Rediscover poached eggs

March 23, 2009


So often I forget that poached eggs are always there to help out when time is short and protein is needed. Whether you eat them on toast, with a salad or use them to top a vegetarian entrée like the curried lentils and rice pictured above, a poached egg can be a meal saver!

I think poached eggs intimidate some home cooks and I wish that weren’t so. They are actually pretty darn easy to make:

1. Fill a pot 3 to 4 inches deep with water.
2. Add 3 tbsp (45 mL) white vinegar to every 4 cups (1L) of water in the pot.
3. Do not add any salt to the water (it breaks down eggwhite).
4. Bring the water to a rolling boil.
5. Break each egg into a ramekin or small bowl.
6. Stir the water so that it is swirling and pour in each egg, adding up to six at one time.
7. Decrease the heat so that the water is just beneath the simmering point.
8. Poach the eggs for about four minutes.
9. Lift out using a slotted spoon. Press lightly with your finger. The eggs are perfect if the whites are firm and the yolks are very soft.
10. Drain on paper towel for a moment before combining with other ingredients.

See how easy that is? When’s the last time you made a poached egg?

Cooped up

September 3, 2008

Photo credit:

Readers of my regular Friday posts about gardening will know that I am an enthusiastic locavore; however, this Eglu, a UK innovation, definitely takes the concept further than I want to go.

No, I’ll let Burnbrae Farms raise the hens that lay the eggs I use to make morning omelets. It’s bad enough when the raccoons get into the garbage and the garden (more on this topic on Friday), the last thing I need is the neighbourhood fox tearing apart my chickens.

What about you, does the idea of raising chickens in an urban backyard inspire you or make you roll your eyes?

If you love this idea, you may want to sign this petition promoted by Gail Gordon Oliver at Edible Toronto.

Real breakfasts

June 23, 2008

We’ve all heard and acknowledge as correct that a good breakfast should be the way we start our day. In fact, a new study shows that women who eat a big breakfast lose more weight than other dieters. But, how many of us eat a morning meal that nutrition experts would classify as balanced and appropriate?

New York Magazine recently polled 60 people to see what real people were eating for breakfast. The results ranged from the expected bagels and oatmeal or coffee and Danishes to more peculiar choices. For instance, one man had a bloody Mary for his morning meal while another admitted to indulging in a gut wrenching protein binge that included four hard boiled eggs, two fried eggs and a ham and cheese sandwich washed down with orange juice. I need to lie down just after reading that menu!

What interested me was how many of the respondents had savoury food such as salads, pizza, Moroccan cous cous with grilled chicken and hummus, and chicken melt on rye.

Curious to know if New Yorkers are a breed unto themselves or a North American barometer, I held my own poll. I asked my 300 or so facebook friends what they ate for breakfast and almost 25 people replied. It turns out my friends stick to more traditional breakfast fare. Below are the results of my poll. Although I’ve excluded names, I’ve used bold text on the responses shared by people who have jobs as food industry professionals. Can you guess which entry is mine?

1. Nature Valley Instant Oatmeal (flax flavour).
2. Starbucks breakfast sandwich.
3. Flax seed bagel with greaves peach jam, almond butter and local maple butter, half each an apple and pear, glass of cranberry blueberry juice and a big cup of home roasted Ethiopian Yirgachaffe.
4. Strawberries and a glass of water.
5. Eggos with fresh strawberries and syrup, toast with peanut butter and chocolate milk.
6. Farm fresh eggs with fresh smoked bacon made the night before at Harvest Restaurant, sour dough toast fresh baked at Harvest with blackberry jelly from Prince Edward county.
7. A slice of homemade no-knead bread, toasted, with peanut butter and kawfee made from instant espresso.
8. Toasted light rye with peanut butter.
9. English muffin with bacon and tomato.
10. Homemade muesli with organic yogurt, raspberries, black berries, walnuts, grated apple and oats, dash of cinnamon and a drop of pure vanilla extract.
11. Oatmeal with 2 tbsp soy protein, 3 tbsp cottage cheese, 1 tsp non-hydrogenated margarine, 3 tbsp brown sugar and 2 cups of coffee.
12. 2 starbucks double tall, non-fat, bone dry cappuccinos and a spinach breakfast sandwich that was found sadly lacking in spinach.
13. Raisin bran and decaf coffee.
14. Coffee.
15. Slice of deli roast beef, the cold heel of my child’s abandoned, toasted buttered, whole-wheat bagel.
16. Shake made with whey protein, greens+, almond milk, sesame seeds, frozen wild blueberries and plain yogurt.
17. Toasted cashews.
18. 2 slices white toast with a bit of butter and coffee.
19. Apple and glass of water.
20. Toasted whole wheat bagel and peanut butter.
21. Whole grain toast and peanut butter.
22. Homemade muesli, 1/3 cup bran buds, ground flax, unsweetened soymilk, 1/2 cup yogurt (Dana’s note, this respondent reports losing weight since she made this her daily breakfast!).
23. A healthy bowl of cereal and a chic dark chocolate cupcake.
24. Raisin toast and earl grey tea with milk.

As you can see, my facebook friends stick pretty close to the expected breakfast menu even when they make less than stellar choices. What about you? Are you more like the New Yorkers or like my pals? Tell us what you had for breakfast today.

Best meal ever

May 7, 2008

Last night, like most nights, I made my son dinner. At 11, he’s one of the most active people I know. He cycles to school and plays outdoors after school doing all the stuff that marks a suburban childhood: skateboarding, shooting hoops and chasing friends around playing tag.

I’d eaten my fill at the test kitchen during the day so I threw something quick together for Oliver: a three egg omelet with ham, cheddar and red onion, a green salad and some leftover boiled new potatoes that I seasoned with lots of sea salt and pepper and pan-fried. It took about 5 minutes to make this meal.

O came to the table and gobbled the entire meal down with few pauses for sips of water or conversation. After he finished his plate of food he professed this dinner one of the best meals I’d ever prepared. I laughed, since really, this was hardly cooking on a grand scale. But he insisted that he had never eaten anything as delicious. In fact, he requested that I make a duplicate omelet for breakfast today (I obliged, by the way).

His exuberance reminded me how long it has been since I was truly hungry from an active day outdoors. Usually when I’m very hungry it’s because it has just been a long time between meals; that kind of hunger, although urgent, is different from activity-based hunger. It tends to make me bitchy and picky. Activity based hunger is more open and accepting. It’s grateful for any effort at all.

My mom made (and still does make) the best mashed potatoes ever. They are fluffy and light, salted and buttered perfectly. They’re the perfect little starchy cloud to cradle dark, beefy, homemade gravy. Although I still love and crave them, they never tasted as good as when I came in from running around the neighbourhood to find them waiting for me.

Do you remember how great food tasted when you were a kid? What did you love to find on your family’s dinner table?

Try a crispy poached egg

March 26, 2008

Poached egg

I’ve long been a fan of French bistro classic salads that crown frisee lettuce with poached eggs and a warm dressing. Needless to say, I was thrilled to try the lobster salad pictured above when I was in Las Vegas a few weeks ago since it contained not only those salad elements but also lobster and lentils – two of my other favourite foods! Martin and I happened into Tableau in the Wynn Hotel around lunchtime and had a really wonderful meal. It was one of the best meals we were served in LV, to be honest.

For me the panko dusted, crispy poached egg that garnished my salad was absolutely ingenious and totally novel: light and uniformly crisp coating on the outside, creamy soft orange yolk and a firm but tender set white. It was like a crouton and an egg got married and had a salad lovin’ baby. Delish!

Although crispy poached eggs were new to me, it was only a few hours before I saw this garnish on another menu at ultra fancy Joel Robuchon. A quick Google search this morning finds these crispy little orbs of protein showing up on menus in LA (at 3 Square) and a recipe for something similar from Gourmet. I haven’t had a chance to try this technique at home yet myself but I definitely have it on my ‘to do’ list. In the meantime, I’m keeping track of how often I see crispy poached eggs (with or without panko) mentioned on menus and in recipes so that I can decide if this concept is trending up or just a blip on the food radar screen. If you’ve seen crispy poached eggs somewhere recently, please take a moment to let me know.