Tag: Eggs

Eggs Benedict for a special breakfast

Eggs Benedict for a special breakfast

Eggs Benedict is an easy dish to make, and you probably only need 15 minutes. If you have 30 minutes, you can serve a large household.

What exactly is Eggs Benedict? It is just

  1. A toasted English muffin
  2. Sautéed ham or Canadian bacon
  3. Two poached eggs
  4. Hollandaise sauce

So, what’s so hard here?

A lot of people stumble on poaching eggs, but we’ve already covered two foolproof methods in detail.

Method one: swirling water

vortex

Bring salted water to a boil in a wide 4 quart saucepan. Swirl the water into a little whirlpool in the pan using a whisk. Break each egg into a cup and slip it into the side of the whirlpool. Repeat with the second egg. You can make up to four eggs at a time this way. To make enough for a regiment, see the next section.

The eggs are done when you don’t see any remaining uncooked white. Don’t overcook them to the “golf ball” stage. (This is actually hard to do if you are watching. You’ll see when they are done.

Method two: a kettle of water with salt and vinegar

Fill an eight quart kettle (such as a spaghetti cooker) with water and add ½  cup of salt and ¼ cup of vinegar. Bring to a boil. Break each egg into a cup and slip it into the gently boiling water. The egg will drop to the bottom, and will float back up when it is done. Check it before removing it, as sometimes the “parachute” comes up before the whole egg surfaces.

Keep breaking eggs and slipping them into the pan until everyone’s eggs are cooked. Remove them to a pan of warm water to rinse off the excess salt.

 

Hollandaise

Hollandaise it pretty easy to make. For Eggs Benedict, we use the blender approach.

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 Tb lemon juice
  • ¼ lb (1 stick) butter
  • Salt and a trace of cayenne pepper

Put the 3 egg yolks and the lemon juice in the bowl of the blender and pulse briefly until mixed. Melt the butter in a glass pitcher in a microwave oven for one minute. It should be bubbling. Turn on the blender and immediately pour in the hot butter. It should cook on the spot to a thick creamy sauce. If it is too thin, you can heat it briefly over low heat in a saucepan.

The final dish

Place the sautéed ham or bacon on the toasted and buttered English muffin and place an egg on each half, using a slotted spoon. Pour the creamy Hollandaise over top. Time? About 15 minutes, unless you have an awfully slow stove for boiling the water. Decorate with parsley.

 

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Cadbury Cream Eggs Benedict

Cadbury Cream Eggs Benedict

Here it is an Eggs Benedict recipe that uses Cadbury Cream Eggs! And it’s actually pretty good.

Easter and Passover and other spring holidays are a time for fun as well as religious observances, and why not come up with a really silly dessert that everyone will have fun with.

A classic Eggs Benedict is a poached egg on ham or Canadian bacon on an English muffin, topped with Hollandaise sauce. How to replicate this using candy?

The first thing to do is to “crack” the egg. Cadbury eggs are put together as two halves along a seam, and you can easily open one with a sharp knife. Once the egg is open, scoop out the “yolk and white” and put it in a small, buttered dish, and keep it cool in the freezer or refrigerator so it doesn’t soften too much.

melted chocolateThen melt the chocolate halves in a double boiler. Don’t use a microwave, as it is too hot and the remaining cream filling will burn while the chocolate melts. This particular chocolate formulation melts best at a lower temperature. When melted, pour into a small buttered dish so it will cool as a flat disk. Chill it briefly while it hardens.

on HersheysWe had two ideas about the English muffin layer. One was to use a square of white chocolate, and so we tried a square from a Hershey’s Cookies ‘n’ Crème candy bar. This looked really cool as you can see in the slide show, but had the disadvantage of being just more chocolate. It is too rich and all sort of the same flavor.

So instead, we decided to call the chocolate disk an English muffin (maybe a whole wheat one) and come up with a ham layer. The best idea was a Fruit Rollup. Yes, they still make them! And a square of strawberry actually looks a bit like ham! And its tartness cuts the sweetness of the “eggs.”

on fruit

So now we have the muffin, the ham and the egg. What to do for the Hollandaise? Marshmallow Peeps come to mind. If you melt yellow Peeps into a little cream, you will have a nice yellow sauce that looks rather like actual Hollandaise!

 

 

Cadbury Cream Eggs Benedict

melting chocolate

  1. For each person, open a Cadbury Egg lengthwise at the seam. Remove the filling with a small spatula or a melon baller, and chill it on a butter plate or bowl.
  2. Melt the egg “shells” in a double boiler and pour each portion into a small butter bowl to harden. Chill until they can be lifted out.
  3. Arrange the chocolate disks on serving plates and cover with a square of strawberry Fruit Rollup. Use other colors if you are feeling particularly weird.
  4. Place the chilled filling on top of each fruit square.
  5. With scissors, cut up three yellow marshmallow Peeps. Place them in a saucepan and add 2 Tb of cream. Heat with stirring until dissolved. Allow to cool so the sauce doesn’t melt the candy.
  6. Spread a couple of tablespoons of this mock Hollandaise on each “egg” and serve at once with a sly grin.
Scrambled eggs in an Instant Pot

Scrambled eggs in an Instant Pot

There have been dozens of experiments on making hard cooked eggs in electric pressure cookers like the Instant Pot. Our conclusion was that you want to use low pressure to keep the whites from getting tough and cook them for only 5 minutes, releasing the pressure right away to prevent overcooking.

Similarly, people have experimented with soft-boiled eggs in a pressure cooker. We decided it was a waste of time because cooking them is so quick anyway.

And, likewise, poached eggs seemed  more trouble than they were worth in the Instant Pot, and hard to get out of the little ramekin or egg cup, even when you used non-stick spray. We recommend using a saucepan for a few, or using a big kettle when cooking for a crowd.

But what about scrambled eggs? They present some special problems because they are so easy to over cook and they often stick the fry pan. And for a crowd, there might be some advantages to the pressure cooker.

A little experimentation suggested we were right. You can make any number of scrambled eggs in a bowl and steam them in the Instant Pot. And they come out well. There isn’t any huge time saving here, but there is some consistency. And, you don’t have to keep stirring and monitoring the pan every few seconds. You do still have to take them out pretty expeditiously to keep them from overcooking, though, but they probably won’t stick to the pan the way scrambled eggs often do.

We tried this recipe for one person (2 eggs) and for 2 people (5 eggs) and it was pretty easy once you arrive at the timing for your bowl configuration. We recommend 7 minutes.

Our recipe uses a bit of butter, since fat carries the flavor better. Don’t leave it out.

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Tb milk (about)
  • ½ Tb butter
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Spray a small, heat-proof bowl with non-stick spray.
  2. Break the 2 eggs into the bowl.
  3. Add the milk, salt and pepper, and beat with a fork until more or less uniform.
  4. Put 1 cup of water in the Instant pot and add the trivet.
  5. Set the bowl on the trivet, and close the pot and its steam vent.
  6. Set the pot to Steam at low pressure  for 7 minutes. The pot will start chugging away, heating the water, and then start counting down from 7 minutes.
  7. Release the pressure immediately after the timer is down and open the pot. The eggs should look mostly cooked.
  1. Stir them up with a fork to see if they are cooked through. Don’t worry if there are a littly liquidy, they will continue to cook in the bowl for another minute or so. If they really seem way too undercooked, just put the lid back on for a minute or so and they will cook some more. You want them to be sort of creamy, not really hard.
  2. Remove the bowl using a hot pad and fluff the eggs with a fork. Serve right away while still hot.
Poached eggs for a crowd

Poached eggs for a crowd

It is very easy to poach a couple of eggs in a saucepan for a couple of minutes and come out with nice looking perfectly cooked eggs. We use the swirl method, which causes the stray white to wrap around the egg instead of filling up your pan. While it is time consuming, you can also cook them in an Instant Pot: it doesn’t work very well.

But suppose you are making poached eggs for a crowd. We once made Eggs Benedict for 11: that’s 22 eggs. How can you do this quickly and efficiently? Fortunately mass production of poached eggs has been solved years ago, and Harold McGee describes it in his magnum opus, On Food and Cooking.

You use a large pot and add 1 Tb of salt and ½ Tb of vinegar per quart of water. What happens seems almost like a magic trick: you break the eggs into the pot of barely boiling water. They sink to the bottom. But when the eggs are done, they float to the top. You lift them out and put them on toast or muffins to serve. There is no need to keep track of which egg is next. You just keep adding eggs and lift them out when they pop up.

What is happening is a little bit of chemistry:  the vinegar reacts with a bit of bicarbonate in the egg whites, forming small bubbles of carbon dioxide. As the egg white coagulates, the bubbles get trapped in the cooking egg. The salt increases the density of the water just enough that after about 3 minutes of cooking the eggs and their bubbles will float to the surface. And there are no long tails of uncooked white, either. They always look perfect!

To make this work best, you want to use freshly bought eggs, and for a large crowd, use an 8-quart spaghetti cooker pan.

For our photos, to make it easier to see, we used just a 3 quart pan, but you could easily do 6-8 eggs in it, scooping them out as they float to the surface.

And that’s the whole trick. And for even a few eggs, this is a really helpful trick!

Microwaved Poached Eggs

Someone is always publishing some other weird idea for cooking eggs, and here’s another one that doesn’t really work: microwave poached eggs. Supposedly, you put ½ cup of water into a small bowl, break an egg into the water, and cover the dish with a plate and microwave it for a minute.

We tried it, and the egg was seriously overcooked. And while we could have fooled with it to find the right time for our microwave oven, we didn’t bother, because it really doesn’t scale much beyond 2 eggs. You’d have to do them separately, and you get a lot of little bowls (and plates) dirty.

Stick with the swirl method for 2-4 eggs and use the crowd method for large numbers of customers.

Soft-boiled eggs using a vegetable steamer

Soft-boiled eggs using a vegetable steamer

While soft-boiled eggs are pretty simple to make, there are a lot of variations on boiling the “3-minute egg,” that have been proposed, including turning off the heat and letting the egg set in the just-boiled water for several minutes.  There is also the problem of eggs cracking while cooking which can lead to a watery result.

So, we recently read of the idea of just cooking the eggs over boiling water in a vegetable steamer. This is a little easier to manage and less likely to lead to cracking. The only real question is how long to cook them. We decided to find out for ourselves.

We numbered 4 eggs 7 through 10 with a pencil. Then we placed a vegetable steamer in a 2-quart saucepan, added water to just under the steamer platform and brought it to a boil. On our stove this takes about 2 minutes.

Then we quickly added the 4 eggs, covered the pan and started a timer.  We prepared a pan of ice water, and quickly removed an egg at 7, 8, 9 and 10 minutes, placing them in the ice water to stop cooking quickly.

We cut open the eggs and lined them up for the picture above. You can see that the 7-minute egg looks to us most like a soft-boiled egg, but if you like them just a bit firmer, you could go for the 8-minute egg,  The last two look more to us like they are on the way to being hardboiled eggs.

11-minutes
Steamed 11 minutes

 

We had separately tested the 11 minute egg, and it is definitely hard boiled.

So, you can definitely make soft or hard-boiled eggs using the steamer. This not only minimizes cracking, it produces hard-boiled eggs that peel perfectly! This is even an advantage when serving soft-boiled eggs, since they come out of the shell cleanly.

This experiment made 4 eggs at once. In a larger saucepan, you could probably make 6-8 if you wanted to. Beyond that, the logistics of serving that many soft-boiled eggs while they are still warm becomes a bit daunting.

Soft-boiled eggs in the Instant Pot

Of course, since the Instant Pot is also a steamer, you can cook eggs in it just as well, and you can do as many at a time as you like, with the same restrictions on logistics of serving them.

intantpot
Steamed 3 and 4 minutes in the Instant Pot

 

We put one cup of water in the Instant Pot, added the trivet rack and put one egg in the pot. We closed it and set it to steam for 3 minutes at high pressure. Then we quickly released the pressure and put the egg in the ice bath. We repeated the process, steaming for 4 minutes. Comparing the two eggs, we rather think the 4 minute steamed egg is closest to a soft-boiled egg: the 3-minute egg seemed a little underdone. We know that a 5-minute egg is essentially hard cooked so we know we didn’t want to go further.

The only real drawback to using the Instant Pot is that it took 5 ½ minutes to come to temperature before the cooking began. Since the water was already hot in the pot, the heating time for the second egg was only about 4 minutes. However, you can make as many eggs as you can fit into the pot, although getting a large number into the ice bath to stop the cooking might be challenging.

We also tried steaming an egg for 4 minutes at low pressure instead of high pressure. Heating of the water is about 30 seconds faster, and the egg seemed perfect at 4 minutes steaming time. If you are going on to make hard boiled eggs, the low pressure method is preferable as it leads to a tenderer white.

Hard boiling eggs in an Instant Pot?

The Instant Pot Skeptic

instant potThe Instant Pot is this year’s foodie must-have device. It’s basically a modern microprocessor controlled pressure cooker, but you can also use it as a slow cooker, a rice cooker and a vegetable steamer. And it’s not really very expensive. It sells for $119 but there have been sales from time to time.

We took advantage of a deal and ordered one. What to do first? We were intrigued by the idea that you could use the Instant Pot to hard boil eggs and that they would peel easily. Here’s one recipe, and here’s a slightly different one.

on rackIn both cases you can put up to a dozen eggs on the rack in the pot and pressure cook the eggs. One recipe says for 5 minutes and then let the pot cool for 5 minutes before depressurizing it. The other says cook for 8 and open right away. In both cases, you then plunge the eggs into icy cold water, which is supposed to shrink the egg away from the shell so it will peel easily. We tried this, using the first method, and finding the eggs a little dry, we cut back on the 5 minutes of resting to 2 minutes and repeating the experiment.

We also cooked 2 hardboiled eggs in a pan. The usual way to get peel-able eggs is to drop the eggs into boiling water, turn off the heat, cover and let stand for 10 minutes. Then you plunge the eggs into ice water just as above.

So comparing, how did they turn out?

The Instant Pot cooked eggs peeled perfectly and looked very nice.

one crackedBut plunging eggs, cold from the refrigerator, into boiling water is a bit risky, and they may crack. If they were at room temperature, this probably would not have happened. The uncracked egg peeled perfectly, just as those from the Instant Pot did. The cracked egg was a bit more challenging to peel, as the shell stuck in a number of places.

Instant versus boiled

All four eggs looked very nice. We had selected cooking times that left the yolks somewhat moist in both cases. You could cook them longer if you don’t like them that way.

And how did they taste? Well, they tasted identical, but the whites of the pressure-cooked Instant Pot eggs were considerably firmer. You notice this biting into them, and if you press on the whites you will find significantly more resistance in the Instant Potted eggs.

But the very best eggs were made using the steamer function under low pressure. The timing is the same, but the whites are not hard and rubbery: thye taste like normal hard-cooked eggs.

5 minute egg steamWe also tried a couple of eggs, leaving them in for the full 5 minutes before releasing the pressure. This made much drier yolks, so we don’t recommend it.

The conclusion:  If I had a dozen or more eggs to cook (for Easter or Passover, for example) the Instant Pot does a great job.  If I had only two to do for myself, I’d probably just use the pan or a simple vegetable steamer.