There are so many ways of cooking and dressing eggs, that it seems unnecessary for the ordinary family to use those that are not the most practical.
To ascertain the freshness of an egg, hold it between your thumb and forefinger in a horizontal position, with a strong light in front of you. The fresh egg will have a clear appearance, both upper and lower sides being the same. The stale egg will have a clear appearance at the lower side, while the upper side will exhibit a dark or cloudy appearance.
Another test is to put them in a pan of cold water; those that are the first to sink are the freshest; the stale will rise and float on top; or, if the large end turns up in the water, they are not fresh. The best time for preserving eggs is from July to September.
TO PRESERVE EGGS.
There are several recipes for preserving eggs and we give first one which we know to be effectual, keeping them fresh from August until Spring. Take a piece of quick-lime as large as a good-sized lemon and two teacupfuls of salt; put it into a large vessel and slack it with a gallon of boiling water. It will boil and bubble until thick as cream; when it is cold, pour off the top, which will be perfectly clear. Drain off this liquor, and pour it over your eggs; see that the liquor more than covers them. A stone jar is the most convenient—one that holds about six quarts.
Another manner of preserving eggs is to pack them in a jar with layers of salt between, the large end of the egg downward, with a thick layer of salt at the top; cover tightly and set in a cool place.
Some put them in a wire basket or a piece of mosquito net and dip them in boiling water half a minute; then pack in sawdust. Still another manner is to dissolve a cheap article of gum arabic, about as thin as muscilage, and brush over each egg with it; then pack in powdered charcoal; set in a cool, dark place.
Eggs can be kept for some time by smearing the shells with butter or lard; then packed in plenty of bran or sawdust, the eggs not allowed to touch one another; or coat the eggs with melted paraffine.
Eggs for boiling cannot be too fresh, or boiled too soon after they are laid; but rather a longer time should be allowed for boiling a new-laid egg than for one that is three or four days old. Have ready a saucepan of boiling water; put the eggs into it gently with a spoon, letting the spoon touch the bottom of the saucepan before it is withdrawn, that the egg may not fall and consequently crack. For those who like eggs lightly boiled, three minutes will be found sufficient; three and three-quarters to four minutes will be ample time to set the white nicely; and if liked hard, six or seven minutes will not be found too long. Should the eggs be unusually large, as those of black Spanish fowls sometimes are, allow an extra half minute for them. Eggs for salad should be boiled for ten or fifteen minutes, and should be placed in a basin of cold water for a few minutes to shrink the meat from the shell; they should then be rolled on the table with the hand and the shell will peel off easily.
SOFT BOILED EGGS.
When properly cooked eggs are done evenly through, like any other food. This result may be obtained by putting the eggs into a dish with a cover, or a tin pail, and then pouring upon them boiling water—two quarts or more to a dozen of eggs—and cover and set them away where they will keep hot and not boil for ten to twelve minutes. The heat of the water cooks the eggs slowly, evenly and sufficiently, leaving the centre or yolk harder than the white, and the egg tastes as much richer and nicer as a fresh egg is nicer than a stale egg.
Hard-boil twelve eggs; slice them thin in rings; in the bottom of a large well-buttered baking-dish place a layer of grated bread crumbs, then one of eggs; cover with bits of butter and sprinkle with pepper and salt. Continue thus to blend these ingredients until the dish is full; be sure, though, that the crumbs cover the eggs upon top. Over the whole pour a large teacupful of sweet cream or milk and brown nicely in a moderately heated oven.
Set into the oven until quite hot a common white dish large enough to hold the number of eggs to be cooked, allowing plenty of room for each. Melt in it a small piece of butter, and breaking the eggs carefully in a saucer, one at a time, slip them into the hot dish; sprinkle over them a small quantity of pepper and salt and allow them to cook four or five minutes. Adding a tablespoonful of cream for every two eggs, when the eggs are first slipped in, is a great improvement.
This is far more delicate than fried eggs.
Or prepare the eggs the same and set them in a steamer over boiling water.
They are usually served in hotels baked in individual dishes, about two in a dish, and in the same dish they were baked in.
Put a tablespoonful of butter into a hot frying pan; tip around so that it will touch all sides of the pan. Having ready half a dozen eggs broken in a dish, salted and peppered, turn them (without beating) into the hot butter; stir them one way briskly for five or six minutes or until they are mixed. Be careful that they do not get too hard. Turn over toast or dish up without.
POACHED OR DROPPED EGGS.
Have one quart of boiling water and one tablespoonful of salt in a frying pan. Break the eggs, one by one, into a saucer, and slide carefully into the salted water. Dash with a spoon a little water over the egg, to keep the top white.
The beauty of a poached egg is for the yolk to be seen blushing through the white, which should only be just sufficiently hardened to form a transparent veil for the egg.
Cook until the white is firm, and lift out with a griddle cake turner and place on toasted bread. Serve immediately.
A tablespoonful of vinegar put into the water keeps the eggs from spreading.
Open gem rings are nice placed in the water and an egg dropped into each ring.
Break the eggs, one at a time, into a saucer, and then slide them carefully off into a frying pan of lard and butter mixed, dipping over the eggs the hot grease in spoonfuls, or turn them over, frying both sides without breaking them. They require about three minutes’ cooking.
Eggs can be fried round like balls, by dropping one at a time into a quantity of hot lard, the same as for fried cakes, first stirring the hot lard with a stick until it runs round like a whirlpool; this will make the eggs look like balls. Take out with a skimmer. Eggs can be poached the same in boiling water.
EGGS AUX FINES HERBES.
Roll an ounce of butter in a good teaspoonful of flour; season with pepper, salt and nutmeg; put it into a coffee cupful of fresh milk, together with two teaspoonfuls of chopped parsley; stir and simmer it for fifteen minutes, add a teacupful of thick cream. Hard-boil five eggs and halve them; arrange them in a dish with the ends upwards, pour the sauce over them, and decorate with little heaps of fried bread crumbs round the margin of the dish.
POACHED EGGS Á LA CRÊME.
Put a quart of hot water, a tablespoonful of vinegar and a teaspoonful of salt into a frying pan, and break each egg separately into a saucer; slip the egg carefully into the hot water, simmer three or four minutes until the white is set, then with a skimmer lift them out into a hot dish. Empty the pan of its contents, put in half a cup of cream, or rich milk; if milk, a large spoonful of butter; pepper and salt to taste, thicken with a very little cornstarch; let it boil up once, and turn it over the dish of poached eggs. It can be served on toast or without.
EGGS IN CASES.
Make little paper cases of buttered writing paper; put a small piece of butter in each, and a little chopped parsley or onion, pepper and salt. Place the cases upon a gridiron over a moderate fire of bright coals, and when the butter melts, break a fresh egg into each case. Strew in upon them a few seasoned bread crumbs, and when nearly done, glaze the tops with a hot shovel. Serve in the paper cases.
Chop up four or five hard-boiled eggs; do not mince them too fine. Put over the fire in a suitable dish a cupful of milk, a tablespoonful of butter, salt and pepper, and some savory chopped small. When this comes to a boil stir into it a tablespoonful of flour, dissolved in a little cold milk. When it cooks thick like cream put in the minced eggs. Stir it gently around and around for a few moments and serve, garnished with sippets of toast. Any particular flavor may be given to this dish, such as that of mushrooms, truffles, catsup, essence of shrimps, etc., or some shred anchovy may be added to the mince.
MIXED EGGS AND BACON.
Take a nice rasher of mild bacon; cut it into squares no larger than dice; fry it quickly until nicely browned; but on no account burn it. Break half a dozen eggs into a basin, strain and season them with pepper, add them to the bacon, stir the whole about and, when sufficiently firm, turn it out into a dish. Decorate with hot pickles.
MIXED EGGS GENERALLY—SAVORY OR SWEET.
Much the same method is followed in mixed eggs generally, whatever may be added to them; really it is nothing more than an omelet which is stirred about in the pan while it is being dressed, instead of being allowed to set as a pancake. Chopped tongue, oysters, shrimps, sardines, dried salmon, anchovies, herbs, may be used.
COLD EGGS FOR A PICNIC.
This novel way of preparing cold egg for the lunch-basket fully repays one for the extra time required. Boil hard several eggs, halve them lengthwise; remove the yolks and chop them fine with cold chicken, lamb, veal or any tender, roasted meat; or with bread soaked in milk and any salad, as parsley, onion, celery, the bread being half of the whole; or with grated cheese, a little olive oil, drawn butter, flavored. Fill the cavity in the egg with either of these mixtures, or any similar preparation. Press the halves together, roll twice in beaten egg and bread crumbs, and dip into boiling lard. When the color rises delicately, drain them and they are ready for use.
In making an omelet, care should be taken that the omelet pan is hot and dry. To insure this, put a small quantity of lard or suet into a clean frying pan, let it simmer a few minutes, then remove it; wipe the pan dry with a towel, and then put in a tablespoonful of butter. The smoothness of the pan is most essential, as the least particle of roughness will cause the omelet to stick. As a general rule, a small omelet can be made more successfully than a large one, it being much better to make two small ones of four eggs each, than to try double the number of eggs in one omelet and fail. Allow one egg to a person in making an omelet and one tablespoonful of milk; this makes an omelet more puffy and tender than one made without milk. Many prefer them without milk.
Omelets are called by the name of what is added to give them flavor, as minced ham, salmon, onions, oysters, etc., beaten up in the eggs in due quantity, which gives as many different kind of omelets.
They are also served over many kinds of thick sauces or purees, such as tomato, spinach, endive, lettuce, celery, etc.
If vegetables are to be added, they should be already cooked, seasoned and hot; place in the centre of the omelet, just before turning; so with mushroom, shrimps, or any cooked ingredients. All omelets should be served the moment they are done, as they harden by standing, and care taken that they do not cook too much.
Sweet omelets are generally used for breakfast or plain desserts.
Put a smooth, clean, iron frying pan on the fire to heat; meanwhile, beat four eggs very light, the whites to a stiff froth and the yolks to a thick batter. Add to the yolks four tablespoonfuls of milk, pepper and salt; and, lastly, stir in the whites lightly. Put a piece of butter nearly half the size of an egg into the heated pan; turn it so that it will moisten the entire bottom, taking care that it does not scorch. Just as it begins to boil, pour in the eggs. Hold the frying pan handle in your left hand, and, as the eggs whiten, carefully, with a spoon, draw up lightly from the bottom, letting the raw part run out on the pan, till all be equally cooked; shake with your left hand, till the omelet be free from the pan, then turn with a spoon one half of the omelet over the other; let it remain a moment, but continue shaking, lest it adhere; toss to a warm platter held in the right hand, or lift with a flat, broad shovel; the omelet will be firm around the edge, but creamy and light inside.
MEAT OR FISH OMELETS.
Take cold meat, fish, game or poultry of any kind; remove all skin, sinew, etc., and either cut it small or pound it to a paste in a mortar, together with a proper proportion of spices and salt; then either toss it in a buttered frying pan over a clear fire till it begins to brown and pour beaten eggs upon it, or beat it up with the eggs, or spread it upon them after they have begun to set in the pan. In any case serve hot, with or without a sauce, but garnish with crisp herbs in branches, pickles, or sliced lemon. The right proportion is one tablespoonful of meat to four eggs. A little milk, gravy, water, or white wine, may be advantageously added to the eggs while they are being beaten.
Potted meats make admirable omelets in the above manner.
Make a purée by mashing up ready-dressed vegetables, together with a little milk, cream or gravy and some seasoning. The most suitable vegetables are cucumbers, artichokes, onions, sorrel, green peas, tomatoes, lentils, mushrooms, asparagus tops, potatoes, truffles or turnips. Prepare some eggs by beating them very light. Pour them into a nice hot frying pan, containing a spoonful of butter; spread the purée upon the upper side; and when perfectly hot, turn or fold the omelet together and serve. Or cold vegetables may be merely chopped small, then tossed in a little butter, and some beaten and seasoned eggs poured over.
OMELET OF HERBS.
Parsley, thyme and sweet marjoram mixed gives the famous omelette aux fines herbes so popular at every wayside inn in the most remote corner of sunny France. An omelet “jardiniere” is two table spoonfuls of mixed parsley, onion, chives, shallots and a few leaves each of sorrel and chevril, minced fine and stirred into the beaten eggs before cooking. It will take a little more butter to fry it than a plain one.
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.
Boil with a little salt, and until about half cooked, eight or ten stalks of asparagus, and cut the eatable part into rather small pieces; beat the egg and mix the asparagus with them. Make the omelet as above directed. Omelet with parsley is made by adding a little chopped parsley.
TOMATO OMELET. No. 1.
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.
TOMATO OMELET. No. 2.
Cut in slices and place in a stewpan six peeled tomatoes; add a tablespoonful of cold water, a little pepper and salt. When they begin to simmer, break in six eggs, stir well, stirring one way, until the eggs are cooked, but not too hard. Serve warm.
Take a cup 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.
Cut raw ham into dice, fry with butter and when cooked enough, turn the beaten egg over it and cook as a plain omelet.
If boiled ham is used, mince it and mix with the egg after they are beaten. Bacon may be used instead of raw ham.
Mince rather fine one cupful of cooked chicken, warm in a teacupful of cream or rich milk a tablespoonful of butter, salt and pepper; thicken with a large tablespoonful of flour. Make a plain omelet, then add this mixture just before turning it over. This is much better than the dry minced chicken. Tongue is equally good.
Clean a cupful of large button mushrooms, canned ones may be used; cut them into bits. Put into a stewpan an ounce of butter and let it melt; add the mushrooms, a teaspoonful of salt, half a teaspoonful of pepper and half a cupful of cream or milk. Stir in a 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.
Parboil a dozen oysters in their own liquor, skim them out and let them cool; add them to the beaten eggs, either whole or minced. Cook the same as a plain omelet.
Thicken the liquid with butter rolled in flour; season with salt, cayenne pepper and a teaspoonful of chopped parsley. Chop up the oysters and add to the sauce. Put a few spoonfuls in the centre of the omelet before folding; when dished, pour the remainder of the sauce around it.
Make a plain omelet, and when ready to fold, spread over it fish prepared as follows: Add to a cupful of any kind of cold fish, broken fine, cream enough to moisten it, seasoned with a tablespoonful of butter; then pepper and salt to taste. Warm together.
Make a plain omelet, and when ready to turn spread over it a teaspoonful each of chopped onion and minced parsley; then fold, or, if preferred, mix the minces into the eggs before cooking.
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.
BREAD OMELET. No. 1.
Break four eggs into a basin and carefully remove the treadles; have ready a tablespoonful of grated and sifted bread; soak it in either milk, water, cream, white wine, gravy, lemon juice, brandy or rum, according as the omelet is intended to be sweet or savory. Well beat the eggs together with a little nutmeg, pepper and salt; add the bread, and, beating constantly (or the omelet will be crumbly), get ready a frying pan, buttered and made thoroughly hot; put in the omelet; do it on one side only; turn it upon a dish, and fold it double to prevent the steam from condensing. Stale sponge-cake, grated biscuit, or pound cake, may replace the bread for a sweet omelet, when pounded loaf sugar should be sifted over it, and the dish decorated with lumps of currant jelly. This makes a nice dessert.
BREAD OMELET. No. 2.
Let one teacupful of milk come to a boil, pour it over one teacupful of bread crumbs and let it stand a few minutes. Break six eggs into a bowl, stir (not beat) till well mixed; then add the milk and bread, season with pepper and salt, mix all well together and turn into a hot frying pan, containing a large spoonful of butter boiling hot. Fry the omelet slowly, and when brown on the bottom cut in squares and turn again, fry to a delicate brown and serve hot.
Cracker omelet may be made by substituting three or four rolled crackers in place of bread.
Beat the whites and yolks of four or six eggs separately; add to the yolks a small cup of milk, a tablespoonful of flour or cornstarch, a teaspoonful of baking powder, one-half teaspoonful of salt, and, lastly, the stiff-beaten whites. Bake in a well-buttered pie-tin or plate about half an hour in a steady oven. It should be served the moment it is taken from the oven, as it is liable to fall.
Break six eggs into separate cups; beat four of the yolks, mix with them one teaspoonful of flour, three tablespoonfuls of powdered sugar, very little salt. Flavor with extract lemon or any other of the flavors that may be preferred. Whisk the whites of six eggs to a firm froth; mix them lightly with the yolks; pour the mixture into a greased pan or dish; bake in a quick oven. When well-risen and lightly browned on the top, it is done; roll out in warm dish, sift pulverized sugar over, and send to table.
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 whisk 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 easily find 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 glass of warm Jamaica 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 when 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.