How to Eat a Dozen Eggs

Oh, no! So you bought too many cartons of eggs for the neighborhood Easter hunt. What are you going to do with all those extras? Here are a dozen ideas, with suggestions for new ways to cook eggs and tips from a few master chefs, as well as a couple of Seattle restaurants worth checking out. Now, let’s get cracking!

The first egg: Start your day as Chef Thomas Keller does, with a pair of boiled eggs. He cooks his for just five minutes once the water starts to boil, resulting in a creamy yolk and perfectly set white. But be sure not to boil your eggs too long, or you’ll get an unappealing green band around them from the iron in the yolk and sulfur in the white reacting to the long cooking time. Even at home, Keller also employs another handy tip that he learned during his training: If you’re boiling more than one egg, crack them into individual bowls in case you accidentally drop a piece of shell. It’ll make it a lot easier to fish it out.

The second egg: Deviled eggs are a classic Easter treat, but you can hard boil your eggs without ever having to put a pot on the stove. In this genius technique I learned from a recent article on Food52, just bake them in the oven at 325 degrees for about 28 to 30 minutes, which will give your eggs a firm texture without being overcooked. Talk about new ways to cook eggs!

The third egg: A classic bechamel sauce, made with butter, flour, and milk, is a great starting point for some hearty mac-and-cheese. But in Chef Wolfgang Puck’s version, he adds a couple of egg yolks into the bechamel to make it even richer. If you want to turn your bechamel into a Mornay sauce, just add some grated cheese, like cheddar, fontina, or mozzarella.

The fourth egg: Make a perfect poached egg with the help of tips from Kenji Lopez-Alt’s phenomenal cooking resource The Food Lab.

The fifth egg: Turn those poached eggs into eggs benedict by serving them on an English muffin, topped with Hollandaise. To make the sauce, whisk egg yolks with water over a double boiler to create an emulsion. Then mix in lemon juice as well as warmed, clarified butter. Sometimes, the sauce will “break” and separate as it’s cooking. Keller explains that this can happen if the heat is too high or there isn’t enough water. But you can fix it by starting with a new egg yolk, and then slowly incorporating the broken sauce.

The sixth egg: There’s no wrong way to scramble an egg, but Keller advises that a common mistake is cooking it in a pan that’s too hot. “I can’t stress enough the importance of treating eggs gently,” he says. Once the egg is fully scrambled, you can stop it from overcooking by mixing in some butter or crème fraiche. And a bonus – it will make your breakfast even richer.

The seventh egg: Sure, you can always make an egg scramble at home, but when I want a hearty omelette I head to Pete’s Egg Nest in Greenwood. I’m partial to the bacon, avocado and cheddar scramble, but you can mix it up with any of your favorite proteins, including gyro meat, chorizo, and country sausage.

The eighth egg: Italian chef Massimo Bottura says that preparing sole with tomatoes, lemons, and olives is a tasty way to create a Mediterranean-style dinner. To steam your fish properly, try cooking it en papillote, or in parchment paper. But make sure your wrapper has a tight seal by using an egg wash and pressing the seams together. The same technique works well if you’re making dumplings.

The ninth egg: Cook some perfect fried eggs using a technique I learned in a video by the French chef Jacques Pepin.

The tenth egg: Try the Georgian specialty known as khachapuri at Skalka in downtown Seattle. Their dish called adjaruli is a buttery bread boat that’s filled with melted cheese and topped with a runny yolk.

The eleventh egg: For dessert, how about a crème anglaise? Keller shows how you can make this creamy custard by tempering, or slowly cooking, egg yolks with sugar, warm milk and cream. If your heat gets too high and the eggs start to curdle, you can fix your sauce by running it through a blender and then straining it through a fine-mesh sieve. Crème anglaise is often flavored with vanilla beans and can be served over ice cream, cake, or fruit – or just eaten with a spoon.

The twelfth egg: With your leftover egg whites, try making some delicate, crispy meringues. Beat your egg whites with sugar and vanilla over a double boiler, then whip them in a stand mixer with confectioners’ sugar for about 15 minutes. Then, spoon your meringues onto a baking sheet and cook them in a low-temperature oven for about 45 minutes. I don’t think the egg-sact cooking time is critical, but make sure the interiors are soft and that they have an almost marshmallow-like texture. But don’t worry if your dessert doesn’t come out right. Just reach into your Easter basket and eat the eggs that are foil-wrapped and made of chocolate.

What are your favorite new ways to cook eggs, and where do you like to eat them when you’re not at home? Leave a comment and let me know!

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More from SeattleFoodHound: 

What I Ate: Eggs benedict at The Lemon Tree in Bend, Oregon

Try new ways to cook eggs like making a delicious Hollandaise sauce for your benedict

Six New Ways to Cook Vegetables and Bring Variety to the Table

Regular readers to this blog may know that I’ve been trying to eat less meat and reminding myself that once-hated vegetables taste great when they’re properly cooked. But when you’re spending a lot of time in the kitchen, it’s far too easy to fall into the same ruts of blanching broccoli, grilling asparagus, and steaming green beans. That’s why I was excited to come across Thomas Keller’s series of instructional videos about new ways to cook vegetables on MasterClass. Keller demonstrates a few less familiar techniques for working with carrots, parsnips, eggplants, zucchini, beets, and more, using methods that help bring out the best flavor and texture from each ingredient.

Keller explains that it’s worthwhile to select vegetables when they’re at their seasonal peak, especially while they’re young (i.e., newly picked), and to use the cooking method that’s most appropriate for each one. For preparations like roasting zucchini or baking beets, the cooking process aims to remove moisture from the vegetable, which helps concentrate their flavor. Keller also discusses how different methods of preservation can make good-quality vegetables available to you even when they’re not in season.

Here are few of the new ways to cook vegetables that I’m looking forward to inserting into my rotation:

  • Glazing carrots: This method highlights the vegetable’s natural sweetness. Cook your carrots over high heat, with just enough water to cover them, and a teaspoon each of butter and sugar. The water will evaporate as the butter emulsifies and the glaze reduces. Don’t overcook the carrots or you’ll start to caramelize the sugars instead of leaving the vegetable shiny.
  • Pureeing parsnips: For this root vegetable, as well as others like rutabaga or celery root, Keller suggests simmering it in a pot with cream and water. Once it’s fully cooked, transfer the vegetable and its cooking liquid to a blender. Add butter and process until it’s completely smooth.
  • Roasting zucchini: First, slice the vegetable in half, score it with a crosshatch pattern, season it with salt, and let it sit for half an hour to draw out the moisture. Then, sear the flesh in a hot pan with neutral oil for about five minutes. After the zucchini is well-caramelized, roast it in a hot oven for another 25 minutes, which makes the interior come out soft and creamy.
  • Baking beets: This technique is preferable to boiling beets, but it may take a while, depending on the size of your vegetables. After you clean them, season, and sprinkle with oil, wrap them in foil and bake until you can insert a knife and feel very little resistance. Then, peel the beets while they’re still warm (using gloves to protect your hands from stains and parchment paper to cover your cutting board). Season with salt and dress with your favorite vinegar.
  • Preserving eggplants: Similar to a preparation you might use for duck, you can confit this vegetable by slow-cooking it in oil at a low temperature. First, as with zucchini, it’s best to score the eggplant and season it before cooking to draw out as much moisture as possible. Place it in a baking pan, cover with warm, neutral oil, and cook at 300 degrees for about 45 minutes. You can add flavor to the dish by using the same technique to preserve garlic. The vegetables will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week if they’re stored submerged in oil.
  • Pickling radishes: You can endlessly vary this preservation technique by using different vegetables and flavor profiles for your pickling liquid. In one preparation, just combine water, sugar, white wine vinegar, garlic, thyme, and mustard seeds in a pot and simmer until the sugar is dissolved. Then pour the hot liquid over your vegetables (radishes, peppers, onions, and cauliflower all work well) and chill in the refrigerator until you’re ready to eat.

With each of these techniques, make sure you have the right amount of seasoning to bring out the best flavor of each ingredient. And to make your vegetables taste even better, it’s often worthwhile to complement them with additional fresh herbs. Or, for many preparations, you can’t go wrong with some extra melted butter.

What are your favorite new ways to cook vegetables? Leave a comment and let me know!

What I Ate: Roasted zucchini garnished with parsley

Roasting zucchini is one of my new favorite ways to cook vegetables

Toss Your Useless Cooking Gadgets and Eliminate Kitchen Clutter

The German word “eierschalensollbruchstellenverursacher” translates as “eggshell predetermined breaking point cause.” It describes one of the most useless cooking gadgets I’ve ever heard of, a tool that lets you remove the top of an egg without cracking the rest of the shell.

If you want to present a softboiled egg in an elegant cup during breakfast, I suppose this tool will get the job done. But it strikes me as the quintessential example of something that only serves to add clutter to your kitchen drawers.

A quick survey of my own kitchen reveals at least 20 devices collected over the years that, while often evoking fond memories of travels or cooking adventures, could mostly be replaced by some essential kitchen tools. These cooking gadgets range from single-use to the practically useless to the completely whimsical (but super-fun!). If you’re a home cook like me, with precious drawer and cabinet space, you might consider relegating some of these items to the storage closet — or the dustbin.

Single-use gadgets

  • The wooden fork with holes that help you measure the right amount of pasta before cooking
  • The ceramic tortilla warmer
  • The quesadilla maker
  • The empanada press
  • The matcha tea whisk
  • The tea ball infuser
  • The cherry pitter
  • The apple corer
  • The pie beads and silicone crust wrapper
  • The cheese shaver

Practically useless tools

  • The battery-operated automatic stirrer called, well, Stirr that I recently received as a gift. I tried using it to mix a cake the other day and it barely stood up in the bowl. A whisk or a stand mixer would have been a much better choice!
  • The battery-powered ice cream cone that, I guess, rotates so you don’t have to turn the ice cream while you’re licking it. As an alternative, I’d suggest using your wrist.
  • The hot chocolate frother that aerates the drink after mixing. Again, a whisk would do a better job here.
  • The Slap Chop that slices! And dices! And minces! I think that’s what knives are for.

Whimsical but fun

  • The bagel guillotine (although, I have to admit, it slices my bagels perfectly every time)
  • The bear claws for shredding pulled pork or other meat
  • The hedgehog-shaped cheese grater
  • The dinosaur-shaped taco holder

Essential tools

In a recent video on Master Class, Chef Thomas Keller explained that both professional chefs and home cooks can benefit by eliminating unnecessary tools in their kitchens. And in this category he includes measuring cups and spoons, which he says can be completely eliminated when you measure by weight instead of volume. “I’m happy enough to be able to use my essential tools to accomplish anything that any gadget can do for me, or any convenience a gadget can offer,” Keller said.

So what are the essential tools a home cook needs? With inspiration from Keller, I’d take these items, along with my digital scale, to my desert island kitchen:

  • Good knives and kitchen shears
  • Cutting boards
  • Spatulas, spoons, ladles, and whisks
  • Tongs and tweezers
  • A microplane grater
  • A vegetable parer
  • A strainer
  • Cheesecloth and kitchen twine

What other cooking tools do you find essential, and what are the most ridiculous gadgets that take up space in your kitchen? Let me know in the comments!

What I Ate: Lemon snacking cake with coconut glaze

No cooking gadgets were used while making this snacking cake


Thomas Keller Teaches That Local Can Mean Anything

Renowned chef Thomas Keller, proprietor of high-end restaurants like The French Laundry in California and Per Se in New York, shares his expertise in a series of videos on MasterClass in which he teaches fundamental cooking techniques. Through the first half-dozen or so Keller MasterClass videos, I’ve learned some game-changing information that surprised even an experienced non-professional cook like myself.

For instance, did you know that restaurant kitchens tend to use universal lids for their cookware, rather than matching a cover to each piece? Or that asparagus cooks best after it’s been peeled, and is typically bundled before it gets thrown in a pot for blanching? Anyone who’s been trained in a professional kitchen likely knows these classic cooking tips, but your average home cook probably does not.

Those who invest in a Keller MasterClass tutorial will certainly gain something from the timeless lessons taught by the chef. But it was his lecture on sourcing ingredients that made me question whether his philosophy is keeping up with the times.

Keller begins by explaining that his goal is to acquire the best possible ingredients for his restaurants, regardless of where they come from. And he believes that words like “local,” “farm-to-table,” and “sustainable” are nothing more than culinary buzzwords. For Keller, it’s more important to support the fishermen and farmers who use best practices, regardless of their geography.

While that sounds like a responsible philosophy, Keller goes on to attempt to redefine the word local as being not about geography, but about quality. “Think about local as an ingredient,” he says. “Think about local as a farmer who is growing those products, a fisherman who’s catching them, a lamber who’s raising lamb, a forager who’s going out to get wild mushrooms.”

But words have meanings, and it’s not right to co-opt the buzzword local and decide that it means something other than geographic proximity. Being able to describe your food as local might be appealing to a certain set of customers who (at least in pre-pandemic times) would make the trek to Yountville for a pricey prix fixe meal. But if your focus is on providing the best quality ingredients regardless of where they come from, then it’s better to simply embrace that philosophy. Why not forego using the word local for anything that doesn’t come from your own gardens, or from nearby farms and fisheries?

Related: Six New Ways to Cook Vegetables and Bring Variety to the Table

The bigger problem isn’t about Keller’s definition, though. While I had one of the best meals of my life at The French Laundry in 2011, I recognized even then that it seemed slightly off to serve lobster tail that was flown in from Maine, when some of the world’s best seafood could be fished within a few dozen miles. And a decade later, with the planet continuing to heat up, that choice seems even more perplexing. It’s no longer defensible for a chef to use the world’s best ingredients while ignoring where they came from.

Chefs, like all of us, have a responsibility to recognize the impact their choices have on the environment. They need to consider not just whether they are working with purveyors who harvest responsibly, but whether their sourcing methods are contributing to the destruction of our planet through global warming.

By continuing to fly in “local” ingredients from afar, Keller strikes me as being out of touch with the values of the modern high-end dining customer. Ultimately, when the pandemic subsides and Keller is able to re-open his restaurants, the biggest problem I’ll have with The French Laundry may not be a linguistic one.

What I Ate: Sweet butter-poached Maine lobster tail with spinach, parsnips, and saffron-vanilla emulsion

The Keller MasterClass made my question whether his food philosophy at The French Laundry is keeping up with the times