DEBORAH SALOMON: Eggs: Perfect Symbol for Spring Rebirth
At Easter, Passover and pagan spring rituals nobody cares whether the chicken or the egg came first. In fact, the word Easter derives not from Christianity but from Eastre, a Teutonic goddess of spring.
Regardless of origin, eggs symbolize the season's renewal. This spring, with meat and fish bloating food budgets, eggs should be eaten, not just decorated.
The flap over eggs and cholesterol has subsided. The American Heart Association says that eggs can fit within heart-healthy guidelines if cholesterol from other sources (meat, poultry, dairy products) is adjusted. Commercial egg substitutes -- newer ones containing some yolk for flavor -- solve the problem for people with cholesterol concerns. Others make wonderful scrambled eggs with three whites and one yolk.
Don't stop at scrambling.
Omelets represent versatility in a skillet, preferably an attractive, heavy non-stick one that comes to the table. For the basic individual omelet, whisk two eggs or one egg and two whites with a teaspoon of water. Spray or wipe skillet with olive oil. Heat to medium; high heat produces tough omelets. Pour in eggs, turn heat to low, cover skillet and cook until set. Sprinkle with salt, serve.
Variations are unlimited: Arrange slender asparagus spears cooked crisp-tender over raw eggs. Sprinkle lightly with grated Swiss and capers. Cover and cook. For a pizza lunch omelet, microwave pepperoni slices on paper towels until sizzling. Top raw eggs in skillet with pepperoni, paper-thin mushroom slices, finely chopped green pepper. Sprinkle with grated provolone. Cover and cook.
For Easter morning, have puffy cloud omelets. Separate eggs, beat whites to soft peaks, beat in yolks just until combined. Fold in chopped fresh chives. Cover and cook until dry on top. Flip and serve browned side up. Or stir baby spinach cut into ribbons and a bit of Dijon mustard into the eggs. Pour into a large skillet and rotate to make a thin omelet. Cover and cook. Roll omelet into a "cigar" and top with a fruity salsa.
Speaking of salsa, spoon a chunky, medium-hot variety over savory French toast: Mix a tablespoon of grated onion into eggs. Soak oval slices of rye bread in the eggs, brown well in skillet, top with grated sharp Cheddar.
Egg salad can be a gloppy mess or a spring delight. While eggs are hard-cooking in barely simmering (not boiling) water, in processor chop fine lots of parsley, scallions, inner celery ribs with leaves, cilantro, fresh or freeze-dried dill. Peel eggs, slice, and while still hot add to processor and chop briefly. Scrape eggs and herbs into a bowl. Add salt, pepper, a touch of sweet pickle relish and just enough light mayonnaise to bind; less is needed because eggs are warm, fluffy and finely chopped. For a lovely color contrast, spread egg salad on pumpernickel and top with a curly red lettuce leaf.
Google a recipe for boiled custard, using a quart of low-fat milk, 4 eggs, 1 cup sugar (cut to 1/2 cup), vanilla. Store in refrigerator. Makes a great base for breakfast or power shakes: buzz until frothy 1/2 cup custard with a cup of milk, berries, ripe banana or mango, fresh or canned peach slices. Kids like theirs with a tablespoon of chocolate syrup. Or pour custard over berries and commercial angel food cake, cut into squares, in a parfait glass.
Classic Spanish flan is a luxurious, impressive-but-simple make-ahead dessert (similar to crme caramel) based on eggs and canned milk. From hundreds of online recipes, choose one with whole eggs instead of egg yolks. For intense flavor, add vanilla seeds to the vanilla extract. Garnish individual flans with orange or kiwi slices or berries. Flan makes a lovely finale to an Easter or Passover (since it contains no flour or leavening) meal.
A serving of meat or fish can cost more than a dollar. Depending on size, eggs cost about 12 cents apiece. At Easter, stores feature them for a dollar a dozen. Do the math. Come out sunnyside-up.
Contact Deborah Salomon at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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