22 March 2010

Food Lab 1: Eggs

We decided to hold the very first Food Lab on March 21 in honor of my birthday. Between eggs being one of the building blocks of cuisine, the players desiring to gather on the early side because it was a Sunday, the variety of great brunch drinks you can make with eggs, and my own love of - and inability to make - poached eggs, the subject was obvious.

So Mad Kitchen Scientist, The Executive Committee, Chef Spouse, Papa IA by Day-Chef by Night, Mama IA by Day-Chef by Night, and I gathered at our house to learn everything we could about eggs.

Now, I love poached eggs.  But we've had no luck poaching eggs.  Chef Spouse had proposed getting an egg poacher, but I'm with Alton Brown on this - no single taskers.  So we will poach eggs in a pot of water or not at all.  We tried plain water and vinegared water.  We tried just off the boil and just steaming.  We tried adding herbs into the water.  We tried dropping the eggs in the water and poaching them in various vessels.  Yes, we ate a lot of eggs.  In the end, the winner was water off the boil (no heat), 1 Tbsp. white wine vinegar, tarragon in the water, egg straight in, 3 minutes.  Perfection.  Yes, you need to use a LOT of tarragon - and thanks to Papa IA by Day-Chef by Night for the idea - but it's awesome.  Grow your own.  Buying fresh herbs is too expensive.

Mad Kitchen Scientist had made some Parker House rolls for us, so in between poaching and eating eggs and eating the rolls, we decided to try baking some eggs in the rolls.  It did not thrill.

In the meantime, Mama IA by Day-Chef by Night started making some divinity, which is a really old-skool traditional southern candy that's made with egg whites, and, if it doesn't set up properly, comes out kind of like marshmallow fluff.  Yes, I know that from recent experience.  Why do you ask?

Back to the eggs:  now we were on to scrambled.  We decided to try Alton Brown's double boiler method.  When you're starting to play around with ingredients, you can't go wrong with Alton Brown.  Everything Alton says about whisking the curd as it forms is true.  Everything Alton says about low heat is true.  The cleanup is a mess - the eggs never brown, so a fair amount sticks to your inner bowl and is a bitch to remove. But the eggs?  Divine.  Even better with a schmear of goat cheese (once again, a Papa IA by Day-Chef by Night innovation.  He rules.).  You know what didn't work?  Bourbon scrambled eggs.  Yuck.  But you don't know until you try

We also enjoyed a cornucopia of egg-based drinks:  Ramos Gin Fizzes, Bourbon Milk Punch, and champagne.  Well, OK, champagne's not egg-based, but it goes with everything.

We finished the day with fantastic chocolate souffles, courtesy of Mad Kitchen Scientist (who was totally looking for an excuse to buy a bunch of ramekins) and The Executive Committee.  Recipe to follow.

Verdict?  Fun day, we all learned to poach and scramble eggs perfectly, we were more than a little buzzed, our cholesterol counts were off the charts, and Food Lab was a hit. 


Liam O'Malley said...

I'm a noob when it comes to poaching eggs but I've found that boiling water with a swirl works best. What I do is crack the egg and put in a bowl, then put it back in the fridge for maybe 15-20 minutes. Bring a pot of water (and whatever) up to a boil and slowly stir around the edges with a wooden spoon to get a decent little current going. Then drop the egg right into the middle while the water is still swirling. It takes a bit of practice getting the right speed swirl. After just a minute or two in the boiling water, take it out and immediately plunge into an ice bath. So far I've had pretty good success with this method.

Also - scrambled eggs, goat cheese, and spinach is my go-to 5 minute weekday breakfast. LOVE goat cheese.

PS - Happy SUPER belated birthday! =)

Anonymous said...

Eggs are pretty much my favorite fast meal anytime. I am planning to post the details of the technique we came up with for poaching eggs (after much trial & error). Unsurprisingly, it's based on Alton Brown's method. Can't go wrong with Alton Brown when it comes to technique. The addition of the tarragon really took it off the charts good, though.