Follow by Email

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Perfecting your Egg-cellent Breakfast: Soft-Cooked Eggs

We enjoy our eggs in countless ways -- sunny-side up, poached and smothered in Hollandaise sauce, or gently enveloping your favorite cheese and veggies in a fluffy omelet. Soft-cooked eggs on toast was my ultimate comfort breakfast food as a kid. But I could also be quite finicky about them - firm, chalky yolks were tossed in the trash and I wrinkled my nose at under-cooked whites. Eighteen years later, America's Test Kitchen took this one to the lab and came up with a FOOLPROOF method for soft-cooked eggs. They're technique yields results that will satisfy every time, with perfectly solidified whites and soft, glossy yolks that will saturate a piece of buttered whole grain toast beautifully.
Perfect Soft-Cooked Eggs, Cooks Illustrated
Perfect Soft-Cooked Eggs, Cooks Illustrated

Because we can't see the inside of an egg while it's cooking, it's difficult to guess when exactly it reaches the perfect doneness. And since egg whites and yolks harden at different temperatures, timing is of the essence. Hundreds of eggs later, the brilliant food scientists in the Test Kitchen discovered that steaming, rather than boiling the eggs, yields better soft-cooked eggs. While dropping cold eggs into boiling water temporarily lowers the water temperature and therefore alters cooking time based on the number of eggs, steaming uses such a low amount of water that the curved edge of an egg in contact with the water will not significantly affect the overall temperature in the steaming pot. What's more, eggs will not crack and lose half the white to the cooking water from the harsh pressure change that often accompanies the full-boil method.

To steam your eggs, even without a proper steam basket, simply fill a saucepan with a half inch of water and bring it to a boil. Then place as many eggs as you'd like in the pot, cover with a lid so the water is simmering, and set your timer for six and a half minutes. Promptly remove the pot from the heat and run the eggs under cold water for 30 seconds. Enjoy any way you like -- scooped right from shell, as a dip for tender spears of asparagus, or peeled and broken over that thick slice of toast!

Written by: Carly Chaapel
Edited by: Megan Raff

Sources:

Cook's Illustrated. "Foolproof Soft-Cooked Eggs." 1 Jan. 2013. http://www.cooksillustrated.com/recipes/article.asp?docid=41579

Friday, June 21, 2013

Araucana Chickens: The Original Blue Egg Layer

I do so like
green eggs and ham!
Thank you!
Thank you,
Sam-I-am”         –Green Eggs and Ham, by Dr. Seuss

While many children read this classic story and think of green eggs as nothing more than another figment of Dr. Seuss’s incredible imagination, green eggs do in fact exist. And “Sam-I-am” does not lie – they are delicious. The green eggs at Dare2Dream Farms come from its Easter Egg chickens, which lay an olive-green egg. This beautiful, unique trait of Easter Eggers comes from its ancestor: the Araucana.

Green Eggs - Dare 2 Dream Farms
Green Eggs - Dare 2 Dream Farms
Araucanas are tufted (large feather tufts sprouting next to their ears), rumpless (without a tail), and lay blue eggs. Their history is a complicated and not quite-so-clear one. In Chile, the Araucana Indians had two native chicken breeds: Collonca chickens were small, rumpless, had a single small comb, and laid blue eggs; Quetro chickens had ear tufts, tails, a pea comb, and laid pinkish-brown eggs.  Dr. Rueben Bustos, a Chilean chicken expert, developed a breed that was a combination of these two Chilean chickens. He led Professor Salvador Castello from Spain to believe that it was a native breed, and Castello excited the poultry world when he presented this ‘native Chilean pure breed of chicken’ at the First World’s Poultry Congress in 1921. He discovered three years later that these Araucana chickens were not a pure breed, but by then word had spread and it was too late to set the record straight.

Many varieties of these blue-egg-laying chickens were bred in the U.S., but because no standard was yet set for a chicken to be passed as an Araucana, all of these muddled blue-egg-laying breeds became labeled as Araucana. It became falsely believed that Araucanas’ blue eggs were extraordinarily nutritious, so farmers were breeding Araucanas with every type of chicken and passing them off as Araucanas. As a result, the breed standard became very unclear.

In 1976 the APA set the Araucana standard to be tufted and rumpless (disqualifying all previously-labeled Araucanas that were bearded, muffed, and tailed, which went on to become labeled as American Araucanas, or Ameraucanas).

Splash Araucana Cockerel - Illia Chavez
Splash Araucana Cockerel - Illia Chavez
The gene that requires Araucanas to be tufted, while a necessary trait according to the standard, is a fatal one when two copies of it are passed to a chicken. If two copies of the tufted gene are inherited, a chick will almost always die in the shell. If only one copy is passed to a chicken, the chicken will not be fatally affected, but will have tufts and can pass on the gene. So when breeding two tufted Araucanas with the genes Tt (T showing the dominant tufted gene and t representing the recessive non-tufted gene), probabilities of their offspring show 25% non-tufted (tt), 50% tufted (Tt) which may qualify as Araucanas, and 25% dead in the shell (TT). If a tufted and a non-tufted Araucana are bred, the probabilities of their offspring are 50% non-tufted (tt), and 50% tufted (Tt)Either way, most likely less than half of the offspring may be labeled as Araucana according to standard.

The Araucana is a calm, friendly chicken. In its true form according to standard, it is very rare to find, and very expensive to acquire. It serves a dual purpose of being a good layer of blue eggs, and providing a good amount of meat. The Araucana’s relative is most commonly seen in the form of an Easter Egger, which is loosely defined as any chicken possessing the blue-egg-laying gene. These chickens lay blue, green, or pink eggs. For really green eggs, Olive Eggers can be bred using any chicken carrying the blue egg gene, and any dark brown egg laying chicken such as Marans, Barnevelders, or Welsummers.

Marans, Easter Egger, and Olive Egger Eggs - Dare 2 Dream Farms
Marans, Easter Egger, and Olive Egger Eggs - Dare 2 Dream Farms



Are you reading this, and getting hungry? Nothing fills the stomach better than some green eggs and ham. And now you know where those green eggs come from!

Written by: Rachel Frenkel
Edited by: Megan Raff

Resources:  

"Easter Egger Club of America." EasterEggers.Com. Easter Egger Club of America, n.d. Web. 19 June 2013.
Orr, Richard A. "A History of the Ameraucana Breed and the Ameraucana Breeders Club." Ameraucana History. Ameracauna Breeders Club, 1998. Web. 19 June 2013.
Somes Jr., R.G., Pabilonia, M.S. (1981). "Ear tuftedness: a lethal condition in the Araucana fowl". The Journal of Heredity 72 (2): 121–4. PMID 7276512


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Summertime Egg Recipes

Summer is here with it's abundance of glorious foods: sun-ripened tomatoes ready to fall off the vine, boxes of California avocados, baskets of bright green spinach and zucchinis, and of course, for backyard chicken keepers, nesting boxes overflowing with freshly laid eggs courtesy of our feathered friends. Sunny side up eggs on whole grain toast is always met with enthusiasm in the morning on our farm, but for added excitement, here is a collection of some of our other favorite recipes for this season.

Local Eggs - Out of the Box Collective
Out of the Box Collective - Local Eggs

SPINACH QUICHE by JENNIFER PIETTE, OUT OF THE BOX COLLECTIVE

This egg and spinach dish is a hearty way to start your day. Saute up fresh, local spinach, spread into a pie crust, and cover with eggs, milk, salt, black pepper, and nutmeg. Sprinkle with your choice of cheese and chuck it in an oven preheated to 375F. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until the cheese is browned, but still moist. Roast tomatoes in the oven to pair with the quiche and top the quiche with your choice of herbs. 

SPINACH BALLS

Excellent appetizers for summertime gatherings, this will easily feed plenty of hungry mouths after outdoor activities. Spinach, stuffing crumbs, Parmesan cheese, 4 eggs, butter, pepper, nutmeg, and onion: Mix, shape, and bake! 

GERMAN APPLE PANCAKES or DUTCH BABY

Grandma makes this dish as a small dessert for family dinner nights, but I could eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner too! (So could Grandpa!) Brown butter in a skillet, and sprinkle with a mixture of sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Line the skillet with apples and cook over medium-high heat until simmering. Pour batter over the simmering apples and slip the skillet into the oven at 375F for 10 minutes. Cut into wedges and serve with a squeeze of lemon, or a helping of maple syrup. 

AVOCADO BREAKFAST BAKE

Wellness Mama - Avocado Bake
California avocados are incredible - and if you're from California, you know anyone with an avocado tree is always trying to find a happy home for their boxes and bags of avocados this season. I find it effortless to eat an entire avocado in one sitting, so this recipe is perfect (not to mention easy)! Halve an avocado, remove the pit, and place on a baking dish. Crack an egg into each avocado and sprinkle with s+p. Bake for 15-20 min at 350F. Top with cilantro, tomatoes, cheese, green onions or any ingredients you choose. Viola & mmm.....

STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE WITH ANGEL FOOD CAKE

We are located in strawberry field heaven, near Santa Maria, where the strawberries in fruit stands are today's harvest of bright red, juicy delights! This light rendition on strawberry shortcake is perfect for a hot summer's treat! Use twelve of your egg whites to make this fluffy angel food cake. Mix together 1 1/2 lbs of fresh sliced strawberries (or strawbobbies as my sister used to call them) and 3 tbsp sugar. Stir and refrigerate to let the juices develop. Place the strawberry mixture over sliced cake, top with whipped cream, and help yourself to two servings! Trust me, you can't just have one. 

EGGS ON TOAST

But then there's always eggs on toast for breakfast, and honestly, how can you go wrong? 

Eggs on Toast by Rachel Frenkel

Happy Summer!