Sometimes the hardest part of making a budget is figuring out how the hell you’re supposed to get everything done… and not over-spend! Many people find cooking to be challenging or overwhelming. How are you supposed to make a decent meal when everything is so expensive and recipes call for ingredients that sound like a foreign language? This semi-regular series on The Outlier Model will discuss some basic kitchen techniques and attempt to show readers that cooking can be fun and easy.
One of the first things I learned how to cook was eggs. Eggs are perfect for the frugal cook – they’re cheap, quick to make, and relatively healthy. Most people agree that cooking eggs is easy – but many others will cringe at the thought of soggy fried eggs or dried clumps of scramble day after day. I nearly had a fit the first few times Brian made me scrambled eggs. *shudder* Like anything else, there is a method to the madness. Here are a few quick tips for making perfect eggs each time.
I love friend eggs on top of bagels, English muffins, toast, and even rice! The key to making a good fried egg is getting over your fear of heat. And come on… admit it; unless you have done a lot of cooking and are comfortable with your stove, you’re probably at least a teensy bit uneasy about working with hot oil. I say it’s time to get over your fears. :) My strategy is to use a good non-stick pan and about half a tablespoon of oil. Yes, you do still need oil on a non-stick pan. If you don’t use oil, your egg will flatten into a dry and unappealing texture, without any of the crunch and crispiness of a nice fried egg. Use oil! I like to heat the oil on high, gently crack an egg into it, swirl the pan around so that the oil reaches all the edges of the egg, and then turn the heat down to medium high to finish cooking.
What could be easier than boiled eggs, right? Great as a snack, great on salads… but damn, is it ever annoying when you hope for a nice yolk-y center and you end up with solid yolk instead. If you want a soft boiled egg, bring your egg to room temperature before dropping it into boiling water. Then, boil for 6-7 minutes on high. For a hard boiled egg, double that time. Frugal tip: Boiling batches of eggs on Sunday night makes weekday salads and sandwiches a breeze to make!
Scrambled eggs can be amazing…. or they can fail miserably. I don’t know anyone who likes dry, tasteless scrambled eggs but sadly, this is how most scrambled eggs seem to turn out. And then we slather ketchup and salt and pepper on them and wonder why we get fat. ;) Instead, you need to add moisture and flavour to your scrambled eggs. Some ideas include butter and chives or a spoonful of salsa at the end.
What’s better than perfectly poached eggs topping a beautiful eggs Benny on the weekend? Not much! Poached eggs also go great on top of noodle dishes like chow mein and pad Thai. To poach an egg, heat about 2-3 inches of water in a pot or deep pan with 1 tablespoon of vinegar. When the water starts to bubble (but is not boiling!), gently crack a room temperature egg into a small bowl. Then, use the bowl to carefully pour the egg into the water. Let it cook for 2-3 minutes before scooping it out of the water with a slotted spoon. Ta-da!
Regardless of HOW you make your eggs, the very most important-est thing is to not over-cook! Eggs will retain heat and continue cooking even after the heat is shut off. You need to take the eggs OFF the pan just before it is completely cooked and let it sit for a minute or two in order to get moist, flavourful eggs.