A well-rounded food
Eggs are the perfect food to get kids eating healthy. They can be cooked in umpteen different ways to create umpteen delicious dishes. And despite all the bad press they’ve received in past years, eggs are extremely good for you! They are high in protein and iron and packed full of vitamins.
Yes, raw eggs can sometimes contain salmonella bacteria, but only the careless (or unlucky) cook stands a chance of suffering its adverse effects. Meanwhile, the tried-and-true method for testing the freshness of an egg is to plop it into a cup of cold water: If it sinks horizontally, it’s fresh. The older an egg gets, the more air it absorbs and stores in its fatty end, so an egg that’s around a week old will lie semi-horizontally in the water. A stale egg, however, will float in a vertical position. Also, when you crack an egg open, you can tell right away that it’s fresh if it has a rounded, plump and pert yolk and the egg white (albumen) is thick. A stale egg, meanwhile, will have a flatter yolk and a thin, watery albumen.
Now that you’ve got the facts straight, get cracking!
Tea Eggs (makes 12 eggs)
A dozen jumbo eggs
3 tablespoons of black tea leaves
8 cups of water
2 teaspoons salt
4 tablespoons light soy sauce
2 stars of anise
Sprinkle of fennel seed
Sprinkle of Sichuan peppercorns
Several dashes of dark soy sauce
Place eggs in a large pan and cover with water. Bring water to a gentle boil for 10 to 12 minutes. When the eggs are cooked, gently lift the eggs out of the pan and place them under cold running water.
Next, combine black tea leaves, water, salt, light soy sauce and spices in a large pan. Add dashes of dark soy sauce to deepen the color. Bring the liquid to a boil and then gently simmer for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, when the hard-boiled eggs are cool enough to handle, gently crack the eggshells all over in a spiderweb pattern (without allowing the shells to detach from the egg) by tapping the egg on a hard surface. Kids can help by rolling eggs on a thin towel while gently applying pressure.
Place the cracked-shell eggs into the simmering liquid. If needed, add additional water – enough to cover the eggs. Bring to a slow boil again, then cover the pan and turn off the heat. Allow the eggs to marinate in the sauce until the flavor seeps in.
Store eggs in refrigerator overnight for better color and flavor. When you remove the shells just prior to serving, you will see the marbled pattern on the surface of the egg.
Chocolate Mousse (serves six)
Raw eggs in this dessert are safe to eat because the recipe includes whipping cream, which has a high fat content that inhibits bacteria growth (in the same way that oil does with the raw egg in mayonnaise).
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
3 eggs, separated
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream or whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Using a double boiler, melt the butter and chocolate together over low heat. Before the chocolate melts completely, remove from heat and beat the mixture with a spoon until smooth. Transfer the mixture to a different bowl and add the egg yolks. Beat together using a whisk. Keep the mixture cool by refrigerating (or placing by a window in cold seasons).
Next, beat the egg whites with half the sugar until they hold stiff peaks. Separately, beat the cream with the remaining sugar and vanilla until it holds soft peaks. Both of these steps can be fun for children to do by hand. Make sure to use a high-rimmed bowl and to place a towel underneath it to prevent slipping.
Stir several spoonfuls of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it. Gently fold in the remaining whites thoroughly. Lastly, fold in the cream and refrigerate until chilled. Serve within a day or two of making.