Five recipe ideas for egg dishes - ways to use eggs
Eggs are a truly versatile ingredient, full of protein, and a good source of iron and vitamins A, B and D. One medium sized egg will provide you with 6 g protein, contains only 63 calories and no carbohydrates, so very useful as part of a calorie controlled or low-carb diet. They are also a very important source of protein for vegetarians. Eggs do contain a high proportion of cholesterol, but recent studies suggest this type of cholesterol has very little effect on blood cholesterol levels, and that saturated fat is much worse in this respect. If you have high cholesterol or heart problems, however, please consult a medical expert for dietary advice regarding egg consumption.
Cooking with eggs
We all know the basic ways to cook an egg - boil, scramble, poach or fry for a quick and nutritious meal, but sometimes it's nice to do something a little more adventurous.
We keep our own hens, so I have accumulated a stack of recipes for using up our eggs, in order to keep mealtimes interesting, especially when we have a sudden glut of eggs in the springtime. Here are five of my favourites, all of which are suitable for vegetarians.
Spanish omelette - or tortilla - with spinach and potato
This makes a great quick meal, with just a few simple ingredients. This recipe serves 2 to 3 as a main course and takes around 30 minutes to prepare.
- 1/2 onion, finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 2 potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch slices
- 4 eggs
- 2 fl. oz milk
- bunch fresh spinach, chopped
- 2 oz tasty cheese, grated
- salt and pepper
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- Cook the sliced potatoes in boiling water for 5-10 minutes, until soft, then drain and allow to cool for a few minutes while preparing the other ingredients.
- In a deep non-stick frying pan cook the onions and garlic in a little olive oil or butter until golden.
- Add the finely chopped fresh spinach to the frying pan, stir in and cook for a few more minutes, then add the cooked potatoes arranged evenly around the pan.
- Beat the eggs, milk, salt, pepper and herbs together, then pour into the pan, covering all the vegetables.
- Cook over a gentle heat, giving the pan a little shake every now and again to distribute the egg mixture evenly and making sure that it is not sticking or burning at the bottom.
- Heat up the grill, and when the egg mixture has just set in the pan, sprinkle the grated cheese over the top, then put under the hot grill to finish off the top of the omelette and brown the cheese. Serve immediately.
This dish takes a little time and effort to prepare, but is well worth the trouble for a delicious, filling and protein-rich main course. Serve with lightly steamed vegetables such as mange-tout, petit-pois, carrots or broccoli for a balanced meal.
- 3 oz butter
- 2 1/4 oz plain flour
- 3/4 pint milk
- 6 eggs
- 4 oz grated cheddar cheese
- Melt the butter in a saucepan, remove from heat and stir in the flour. Add the milk a little at a time mixing thoroughly with each bit, to ensure there are no lumps of flour. Add salt and pepper, and return to the heat. Keep stirring until the mixture starts to thicken, then remove from the heat and stir in the cheese.
- Separate the eggs, stirring the yolks into the cheese sauce mixture in the pan, and putting the whites into a large mixing bowl.
- Whisk the whites until they are fluffy and stiff, this can be done with a handheld egg whisk, but an electric whisk will make much lighter work of it. Perfectly beaten egg whites should stand in peaks when lifted with a spoon, and should not fall out of the bowl when you turn it upside down - it may be best not to put this to the test, though!
- Fold the beaten egg whites into the cheese sauce mixture with a large spoon, until it is evenly mixed. Pour the mixture into a buttered souffle dish, and bake at 180 degrees C for 35-40 minutes in the middle of the oven.
The souffle will rise above the top of the dish while cooking, so make sure there is space above it in the oven. Also try not to open the oven while it is cooking to see how it's doing. Souffles do not like draughts or sudden changes of temperature, which will cause them to sink dramatically. It should be set firm and be lightly browned on top when cooked. You can test that it is cooked through by inserting a sharp knife or skewer, and seeing if it is clean when you pull it out, much like you would with a cake. However, you should be prepared to see it deflate if you do this. If the center is at all runny, put it back in the oven for a further 5-10 minutes.
A quiche (or flan) makes a perfect lunch dish, served with a fresh salad. It is simply a pastry crust, filled with cooked vegetables, eggs, milk or cream and cheese, and then baked in the oven. For a complete recipe, including instructions for making pastry, please see my hub Vegetarian Quiche - a recipe with wholemeal pastry
Lemon meringue pie
Let's not forget dessert, eggs are not just for savoury dishes. Lemon meringue pie is a classic English sweet, both refreshing and delicious served chilled on a summer afternoon.
You will need:
- 1 shortcrust pastry case (7 inch), pre-cooked
- 2 oz cornflour
- 1/2 pint cold water
- 2 lemons, juice and grated peel
- 7 oz caster sugar
- 2 eggs, separated
- Makes 6 servings
- Pre-heat the oven to 150 C or gas mark 2.
- Mix the cornflour with a little water, and stir until smooth. Heat the rest of the water with the juice of the lemons and grated lemon rind, then stir in the cornflour mixture and continue to heat for a couple of minutes.
- Stir in 3 oz of the sugar and the egg yolks. Allow to cool, then pour into the pastry case.
- Whisk the egg whites until stiff, then gradually add 2 oz of caster sugar a bit at a time, whisking as you go. Fold in the remaining 2 oz sugar to make a sweet meringue.
- Spread the meringue over the lemon mixture, making little swirls and peaks in it for decoration, and bake in to oven for 35-40 minutes.
- Chill before serving.
Egg custard is what we had before custard powder was invented. Traditionally used in custard pies, it is also delicious served with stewed fruit such as apples, prunes or rhubarb.
This is a lovely old-fashioned recipe, that I have taken from Mrs Beeton's Puddings & Pies, a vintage cookery book from around the 1920s.
Have ready 1 pint of milk, 1 oz of sugar, 1 teaspoonful of cornflour, 1 or 2 eggs and lemon-rind or other flavouring.
Mix the cornflour smoothly with a little milk, simmer the remainder with the lemon-rind until pleasantly flavoured, then strain it on the blended cornflour, stirring meanwhile. Replace in the stewpan, simmer gently for a few minutes to cook the cornflour, add the sugar, and let the preparation cool slightly. Beat the egg, add it to the contents of the stewpan, stir by the side of the fire for a few minutes, then let the custard cool.
To adapt this recipe to a modern kitchen you may wish to do the last bit over a very gentle heat rather than by the fire!
A further adaptation could be to use a vanilla pod instead of the lemon rind for a vanilla custard.
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