Simmered eggs

Did you know that hard-boiled eggs aren’t supposed to be boiled? I didn’t. I’ve never liked them, so I’d never learned how to make them. I only started eating eggs about 11 years ago, when I found out I was sensitive to gluten and could no longer eat bread or oatmeal for breakfast. (I know you can get gluten-free oats, but my gut doesn’t tolerate those either.)

I had no idea what to eat for breakfast. I think I started eating more yogurt and cheese. I decided to force myself to learn to like scrambled eggs so I could have some variety. I also wanted something I could eat at a restaurant since I could no longer eat sandwiches. Back then, restaurants had a hard time accommodating my request to have the sandwich innards on lettuce instead of bread, wanting to charge me $4 or $5 for a “side salad”. I just wanted some lettuce leaves to wrap around the meat! I even had one deli worker argue with me and tell me it was not possible to make a “wrap” using lettuce leaves in place of a tortilla. Luckily, restaurant and deli owners have gotten a clue in the last few years!

What really cemented eggs’ place in my diet, however, was my first trip to Paris in 2002. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to eat “quick food” in Paris if you don’t eat bread? No baguette, no crepes, no croissant… Omelets saved me from starving! Of course, the French don’t cook their omelets as much as we Americans do, so I had to make sure to order the omelet “well done”. It was still less cooked than you’d get an omelet almost anywhere here in the USA, but was quite tasty.

The point is, I’ve only been eating eggs on their own for the past 11 years, and only scrambled eggs and omelets. My husband, however, loves hard-boiled eggs. So when I was at Sunflower Farmers Market today and saw a pamphlet on “Natural Egg Dyeing“, I picked it up. I thought it would be fun to surprise him with some colored eggs in his lunch for Easter.

I decided to experiment today with turmeric since it seemed easy – no extensive boiling needed for it to “release” its color since turmeric is already bright yellow. I also find it amusing that I like to season scrambled eggs with turmeric. Using the “cold bath method”, you’re supposed to let the eggs sit in the dye in the refrigerator overnight, so I don’t know yet how it will turn out. But it’s a fun experiment!

Since I didn’t know how to make hard-boiled eggs, I looked it up in Joy of Cooking. According to Joy, the eggs are supposed to be “barely” simmered, not boiled. “An overcooked hard-boiled egg will have a rubbery white and a pale, dry, chalky yolk. Overcooking may also cause a greenish black rim to form between the yolk and the white.” Hey, that describes every hard-boiled egg I’d ever tried! No wonder I never liked them.

I wanted to try their method of lowering the eggs into already boiling water and then turning them down to a simmer, but I had already started them in cold water with the burner turned up to medium-high to get the water to boil, which is what I’d seen my husband do. I was looking in Joy just to find out how long to cook them. I did immediately turn the heat down, but the water had already been boiling for a few minutes.

Once the time was up, I plunged them into ice water, as suggested, and then peeled one to see how I did. I think I overcooked them a little, but not as much as others I’ve had. The white was firm, not rubbery, and the yolk was still bright yellow and not chalky. But I think the yolk could have been a little more moist. And there was a faint greenish rim around the yolk – not very dark, but definitely there. Dang! I will do better next time, though.

Now that I had this semi-boiled / semi-simmered egg cut open, I had to figure out what to do with it. My husband will be home later tonight and I’m sure he’d eat it, but I’ve been thinking it would be nice to train myself to like hard-boiled eggs since they’re such a convenient protein snack. Elana at Elana’s Pantry posted a deviled eggs recipe about a week ago; maybe I could try that in a mini version for just one egg. Her recipe looks great, and I will try it, but I don’t have any Dijon mustard right now. I also haven’t made any new mayonnaise yet this weekend – we used up what I made a couple weeks ago. (Elana’s recipe uses Veganaise, which I don’t eat because it has soy and rice syrup in it, but I assume mayonnaise would work just as well.)

Not wanting to spend more time on it, I decided to just mix in a squeeze of mustard, a few drops of olive oil, some Celtic sea salt, and fresh-ground pepper. It was pretty good! I thought about Elana’s version, and how good it probably tastes with the shallots, parsley, and celery. Oh wait! I have Herbamare! At the risk of over-salting the egg, I sprinkled some Herbamare on my creation. YUM! I definitely recommend it for a lazy way to season egg yolks for deviled eggs – no chopping required.

If you don’t have Joy of Cooking at home, go get it. I love it because it has SO much information about ingredients in addition to recipes. In case you don’t have it and want to make “hard-boiled” eggs right now, here’s how Joy suggests you do it (page 125 of the 1997 edition):

  1. Make sure your pan is large enough to hold the eggs in a single layer.
  2. Bring to a boil enough water to cover a single layer of eggs by 1 inch (it suggests 2-4 quarts of water).
  3. Gently lower the eggs into the water using a slotted spoon, or use a colander or fry basket in your saucepan.
  4. Return the water to a boil and then immediately reduce the heat to a simmer. Start timing now.
  5. 12 minutes for small and medium eggs, 14 minutes for large eggs, 15 minutes for extra-large and jumbo eggs.
  6. Plunge the cooked eggs into cold water to prevent further cooking.

And don’t forget to check out the information on Natural Egg Dyeing over at the Frontier Natural Products website. Easter is coming up, you know.

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