Curious Cook: One for the pan

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You know those tall, blinding, hats that chefs wear? Not the mushroom-shaped ones, but the tall straight ones with pleats?

They have stories about that hat (called a “toque blanche”) in the food world.

The taller the hat, the higher the rank. The white represents cleanliness of the kitchen.

And the pleats. According to legend, the number of folds in a hat indicated the number of ways the chef underneath it could cook an egg.

The minimum number was 100.

I may be lacking in such depth of dishes, but never in my appreciation of the marvelous little miracle that is an egg.

I love eggs.

Growing up, when we were sick, Mom would make us a soft-boiled egg, with a dot of margarine, and salt and pepper, served in a pastel-colored Tupperware cereal bowl. I’ve never eaten those marvelous eggs unless it was in my jimmies, cocooned under my covers, home from school, sick.

I don’t know why.

Petey and I both love breakfast for dinner. And unless it’s a special night when I take the time to make pancakes or French toast, our quick go-to is scrambled eggs, either on a sandwich or with hash browns.

My version throws much, if not most scrambling protocol right out the window. But they’re fluffy and light, moist, and tasty, every time. And most importantly, I vow there will never, ever be gross white clots (called chalaza) in the eggs, staring back at you over breakfast.

Frittatas, or as they call them in Spain, tortillas (not the things that make tacos and tortillas) are another way to make a meal out of eggs.

Alton Brown, Food Network institution and NECI (New England Culinary Institute) alum, has a term: “refrigerator Velcro.” It means a dish that bit and bobs of this and that from the fridge can be added to it.

Salad, soups and stews, and hash are all edible Velcro.

So are frittatas.

The other night I made one that mimicked our standard scramble-hash brown dinner, plus it had veggies and a touch of dairy. And then, we had the leftovers with a delicious new condiment The Kid has recently introduced to us: garlic toum. Toum is a Lebanese paste made from garlic, lemon juice, and a neutral oil. It is ridiculously delicious on everything I’ve used it on. (I buy it from Trader Joe’s.)

The Kid absolutely loathes eggs, except for a freakish adoration of Waffle House omelets (and flan ... that child can not get enough flan). But a lot of kids love them.

And that’s a good thing.

They cost about 15 cents apiece. Inside that smooth, alabaster vault, the contents contain protein, iron, calcium and vitamins. Even purchased at the farmer’s market, it’s an amazing deal for a protein with which to feed the family. Or to feed a vegetarian.

Everybody could stand adding a few new egg dishes to their bag of tricks.

This time around, I’m giving out homework. At least once a week, learn a new egg dish. If you come upon any marvelous recipes, or truly dreadful ones, send me a note.

Then I’ll share with the whole class.

Thanks for your time.

Contact me at

Rebellious Scrambled Eggs

(They can’t follow your rules, man!)

Serves two

7 eggs

1 1/2-2 tablespoons butter

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper

Blend all the eggs, either with a hand blender (boat motor), or a regular blender. Blend for about 30 seconds, or until the eggs are completely homogenized and frothy, but the volume has not really increased.

Heat large non-stick frying pan with burner set halfway between high and medium-high.

Put in butter and allow to melt. Once it’s melted, but still bubbling pretty vigorously, pour in eggs. Add salt and pepper.

As soon as the eggs are seasoned, start turning down the heat, a bit at a time. When the eggs are ready to plate, the heat should be between medium and medium-low.

With a with a non-stick compatible tool, begin to daintily stir/scrape the eggs. Get the cooked bits up, exposing more raw to the pan surface.

When there is almost all flipping of big hunks, and no real stirring of uncooked, turn down the heat for the last time.

When there is no really runny stuff left, but everything is very moist, and it looks a touch undercooked, plate. The eggs will continue to cook on the plate (it’s called carryover, like for a hunk of cooked meat). If it looks done in the pan, it will be overcooked and dry on the fork.

I’m kind of a purist, but it wouldn’t be awful to sprinkle plated eggs with a little freshly chopped parsley, or snipped chives.

My very favorite way to eat them is on top of a piece of buttered, toasted Ninth St. Bakery’s sourdough French.

Hash Brown Frittata

1 large Russet baking potato shredded

4 tablespoons butter, divided

3 cups of broccoli heads, very lightly steamed

1 1/2 cup mushrooms, cleaned, stemmed and sliced

1 small yellow onion, chopped finely

7 eggs, mixed with a hand blender until frothy and lightened in color

1/3 cup cubes of soft cheese like mozzarella or havarti

Salt and pepper

Heat a skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter and add onions and mushrooms. Season vegetables. Sauté on medium-high heat until the moisture has been released, then cooked out completely. Cook until there is browning on the vegetables. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 300°.

Heat a large, non-stick skillet and melt 2 tablespoons of butter. Add shredded potatoes, season, toss in butter, and press into pan in an even layer.

Cover and cook the potato on medium for 15 minutes. Uncover and put broccoli, mushrooms and onions on top. Then pour the eggs over in a circular manner to get even distribution. Dot the top with the cheese.

Place pan into oven and cook for 25-30 minutes or until just set through. Remove and let sit 5-8 minutes before slicing and serving.

Makes 4 large servings.


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