Dessert Hard-Boiled Eggs

old-easter-cards-505They might sound strange, but a sweetened hard-boiled egg dates back to Roman times. Egg yolks were sweetened with honey and mixed with raisins to create a dessert egg dish.  A bit shocking to some, but so obvious.  We are so used to the savory deviled (stuffed, dressed) hard-boiled eggs it never occurred to me that I could go sweet, too.  A friend mentioned a dessert egg recipe that their grandmother would make every Easter.  I’ve tried them.  They are delicious.

Another way to get kids to eat all those hard-boiled eggs they were so keen on coloring..

Maple Pecan Deviled Eggs

  • 12 hard-boiled eggs, peeled
  • ¼ cup cream cheese
  • ¼ cup ricotta cheese
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons (scant) maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • salt, to taste
  • ¼ cup chopped toasted pecans (topping)

Chocolate Deviled Eggs (Sweet)

  • 12 hard-boiled eggs, peeled
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • ¼ cup cream cheese
  • ¼ cup superfine sugar
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • several drops vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup whipping cream
  • cocoa powder for garnish

Butter and cream cheese are easier to work with if at room temperature. Blend. Add sugar and chocolate, add vanilla extract. Top with sweetened whipped cream, and sprinkle with cocoa powder.

 

My Experience With Eggs: Testing for Freshness

If you have chickens you will get used to testing the freshness of eggs. It becomes second nature, after a few “bad eggs” which are gross and disgusting.  I’ve never had any luck with candling.  I do know that if you shake an egg and it makes a noise, throw it out!

floaty egg

this egg is floating. It’s gone bad.

float eggs

white egg is laying at the bottom of the glass of water, the brown egg is tipping up slightly. Both are good to eat.

aged egg photo

this egg is tipping up. It’s older, but still good to use.

To test eggs:

Take a glass of cold water, put the egg in.

  •  If the egg lays flat on the bottom, it’s fresh, too fresh to boil, or fry sunny side up.
  •  If the back (round, not pointy end) tilts up just a bit…it’s ready for sunny side up cooking.
  •   If the round part of the egg tilts up a bit more….then it’s good for hard boiling (before that stage you just cannot PEEL them worth a darn, the shell sticks to the white).
  •   If the egg rises off the bottom of the glass and appears to dance, or floats….toss it. Too old!

Old cookbooks caution you to break each egg onto a saucer, and only use the eggs that look fresh.  If you start cracking and dropping eggs into the frying pan, there will eventually be a bad egg which ruins the bunch.  There is nothing more challenging than a rotten egg in a mess of good ones.  The only thing to do is toss it out and start over.

Some things I’ve learned by experience, that I wish someone had told me about:

  1. A fresh egg will smell faintly like the ocean. A newly laid egg will have a nice round yolk, but it will flatten slightly.  An “aged” egg (a few days under refrigeration) will have lost some moisture, so the yolk will be round and firm, tougher, and sit higher than the white.  But, occasionally, there are eggs which have flat yolks, period.  They never firm or round up. (But they are still good, and fresh). In the “egg industry” these are often sold commercially, to bakers, mostly.
  2. If there is a developing chick the egg might actually lay flat in the water. But, if you hold the egg to light, it will have a pinkish caste to it.  It will feel slightly heavy, and won’t spin like a raw egg, but faster, more like a hard boiled one.  You candle it (look at it with a strong light behind it) you might see an embryo. One end will be dark. If you shake it, there will be a thump.  You do NOT want to crack that open. Toss it.  (And, if you’ve already jostled it around, you cannot return it to get hatched because the movement has killed the embryo.)
  3. Weird looking eggs (including small, very large, strange shaped) should be tossed. Occasionally there are eggs, which are called “fart eggs” because they have no yolk, just white.  Occasionally eggs have a tough membrane, but no shell.  (They usually break when they are laid, and the contents are eaten by the chickens.)
  4. If you find an egg that looks very dark and floats right to the top of the water – handle this as if it were a live hand grenade. (If you hold it up to light it looks dark green and ominous.) Handle this with extreme care! Put it in several plastic bags and take it outdoors to the trash.  A rotten egg is something you never want to experience, ever.  I brought one into the house and figured it was old, but not bad.  It exploded with a loud pop. One word: yuck.

 

The Yolk

Egg yolks are colored by xanthophylls, a yellow-orange pigment in green plants, yellow corn, and bugs. Yolk color is influenced by feed, exercise, and the lifestyle of the chicken.  Yolk color can be influenced by feed alone. In fact, a chicken running around in a yard, eating whatever it finds, is going to have varying yolk color intensity, depending on what is in season. Alfalfa creates a very light yellow yolk, whereas yellow corn can give a deeper yellow. More-intense-colored yolks are the result of feed with a heavy dosing of annatto or ample greens such as clover or kale; rye pasture; weeds such as mustard, pennycress, and shepherd’s purse; or feed that is high in beta-carotene vegetables such as carrots and beets. A quantity of red fruits can intensify the red-orange color of the yolk.

Exercise, pecking order, and bug eating contribute to the natural deep orange and/or red tones of a naturally colored yolk.

In the “modern world” we mess with mother nature.

Poultry raisers have long discussed influencing yolk color with various feed combinations to please their consumers. In 1919 a popular paper entitled “The influence of specific feeds and certain pigments on the color of the egg yolk and body fat of fowls,” by Leroy S. Palmer and Harry L. Kempster[1], was widely read. What the authors found was that “yellow corn is the best winter food for keeping up the coloring of adipose tissue during fattening” and that it was also what kept the egg yolks a nice sunny yellow color. Not too dark, not too light. People liked to purchase dressed chickens with a deep yellow skin color, and corn filled the bill. Corn, along with annatto (a derivative of the achiote tree, of tropical regions of the Americas, used in food dyes), is used heavily—to this day—in chicken feed to give a faux “healthy” yellow glow that normally could be found only in chickens raised in sunshiny fields.

A side note: Annatto has been linked with many cases of food-related allergies and is the only natural food coloring believed to cause as many allergic-type reactions as artificial food coloring. However, because it is not one of the “Big Eight” allergens (cow’s milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy, and wheat) responsible for more than 90 percent of allergic reactions to food, its use is not regulated nor is a consumer able to avoid it easily (it’s rarely listed in labeling as anything other than “natural coloring”). Many people who consider themselves allergic to chicken eggs may, in fact, be allergic to the annatto feed additives.

Artificial egg coloring is still a very hot topic in poultry farming. Articles appear frequently in trade and scientific journals regarding the use of artificial and natural coloring agents in feed to intensify the yolk color of eggs and the skin color of chickens. One such article, “Formulation of Annatto Feed Concentrate for Layers and the Evaluation of Egg Yolk Color Preference of Consumers,”[1] in the Journal of Food Biochemistry (January 13, 2010), lays out the trickery that is rampant in the poultry industry:

Visual appearance, especially color, is one of the most important characteristics of foods and determines the acceptance or rejection of the product by the consumer. This statement is also true for poultry products, in which the color of skin, meat and egg yolk plays a fundamental role to some ethnic and regional consumers (Chichester, 1981; Hencken, 1992; Williams, 1992; Macdougall, 1994). The preference for well-pigmented poultry products is still evident in some markets, and thus, poultry producers add colorants to broiler and layer diets as a means of improving the attractiveness of these products (Klaui and Bauernfeind 1981; Hencken 1992; Liufa et al., 1997).

The interesting thing about the authors’ analysis is their assertion that the average consumer in the United States prefers a yolk that is a lighter yellow than what European consumers favor. This is presumably because those consumers have never eaten an egg from a chicken that pecks, scratches, chases bugs, and eats greens and weeds in a natural setting. The flavor and quality of eggs from a backyard chicken are vastly superior to what you get with commercially laid eggs.


[1] I. Ofosu, E. Appiah-Nkansah, L. Owusu, F. Apea-Bah, I. Oduro, I., and W. Ellis, “Formulation Of Annatto Feed Concentrate for Layers and the Evaluation of Egg Yolk Color Preference of Consumers,” 2010. Journal of Food Biochemistry, 34: 66–77. doi: 10.1111/j.1745-4514.2009.00264.x


[1] The Dairy Chemistry Laboratory and Department of Poultry Husbandry, University of Missouri, Columbia)

Columbia Cookbook (1902) More Recipes

Omelet Soufflee

Whites of six eggs, yolks of three eggs, juice of half a lemon, three tablespoonfuls of powdered sugar. First grease a quart baking dish with butter, and then see that the oven is hot. Now beat the whites to a very stiff broth, beat the yolks, add them to the whites, then the sugar and juice of a lemon; stir carefully, and quickly heap into the baking dish; dredge with powdered sugar and put into the oven. Bake fifteen minutes or until a golden brown, and serve immediately. It may also be baked in paper cases.

Rum Omelet

Put a small quantity of lard into the pan; let it simmer a few minutes and remove it; wipe the pan dry with a towel and put in a little fresh lard in which the omelet may be fried. Care should be taken that the lard does not burn, which would spoil the color of the omelet. Break three eggs separately, put them into a bowl, and wisk them thoroughly with a fork. The longer they are beaten the lighter will the omelet be. Beat up a teaspoonful of milk with the eggs, and continue to beat until the last moment before pouring into the pan, which should be over a hot fire. As soon as the omelet sets, remove the pan from the hottest part of the fire. Slip a knife under it to prevent sticking to the pan. When the centre is almost firm slant the pan, work the omelet in shape to fold it easily and neatly, and when slightly browned hold a platter against the edge of the pan and deftly turn it out on to the hot dish. Dust a liberal quantity of powdered sugar over it and singe the sugar into neat stripes with a hot iron rod, heated in the coals; pour a glassful of warm Jamacia rum around it, and when it is placed on the table set fire to the rum. With a tablespoon dash the burning rum over the omelet, put out the fire and serve. Salt mixed with the eggs prevents them from rising, and then it is so used the omelet will look flabby, yet without salt it will taste insipid. Add a little salt to it just before folding it and turning out on the dish.

Smoked beef with Eggs

Cut some smoked beef in thin shavings or chips, put them into a frying pan, and nearly fill it with hot water; set it on the fire and let it boil up once, then pour it off; add to the beef a good bit of lard, twice the size of an egg, for a half pound of the beef, shake a little pepper over it, and let it fry for a few minutes over a quick fire; then break two or three more eggs into it, stir them together until the eggs are done and then turn it onto a dish. Or, after frying the beef with a little wheat flour dredged over, fry eggs, and serve with it the same as ham.

Ham and Eggs

Fry the eggs in a little every nice salted lard; drain off every drop of grease and lay them upon a hot dish with neat slices of fried ham around the edges., half the size of the slice as the first, carved from the ham. Trim off the rough edges of the eggs, and cut the ham evenly in oblong pieces before dishing. Garnish with parsley.

Egg Nogg

Beat the yolks of twelve eggs very light, stir in as much white sugar as they will dissolve, pour in gradually one glassful of brandy to cook the eggs, one glassful of old whiskey (or two glassfuls of sherry wine), one grated nutmeg, and three pints of rich milk. Beat the whites to a froth and stir in last.

Egg Sauce

Three hard boiled eggs, a good teacupful of drawn butter, a little salt. Chop the yolks only of the eggs very fine, and beat into the hot drawn butter, salting to sates.  This is used for boiled fowls and boiled fish. For the former, you can add some minced parsley; for the latter chopped pickles, caper, or nasturtium seed. For boiled beef, a small shallot minced fine.

 

 

Columbia Cookbook (1902) More Recipes

More Recipes from the Columbia Cookbook:

Deviled Eggs

Twelve eggs, one large teaspoonful of French mustard, two heaping tablespoonfuls of cold-boiled ham or tongue, one tablespoonful of olive oil, salt and cayenne to taste. Cover the eggs with warm water and boil fifteen minutes, then throw them into cold water for half and hour; this prevents the whites from turning dark. Remove the shells, and cut the eggs in halves lengthwise. Take out the yolks carefully without breaking the whites. Rub the yolks into a smooth paste with the mustard, oil, and then add the ham or tongue finely chopped, the salt and pepper, and mix thoroughly. Fill the hollowed whites with this mixture, and serve on a bed of water-cress or salad.

For picnics or garden parties, put the two corresponding halves together and press them closely. Cut white tissue paper into pieces six inches square, fringe the opposite sides, roll one egg in each paper, twist the fringed ends the same as the candied secrets. Serve on a napkin, in a pretty little basket, garnish with smilax or myrtle.

Breaded Eggs

Boil the eggs hard, and cut in round thick slices,; pepper and salt; dip each in a beaten raw egg, and then in fine bread crumbs or powdered cracker, and fry in butter hissing hot. Drain off every drop of crease and serve on a hot dish for breakfast.

Eggs on Toast

Put a good lump of butter into the frying pan. When it is hot, stir in four or five well beaten eggs, with pepper, salt, and a little parsley. Stir and toss for three minutes. Have ready to your hand some slices of buttered toast (cut round with a tin cake cutter before they are toasted; spread thickly with ground or minced tongue, chicken or ham. Heap the stirred egg upon these in mounts, and set in a hot dish garnished with parsley and pickled beets.

Eggs, Newport Style

Take one pint of bread crumbs and soak in one point of milk. Beat eight eggs very light and stir with the soaked crumbs, beating five minutes. Have ready a sauce pan in which are two tablespoonfuls of butter, thoroughly hot, but not scorching; pour in the mixture, season with pepper and salt, as the mass is opened and stirred in with the “scrambling,” which should be done quickly with the point of the knife, for three minutes, or until thoroughly hot. Serve on a hot platter with squares of buttered toast.

Plain Omelet (Fine)

To make an omelet, beat the yolks lightly (twelve beats is said to be the magic number), as too much beating makes them thin and destroys the appearance of the omelet, then add the milk, the salt, pepper, and the flour if any is used, and lastly the whites beaten to a stiff froth. Have the skillet as hot as it can be without scorching the butter; put in a tablespoonful of butter, and pour in the omelet, which should at once begin to bubble and rise in flakes. Slip under it a thin broad bladed knife and every now and then raise it up to prevent burning. As soon as the under-side is hard enough to hold together and the eggs begin to ‘set,” fold over, shake the skillet so as to entirely free the omelet, carefully slide it on a hot platter, and serve at once. It should be cooked in from three to five minutes.

Bread Omelet

Three eggs, one quarter teaspoonful of salt, one dash of black pepper, one half cup of bread crumbs, one half cup of milk, piece of butter the size of a walnut. Beat the eggs separately. Add to the yolks. Add to the yolks the milk, salt, pepper, and the bread crumbs. Now stir into this carefully the beaten whites; mix very lightly. Put the batter ina very smooth frying pan; as soon as hot turn in the mixture gently, and set it over a clear fire, being very careful not to burn; shake occasionally to see that the omelet does not stick, the same as plain omelet.  Now stand your frying pan in the oven for a moment to set the middle of the omelet. When done, toss it over on a warm platter to bring the brown side of the omelet uppermost; or it may be folded in half and then turned out in the center of the platter. Serve immediately or it will fall.

Omelet with Ham, Tongue, or Chicken

Make precisely as above; but when it is done, scatter thickly over the surface some minced ham, tongue, or seasoned chicken, slip our broad knife under one side of the omelet and double in half, enclosing the meat. Then upset the frying pan upon a hot dish.

Omelet au Naturel

Break eight or ten eggs into a basin; add a small teaspoonful of salt and a little pepper, with a tablespoonful of cold water, beat the whole well with a spoon or wisk. In the meantime put some fresh sweet putter into an omelet pan, and when it is nearly hot put in an omelet; whilst it is frying with a skimmer spoon, raise the edges from the pan, that it may be properly done. When the eggs are set, and one side is a fine brown, double it half over, and serve hot. These omelets should be quite thin in the pan; the butter required for each will be about the size of a small egg.

Spanish Omelet

Six eggs, one medium sized tomato, one small onion, one dash of black pepper, three tablespoonfuls of milk, five mushrooms, one quarter pound of bacon, one quarter teaspoonful of salt.

Cut the bacon into very small pieces and fry it until brown; then add to it the tomato, onion, and mushroom chopped fine; stir and cook for fifteen minutes. Break the eggs in a bowl, and give them twelve vigorous beats with a fork; add them to the salt and pepper. Now put a piece of butter the size of a walnut into a smooth frying pan, turn it around so as to grease the bottom and sides. When the butter is hot, pour in the eggs and shake over a quick fire until they are set. Now quickly pour the mixture from the other frying pan over the omelet, fold it over at once, and turn it out in the centre of a heated platter, and serve immediately.

Rice Omelet

Take a cupful of cold boiled rice, turn over it a cupful of warm milk, add a tablespoonful of butter melted, a level teaspoonful of salt, a dash of pepper, mix well, then add three well beaten eggs. Put a tablespoonful of butter in a hot frying pan and when it begins to boil pour in the omelet and set the pan in a hot oven.  As soon as it is cooked through, fold it double, turn it out on a hot dish, and serve at once. Very good.

Savory Omelet

This is made like a plain omelet with the addition of one taplespoon of chopped parsley. A little grated onion may be used also if you like it.

Tomato Omelet

Peel a couple of tomatoes, which split into four pieces; remove the seeds, and cut them into small dice; then fry them with a little butter until nearly done, adding salt and pepper. Beat the eggs and mix the tomatoes with them, and make the omelet as usual. Or stew a few tomatoes in the usual way and spread over before folding.

Potato Omelet

Two boiled potatoes, chopped fine. Put a tablespoonful of butter in a frying pan, and, when very hot, add the potatoes. Shake over the fire until a nice brown; then sprinkle with chopped parsley, salt and pepper. Stand them where they will keep warm until you make a plain omelet. When the omelet is partly set, spread over the potatoes, roll, and serve.

Green Corn Omelet

Boil one dozen ears of sweet corn, cut from the cob. Beat together five eggs; mix with the corn and season with pepper and salt; make into small cakes. Dip into the beaten yolk of an egg, and then into bread crumbs; add a teaspoonful of flour to the bread crumbs and season them with a little salt and pepper. Fry brown

Jelly Omelet

Make a plain omelet, and just before folding together, spread with some kind of jelly. Turn out on a warm platter. Dust it with powdered sugar.

Oyster Omelet

Allow for every six large oysters, or twelve small ones, one egg; remove the hard part and mince the rst very fine; take the yolks of eight eggs, and the whites of fou, beat until very light; then mix in the oysters, season and beat all up thoroughly; put into a skillet one gill of butter, let it melt; when the butter boils, skim it and turn in the omelet; stir until it stiffens, fry light brown; when the under side is brown, turn onto a hot platter; if wanted the upper side brown, hold a red hot shovel over it.

Mushroom Omelet

Clean a cupful of large button mushrooms, canned ones may be used; cut them into bits. Put into a stew pan and ounce of butter, and let it melt; add the mushrooms, a teaspoonful of salt, half a teaspoonful of pepper, and a half a cupful of cream or milk. Stir ina teaspoonful of flour, dissolved in a little milk or water to thicken, if needed. Boil ten minutes, and set aside until the omelet is ready.

Make a plain omelet the usual way, and just before doubling it, turn the mushrooms over the centre, and serve hot.

Cheese Omelet

Beat up three eggs, and add to them a tablespoonful of milk and a tablespoonful of grated cheese; add a little more cheese before folding; turn it out on a hot dish; grate a little cheese over it before serving

French Omelet

One quart of milk, one pint of bread crumbs, five eggs, one tablespoonful of flour, one onion chopped fine, chopped parsley, season with pepper and salt; have butter melted in a spider; when the omelet is brown, turn it over; double when served.

Asparagus, Cauliflower, and Onion Omelet

Cook the vegetables as if for the table; place them in the centre of the omelet just before folding.

Bengal Omelet

Take half a dozen fresh eggs, beat the whites and the yolks well together, chop half a dozen yong onions fine, mix all together and fry after the form of a pancake

Eggs are (Supposed to Be) Seasonal

I went to my favorite egg wrangler, today, and again, the honor box was empty.  So, after my drive all the way out to a country road 12 miles form my home, in the rain and cold, resulted in disappointment.  Again, I missed out.  Why?  Because this farmer lets his hens have natural light.  Chickens do not lay year-round, without artificial light.  Eggs are not really seasonal. His girls on on a darkness induced laying break. Production is cut by 80%, at least.  I will need to wait until the days, again, become longer before they will be plentiful again.

From hatch to egg laying is roughly six months, unless that six-month period happens when the days are getting shorter (mid- to late fall). In that case, without artificial light, the chicken will delay laying until the days begin to lengthen (late January to late March. It is later in the northern latitudes than those farther south). Chickens produce the most eggs in the first few months of laying and more in warm weather and on sunny days.

Some poultry, such as geese and turkeys, lay eggs only in the spring. Chickens lay more eggs in the spring than in the hot weather of summer. When the daylight hours and temperatures drop (late autumn, early winter), egg production declines. The energy is diverted to keeping the chickens warm and to molting (when they lose some feathers and increase new feather production for winter insulation).

Sunlight is the key in stimulating egg-laying hormones and in triggering molt. When the days are at the shortest, the chickens cease laying, completely.  When the days, again, begin to lengthen (early January) then they, again, begin to lay. By the time the day and night are equal lengths (daylight neutral) the egg production will be in full swing.

Molting is the process of feather loss and regrowth. In backyard chickens, it can happen once or twice a year. The birds lose their feathers and grow new ones, much as other animals shed fur or hair. It is a normal, natural, and beneficial process that takes place in the fall. A hen stops laying eggs (fall/winter is a bad time for chicks to hatch, anyway, as extremely low temperatures would cause a high mortality rate). Its body concentrates its energy on staying warm and growing new feathers. A chicken goes into a dormant phase in which it does not lay many eggs until the days begin to lengthen. (This is usually triggered by the naturally low light levels of fall/early winter.)

In the spring, when daylight lImageengthens and the temperatures warm, a chicken loses a fair amount of its downy under-feathers, and if the hen is a broody hen, she will pick her feathers to make a warm nest for any potential hatching chicks.  After a long winter’s respite from laying eggs, it resumes doing so. At this point, even older chickens lay approximately an egg a day (chickens never lay more than one egg a day. Young birds lay every day, or nearly so. Older chickens normally lay every few days.)

A broody bird is one that is predisposed to sit on eggs, not all are so inclined. Some chicken breeds are more likely to become broody, some breeds rarely do so. Even with a breed that is said to be a broody breed, only a few individual hens will decide to become broody.  However, a broody hen can stimulate other hens to also become broody.

When a hen is broody she turns into a chicken zombie.  She will sit motionless on a nest of eggs for days on end. She will refuse to leave the nest and forego food and water or scratching around the yard, like the other birds.  If she is moved from the nest she will run back. A broody hen will pull every egg laid by all the other chickens and push it under her. Then defend them with a fierce ferocity.  (A broody hen is a pain in the ass.)

Chickens left to molt naturally (with natural light) stop laying eggs for several weeks in the winter. Older birds have a longer resting period than younger ones. As the days start to lengthen, the chickens ramp up the production of eggs.