Friday, January 31, 2014

Eggses! And cooking eggs in cast iron

Our new chickens are laying! As you can see, the eggs are a nice blue-green color. They're slightly smaller than the eggs Beatrice and Sophie lay, but they're just as yummy and the yolks are exactly the same size. Three of them make the perfect omelette.

I now have a favorite egg dish that I make most mornings for breakfast:

3 eggs
1 tbsp oil
pat of butter
1 mushroom
1 section of green pepper, chopped
1 thin slice of onion, chopped
1/4 celery stalk, finely chopped
1/2 of a roma tomato, chopped
1/2 cup of mixed cheeses (I like smoked gouda and cheddar)
salt & spices (I like salt, pepper, dill, and a tiny bit of curry)
bacon blue cheese dressing by Lighthouse or your favorite creamy dressing
1 tortilla (preferably the princess-y kinds like the blue corn flaxseed by Mission)
Optional: guacamole or chopped avocado, chopped lettuce, sliced olives

Heat a cast iron pan on medium heat. Warm the tortilla and set it aside on a warm plate covered with a paper towel. Add the oil to the pan and sauté the mushrooms, green pepper, celery and onion until the onions are transparent. If you like, you can lightly salt the veggies. While the veggies are cooking, beat the eggs with the seasonings. Add the butter to the pan. When the butter is melted, pour in the eggs and turn the heat down. Let them cook for a bit and then scramble. When the eggs have mostly cooked through, add the tomatoes and the cheese. Heat to desired consistency. If you like melted cheese but don't like browned eggs, you can cover the pan. The tomatoes and cheese will heat through very quickly. Dress the tortilla with bacon blue cheese dressing. Add optional ingredients to the tortilla. Roll the eggs into the tortilla and enjoy!

Because time is often short in the mornings, when I want this for breakfast I chop the ingredients on the evening before, usually when I'm making salad. The mushrooms, peppers, celery and onion go in one snack-sized ziplock bag, the tomatoes (sometimes salted and with a splash of balsamic vinegar if they're not very ripe) in another, and the lettuce and olives in a third bag. It'll keep for a couple of days so you can make more than one morning's ingredients at once. We usually keep grated cheese on hand, as we have two sets of the fabulous cheese grater/grated cheese storage plastic combo sold at IKEA. It allows us to create custom blends of grated cheese that we use on salads, eggs and sandwiches.

It's a pretty rich breakfast burrito, but the benefits of having mostly-fresh ingredients and cooking a high-protein meal from scratch outweigh the fat and cholesterol contents. It seems like the more home-cooked meals made from scratch I eat, even if they're classic bad-for-you items, the better I feel, and the more pre-processed, factory-made meals I eat, the worse I feel. I also seem to gain weight when I eat ready-made meals as opposed to scratch, home-made meals, even though the calorie content is probably higher with the scratch meal.

By the way, cast iron will act like a non-stick pan if you let it do its thing. I preheat the pan for a reason, add the oil and the butter at those times for a reason, and let the eggs cook a bit before I mess with them all for the same reason. The eggs won't stick (much) to the pan if you keep that oil hot and don't scrape too much. Using a wooden or bamboo spoon helps. When you're done cooking, clean the cast iron right away while it's still hot and the eggs should come right off. If they don't, put some water in the pan and leave it on the stove on low heat while you eat. When you're done, turn the burner off, run the wooden spoon around the pan to separate the remaining egg from the pan and rinse using a clean sponge under very hot water. Lightly oil the pan and put it back on the burner, which should still have some residual heat. Wipe out the pan after a few minutes with a paper towel until it feels dry but is still dark with oil. If you do this faithfully, you never have to use soap in a cast iron pan.

If you let the pan sit, though, you can later boil it with water in it, and then use a little soap, some elbow grease, or even an SOS pad to take care of the dried food in the pan. You might go down to bare metal in the process ... don't worry. Then oil the pan and put in a warm oven or on a burner set to 2. Very lightly oil it. Leave it on the burner until the oil begins to brown to the bottom of the pan. Wipe with a paper towel. Add a little oil to a clean part on your paper towel and wipe the pan with it. You'll notice a kewl pattern forming on the bottom of the pan as the oil seasons the bottom of the pan. Keep wiping with fresh (thin) layers of oil and continue to season the pan until the bare metal areas have darkened somewhat. Before you put the pan away, make sure that there's as much free oil wiped away as possible so that it feels dry and has a satin, not glossy, sheen, and please let it cool first. Over time, if you're good to your pan, it'll be a uniform black and will be shiny, but not greasy.


Kai Jones said...

Heh, I just made a batch of breakfast burritos myself last weekend. Mine were simpler: just butter, eggs, onions, kale, and bacon, then a pinch of grated sharp cheddar cheese on the tortilla. I wrap them up individually in wax paper then freeze; I can grab one every morning and microwave at work.

Kami said...

Yum! Sounds delicious!