By Susan Olcott
‘Tis the season for eggs. Of course, Easter got me thinking about eggs, but that’s because this is the time of year when egg-laying fowl are nesting and doing just that – laying eggs. We have a nest outside our dining room window that has different residents each spring. We’ve had robins and blue jays, and this year we have mourning doves. Determined not to disturb them, we carefully teeter on a stool inside each day to peer in and look for eggs. We learned that robins lay their signature blue eggs one at a time for up to five days. Blue jays lay speckled eggs -three to six at a time. And, mourning doves lay just two smooth, white eggs in a single clutch. After a few weeks, they are all gone, having flown from the nest, and a few weeks later, we watch the parents pick apart their nest in a strange kind of ritual finalizing the fledging of their chicks.
Now for the eggs that you eat . . . I also know it is egg season when our friends who have chickens let us know that “their girls are laying again”. We have a kind of informal “egg share” where we buy a dozen delicious eggs each week. I am always surprised by interesting variety of colors, shapes and sizes, even though they are all chickens. Generally, the white chickens lay white eggs and the other colored chickens lay brown eggs, and dwarf chickens lay blue eggs. I’m not a chicken expert, so I won’t get into each specific variety. Needless to say, when you have a dozen eggs every week, you get creative about what to make with eggs. Beyond the usual breakfast favorites of poached, fried, and scrambled, we came up with a few standards in our weekly routine, which I’ll share.
But first, more eggs. A few Easters ago, I was at the Topsham Winter Market with my girls and they were fascinated by Quail eggs. These are tiny speckled eggs, about a fifth the size of your average chicken egg. I bought a cute little carton of them and we fried them on top of toast the next morning. They were delicious. And, we also bought a half dozen duck eggs from Topsham’s Whatley Farm. These looked like boulders in comparison to the quail eggs. To be scientific in our comparison, we fried these as well. Their dark yellow yolks were rich and delicious.
Below are a few recipes to try – one for each meal. Muffin Tin Frittatas make an easy breakfast (though we love them for dinner too). Devilled eggs are a fun lunch. And Bim Bim Bop is a tasty Thai dinner. Try them using different eggs to sample them all
Muffin Tin Frittatas
Ingredients (Serves 4-6)
10 chicken eggs (double the number for quail, and I’d use 6-8 duck eggs)
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 c frozen peas
1 small bunch mint, minced
1 small bunch parsley, minced
1 c ricotta cheese
½ c cornmeal
½ t salt
- Preheat oven to 375 F. Grease a muffin tin.
- Sautee shallots gently in olive oil until soft. Let cool.
- Whisk eggs in a large bowl.
- Stir in herbs, peas, ricotta, cornmeal, salt and shallots once cool.
- Pour mixture into the muffin tin.
- Bake 20 minutes or until puffed and set.
Choose Your Own Adventure Devilled Eggs
Ingredients (Serves 4)
Eggs (2-3 per person, I’d go with chicken or duck eggs for this one since Quail eggs are so small)
Creative fillings: Mayo, mustard, ketchup, mango chutney, shredded cheese, relish, avocado, salt pepper
- Hard boil eggs. Set aside to cool. Peel when cool.
- Give each person a bowl to make his or her own combinations.
- But each egg in half and scoop out the yolks. Mash each yolk with desired filling ingredients.
- Re-stuff your eggs with your favorite combination of fillings.
Bim Bim Bop (Egg on Top)
Ingredients (Serves 4)
4 eggs (try this with duck or quail eggs)
4 cloves garlic, crushed
A pinch of sugar
3 T vegetable oil
8 oz. ground beef
2 T fish sauce
¼ c vegetable or chicken broth
1 c Jasmine rice
1 large bunch basil
For the Sauce:
¼ c fish sauce
2 garlic cloves, sliced
10-15 bird’s eye chilies (if you like it HOT) or add Sriracha or hot sauce to your taste
1 T lime juice
1 handful fresh cilantro
- Prepare the sauce: Mix fish sauce with garlic and chiles and set aside. It gets better the longer it sits.
- Cook the rice according to directions.
- Heat 2T oil in a wok and stir fry the ground beef mixed with minced garlic until just cooked.
- Add broth, fish sauce, and a pinch of sugar and simmer for a minute. Remove from heat and stir in basil. Cover to keep warm.
- In a small omelet pan, heat remaining oil and fry eggs one at a time to desired runniness.
- To serve, put Jasmine rice on each plate and top with some of the beef mixture. Top each plate with an egg.
- Finish the sauce by stirring in lime juice and fresh cilantro. Drizzle sauce on top.