What’s in a Yolk?
Apparently, it depends. The darker, sturdier yolk of the free-range egg indicates that it is richer in nutrients than the pale, fragile yolk from a conventional egg.
“If You Have an Egg, You Have a Meal”
When Marie Simmons was a child, her aunt gave her a beautiful little eggcup. “I just loved that eggcup and eating a soft-cooked egg out of the shell with buttered toast,” she says. Simmons still enjoys simply cooked eggs every morning, but she has also perfected an impressive range of cooking techniques and recipes for making a host of fabulous dishes. A passionate chef and cooking teacher, and a columnist for Bon Appétit for 18 years, Simmons has written nearly 20 cookbooks. Her book The Good Egg: More than 200 Fresh Approaches from Breakfast to Dessert (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2006) won the prestigious James Beard Award for single subject cookbook.
Why did you decide to devote an entire cookbook to eggs?
I first considered the idea in 1998. The egg was being maligned at the time. Doctors were telling people, “Oh, no, no, no. It will raise your cholesterol.” So, even people who had healthy cholesterol weren’t eating eggs, and they were missing out on such a great source of nutrition. As the saying goes: “If you have an egg, you have a meal.”
What would you say to someone who is intimidated by making eggs?
I have a very relaxed attitude toward cooking, so I say: It’s only an egg. Even children can learn to cook a scrambled egg. It’s so simple. We’re not talking soufflés here, and even if your soufflé does fall, so what? It still tastes good because it has good ingredients.
What are the egg dishes all cooks should have in their repertoire?
Scrambled eggs, fried eggs and stuffed eggs. (I know many adults who get all teary eyed over stuffed eggs.) And maybe a frittata, which is similar to an omelet, but easier to make because it can be covered and cooked flat on top of a stove or finished in a hot oven for the last few minutes. If you want to challenge yourself a little bit more, try poached eggs — they’re wonderful.
What common mistake do people make when cooking eggs?
Overcooking them, definitely. I have a great quote from [food scientist] Shirley Corriher in my book: “Gentle heating is the real secret to cooking proteins. . . .” In terms of eggs, the protein becomes rubbery when it’s subjected to too much heat. When the yolks of hard-cooked eggs turn purple, it’s because they’re overcooked. There’s a lot of iron in an egg yolk, and it becomes iron oxide in the presence of high heat.
What is your hands-down favorite way to eat eggs?
I love a simple sunny-side up. I make one or two most mornings and eat them with steamed Swiss chard or spinach with olive oil. I’m not as crazy about hard cooked. I personally find them hard to digest, but they’re a great convenience food. Train your children early to have a hard-cooked egg as a snack; it’s just so convenient and nutritious.