CASA's Maria Broadbent shows us how to make some tasty Easter eggs
Easter is a great excuse to write about eggs! One of the most versatile ingredients, and indeed the most challenging to find substitutes for in our vegan dishes.
As with all my monthly articles I have been on a voyage of discovery and fact finding. The good news is that the current NHS recommendations do not have a maximum egg consumption. They are also full of protein and other nutrients; they are a source of Vitamins A, D, B and B12, plus folate and iodine.
Eggs contain saturated fat but at this time the belief is that eggs do not need to be avoided unless specifically advised by your doctor. It is also now considered safe for infants, children, pregnant women and elderly people to safely eat raw or lightly-cooked hen eggs, or foods containing them, that are produced under the British Lion Code of Practice.
But these groups of people should still avoid raw or lightly-cooked eggs that are:
Not British Lion stamped, hen eggs (eg. duck or quail eggs) or from outside the UK.
For any of these you should have these eggs cooked through until the white and yolk are solid, because they are more vulnerable to infection and likely to have more serious symptoms of food poisoning.
People who have a severely weakened immune system and who are on a medically-supervised diet prescribed by health professionals should cook all eggs thoroughly, even eggs that have the Red Lion stamp.
Cooking eggs thoroughly is the safest option if you are still concerned about food poisoning.
If you’re concerned about raw egg when eating out or buying food, ask the person serving you if it contains raw egg and if so, if the eggs have the Red Lion stamp.
There can be bacteria on the shell as well as inside the egg, which can spread very easily to other foods, as well as to hands, utensils and worktops.
These tips can help avoid the spread of bacteria:
Store eggs safely in a cool, dry place, such as the refrigerator – away from other foods – both when they are in the shell and after you have cracked them
Be careful not to splash egg onto other foods, worktops or dishes
Always wash your hands thoroughly with warm water and soap, and then dry them after touching or working with eggs
Clean surfaces, dishes and utensils thoroughly using warm soapy water after handling eggs
Don’t use eggs with damaged shells, because dirt or bacteria might have got inside them
Avoid using eggs that are past their best-before dates
Eggs have a shelf life of 28 days (from the date they were laid to their ‘best before’ date).
2 x muffins or whichever bread you like
4 slices of Serrano or Parma ham (I like to pop mine in a frying pan or in the oven to get a little crispy!)
4 eggs for poaching
For the Hollandaise:
This sauce is basically a hot mayonnaise! It needs careful handling but it is SOOOO much nicer than any bought version.
150 g unsalted butter
2 large eggs – yolks only (free range are best as colour and taste are better)
1 dessert spoon white wine vinegar (I sometimes use lemon juice if I am serving this with fish))
1 lemon – juice used to taste
Get a saucepan and a heatproof mixing bowl that will sit stably over the pan. Half-fill the pan with water and bring to a simmer – make sure the bowl does not touch the water. Turn down the heat as low as it can go but still have the water simmering.
Place the butter in a microwaveable jug and melt on a medium heat.
Place the egg yolks in your heatproof mixing bowl, which you should then place over the pan of just-simmering water. It’s important that the saucepan is on a low heat, or the eggs will scramble. Using a balloon whisk, start to beat your eggs, then whisk in your white wine vinegar.
Keep whisking, and then start adding the melted butter by slowly drizzling it in, whisking all the time, till all the butter has been incorporated. The result should be a lovely, smooth, thick sauce.
Season carefully with sea salt and white pepper (black pepper looks ugly!)
Use the lemon juice to adjust the consistency and taste. Keep tasting the sauce until the flavour is to your liking.
If sauce separates after microwaving, add a splash of iced water and whisk
Master plan for Eggs Benedict
This is always seen as a real treat. Partly because you need to concentrate to make hollandaise sauce, also because the ingredients are very indulgent. Easter is a great time to splash out and impress your loved ones! It is a little bit of a logistic challenge – so I have written out a plan for the order in which you need to prep for this. The individual recipes are also here as these are useful as recipes in their own right. So get cracking!
ORDER OF SERVICE!
Make sure eggs are at room temperature
Fill and boil kettle
Put oven on till light comes on (as low as possible) – put your plates in to keep warm.
Put you bread or muffins in the toaster or on grill tray (pre heat grill) DO NOT COOK YET
Pan fry ham if having it crispy – set to one side
Fill both saucepans with boiling water (one half way)
Add vinegar to full pan for poaching – measure vinegar for hollandaise
Lower 4 eggs in their shells into the pan and leave for 10 seconds – remove
Put 2 egg yolks in bowl ready to go over water
Put bowl with yolks over the half filled pan and whisk continuously
Gradually add the melted butter – still whisking until it is smooth and glossy
Add salt, pepper and lemon to taste – remove from heat and lift off pan.
Start to toast bread
Stir pan with water/vinegar and crack eggs into here
When white is set – remove with slotted spoon pat spoon on kitchen paper to remove excess water and serve.
A little hollandaise
Get a pan of water with a dash of white wine vinegar and bring to a rapid boil. Use a slotted spoon to lower your eggs into the water STILL in their shell – count to 10 and remove. Allow to cool a little, swirl your water and then crack them in to the pan – the 10 seconds in the water in the shell will have created a seal. As soon as the white is cooked lift out and serve
or place in a bowl of warm water to keep warm without further cooking.
Maria Broadbent is owner of Mediterranean restaurant CASA in Risbygate Street, Bury St Edmunds.
Tel 01284 701313.