How you want them eggs?

When we are out and about in the world, I notice a number of people dining in restaurants who are unsure of how to order their eggs. They ask a lot of questions, then simply default to scrambled if they still don’t get it.

To alleviate some of this, I’ve gathered together terms and descriptions of some of the most common cooking styles for eggs.

The first thing I notice is that a lot of folks don’t know the proper names for the parts inside the egg. What most people call “egg whites” is the clear protective jelly albumen. The “egg yellah” is the yolk. For the sake of clarity in the descriptions below, I’ve stuck to albumen and yolk.

SCRAMBLED –  Scrambled means that the albumen and yolks are broken and mixed together, cooked quickly in a hot skillet. Most restaurants serve them “hard” which is often a little dryer than one might prefer. Ask for “wet” and you should get scrambled eggs that still look a little shiny.

SUNNY SIDE UP – An egg that is fried only on one side. The albumen should be slightly browned at the edges, while the yolk is warm and runny. Also known as “runny eggs” or “dipping eggs” as the yolk will go everywhere and is tasty when sopped with toast or biscuit.

OVER EASY – This is most often a Sunny Side Up flipped over int he skillet just long enough for the raw egg to seal itself up with a thin film of cooked albumen. The yolk, and sometimes part of the albumen, are still warm and runny.

OVER MEDIUM –  The next step after Easy, this egg is flipped and allowed to cook until the albumen is mostly hardened up, leaving the yolk mostly runny.

OVER HARD or OVER WELL –  As it’s name hints, this egg has been fried, flipped, fried some more, until both the albumen and yolk are “hard”.

POACHED – This is an egg that has been boiled without the shell. It may have been added directly to the boiling water, or with the use of a ramekin. The albumen is cooked while the yolk remains runny. Poached eggs are usually offered as part of Eggs Benedict.

SOFT BOILED – The albumen is partially cooked, with the yolk warm and runny. This is also known as a “six-minute” egg.

HARD BOILED –  The albumen and yolk are both solidified.

SHIRRED or BAKED – This refers to an egg that has been cracked and baked in a flat-bottomed pan, or added on top of a dish.

 

Hopefully this will help anyone who is unfamiliar with the wide range of how eggs are prepared, whether ordering breakfast or reading descriptions on a menu.

— Ann Cathey

 

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Helpful Cooking Charts

A friend of mine shared an interesting, and helpful, set of cooking charts from some else’s blog. They are not what I expected, though I will likely have a few of them printed out and stuck to the insides of relevant cabinets in my kitchen!

Cooking Charts

These wonderful diagrams contain knowledge made simple on things like building vinaigrettes, handling and cooking meats, simple substitutions and measurements, how to choose proper kitchen tools, and even seasoning cast iron.

–Ann Cathey

Lees and Trub – Waste Not!

Homebrew! Have I grabbed your attention?

Homebrew lime mead (metheglyn).

Homebrew lime mead (metheglyn).

Mead in the process of freeze distillation.

Mead in the process of freeze distillation.

Having a home-brewer sharing my kitchen, I’m finding out all kinds of nifty things. I have come to understand the basics for brewing beer and mead, and there’s an experiment in freezing the water out of mead to make it stronger going on in my fridge.

Bottled lime mead (metheglyn) showing lees settled at the bottom.

Bottled lime mead (metheglyn) showing lees settled at the bottom.

Then there’s learning what to do with the leftovers. A lot of lees and trub (the yeast goop leftover after the bottling process) get washed down the drain by people who don’t understand what they could be good for. It’s all a waste product, right?

Hardly.

When brewing beer with actual grains, the grains are removed and set aside. What could they possibly be used for after they have been leeched of everything the beer requires of them? Plenty of things come to mind.

Spent grains from beer brewing resting in the deep freeze until needed for a baking project.

Spent grains from beer brewing resting in the deep freeze until needed for a baking project.

Remember that these “spent grains” are sometimes treated with hops, which is toxic to dogs. Don’t even think about making doggie biscuits with them. Spent grains are sometimes used as cattle feed supplements, without apparent harm to the cattle. They also make up some tasty recipes. A few samples of spent grain recipes may be found here.

Mead lees and beer trub in the freezer until it's bread-making time.

Mead lees and beer trub in the freezer until it’s bread-making time.

Trub from beer brewing is also great for making breads and muffins, though the products do tend toward the bitter spectrum. The breads I have tried have been well paired with hearty beef dishes, and sliced thin and piled high with corned beef or pastrami and Swiss. The breads made from trub support strong flavors quite well. If you are into the SCA, Civil War, or other historical reenactment groups, trub breads are both historically accurate and make great trenchers.

Lees are another great way to be creative in the kitchen.

I have not yet had a chance to try it, but lees are apparently quite good in a pork based stew. The sweetness of the honey accentuates the pork in a way only honey can. The yeast acts as a thickener from what I have been told.

Bread made from orange mead lees.

Bread made from orange mead lees.

Lees breads are also a great way to use up all that yeast and flavor. I’ve been lucky enough to have a daughter who cooks. She has made lees bread from mead lees, as well as cinnamon, lemon, orange, and whatever other flavors my other half brews up. Both the mead lees and the lees from metheglyns (mead with spices) and melomels (mead with fruit) have consistently turned up delightfully tasty breads and muffins. We haven’t tried a capsicumel, but it promises to be sweet and spicy!

I have not been able to try out any recipes that include the lees from wine, but I would imagine they would also make for some tasty cooking.

If you are home brewing, or know someone who is, try some of these cooking combinations with the cast offs of the brewing process. you will be able to experience a culinary treat that has been in mankind’s collective kitchen for over a thousand years.

Don’t forget – try the brew, too! It was the starting point for this creation process in the first place!

Homebrew mead on ice.

Homebrew mead on ice.

— Ann Cathey
Photos via Christopher’s cell-phone

Winking Owl Merlot

Let me begin this writing by saying that I am not a wine drinker. I have problems with the tannic acid inherent in wine, though I find the flavors fascinating, My palate was given a good basic education by my father, who has tasted many wines form all over the world in his lifetime. I took his teachings and have applied them to my passion for cooking.

Winking Owl is a small vineyard located in Modesto, California. It does not have an independent website. Winking Owl produces wines for the private label of ALDI (a supermarket chain originally based in Germany). In spite of being offered for under $5 a bottle, Winking Owl produces some decent little table wines. We have found them to be wonderful for cooking!

Our latest experience was with the Winking Owl Merlot. This richly hued wine is soft and smooth on the palate, though without the customary dryness normally found in a good Merlot. The flavor was distinctive, offering hints of berries.

The first half of the bottle was used to slowly cook a piece of pork in a crock-pot. The second was used with beef. In both cases, the wine took a supporting role, offering a nice bouquet and background to the dish without overpowering the flavor of the meat. It blended well with the garlic and herbs used each time.

DSC_0206Any red wine used in cooking will be absorbed by vegetables if they are allowed to cook in it directly over a period of time. With our pork dish, fresh carrots lined the bottom of the pot used. They took on the flavor of the wine without losing their intrinsic flavor, proving the Winking Owl Merlot not exceptionally strong as some Merlot can be.

DSC_0212With the beef, red potatoes were cooked in such a way to allow the wine to be absorbed. The potatoes, served with a bit of butter and a dash of salt, turned out to have an enhanced flavor rather than being totally overpowered by the wine. We were pleased with the result.

Rather that cooking with an expensive wine that you might be better served drinking, give the Winking Owl Merlot a try in the kitchen. You may be surprised by its versatility in enhancing your dishes!

More information on Merlot wines may be found here.

On a scale of 1-5 –
Appearance: 4
Nose: 3
Flavor: 3
Body: 3
Overall: 3

— Ann Cathey