Eggs are the ultimate fast food!
They are a fantastic source of protein, and contain vitamins D, A and B2, iodine and minerals all contained in their own little environmentally friendly container!
If you have eggs in your refrigerator or store cupboard you are guaranteed a meal as the humble egg is so versatile and can be served for any meal. Not only this, but they also cook really quickly, consequently they are perfect as the basis of fast, easy and nutritious meals
At one time it was thought that eggs contained high amounts of cholesterol, and yes, eggs do contain dietary cholesterol. But this type cholesterol that we get from our food has much less effect on the level of cholesterol in our blood than the amount of saturated fat we eat, so nowadays it is not thought necessary to limit the amount of eggs you eat ( remembering that everything should be eaten in moderation). An average-sized egg (60 g) provides approximately 7g of proteins, 2 eggs provide as much protein as 100g of meat or fish; and an added bonus is that for those watching their weight the energy value for an average egg is approximately 90 kcal.When it comes to ways of cooking with eggs lets start with the basics; and what could be more basic than the old favourite – a boiled egg; a lovely well cooked boiled egg (especially with bread or toast ‘soldiers’), is the ultimate comfort food, however many people do struggle to get their boiled egg just as they want it.
With these simple instructions boiling the perfect egg should be no problem.
Take your lovely fresh egg (and do try to use only free range, they really are so much better) and place it in a small pan. Cover with at least 2.5cm of cold water, add a pinch of salt and place the pan on a high heat. When the water is almost boiling, gently stir the egg and set a kitchen timer for the result that you want from these timings:
3 minutes for soft boiled yolk and set white
4 minutes for slightly set yolk and set white
5 minutes for firmer yolk and white
6 minutes for hard boiled with lightly soft yolk
7 minutes for firmly hard boiled
Reduce the heat slightly to keep water bubbling and stir the egg once more. Once cooking time is complete, remove the egg from the pan, place into egg cup and serve immediately.
The next basic way of cooking eggs is poaching them. This does not have to be a difficult procedure and it is quick and easy to cook a poached egg ready to serve with your morning toast.
For one perfect poached egg you will need:
1 large fresh egg
Water for boiling
Pinch of salt
Dash of vinegar
To cook your egg, fill a pan with 5cm of water. Add a pinch of salt and the vinegar (which doesn’t taste at all but does help to set the egg). Bring to a gentle boil. Crack the egg onto a plate and then tip it into the water. Set a kitchen timer for one of the timings below:
3 minutes for a runny egg yolk
4 minutes for a slightly set yolk with a runny middle
5 minutes for a firm egg yolk
When the cooking time is complete, carefully remove the poached egg from the boiling water and serve immediately.
For extra speed when cooking a poached egg you can use the microwave. Crack the egg into a large teacup or ramekin dish filled with ½ tablespoon of water. Use a cocktail stick to pierce the yolk and white and poach in the microwave on HIGH for 40 seconds (750 Watt oven)/60 seconds (650 Watt oven). Stand for 1 minute and serve
The third basic cooking method for eggs is scrambled eggs; a good plate of scrambled eggs is delicious as a breakfast or light lunch, and for a delicious plate of luxury scrambled eggs just add 2oz of chopped smoked salmon to the basic recipe or you can add grated cheese, chopped ham or chopped herbs.
To make a perfect dish of basic scrambled eggs, for each person you will need:
2 large fresh eggs
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons milk or cream
A small knob of butter
Gently beat the eggs together with salt and pepper, add the milk to the beaten eggs to give a much softer result. Put the butter in a non-stick pan over a medium heat, when sizzling, add the egg and stir briskly with a wooden spoon. Continue to stir the eggs for 1-2 minutes, scraping the egg off the base of the pan as it sets. When most of the egg has set, remove the pan from the heat and continue to stir for 30 seconds until fully scrambled. For extra speed and to avoid a difficult pan to wash, it is possible to scramble the eggs in the microwave.
Beat together the eggs, milk, butter, salt and pepper in a microwave safe jug or bowl. Cover with plastic food wrap and microwave on HIGH for 2 minutes (650 watt oven)/1 minute 30 seconds (750 watt oven). Stir mixture and microwave for a further 30 seconds (for both 650 and 750 watt ovens). Stand for 30 seconds before serving. DON’T overcook, there’s nothing worse being served grey and hard, rubbery scrambled eggs.
The next basic cooking method is the fried egg. To get a good fried egg you need:
1 large fresh egg
2 teaspoons oil
Low fat cooking spray.
To cook simply place the oil or spray in a small frying pan (skillet) and place over a medium heat. When the oil is hot, use a knife to crack the shell and tip the egg into the hot fat. Cook over a low to medium heat until the white is set. Tilt the pan slightly and use a teaspoon to scoop the surplus hot fat over the top of the egg until the yolk is cooked to your liking. For over easy eggs, carefully slide a spatula underneath the cooked egg and flip over to cook the yolk for 1 minute.
The final basic cooking method is a basic omelette, to make this you will need:
2 large, fresh eggs
Pinch salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cold water
2 teaspoons oil
Low fat cooking spray.
Gently beat the eggs together with salt, pepper and a teaspoon of cold water. Warm a medium frying pan over a high heat and add oil or spray with cooking spray. Pour the egg mixture into the pan and cook over a high heat for 1-2 minutes.
As the egg begins to set, use a spatula to push the set egg towards the omelette centre.
Continue until the entire egg mixture is set. Cook the set omelette for another minute, then loosen the edges with a spatula and fold the omelette in half. Tilt the pan and slide the omelette onto a warm plate and serve immediately.
You can also make omelettes in the microwave. Beat the eggs, water, salt and pepper. Place 1 tbsp of butter in an 18cm non-metallic pie dish and melt in the microwave on High for 30 seconds. Pour in the egg mixture, stand pie dish on an upturned plate in the microwave and cook on MEDIUM-HIGH for 1 minute. Use fork to draw the outside of the cooked egg into the centre of the dish and microwave on MEDIUM for a further 2 minutes. Stand for 1 minute before serving.
These are the five basic ways to cook eggs but there are many other ways of using eggs.You can make quiches, frittatas, baked eggs and so many more dishes. This recipe for Spanish Eggs is an excellent egg recipe.
4 large eggs
4 teaspoons olive oil
1 onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 red pepper, de-seeded and chopped
4 plum tomatoes, sliced
100g mushrooms sliced
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 x 198g can sweet corn, drained
Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4.
In a large frying pan heat the olive oil, add the onion and garlic and sauté until soft but not brown. Add the pepper to the pan and fry for a further 10 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, mushrooms, parsley and seasoning and continue cooking until the tomatoes begin to soften. Stir in the sweet corn and remove the frying pan from the heat. Pour the mixture into an ovenproof baking dish. Make 4 small hollows in the vegetable mixture and break an egg into each; place the dish in the oven and bake for 20 minutes or until eggs set.
As eggs are one of the most nutritious foods money can buy, you have no excuse to get cooking with eggs!