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Yolk around the clock

The humble egg is not only a healthy morning companion, but also vital to many desserts.

india Updated: Mar 09, 2007 18:48 IST

What would we do without the humble egg? They are so intrinsic to our daily diet (except for those of us who embrace the Vegan philosophy and lifestyle) and are a major source of protein, vitamins and minerals. Cardiologists have encouraged heart patients to exclude eggs from their diet because of the perceived cholesterol levels.

There now seems to be some argument about this, with some saying that little of the cholestero1from eggs is actually absorbed into the body and that it is mostly 'good' cholesterol. The number of dishes which can be made with eggs is numerous, including the normal omelettes, fried, scrambled, boiled and poached varieties, often eaten for breakfast.

Great eggspectations: Few cakes would be complete without eggs as they aid binding and rising. They are the major ingredient in mayonnaise (the yolk), meringue (the white), custards such as quiche, creme brulee and the soume. The most important property of eggs used in sauces and custards is their ability to emulsify (stabilise or blend) because they contain lecithin.

An unstable emulsion would be vinaigrette dressing, because the oil and vinegar will separate. But when making mayonnaise, it is the egg yolk (and mustard, which has similar properties) which holds the olive oil, lemon juice and vinegar together to make the smooth and creamy end result.

The major part of the egg white or albumen is water, but it is the protein content which enables the white to retain air by forming a film around it when beaten, thus resulting in the light and airy dishes which are mousses, soumbs and meringues.

It is possible, however: to over beat an egg so that it won't retain air and the result will be a rather soggy or heavy dish and in the case of a souffle, it just won't rise.

Recipe for poached eggs: Poached eggs can be delicious if cooked correctly When poaching your eggs you can use watel: milk or cream. Try all three liquids to see which one you prefer In a medium saucepan with lid, over high heat bring two inches of water to a boil. Once water begins to boil, add a pinch of salt and 1/2 tablespoon of white vinegar Crack each egg into a coffee cup without disturbing the yolk.

When the water is ready, submerge the rim of the coffee cup into the water and allow the egg to flow out. Repeat process for an additional egg. Turn off heat and cover saucepan with lid.

Let eggs sit covered for 3 minutes for medium firm yolks. For firmer or runnier yolks leave covered for more or less time. Spoon eggs onto plate or toast using a slotted spatula. Be sure to let water drip away before adding to plate or bread.