I simply loved putting together my first eggs-centric blog post this week. So many great tips and tricks to share. The post went along with a televised segment I did on WCNC’s Charlotte Today on Wednesday May 22, 2019. There is so much more info to share, plus I wanted to post the video. I decided to separate (subtle pun intended) this article on eggs into two individual posts. So here we are, Eggs: The Sequel, with recipes and videos.
First the video. This fun yet informative segment originally aired on the May 22 episode of Charlotte Today. As you can see, we were cracking up (second egg pun intended) gotta love the fun in doing live television. Enjoy! Then read on for recipes and details.
Just to recap. How can you tell if eggs are fresh?
As eggs age, their volume starts to decrease and they start to dry up in the shell. They are not bad, but they just won’t be as good as a fresh egg. Here is a great tip to tell if the eggs in you fridge are fresh before you start to cook.
Just place the egg or eggs in question in a bowl of water. If the eggs lie flat on the bottom of the bowl, they are fresh. When you see the egg start to tip up on one end it is getting older but is still good. If your egg in question floats to the top of the water, it is probably past its prime for eating. But, all is not lost. These eggs can still be used in several of the fun applications that follow.
Giving your eggs the perfect peel
In the segment on Charlotte Today, Eugene asked my for tips on how to easily peel eggs. The trick, I think, is in the boiling. I think we all make it too hard… just place the eggs in a saucepan in enough water to cover. And then, here is the trick – add 1-2 Tablespoons of baking soda. Bring the water to a boil. Cover the pot. Remove from the heat. Let stand 12 minutes. Then rinse the eggs with cool water and let them cool a bit before peeling – unless you want to eat a hot hard boiled egg.
Roll the egg on the countertop or your work surface to crack up the shells and then rinse to get water into the cracks. The shell should easily pull off.
Remember though, don’t put the egg shells down you drain or in your garbage disposal – see my last tip in this post for what to do with the shells!
This cracked me up!
Want to look cool when you crack eggs? Learn to do it with one hand. The trick is to crack the egg on a flat surface and then twist your wrist, pushing one half of the shell with your thumb away from you and pulling the other half towards you with your other four fingers. Practice makes perfect here. In the original video, you’ll see Charlotte Today host Eugene Robinson’s first attempt at cracked eggs one-handed.
Later, as we were cleaning up after the show, he tried again, this time over a bigger bowl with much greater success.
Lots of fun ways to separate an egg. My best advice, don’t sweat it, just make it fun! You can use your hands, a plastic water bottle, or a funnel. The plastic bottle may be my preferred method, particularly when I am cooking in front of people because it’s a crowd pleaser and it makes people smile. However you do it , it will help to know that while eggs cook and whip up better at room temperature, they separate better when they are cold.
Any way you choose to separate your eggs, know that when you are only cooking with egg yolks, its okay to have a bit of the white in there. If the recipe calls for egg whites, to make a meringue or to beat the whites to stiff peaks for a souffle for example, you can’t have any sort of fat in the mixing bowl. That includes even the tiniest bit of egg yolk.
For the best results, separate each individual egg between two small bowls and then transfer the egg whites and yolks to larger bowls as I did in the video. Then you may proceed with the recipe.
In my initial post I shared a recipe for homemade mayo – a great way to use up leftover egg yolks. In this post, we’ll focus on egg whites and how they can help you take dinner to new heights. But first, what if you get shell in the eggs as you separate them?
A clean break and how egg shells work like little magnets
While most of us were taught to tap the egg gently on the side of the mixing bowl, there is an easier way. Instead hit the egg flat on the counter or workspace. Then, don’t squeeze the shells – simply pull them apart for a clean break.
If you should get a piece of egg shell in your eggs, don’t stress. It will be frustrating to try to get the slippery piece of shell with your fingers or a spoon. Instead use another piece of egg shell. The shell works like a magnet and the small piece that chipped off will cling to the larger shell for easy removal.
Whipping egg whites
When it comes to whipping egg whites, you can do it by hand with a whisk and build up great muscles in one arm. But, the process is so much easier with an electric mixer or food processor. All that is happening is that your are adding air to the egg whites. The egg whites stretch to form bubbles to encapsulate the air and so the volume in the bowl increases.
First, you will have foam, then soft peaks and finally firm peaks. The foamy stage happens in minutes, just after the whites are all blended well. The liquid in the bowl will look like a bigger bubblier version of the foam on top of a beer.
And the Beat (ing) Goes On
Continue to beat and then volume increases. If you add a bit of acid – lemon juice or vinegar, your egg whites will be more stable. Next stage of a whipped egg white is a soft peak. This looks like bubble bath, but if you dip a wooden spoon in the bowl and then turn it upside down, the very tip of the whites will not stand up straight.
Continue beating and the whites will come to stiff peaks – perfect for making souffles. When the whites are at stiff peaks you should be able to turn the bowl upside down and nothing will fall out. or if you would like a slightly less dramatic way to test, scoop out some of the whites with a spoon. Turn the spoon upside down and the whites won’t drop off the spoon.
For best results if you are making a meringue ( that is adding sugar or a simple syrup to the beaten egg whites) don’t add sugar until you have gotten the whites to the soft peak stage. And then add it in a slow but steady stream as you continue to beat it in the egg whites to stiff peaks.
Serve these Individual Local Spinach Souffles and really Rise to the Occassion
Heidi’s Individual Cheese and Spinach Souffles
5 Tbsp. softened butter, divided
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 lb. local spinach, or other seasonal green, stemmed and chopped
2 Tbsp. all purpose flour
½ tsp salt
1 cup whole local or organic milk or buttermilk
Heidi’s Hot Pepper Blend and nutmeg to taste
2 local duck eggs + 2 local chicken eggs, separated
The what to do:
Rub the inside of 6 individual ramekins with softened butter. Sprinkle the buttered surface evenly with grated Parmesan cheese. You want to sides and bottom of each ramekin to be cheese coated – just as if you would butter and flour the sides and bottom of a cake pan. Reserve.
In a medium saucepan, melt the remaining butter over medium heat. Add the shredded spinach. Cook until the greens are completely wilted. Stir in the flour to make a roux. Season with a bit of salt. Stir Cook, whisking constantly, until all of the flour is incorporated. Add the milk to the flour, whisking to blend and cook for about 4 minutes, until the mixture thickens.
Season the mixture with black pepper and nutmeg. What you have in the pan now is creamed spinach. Enjoy as is or continue on to craft the spinach into a souffle.
Take the spinach off the heat and place in a large mixing bowl. Allow the spinach mixture to cool.
Meanwhile, Beat the egg whites on high speed until stiff peaks form
Easy does it as you fold in the egg whites
Stir one-third of the egg whites into the spinach, and then fold the remaining egg whites into the mixture, a bit at a time. Do not over mix the egg whites. You want them to keep their volume. Spoon the mixture into the prepared ramekins and bake at 375 for 30 minutes, until the soufflé is puffed up and cooked through.
Here is a fun Breakfast variation. Full disclosure: I got this idea ( and the photo) from my friends Diane and Dan, innkeepers at Pinecrest Bed & Breakfast in Asheville NC, who were inspired by a recipe from my friend, food writer and author Sherri Castle – don’t you just love how food brings people together!
Spoon soufflé mixture into a shallow individual serving dish. Top each serving with a cracked raw egg. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes until egg is cooked to your desired doneness
Gardening with Eggs
After you’ve cracked the egg, you are left with the shell. DO NOT put egg shells in your garbage disposal. The disposal will grind them into a fine silt and they will sit in the drainage pipes going out from your house and eventually create a massive clog.
Instead of tossing them, use them to compost. And, while you are prepping them for the garden, did you know that egg shells can sharpen food processor blades as you grind them up?
Grind up the egg shells in a food processor. The grinding action with the calcium strong shell will sharpen your food processor blades in a jiffy. Then add that ground mic to potting soil or sprinkle it around your garden and herb beds. Not only will it enrich the soil, but the pack of protein will keep away the slugs.
Normally, I try to recycle the egg cartons I get from local farmers and take them back to the market each week. But you can keep one or two of the paper ones to help start your herb garden this summer.
Simply place the egg shell halves in a paper egg carton. Fill each with potting soil and add a seed to each one. Place in a sunny spot and water as needed. When the seedlings are big enough to plant, you can cut the carton and plant them cardboard, eggshell and all.