Weekend Vibes

Every one has an egg post. Here's mine.

Have you ever eaten eggs in a non breakfast way? I mean other than dessert stuff? The first time I had an egg for supper, it was on a pizza we bought from a guy who made it in a van in a public plaza in France. It sounds sketchy, but it was the first time I had ever had an artisanal pizza, from a food truck no less. A few weeks later I had a soft boiled egg on a frissé  salad with lardon and later still, in a crème brûlé made with coconut milk instead of cream. Once I started to cook professionally, I discovered just how easy a lot of egg recipes are, I mean chocolate mousse is just chocolate, sugar and eggs. Crème brûlé is by far one of the biggest sellers on any restaurant menu; eggs, cream, sugar and vanilla; bake it off and you’re good to go. Want a savory version? Omit the sugar and vanilla, add roasted garlic and goat cheese then stand back and watch your guests lose their minds.

Eggs are really quite complex.

Shell, air cell(seen as the dimple at the bottom of a hard boiled), shell membrane(the membrane that can help or hinder when peeling a boiled one), thin and thick albumen(the white part), vitelline membrane(yolk membrane), chalaze(the weird cord thing coming out of the yolk), and the yolk. If you crack open a really fresh, high quality egg, you will be able to see all these parts. Shell color is determined by breed. Bantam hens lay these little blue jewles. Rhode Island Reds lay brown eggs. The color and quality of the egg itself is determined by their diet. If they are allowed to be pasture raised they eat seeds, grass, pebbles and bugs which yields a dark rich yolk. Pebbles? Hens don’t have teeth and the pebbles(or grit) collect in the gizzard to help grind up the food. 

The next is: how to determine the best ones to buy? Fresh, local and organic is always best, but not always in the budget. If you are unable to buy them from an actual farmer, I recommend buying them at at store that is always busy. It stands to reason that the eggs will be fresh just due to turnover. Keep them in the coldest part of the fridge(not the door), and use them within 5 weeks. If you look on the side of the carton there is a three digit number. This number corresponds to the day of the year. January 1 is 001 December 31 is 365. This is the pack date, the day they were sorted, washed and packed. Most eggs, the USDA tells us, arrive in stores a few days after they were laid.

I will tell you that buying eggs from a farmer, when eggs are in season, is the way to go because farm eggs have a fantastic, more pronounced flavor and bake up beautifully. Watch, in amazement as your cakes rise higher than you have ever seen; listen to your friends and neighbors purr with accolades, your children will love you more.

“In season?”, you say. Yes, in season. Light triggers egg laying, 10 hours or more a day is necessary. Farmers know when spring has sprung by how many eggs they need to collect. “But eggs are plentiful year round!” you exclaim. Yes, they are. They are laid by hens in houses with the lights turned on sometimes 24 hours a day. I’m not judging, just explaining how we get eggs 12 months out of the year; most local farmers give their hens the winter off.

Good job girls.

If you got ahold of some undated eggs off the back of a truck(wink), the best way too see their freshness is to put them in a glass of water. The freshest ones will sink like a stone, next freshest(but still suitable for use) are the ones that float slightly. If the egg floats to the top, chuck it.

I love the way eggs are so versatile: custards, quiche, sauces, mousse, soufflé’s and brioche are all heavy with eggs. They make a great all purpose protein substitute. You can have them over beans and rice; on a frisse salad; on a pizza; in a hash; with caviar; baked in red pepper rings, knock yourself out, go crazy. 

Scrambled eggs are my favorite way of having them in the morning, but I do them the Jean-George Vongerichten way: in a sauce pan with butter, continuously stirred with a spoon or whisk. It makes the curds really small so the mouth feel is luscious and light. This method takes less than 60 seconds to make perfectly creamy eggs, so don’t tell me you don’t have time for breakfast, young lady. 

Have you ever eaten a duck egg? It’s larger than a hen egg and tastes more like egg, does that make sense? You know, the flavor is more intense.  The reason is that the yolk contains more fat and the whites contain more protein. They also cook up better in custards. How about quail eggs? These tiny, mottled eggs have a very fine, subtle flavor; hard boil them and put them in your kids lunches, you’ll be a hero. Once, a sous chef asked me to make a quail egg white omelet. 


I wonder what ever happened to him?…

Coconut milk crème brûlé with duck eggs

All professional pastry chefs weigh their ingredients, give it a whirl.

500 ml full fat coconut milk

½ vanilla bean, scraped

95 g sugar

118 g duck yolks - 1 yolk = 30 g

Step one:

Place the coconut milk, vanilla pod and scraped seeds in a sauce pan, bring to a “scald” or 70 Celcius (scald is when a film forms on top and small bubbles appear around the sides, Do Not let it boil)

Let steep for 20 minutes

Step two: 

Whisk the yolk and sugar together until they are a lighter color, go for canary yellow.

Step three:

With your coconut milk mixture still hot, temper the yolks by pouring  1 oz. Hot milk into the yolks and whisk, this brings the eggs in closer temp with the milk; add the rest of the milk

Step four:

Pour mixture in ramekins, place ramekins in a cake pan; place the whole thing in a 375 preheated oven; pour hot water in the cake pan up to the halfway make on the ramekins taking care to keep the water out of the ramekins; trust me on the order of this.

Step five:

Bake about 40 minutes(to test doneness, shake the pan to see if they giggle, don’t burn yourself); when done, place in fridge to cool completely

Step six: 

Sprinkle with sugar and torch with the propane torch you found in the garage

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1971-present day Chicago