One Handed Egg Cracking

I’ve been spending time watching the Food Network. I like to see what the other people are eating. I’ll admit it, I like meat and potatoes. I am not a big vegetable eater. Some of the recipes look appetizing in the beginning, but then an ingredient has to be added to give it more flavor, to kick it up a notch, so to speak. No thanks! I’ll take mine plain.
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I like to watch the chefs do fancy knife work in the kitchen. I like to see a cook flip something up and catch it in the pan. I like to cook so one day I decided to have pancakes for breakfast. It was time to try the flip. It didn’t work. I had forgotten to spray the bottom of the skillet and I just threw pancake batter all over the stove. Another time I was going to try and julienne potatoes for homemade hash browns. I sliced the tip off my finger and had to have six stitches to sew it back on. Maybe, I should start with something a little more basic.
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I was flipping channels the other day and happened to land on the Food Channel again. The host was preparing some kind of egg dish. I’m not sure what it was, because I was transfixed on one activity: Egg cracking. Oh my goodness! The recipe called for 10 eggs and the host was breaking them with one hand and carrying on some sort of inane chatter about pickling pimentos for the upcoming winter.
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Crack! Split and separate! Drop into the bowl.

Crack! Split and separate! Drop into the bowl.

Crack! Split and separate! Drop into the bowl.

I was mesmerized. This was something I could do. I went to the refrigerator to see how many eggs I had. I only had three, but I could start with that. I got down a bowl and reached for the first egg. I was nervous; in fact, the egg slipped right through my hand and went Crack! My cat, which is always around when I am in the kitchen, gave the broken egg a sniff, gave me a look, then turned around and walked away. I cleaned it up and carefully reached for the second egg. Crack! Dang it! Before I knew it, I had cracked the egg with both hands, just as I normally do.

This is it; I was down to my last egg. With egg in hand, I went Crack! I split and separated! I dropped into the bowl! Success! I ran to the telephone and called my friend explaining what had just happened. Silence! One handed egg cracking she said, I’ve been doing that for years and I can’t cook. (Harrumph)

How to Crack an Egg

A simple recipe can be completely ruined by just one mistake, and a mistake that many beginners to cooking typically make is one that can be completely avoided – the mistake of not cracking an egg correctly. This mistake may seem small, but it is hugely important to making a dessert taste right. If an egg shell, or even part of one, falls into the batter, the dessert could be ruined. Who wants to take a big bite out of a cupcake only to find a piece of a hard egg shell buried within it?

So how do beginners avoid making this mistake? First, there is one simple way to perfect this technique: practice, practice, practice. The more you practice cracking eggs, the better you will get at it. It takes a lot of time for some and only a few tries for others, but practice is the key to get you cracking like the pros.

So now that you have a recipe ready and are ready to start your first experiment, you need to take it slow. The recipe doesn’t call for you to try and be speedy, so don’t try and whip through a packet of eggs like you see the people on TV do. Take your first egg in hand and hold it firmly, but not too firmly. Hold it in your palm, not in your fingers, and get a good grip on it. Next, find a clean edge to crack your egg on, like a countertop’s edge or the edge of a bowl. It’s best not to do it on the bowl’s edge, however, in case a piece of egg shell goes flying. You don’t want a stray piece of egg shell ending up in your recipe.

Take the egg in your hand and hit it against the edge with enough force to crack the surface, but not so that the egg goes splattering everywhere. This might take a few tries to get the hang of, but once you have found the right amount of force, the egg should just barely crack on the surface. If the egg cracks all over the place, just clean it up, pick up a new egg, and start again. No one can be perfect on their first try.

The next thing to do with your newly-cracked egg is to get it completely open in order to put the entire thing into the bowl. Take your thumb and place it on the cracked part of the egg shell and apply enough pressure for the egg to split into two pieces, and quickly drop the egg yolk into the bowl. Quickly remove the shell from above the bowl and throw it into the trash can, so that you don’t allow any egg shell pieces into the mix.

Congratulations! You’ve just cracked your first egg. And don’t worry – if you get any egg shell in the mix, you can simply scoop it out with a spatula.

Different Ways to Spice up a Grill Cheese Sandwich

A basic grilled cheese sandwich requires two slices of bread, two slices of cheese, and butter for the outside part of the sandwich.  If you haven’t had one for a while, they can be simply delicious.  If you are serving children, simple is probably better.  Their taste buds may not appreciate any further embellishment of the sandwich.  Should your guests be a little more adventurous, it might be nice to surprise them with a twist on a classic favorite.

For those not counting calories, bacon is a wonderful topper on a grilled cheese sandwich.  Peppered bacon baked nice and crispy in the oven offers a nice counter balance to the gooey cheese.  For those who avoid pork, turkey bacon is a nice substitute.  Sliced ham or turkey, cooked with the cheese is also very popular. 

Fresh tomatoes can also make a nice addition to a grilled cheese sandwich.  Be sure to cut the tomato slices thick so they do not get overwhelmed by all the cheese.  Frying the tomato slices is also an option and fried tomato sandwiches are a treat that can stand on its own.

Sliced jalapeno peppers, sprinkled liberally will add a lot of flavor to your grilled cheese sandwich.  Crushing the bacon and dicing the peppers on top of the cheese provide a wonderful contrast of flavors.   If that is too much spice, try introducing paprika on the bread as you butter the outside of the sandwich.  The bread will have a nice spice without overpowering the rest of the sandwich.  For kids, using cinnamon in much the same way is a nice change of pace.

Next, the type of cheese you use can make all the difference in the world.  Plain old American cheese will provide you with a basic sandwich.  Why not go the grocery deli and get a half pound of several different types of cheeses.  Try and purchase cheeses with contrasting flavors so the variety is more appealing.  Monterrey Jack, Muenster, cheddar, and smoked cheese are all nice choices.  Choosing a basic cheese like cheddar will allow you to add to the sandwich buy building in different options.  The Monterrey Jack cheese will stand on its own but can be a powerful spicy sandwich. 

Finally, use different varieties of bread.  Basic white is clearly the most popular but how about a grilled cheese sandwich on rye bread?  Pumpernickel, sourdough, cinnamon raisin, or whole grain bread can change the makeup of a grilled cheese sandwich.  Use your imagination and be willing to try something new and introduce people to a new twist to a classic sandwich.    

Eggs Cooking Boiling Eggs Cooking Methods Vegetarian Cooking

These methods come from Deborah Madison’s comprehensive vegetarian cookbook, Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. The author recommends 3 different methods for boiling eggs, depending on what you want to do with your egg after cooking. (Incidentally, the author suggests that if you are looking to peel hard-cooked eggs, older eggs work better than new ones. Have you ever tried to peel a hard-cooked egg, only to have chunks of the white come off along with the shell? Frustrating, isn’t it!)

The first method is for soft boiled eggs. Eggs done with this method come out with the egg white set, but tender, with a warm, runny yolk. Place the egg in a sauce pan and add just enough water to cover. Bring the water to a gentle boil, just simmering. Cook the egg for 3 to 3 minutes and then remove.

The second method is for medium-boiled eggs. With this method, the resulting egg, if done right, will come out with a firmer egg white than soft-boiled, and the yolk will be soft but not runny. This method should provide for an egg that can be peeled if desired. Again, bring water to a gentle boil, and then add the egg to the saucepan. Turn the heat off, cover the saucepan, and let the egg cook for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the burner.

The third method is one which you will probably use the most if you boil your eggs in order to use them later, either as an addition to a Salad Nicoise, for example, for creating egg salad, or just for eating as is! This technique will produce an egg with a center that is moist, but just cooked. Place the egg (or eggs) in a saucepan and cover with cold water. As with the first two methods, bring the water to a gentle boil. Allow the eggs to simmer for one minute, and then, as with medium-boiled, turn the heat off and cover the pan. Let the eggs stand in the pan for 6 minutes. Remove the eggs, and plunge them in cold water to stop cooking.

The differences in cooking times for all three methods are relatively minute, but should provide the desired result. One of the keys to boiling your eggs using these guidelines is that you have a burner that will allow you to bring the water to a gentle boil. This can be difficult if you have an electric burner, for example, with settings that will not allow for the desired gradations of heat. Good luck and good cooking!

Source: Deborah Madison, Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone (New York: Broadway Books, 1997), pg. 568.

How to Make Perfect Pancakes

Pancakes are a great breakfast food. These flat plate like cakes have been making appearances on breakfast tables for years. To make pancakes healthier try making them with whole wheat flour and egg whites. Pancakes do have milk as an ingredient, and milk provides many nutritional benefits to the consumer. However, to make the perfect pancakes it is necessary to have the right cooking supplies.

The ideal cooking vessel for pancakes would be a frying pan or a griddle. Any other device will make the pancakes difficult to flip. Make sure you have measuring cups and a mixing bowl as well. The measuring cup is to make sure the correct amount of pancake mix goes into the recipe as well as milk. The mixing bowl is used to combine the ingredients together before they go into the frying pan or griddle.

When the pancakes are in the pan, make sure you have a spatula in your hand, ready to flip the pancakes. When the uncooked side of the pancake (the side facing up towards you) the pancake is ready to flip. Time how long it took to cook that one side of the pancake, then you will know when your pancake is completely done. The ideal color of a pancake should be a light golden brown. It is always good to practice with a tester pancake to determine the ideal temperature of what you want your pancakes cooked at.

When making healthier pancakes from scratch, you can substitute the white flour for whole wheat flour. Another alternative is to get an all organic pancake mix from your local health food store.  Trader Joes feature a gluten and dairy free pancake mix for those who want to be extra healthy. The Trader Joes mix is really easy to follow and make delicious pancakes. Going gluten free may decrease symptoms of bloating and cramping in some people, making the digestion process easier.

Gluten free pancakes might not be the most kid friendly breakfast. For a kid friendly pancake try adding chocolate chips into the batter.  Chocolate chip pancakes don’t have to be for breakfast they can served as a dessert item with whipped cream as a garnish. To make silver dollar sized pancakes or smaller, simply take a table spoon full of chocolate chip pancake batter and pour it onto the griddle or frying pan. Be careful, these mini chocolate chip pancakes will cook very quickly.

Pancakes can be an easy to make treat. There are many ways to make them, including many variations. Even if you are on a very restricted diet, there is a type of pancake that you can indulge in. Although pancake mix such as Bisquick ™ isn’t the healthiest way to make pancakes, it is a great quick way to make a filling and satisfying meal. Many trademark groups are making healthier pancake mixes with more nutritional benefits. So grab a fork, some maple syrup, and enjoy some pancakes!

How to Make Good Hard Boiled Eggs

The versatility of hard boiled eggs knows no bounds – salads, sandwiches, curried, stuffed, topped with cheese, in sauce, wrapped in sausage meat and breadcrumbs and deep fried (Scotch Eggs)….so on it goes. To make the basic ingredient, that “just right” hard boiled egg, correct boiling methods and de-shelling are a must. It is not difficult, nor is it something to be blase about, if you seek the perfect end product. (No puns whatever intended!). Here are two ways to get the perfect hard boiled egg.

1. Put the egg or eggs carefully into a pan of cold water, ensuring they are fully covered by the water. Bring this to the boil as quickly as you can and start timing the eggs as soon as boiling begins. This should be for around 8-9 minutes and no longer, because if over-boiled, you will get a nasty dark ring around the yolk and an over-eggy stinky smell.

2. This way is when you get the water boiling first, then gently lower your eggs into it, once more ensuring they are fully covered by the water. You can start timing immediately, as you need to boil for 10 minutes using this method. That is because the first method allows the eggs to start to boil as the water begins to heat up.

You will want to avoid using eggs with any cracks in the shells, but sometimes, the worst can happen and the white will start escaping and forming little solid bubbles of set egg. What a waste. But I always use this tip when boiling eggs. I add a teaspoon of vinegar to the water, and it seems to prevent the whites escaping; like some magic culinary superglue, it seals up cracks.

Now that my hard boiled eggs are cooked to time and out of the boiling water, I want to get those shells off neatly and easily. So get them straight into cold water – I tend to run the cold tap on them for a few minutes, then crack the shells to stop them carrying on with the cooking process, or forming that nasty dark line. You can then peel them, ready for use.

An additional tip: – use them in your recipes as quickly as you can, because hard boiled eggs just do not keep well and nor do they freeze. I have tried to freeze them and ended up with rubber eggs! Fine if you want to bounce them around the kitchen, but totally awful for eating purposes. The best tip is timing, whether you start with cold or boiling water. Again, cooking from cold – 8-9 minutes, cooking from boiling water, 10 minutes. I hope you have an eggciting time with those tasty hard boiled eggs.

Healthy Egg Salad Sandwich

The versatility of eggs and the number of ingredients which they can successfully complement makes them perfect to include in a tasty, summer salad sandwich. The eggs can either be used finely chopped or thinly sliced and this article affords one simple but tasty recipe idea for each option. In both instances, the first step is to cook the eggs by hard boiling.

Try to use eggs which are about a week old. This means the shells have had time to harden and it will make them much easier to peel when they are cooked. Always remove the eggs from the refrigerator a couple of hours before cooking and allow them to reach room temperature. This makes for best results when cooking eggs by any method. Place the eggs in to a pot and pour in enough cold water to ensure all the eggs are covered. Bring the water to a boil then reduce the heat to achieve the gentlest of simmers for seven minutes.

When the eggs are cooked, it is essential to cool them quickly to prevent an unattractive discoloration occurring around the yolk. Take the pot to the sink and run cold water in to it just until the eggs are cool enough to handle. Crack the shells on a hard surface and carefully peel. Submerge the peeled eggs in a bowl of cold water to cool completely.

Egg and Cress Mayo Salad Sandwich

Ingredients per Sandwich

8 inch soft sandwich bread stick
2 hard boiled, peeled and cooled eggs
1 tablespoon low fat mayo
2 teaspoons fresh salad cress leaves
Salt and white pepper to taste
4 green lettuce leaves
2 medium tomatoes
3 inch piece cucumber
Extra virgin olive oil (optional)

Directions

Chop the eggs and add them to a small bowl with the mayo and salad cress. Season and stir carefully but well to combine.

Cut the bread stick in half horizontally. If desired, lightly drizzle the bottom half with extra virgin olive oil. Shred the lettuce leaves and lay them on the bottom half of the bread. Finely slice the tomatoes and cucumber and lay the discs alternately on top of the lettuce. Season sparingly with salt and white pepper.

Carefully spoon the egg mixture evenly on top of the salad and lay the top of the bread in place. Press down gently and slice in half to serve.

Ham and Egg Salad Sandwich

Ingredients per Sandwich

Large soft, round bread roll
2 hard boiled, peeled and cooled eggs
Medium handful fresh baby spinach leaves
2 ounces finely sliced cold cuts of ham
4 pitted black olives, roughly chopped
Salt and white pepper to taste

Directions

Cut the bread roll in half and toast the opened sides just until golden. Lay the spinach leaves on the bottom half (you may need to roughly chop them) and scatter over the black olives. Arrange the ham next, followed by the sliced eggs in an overlapping circle. Season to taste, lay the top in place and serve.

Healthy egg salad sandwiches can be produced to suit just about any taste. Try to think a little bit out of the box regarding different types of bread you can use to make your sandwich and different salad ingredients you like to eat. By experimenting with different options, the chances are you will soon find the perfect combination to suit your personal preferences.

Tips for Hard Boiled Eggs

The average person boils about one half dozen eggs for anything they need to be hard-boiled for. It is quite simple so here is the best way to cook a hard-boiled egg. First, Preheat an electric burner on high for about two minutes. A gas burner need not be preheated. Take a medium size saucepan and fill half way with cold water. Add one teaspoon of plain table salt to the water; slowly add eggs one at a time. I say put in the water first as the water will make putting the eggs in the pan much easier as they will kind of slowly float to the bottom whereas putting them in the pan before water could cause cracking or at worst breakage. So when you relase them from your hand let them out slowly and they will gently go to the bottom.

Set pan onto heat and cook for 13 minutes. Turn off heat and put your pan in the sink under the faucet. Run cold water into the pan for about 3 minutes and turn water off. Leave the eggs sit for about 4-5 minutes this will cool down the outside and part of the inside.

Remove one egg at a time and with the bottom side of a teaspoon tap on the egg as you roll it around with your fingers. Slowly and softly roll the egg between the palms of your hands and the whole shell will come off like magic. This has worked for me for the last 40 years and never goes wrong.

If you have to cook more eggs than this use your judgment on how much salt to use and just increase that with the pan size for x amount of eggs. You can really never use too much salt as long as the eggs are not cracked.

If you plan on not using them right away find a container and place them in the fridge until ready for the final disbursement from within the shell.

This method has been handed down through my family for generations traced all the way back to Scotland and it never fails.

I have worked in many restaurants from Virginia all the way out to California and the method in each one was also the same. I attended cook school in Ft Lee VA for the military and this is also their standard recipe. So with all that being said here is what you need:

1-6 eggs medium saucepan water and salt
7 or more eggs use a larger stew pot
Always use cold water to cool the eggs before peeling as they will be very hot and can burn you really badly.

Another method for those with time on their hands is to bring the eggs to a rolling boil and then decrease the amount of heat and let simmer for 10-12 minutes, but remember the most important thing is to run cold water over the eggs for no less than 4 minutes so that when you handle them you will not burn yourself.

A Step by Step Guide to Easy Perfect Scrambled Eggs

Scrambled eggs are a big favorite with many families and are often considered to be one of the quickest and easiest ways of cooking eggs. While it is true that scrambling eggs is pretty straightforward, as is so often the case when cooking eggs, there are those unfortunate little factors which can cause the whole procedure to go disastrously wrong if you are not careful. The tips below are tried and tested and hopefully will help to iron out any small issues you have encountered when making scrambled eggs.

Fresh eggs

The publicity surrounding the quality of the eggs which you use in cooking usually focuses on eggs being free range and organic. While both these factors are important for a number of reasons, it is also vital when making scrambled eggs that you use eggs which are as fresh as possible. There are few people percentage wise who have access to fresh farm eggs but if you can get a hold of them, this is a big step on the right track to perfect scrambled eggs. The eggs should also be at room temperature and not straight from the fridge.

Preparing eggs for scrambling

This is the easiest bit of the process as you don’t prepare the eggs at all. No beating – and definitely no seasoning. If you salt the eggs prior to cooking, you are only going to cause them to break down at a cellular level as they cook and spoil the effect of your scrambled eggs. They will be both grainy and watery. Break the eggs in to a non-stick pot or saucepan and add a little unsalted butter – nothing else.

Scrambling the eggs

Put the pot on to a medium heat and immediately begin working the eggs with a wooden spoon or plastic spatula. Don’t use a metal cooking implement. When you can see the eggs are starting to set, take the pot off the heat for a few seconds but keep working the eggs, return it to the heat and follow the same procedure two or three times as the eggs scramble. This prevents them overheating and overcooking.

Stopping the eggs cooking

When you can see the eggs are done and you have lovely scrambled eggs, it is time to stop them cooking. Remember, the heat in the pot or saucepan will cause them to keep cooking so add some soured cream as you remove the pot from the stove for the last time. Only now should you season your eggs with salt and pepper and add any other flavorings you wish to incorporate. Chopped chives, basil or parsley are excellent herbs to add but you can also add some pre-cooked and finely chopped bacon, seeded and finely diced tomato or even a little bit of shredded cheese to give a last minute zing to your creation.

Don’t delay in serving your scrambled eggs. Pour them on to your toast, alongside your bacon, or as a bed on a plate for your sausages and get them to the table immediately. Only this way can you enjoy deliciously simple scrambled eggs at their very best.

Gourmet Brunch Selections

It is always refreshing and quite a treat to venture out to your favorite restaurant and indulge in a sumptuous brunch. However, there are days when you desire to have a few loved ones over and replicate what you would generally devour while dining out. Perhaps, its springtime when the weather is quite divine; and, that time of the year is very enticing to have a gourmet brunch at home. Sunday is generally a great day to relax with friends and family; no hassle, no work; just catering to the culinary needs of your loved ones.

Therefore, if you decide to take the beautiful culinary plunge and make a gourmet brunch at home, it’s wise to think of the following:

Setting

If the weather is great, opt to taking your gourmet brunch on the outskirts. Already the weather is conducive. Decide on a buffet affair. Do decorate the tables with fresh cut flowers that are in season. Maybe, you could have mini short cut ones in different vases. The low cut flowers will allow your guest to see one another and provide great interaction. The color and the scent will definitely present a warm and inviting feeling to your guests.

Music

Select a low background music to fill the air. A little Jazz is always smooth and comforting to the ear.

Drinks

If it’s a brisk spring morning, an assortment of warm beverages are ideal to have on hand. Percolated coffee along with hot chocolate served with an option of whipped cream and shaved dark chocolate are excellent additions. Don’t forget that brunch is the period between breakfast and lunch; therefore, it is advisable to have a cool drink as well. Freshly squeezed orange juice is always a good choice. However, for those who wish to indulge in a little alcoholic beverage, you could add a dash of vodka to their orange juice. Decorate glasses with a cut of fresh orange slice and a sprig of mint for contrast. Also, you could provide an alternate drink of an attractive pitcher of Sangria.

Food choice

When it comes to food selection, you want to go for light and delicious dishes yet gourmet in style. Some of the dishes you could consider and serve are:

*Thinly cut Nova or Lox:

This salmon product could be served along with grilled crusty bread with a smear of garlic. In addition, crispy potato pancakes could also be served with a dollop of sour cream with a garnish of dill or parsley for added flavors and appearance.

*Yogurt/chicken kebab:

For those who do not like seafood, give them the option of chicken breast soaked in yogurt. The yogurt will provide great flavors as well as to help break down the poultry. If you are using bamboo skewers, make sure to soak them in advance so as to prevent burning. Serve this with an assortment of bell peppers and onions on different skewers.

*Eggs:

No brunch should be without a couple egg dishes. Prepare creamy scrambled eggs cooked over low heat. Garnish with chopped herbs of choice. Make a side dish of pork and turkey bacon. Serve creamy scrambled eggs and bacon with blue berry pancakes toppled with fresh blueberry sauce. And, provide an option of creamy and delectable quiches. Give a choice of only vegetables and another of meat base such as ham, and bacon. 

*Baked products:

Serve an assortment of baked products. Perhaps, you could offer mini cupcakes with dark chocolate and/pr vanilla creme topping. Croissants are always a big hit.

*Fresh fruits:

Prepare a variety of fresh fruits. Ensure they are of different textures and colors to entice your guests to the table. Also, give an option of having some grilled fruits like pineapple, peaches, etc. The grilling will bring out the natural flavors and sugar.

With those selections at your gourmet brunch, it will certainly have your guests salivating. You will be the talk of the town.