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Puttin' on The Mitts: Answering readers' egg-cellent questions

You asked. Now, we're going to answer. We had great response from our giveaway entry forms from the Everything Expo in March. We asked for your cooking questions, and you did not disappoint. The Mitts are going to dedicate the next several column...

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DILLED EGG SPREAD with smoked salmon and bagels
We are part of The Trust Project.

You asked. Now, we're going to answer.

We had great response from our giveaway entry forms from the Everything Expo in March. We asked for your cooking questions, and you did not disappoint.

The Mitts are going to dedicate the next several columns to answering readers' questions about food, recipes and cooking tips and techniques. We hope to also try a few recipes inspired by your questions.

This week, we're going to focus on eggs and the timing couldn't be better since Easter is right around the corner.

And speaking of Easter, if you're not sure what to do with all of those hard-boiled eggs, check out Chelsey's recipe we're including from a past column: Dilled Egg Spread with Smoked Salmon and Bagels.

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Should egg whites be at room temperature or cold before whipping?

- Marge K., Baxter

According to the website "What's Cooking America," egg whites should be room temperature for whipping purposes. They will disperse more evenly into the batter. If you need to bring them to room temperature (about 70 degrees), soak them in a bowl of warm water for 10-15 minutes.

-- DeLynn

 

And with that question, comes one from Vicky L., who asked, "How do I make great meringue?"

As stated, the eggs must be room temperature or you're in for a meringue malfunction. But even more than that is the age of the eggs. Eggs that are three or four days old are better than newer eggs. Older eggs have thinner egg whites and will whip into a higher volume than fresh eggs. Also, according to "What's Cooking America," the weather is also a factor. You shouldn't make meringue on a rainy or humid day as whipped egg whites are mostly air and if the air contains a lot of moisture, your meringue will be affected.

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Brainerd Dispatch Marketing Coordinator Leo Miller also offered this tip. The bowl and utensils you use should be cold. That will also help in the meringue-making process.

Don't use plastic bowls. Use glass, stainless steel or copper and make sure what you're using is very clean and oil-free. Even the slightest bit of oil residue on the bowl or utensil will wreak havoc on those picky egg whites.

Be careful when cracking the eggs as well. The smallest amount of yolk will interfere with the meringue as well as oil or grease on your fingers so if you crack an egg and a piece of shell falls into the bowl, resist the urge to reach in with your finger to get it out. Use part of a broken egg shell and scoop it out. That way, you're not touching the egg whites with any oily substances.

-- DeLynn

 

How do you know if eggs are fresh?

- Amy K., Pine River

To be honest, Amy K., the most reliable way to tell whether an egg is fresh enough to eat is to crack it open. But we all know what can happen if it's bad-and no one wants to deal with that.

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One of the most popularly passed-along methods of checking egg freshness I admittedly haven't tried myself. That method involves placing an egg in a bowl of cold water to determine whether it floats or not. If you ascribe to this method, there's one of three outcomes learned from the egg's behavior: if it lays down in the bottom of the bowl, it's very fresh; if it sits vertically in the bottom of the bowl, it's less fresh; and if it floats to the top, it's too old to eat.

Several sites I checked confirmed this is a reliable test to conduct. The reason it works is the older an egg is, the more air builds up inside of it. This is why the freshest eggs lay flat. There's some who dispute whether a floating egg really means it's too old to eat. It is older, to be sure, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's bad. It's up to you whether you want to risk cracking it open to find out.

-- Chelsey

 

What can I use to substitute for an egg in my cake?

- Robin A., Pine River

This question is another with which I have firsthand experience.

I've had the urge to make cookies before, only to realize I had just one egg left in the fridge. I've also lived with practicing vegans-or people who choose to not eat any animal products. Two of the three ways I'll suggest today I've tried myself, and a third has so much buzz around it on food blogs, I can only assume it's legitimate.

1. Applesauce-To replace one egg, use 1/4 cup of unsweetened applesauce in baking recipes. This will not impart an apple flavor, given the amount of applesauce added to the overall volume of the recipe.

2. Ground flaxseed-If you mix 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed with 3 tablespoons of water and let it sit for a bit, the consistency you'll achieve is similar to that of an egg white. This won't make your baked goods taste grainy, because again, it's just a small part of the overall recipe. You don't want to use this method for an omelet, though-as my comedian friend Trevor Anderson of Minneapolis likes to remind people during his set.

3. Chickpea liquid-This is the one method I haven't tried myself, although it's gotten a huge amount of cache among food bloggers as a magical substance. Called aquafaba, the chickpea liquid can be used to replace eggs in many forms, even including the aforementioned meringue. If planning to use as a binder, such as in baking, whisk the liquid until foamy. Because it will be combined with other sweet ingredients, it will not impart a bean flavor to your baked goods. Heck, I've used actual black beans in brownies and they didn't taste like beans, so I think you're safe. Instead of dumping out that liquid the next time you open a can, try using it this way, instead.

-- Chelsey

 

What's the best way to make hard-boiled eggs without the yolks being dark around the edges?

- Dorienne S., Longville

When I first was learning to cook, I spent a lot of time reading cookbooks. I'd once thought of cookbooks as places you found recipes you wouldn't try otherwise, but I changed my perspective when I decided to relearn techniques I thought I already knew.

Hard-boiled eggs fell into that category. It wasn't until I followed the technique recommended by one of my favorite cookbook authors, Deborah Madison, that I made them without the off-putting green color appearing on the outside of the yolk. The eggs came out wonderfully, and I've made them the same way ever since.

Here's what Madison recommends: Place the eggs in a single layer in a pot, covered with cold water about 2 inches above the eggs. Bring to a boil and allow to boil for one minute. Remove from the heat, and leave covered for about five minutes. Then, run the eggs under cold water to stop the cooking.

The amount of time you allow the eggs to sit depends on how high you are above sea level. Here in Brainerd, five minutes always works for me, but you may want to adjust depending on personal preference for doneness. Ideally, a dime-sized part of the yolk should remain a darker yellow in the center for perfectly done hard-boiled eggs.

-- Chelsey

 

DILLED EGG SPREAD

with smoked salmon and bagels

Reprinted from the March 26, 2015, Puttin' on The Mitts column

  • 6 hard-boiled eggs, sliced in half
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
  • 2 tablespoons chopped dill
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chives
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons capers
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt
  • Smoked salmon
  • Bagels

 
In a blender or food processor, combine eggs, sour cream, mayonnaise, cream, horseradish and ½ teaspoon salt until smooth. Taste for salt and add a little more if desired.

Put mixture in a bowl and fold in the dill, chives and capers. I love capers, so I used closer to 2 tablespoons, but start with 1 tablespoon and add to taste.

To serve: Smear a few tablespoons of the egg spread onto the bottom half of a toasted bagel. Top with the salmon, a few more capers and dill if desired and the other bagel half.

-- Chelsey

Related Topics: RECIPESFOOD
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