Spring the perfect time to talk about eggs

  • By Martha Stewart / Martha Stewart Living Magazine
  • Wednesday, March 23, 2005 9:00pm
  • Life

As you read this, I have recently arrived home, but not to Turkey Hill, the Connecticut house where I have lived for more than 30 years. Instead, I am moving to Bedford, N.Y., where I look forward to cooking in a whole new kitchen, mastering the features of my sewing machine in my new sewing room and starting the season in a different garden full of opportunities.

With spring upon us, it’s the perfect time to talk about the egg. This beautiful and familiar object has been loaded with cultural symbolism through the ages – it has even become something of an icon for the magazine, where we decorate with it, craft with it and, of course, cook with it.

The egg is probably my single favorite food. In fact, I would call it the ultimate comfort food, reassuringly basic but always deliciously special at the same time.

Breakfast or brunch is a wonderful time to entertain and to cook with eggs. The recipes I use for those occasions are not hard to make but are always very happily received. One recent Easter, I served a particularly elegant egg dish: poached eggs spooned into hollowed-out artichokes, topped with hollandaise sauce and thin ribbons of smoked salmon.

Of course, there are omelets – not too done, always three or four eggs to a generous amount of butter, cooked to perfection in my favorite old omelet pan that I bought when I was 19.

Keep the pan moving, the eggs moving, and don’t brown the omelet. Add herbs, cheese, sour cream, vegetables or other fillings just before the omelet slides from the pan onto a heated plate. Yum.

All of these dishes are most delicious made from freshly laid eggs. For now, I will have to go back to Turkey Hill to gather mine, as the “girls” from the henhouse aren’t moving with me right away.

Steamed artichokes with poached eggs and smoked salmon

4medium or large artichokes

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

4medium or large eggs

Hollandaise sauce (recipe follows)

4thin slices smoked salmon (2 ounces total)

Cut off stems of artichokes flush with bottoms; discard. Using kitchen scissors, trim outer 3 layers of leaves to 2 inches. Fill a large stockpot with 2 inches of water. Set a steamer basket over water. Stand artichokes upright in basket; cover pot. Bring to a boil. Steam until bottoms of artichokes are tender when pierced with the tip of a knife, 30 to 40 minutes.

Remove artichokes from pot; let stand until cool enough to handle. Remove and discard inner leaves, leaving trimmed outer leaves to create a flowerlike shape. Using a teaspoon, remove fuzzy choke and any purple leaves; discard. Gently spread apart artichoke leaves to create desired appearance. Season with salt and pepper. Cover to keep warm.

Fill a large saucepan with 4 inches of water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium. When water is barely simmering, break 1 egg into a small heatproof bowl. Gently tip bowl to slide egg carefully into water in pan. Repeat with remaining eggs.

Cook until whites are set but yolks are still soft, 2 to 3 minutes. Lift out eggs with a slotted spoon; briefly rest spoon on paper towels to drain eggs.

Immediately spoon 1 egg inside each artichoke (be careful not to pierce yolk). Spoon about 1 tablespoon hollandaise sauce over top of each egg. Drape 1 slice salmon on top. Serve with hollandaise.

Note: The eggs in this dish are not fully cooked; it should not be prepared for pregnant women, babies, young children, the elderly, or anyone whose health is compromised. Makes four servings.

Hollandaise sauce

3large egg yolks, room temperature

41/2teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1 1/2sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Coarse salt

Whisk yolks in a large heatproof glass bowl until they begin to turn pale, about 1 minute. Whisk in 41/2 teaspoons warm water. Set bowl over a pan of barely simmering water; heat yolk mixture, whisking vigorously, until thickened, 2 to 3 minutes (do not overcook).

Remove bowl from pan. Whisk in lemon juice.

Whisking constantly, pour in melted butter, one drop at a time at first, leaving milky solids behind; whisk until thickened. Season with salt.

If not serving immediately, pour hot water from pan into a separate (cool) pan; set bowl on top. Keep sauce warm, whisking occasionally, up to 30 minutes. If sauce becomes too thick, whisk in warm water, 1 teaspoon at a time, to thin.

Note: The yolks in this sauce are not fully cooked; it should not be prepared for pregnant women, babies, young children, the elderly, or anyone whose health is compromised.

Adapted from Martha Stewart Living magazine


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