Pros: Lots of hints and tips; consistently wonderful recipes; incredible variety; clean layout
Cons: Cholesterol and fat
Rating: 5 out of 5
First published 4/13/2001
Okay, it’s true, eggs are heavy on cholesterol. On the other hand, even a certain very-well-known diet company has been known to admit that when it comes to getting your bang for your buck, eggs have a very high nutritional content and still make a good occasional snack. Hmm, it’s that “occasional” part that I have trouble getting right. And who can blame me, with this cookbook on our shelf? It’s 446 pages of pure egg. They come scrambled and fried, in omelettes and frittatas, baked and poached, with bread (think pancakes, sandwiches, and pizzas), stuffed, in broths and stews, salads, pasta, quiches and custards, souffles and roulades, sauces, ice creams and nogs, meringues and dessert souffles, cookies and cakes, and on and on and on. If you thought that deviled eggs were the only stuffed eggs out there, you’re in for a real surprise!
Tips & Hints
All of the above would more than justify the cost of this cookbook, but there’s yet more. There are little helpful yellow-backed (to make them easy to find) sidebars on all sorts of issues. Like the one about finding and maintaining fresh eggs. Umm, and the one on cholesterol (damn – I can’t get away from it). Oh, but hey! It’s good news! You’ll find out why eating the occasional egg isn’t likely to kill you. From there we move on to the differences between fertile eggs, free-range eggs, nutrient-enhanced eggs, organic eggs, and “vegetarian eggs.” I didn’t even know that last one existed!
Each section starts out with a few words of wisdom from the author regarding the type of egg dish you’re about to embark upon. I have to admire any cook who uses the Alton-approved method of scrambled egg preparation (from that marvelous cooking show, “Good Eats”) of low, slow heat. (And yes, it really is the key to fluffy, soft scrambled eggs.) There’s even a handy list at the beginning of the “Artfully Scrambled & Fried” chapter of the keys to yummy scrambled eggs (in one of those yellow-backed boxes so it’s easy to find), and one a little later on all the different sorts of fried egg (sunny-side up, over easy or over light, “sunny side in the shade”).
There are these great little quotes here and there throughout the book. My memoir teacher would be proud – we studied some of these people, like M.F.K. Fisher and Colette. Here’s a great Fisher quote: “Scrambled eggs have been made, and massacred, for as long as people knew about pots and pans, no doubt.” And an even better Colette quote: “If you aren’t up to a little magic occasionally, you shouldn’t waste time trying to cook.” My sentiments exactly.
In 446 pages of egg recipes (all right all right, some of that is index) you know you’re going to find some really interesting things. Either that, or a very padded and boring cookbook. I promise this isn’t the latter.
The scrambled egg recipes range from the simple French-Style Scrambled Eggs cooked in a double-boiler, to Eggs Scrambled with Parmesan and Rosemary (with an aside on how to pick good Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese), Favorite Summertime Scramble with Tomato and Basil, Eggs Scrambled with Wild Mushrooms and Fresh Herbs, Creamy Scrambled Eggs with Curry and Cardamom (I’ve just gotta try this one), Cheddar Scrambled Eggs in Tortillas with Tomato-Avocado Salsa, Scrambled Eggs Mu-Shu Pork Style, and yes – there’s more. There’s even an interesting aside on “Scrambled Eggs as Meditation,” in which the author ruminates on M.F.K. Fisher’s half-hour scrambled egg method. [Our favorite way to make scrambled eggs is lightly whisked with a little milk, salt, pepper, paprika, and white pepper, cooked over very low heat, and then served over toasted cranberry-orange bagel halves with a slice of good-quality American cheese. The sweet-tartness of the dried fruit in the bagel perfectly complements the savoriness of the cheese and eggs.]
But wait, after all of that, we haven’t even made it to page 25! We still have Fried Eggs with Malt Vinegar and Butter Sauce, and a Broccoli Rabe Omelette that’s amazing when made with Swiss chard (as the intro notes suggest) instead of Broccoli Rabe. The filling has plenty of tomato and basil in it, and the omelette is topped with a sprinkling of Parmesan. It’s surprisingly delicious for something so healthy, and the omelette recipe (which is scaled for a single serving) multiplies up to at least three times without a hitch (just go a little easy on the butter or oil and any herbs you’re using – these things rarely scale up linearly).
There’s a Bacon, Apple and Stilton Omelette that I can’t wait to try, and a Bacon, Avocado and Brie Omelette that just sends me into paroxysms of delight – three of my favorite ingredients, all wrapped up in a binder of yummy egg! There’s even a sweet Lemon Curd Omelette with Fresh Berries and Mint.
There’s a recipe for John’s Hangtown Fry (Frittata with Fried Oysters and Bacon), Roasted Red Pepper and Italian Sausage Frittata, Fresh Fig and Prosciutto Frittata with Mild Asiago, Eggs Baked in Fresh Tomato Salsa with Melted Cheese, Baked Eggs on Salmon Hash with Dill and Orange, Poached Eggs on Artichoke Bottoms, Eggs Benedict, Cheddar Scrambled Egg Sandwiches with Bacon Lettuce and Tomato, Eggs Cooked in Savory Toast with Parmesan Walnuts and Prosciutto (even better than it sounds!), and on and on and on. I could literally go on for another couple thousand words here, but I suspect you’re in a hurry to go eat now. So I’ll be kind and wrap this up…
The recipes are very cleanly laid-out. The ingredients are on the left, in bold. The instructions are on the right, with each step numbered. Very few recipes trail onto the back of the page, so there won’t be much flipping around. The majority of the recipes are also very short and simple, so it’s easy to use this book. There are no pictures at all, but then most people know what omelettes and frittatas look like, so this probably isn’t a big deal.
In short… Go buy this book!
Visit the author’s website.