As my followers will already know, we recently extended our family with six gorgeous chickens. The new arrivals couldn’t have come at a better time considering the state of supermarket shelves in light of the Covid-19 outbreak. With panic in the air and around food in general, being more self-sufficient seems to be on a lot of people’s minds. Our chickens and the eggs they supply will no doubt help us immeasurably as we face an uncertain few weeks or months. And with eggs such a versatile ingredient, we’re in for some tasty treats too.
Eggs are super healthy additions to any diet using the right recipes, and are also one of the few natural sources of vitamin D. After celebrating National Poultry Day recently, now seems like the perfect time to share the many different ways to cook with eggs. And you don’t have to stick to boiled, scrambled or fried either!
The baked method is such a versatile, underrated yet delicious way of eating eggs. My favourite baked recipe is oeufs en cocotte. All you need is a lump of butter, an egg, a teaspoon or two of cream and an ovenproof dish or ramekin for each person. Simply pop the butter in the dishes and heat in the oven at 180°C/gas 5 until melted. Remove carefully with an oven mit and crack one egg then the cream into each dish and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Place the ramekins in a baking dish and pour enough lukewarm water into the dish to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Leave them to bake for approx 10 minutes depending on your oven. Keep a close eye on them as the yolks can become hard and rubbery when overcooked.
Get creative with your baked egg dish by adding your favourite ingredients to the mix. Bits of leftover chopped bacon or sausage, sun-dried tomatoes, chopped fresh tomatoes, feta, fresh or frozen herbs, and chilli are all great additions to add in along with the cream. You can even put ketchup in the bottom for the kids.
Spice up the classic omelette by trying this soufflé omelette recipe. It’s great for breakfast, brunch or a light supper, and can be adapted to create a tasty pudding with the right ingredients too.
Simply separate the yolks from the whites and whisk the whites until light and fluffy – this should only take a minute or so. Beat the yolks in their separate bowl adding some cheese and herbs (grated parmesan and basil is a great combination) for extra tastiness. Combine the yolks and whites and cook the omelette as normal (first in a frying pan then under the grill).
You can try other combinations, such as goat’s cheese and cherry tomatoes, ham and cheese, cherry tomatoes, mushroom and parsley or even strawberry jam.
The humble frittata is great for feeding the family as well as incorporating a whole heap of veggies into your diet. It’s also an excellent way to make use of leftovers, including diced, cold potatoes. Grated carrot and courgette is a cheap and easy combination. My courgette and carrot frittata recipe is topped with a bit of chorizo, and you could try cheese, olives and sun-dried tomatoes as frittata toppings, search the back of your fridge for ideas! Here’s another quick and easy recipe for a tasty kale and goat’s cheese frittata too.
Achieving a perfectly poached egg is something we can all aspire too. Using TV chef Nigella Lawson’s method for perfect poaching could save you a lot of time however:
“First she cracks the egg into a tea strainer over a cup and allows all the very ‘watery bits’ to go through. Then she ‘pushes it into another cup’ before adding a teaspoon of lemon juice to the egg white. Then she puts the egg into the water, which is almost turned off, and leaves it there for three to four minutes, sometimes using a slotted spoon to ‘encourage the white to come up in shape’.”
Now you’ve mastered poaching, you have to give the eggs Florentine recipe a go. Simply top your perfectly toasted breakfast muffins with your perfectly poached eggs, homemade hollandaise sauce (this recipe from Jamie Oliver is great) and cooked spinach for a flavour sensation.
The summer favourite that you have to try making at home during lockdown is the quiche. You can try any combination of flavours but this rustic courgette, pine nut and ricotta recipe is a real winner.
Make your own pastry case, use a shop bought case or meet in the middle by rolling out a block of shortcrust pastry – I often do this if I am short for time.
Generously butter your quiche dish, then lay your rolled out pastry inside and gently pat into place. Remember to pinch around the edges at the top for that professional look! Blind bake the pastry (here’s how to blind bake pastry to help you along) until it’s a light golden brown and leave to cool.
Now it’s time for the filling… simply beat your ricotta with your eggs, basil, nutmeg, garlic and parmesan. Pan fry your courgettes and set aside for later. Pour the ricotta egg mix into the pastry case, then add the courgette, scatter over the pine nuts and sprinkle with parmesan. Bake for 30 minutes in a preheated oven at 200°C/gas 6, leave to cool once cooked, then enjoy with a crisp, green salad.
Up the protein in your diet with another egg soufflé dish. There’s tons of recipe inspiration to choose from so you can be as creative as you like, eating eggs in this way is a great option when you don’t have any meat available. Cheese soufflés are great options, and you don’t have to stick with cheddar. Try goat’s cheese, parmesan or gruyere. Serve your soufflé with crunchy bread and a salad or stir-fried veggies. My kids love this meal!
More tips for cooking with eggs
Worried about the shelf life of your eggs? Unbeknown to most, shelled raw eggs can be frozen and stay fresh for up to 6 months. If whole and unshelled, whisk gently to mix the yolk and white together and add a little salt to whole eggs to be used in savoury dishes or a little sugar to eggs to be used in sweet dishes, then freeze. Don’t forget to label them as savoury or sweet before popping them into the freezer. Thaw at room temperature before using in cakes, scrambled eggs and other egg based dishes.
I’ll finish with a word of warning for egg lovers… Never microwave an egg with its shell on as it will explode. Even out of its shell it may burst in the microwave. If you are microwaving eggs, pierce the yolk before cooking. Remember that the yolk cooks more quickly than the white so allow standing time for the white to continue to firm up before eating. If you are making scrambled eggs in the microwave for example, take it out before it is totally cooked and allow standing time for it to firm up.
These are just some of the egg recipes that you have to try. Share your own creations with me and your fellow Goodness followers by posting a picture of your dishes on Facebook or Instagram. Don’t forget to tag me in @webofgoodness! Please don’t be shy, and remember that no matter what your food may look like in a photo, it will always taste yummy!
P.S. For more daily inspiration and insights into what I have been getting up to in the kitchen, you can always find my cooking creations – the good, the bad and the ugly! – on my Instagram. Just follow @webofgoodness or visit some of my favourite home recipes here.