Monday, April 11, 2011

Excess eggs

Last weekend when I visited Rakaia, I came away with a dozen lovely fresh eggs from Bex and Richard's chickens, and an instruction from Bex to do something Edmonds with them. When I got home, I realised I still had a half-dozen older, supermarket-bought eggs to use up before I could look at using any of the fresh ones.

The week's baking used up most of the older eggs, but it wasn't until this Sunday that I was able to get into the new ones. Not ultra-fresh anymore, of course, but still perfectly good. So what was I going to do with them? The obvious egg dish is an omelet, and since I hadn't yet made the puffy omelet (p96) I decided to have a go at that.

I'd never used the Edmond's puffy omelet recipe, but there's a similar one that I used to make a lot, so I approached this recipe with a reasonable amount of confidence. A normal omelet uses whole, beaten eggs, but for a puffy omelet, you have to separate the eggs, beat the whites until stiff, then fold the yolks (also lightly beaten and seasoned to taste) into the whites.

The whites didn't froth up as well as I'd like; perhaps there was a dash of yolk in there, or traces of grease in the bowl. My own theory is that I was using too large a bowl. I've found that egg whites froth up faster and better in smaller bowls.

Anyway, I got the egg whites as stiff as I could, then folded through the yolks. It wasn't very successful - the volume immediately disappeared and the yolks didn't combine very well. Not wanting to loose what little puffiness I had, I poured the mixture into the pan. The uncombined yolk oozed around the edges and cooked immediately. It was a bit longer before I felt that the rest of the omelet was cooked on the underside. When it was, I popped it under the grill.

A few minutes later, when my omelet came out of the oven, it really didn't fit the description 'puffy': it was very flat. Never mind; I added a filling of bacon, mushrooms, silverbeet and cheese, folded the omelet over and had it for lunch. Ok, so the texture wasn't what it should be, but it was still tasty. And I know from experience that puffy omelets can come out way nicer than that. Don't let my mishap with the egg whites put you off making one yourself!

Having done the omelet, I still had ten eggs left to use. What else could I make? One dish that sprang to mind was soufflé. The only soufflé recipes in the Edmonds book are sweet ones, so I decided to use some of the remaining eggs for a chocolate soufflé (p211).

Since it's no good trying to keep leftover soufflé (or so I gather. I've never tried), I made only a half recipe - more than enough to eat all by myself! You start by melting butter in a double boiler, then take it off the heat and stir in some flour. The next step is to add milk, which is a bit worrying since it immediately starts curdling in the hot butter. But back on the heat, with persistent stirring, it soon combines smoothly and starts to thicken.

When the butter mixture has thickened up a bit, you stir in sugar and grated chocolate (well, since I was using chocolate buttons, I couldn't really grate them, so I settled for chopping them finely). The sugar and chocolate melted into the mixture very quickly, after which I took it off the heat and turned my attention to the eggs.

I began with the yolks, beating them until thick and pale before stirring them into the chocolate mixture. Then, having carefully washed and dried my beaters, I started beating the egg whites. This time I used a much smaller bowl, and with much greater success.

Holding my breath, I folded the whites into the chocolate mixture. It seemed to work: the volume of the whites didn't diminish as it had with the omelet, and all the chocolate seemed to be mixed through. Now to get it into the oven: I didn't have a soufflé dish (whatever that is), so just used a smallish casserole dish, hastily spraying it with oil instead of greasing it with the more tradtional butter.

The full-recipe soufflé is supposed to cook for 40 minutes. I wasn't sure how long my half-recipe would take, but ended up taking it out shortly before the half-hour mark. It had risen in a round bun-shape, not at all like the soufflés you generally see on TV. I wasn't sure if it was completely cooked through, but the top was firm and I didn't want to overcook it.

I was pleased that my soufflé didn't collapse the moment it came out of the oven. I don't think it was supposed to rise in quite the way it did though: perhaps I should have greased the dish with butter instead of oil. Never mind, it's not like I'm trying to win Masterchef here! The soufflé was quite light in texture, but I still suspect I should have left it baking for longer. As for taste, it was chocolaty, but also a little eggy. I ate it by itself, but I expect there should have been cream or ice cream with it. That would have been an improvement.

So while my soufflé was a bigger success than my omelet, it still wasn't perfect. I'm happy to say that each of these recipes have another variation still to be done, so perhaps I'll do a better job on those. As for the eggs, well, I still have eight to use. Guess I better get looking for more recipes!

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