The egg is an unsung hero, working backstage to give you some of your favourite foods – whisking into your cookie doughs, folding into cake batters, binding flour together for a developed pasta dough. By itself, it does some pretty amazing things, too – fluffing up into pillowy scrambled eggs; setting into firm hardboiled eggs; transforming into the iconic sunny side up eggs, winking on a plate of toast and bacon. But what other magic can it do? A few weeks ago, we gathered in Parkes Hall’s kitchen for the second Cookology-run Food Essentials class of the quarter to find out by learning to make simple dishes.
We first learned to make eggs Benedict, the reigning king of brunch dishes. We learned how to not only poach the perfect egg (pssst: stirring the water helps wrap the egg whites around the yolk) but also make the accompanying Hollandaise sauce, one of the five “mother sauces” in French cuisine. We whisked egg yolks and butter together over a double-boiler into a warm, rich emulsion and spooned it over a toasted English muffin stacked with bacon and poached egg for the finished dish.
We then ate our delicious creations…with gusto.
Once we finished eating, we moved on to another way to make eggs: Japanese steamed eggs. We mixed eggs, water, and salt in ramekins and steamed the eggs to a delicate tofu-like consistency. They were finished with a splash of soy sauce and a sprinkle of chopped scallions.
Its lightness made for a refreshing contrast to the luxurious eggs Benedict and a pleasant end to the class.
The following week, we returned to the kitchen for a second class in eggs, this time not as the star of the dish but as a crucial building block of two desserts, creme brûlée and coconut macaroons. For the creme brûlée, we tempered a blend of egg yolks and sugar into scalded heavy cream and had fun choosing what flavoured extracts to include – classic vanilla, almond, or a combination of both! The mixture was poured into ramekins sitting in a hot water bath.
As the creme brûlée was cooking in the oven, we turned our attention to the leftover egg whites. We whisked them with a pinch of salt and a spoonful of sugar into a thick foam, added lemon zest for a touch of extra flavour, and folded in shredded coconut. We then shaped the moistened coconut into balls on baking sheets and baked them until the edges were toasted a golden-brown.
The lemon subtly brightened the macaroons’ flavour…and paired nicely with melted chocolate.
The creme brûlées weren’t forgotten! (How could anyone forget?) Once we’d eaten our fill of macaroons, we waited for the creme brûlées to cool before spreading an even layer of sugar on top. We proceeded to learn to wield blowtorches to put the “brûlée” in “creme brûlée” – caramelizing the sugar into the amber-coloured goodness that’s essential to any good creme brulee. We were delighted to break into the desserts with their spoons, first cracking the caramelized tops and then scooping into the creamy custard.
Poached eggs, sauce, custard, foam – we learned in these two Essentials classes that there’s much more to eggs than just sunny side up and cookies. (And with this new knowledge in hand, we now know how to impress people. A fancy brunch dish or a classic French dessert? No problem.)