy kitchen towel (nothing flimsy or fancy, please) on the center rack of your oven. Place as many eggs as you wish on the towel, not touching each other. The metal rods of the oven rack will be, he says, like little nests for the eggs and the towel also keep the shells from becoming discolored by the metal.
He says to turn on the oven to 320°F and just let the eggs bake for 30 minutes. At the end of cooking, pull the rack out of the oven, grab all four corners of the towel, making a little basket for the eggs, remove from the oven, carry to the sink and transfer eggs to an ice-water bath. When cool enough to handle, peel and enjoy perfectly cooked hard-boiled eggs.
What to do with the fresh eggs? Make an omelet of course, a dish that can serve for breakfast, brunch, lunch and supper and can be plain or filled with a cornucopia of ingredients. But when cooking an omelet you don’t want to over cook it, thus dishonoring the memory of the late Julia Child (whose seminal 1967 cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, taught me how to make a perfect omelet). But undercooked eggs can pose a food safety hazard. So take another one of Ina’s tips and use pasteurized eggs! (A local brand is Safest Choice™, and the website has a store locator.)
So to celebrate after-Easter eggs in all their abundance, not to mention leftover cooked asparagus, here is my recipe for Asparagus Omelet.
- 3 pasteurized eggs
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- ¼ to 1/3 cup of cooked asparagus, cut in ½-inch pieces
- 3 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese
- In a medium bowl, using a whisk, beat eggs enough to completely blend the yolks and whites. Add salt and pepper and whisk to mix.
- Heat butter over medium high heat a 7- or 8-inch nonstick crepe or omelet pan until the butter foams but does not begin to brown. Tilt pan on all sides to spread the butter.
- Add all the eggs and immediately start shaking the pan back and forth by holding the handle with your right hand while you are gently stirring the eggs with a fork in your left hand to spread them so they cook evenly and quickly.
- When the eggs are set on the bottom but still a little creamy, remove the fork and add the asparagus and the cheese. Let cook for a minute or so to heat the asparagus, then, using a spatula, carefully lift the third of the omelet closest to you and flip it toward the center. Then lift the third of the omelet farthest away and flip it toward the center creating an envelope. Let cook only until the center is hot.
- Slide onto a heated plate and serve. A green salad and gluten-free biscuits and butter make a meal.
Variations: Substitute Cheddar or Swiss cheese for Parmesan. Substitute baby spinach leaves for asparagus. Substitute diced, cooked ham or chicken, or shrimp for asparagus.
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