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Cooking Corner: An ‘egg’celant source of protein, fun
April 8, 2009 - Jenn Lucas
Chocolate is probably the first thing that comes to mind when Easter draws near. Aside from the religious aspect of the holiday, the idea most familiar to children is of a big, cute bunny that hops to everyone’s houses and leaves a basket of candy and plastic, colored eggs filled with more candy. But it wasn’t always that way. Easter eggs, at first, were actually eggs.
Symbols of fertility and birth, eggs were used by many nations as a symbol of spring. Supposedly, the Polish were the first to link eggs with the Christian holiday of Easter and began embellishing them. Growing up with Lithuanian family, I remember using onion skins to color empty eggs, drained from a pin prick. But we also colored hard-boiled ones with store-bought dye, so there was always an influx of eggs at that time, which, to me, is a big part of Easter.
Not wanting the eggs to go to waste, we’d color them the night before Easter, then use them not only as decoration but for cooking. Hard-cooked eggs are a wonderful addition to potato salad and I can’t picture an Easter dinner without belly bombers, otherwise known as red beet eggs, a coal region favorite. (Side note, I grew up in the anthracite coal region of Pennsylvania and have learned over the years, the area is known for some unique foods). Belly bombers, for those of you unfamiliar with them, are eggs pickled using red beats and their canned juice as a base. (E-mail me if you wish a detailed recipe)
But, despite all the side dishes for Easter dinner, the leftover, hard-cooked Easter eggs can be used for one of my favorite things — egg salad. Never a fan until my teen years, I was working in a deli and decided to play around with the recipe for the store’s homemade egg salad. I put the revised egg salad in the case and the positive word spread quickly, so I became the resident egg salad maker. That recipe, which is highlighted at the end of this article, is for those of you who have real Easter eggs around and don’t want to waste one of the most versatile, good-for-you foods out there.
Most of the time I know where a food stands nutrition wise, but eggs have been a spectacle of debate for as long as I can remember. Whether or not they’re high in cholesterol, I probably will never know, but I can tell you for a food that’s packed with protein, comes in at about 75 calories for a large sized specimen, and is wrapped in its own disposable shell, eggs can be a wonderful substation for meat once in a while as well as a tasty, filling snack any time of the day.
The secret to perfectly cooked hard-boiled eggs does not come from an egg timer. Nor does in answer lie in new plastic eggs you cook along with the real ones to tell you when they’re done. The cooking method is as simple as this: 1. Cover the eggs in cold water by at least an inch in a pot that doesn’t overcrowd them. 2. Turn the burner on high and cook the eggs until they come to a boil. 3. As soon as the eggs boil, turn off the burner, cover them with a lid and wait 15 minutes.
Walla, they’re done perfectly — I guarantee it.
Another fun trick if you’re planning on using all the eggs you just cooked at once is to drain them, and add an inch of cold water and a tray or two of ice cubes. Put the lid back on a give it a good couple of shakes, the ice will cause the peels to just about fall right off. Now that you’ve know how to cook ‘em, go have fun dying eggs, then try out this great new take on old, boring egg salad.
• 6 hard cooked eggs cooled, and chopped
•1 stock of celery, chopped
•¼ c. mayonnaise
• 1 Tbs. yellow mustard
•1 Tbs. Dijon mustard
• 1tsp. vinegar
• 1/4 tsp. garlic salt
• ½ tsp. dried Italian seasoning or oregano
• 1/4 tsp. pepper
Combine all ingredients, except eggs and celery, in a bowl. Mix thoroughly. Pour over chopped eggs and celery and mix to combine. Put egg salad in refrigerator and let sit an hour to over night. Spoon on toast or over fresh lettuce and enjoy.
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