When I’m not drinking my breakfast (as in smoothies), I eat eggs! (Farm fresh, that is.) And if you are like many families who hosted an Easter egg hunt, you might find yourself with an extra set with only so many mouths to feed.
Eggs are inexpensive, high in nutrients and low in calories. They are a rich source of choline which helps keep our brains sharp and our memory strong. Choline also keeps cholesterol emulsified, raising the healthy HDL, while lowering lousy LDL. There is still so much confusion over cholesterol — an essential hormone that our bodies require — and eggs still get the bad rap for it. Only 25 percent of our cholesterol comes from the foods we eat; we manufacture the rest in our liver.
So with permission granted to consume this mighty protein, you might still wonder what all the labels really mean. Here’s a breakdown:
Cage Free: Chickens must have room to roam and have unlimited access to food and water.
Free Range: Birds are cage free with continuous access during their laying cycle.
No Added Hormones: This label is meaningless since all chickens in the U.S. must be hormone-free.
Vegetarian Fed: Important for vegetarians, since chickens are natural foragers who naturally eat worms etc.
Organic: USDA-certified organic eggs must come from cage-free hens fed an organic diet produced without pesticides or fertilizers.
Omega-3 Enriched: Chicken diets include seeds, fish oil and/or algae three to five times richer in heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids than conventional eggs.
Pasture raised: An unregulated term but indicates hens are free to graze in a pasture.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve tried “hard boiling” eggs a variety of ways, even baking them in muffin cups! My foolproof go-to recipe for consistent texture is from Martha Stewart. Put eggs in a pan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Remove from heat and let stand 10-13 minutes, depending how firm you like your yolks. Transfer to an ice bath to cool.
Or for a decadent brunch, give this recipe a try. It’s worth the eggs-tra effort.
Leek and Spinach Soufflés
This recipe uses goat cheese, which for many is easier to digest than cow’s milk. You can also substitute any type of flour for those who prefer to go gluten free. And it’s the perfect time of year for both leeks and spinach, available with eggs now at the farmers’ market.
5 Tbsp. butter, plus extra for preparing ramekins
4 large eggs, separated
1 1/4 cups milk (you can use any type, just make sure its unsweetened)
3 small leeks, cut in half, cleaned and thinly sliced
1 cup spinach, chopped fine and patted dry
1/4 cup flour, plus extra for dusting ramekins
2 tsp. dry mustard
1 1/2 cups hard goat cheese, goat cheddar or other, raw if available
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously butter 6 custard cups (ramekins) and dust with some of the grated cheese. Set aside on a large baking sheet.
Whisk together the milk and egg yolks in a bowl and set aside.
Melt 1 Tbsp. butter in heavy medium saucepan on medium heat. Sauté the leeks with a pinch of salt until tender. Set aside leeks in a bowl and return the saucepan to the heat. Add the remaining butter to the pan and allow to melt. Turn off heat.
Add the flour and mustard to the pot with the melted butter and whisk until smooth paste forms. Return to medium heat and whisk one minute.
Whisk the egg and milk mixture into the flour mixture, a little at a time to temper the eggs. Cook until sauce thickens, whisking constantly, about 2 minutes. Remove an from heat. Add remaining grated cheese, leeks, spinach, salt and pepper. Stir until cheese melts.
Beat egg whites in medium bowl until stiff but not dry. Fold egg whites into warm cheese mixture in pan. Spoon all soufflé batter into prepared ramekins.
Bake soufflés until puffed and golden, about 14 minutes. Serve immediately.