Breakfast “Easy, right??”

Easy? Maybe.

Depending on who you ask, breakfast means different things to different people, and the variety of foods that are consumed for breakfast could fill a whole library of cook books. Adelle Davis, a pioneer of American nutrition sciences once said: “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper.” Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day because it evens out your blood sugar levels, provides the energy that will last you for the rest of the day, and it is just plain good if you do it correctly.

Eggs are an important part of the American breakfast. We will look at eggs in depth this week and cook them in a variety of ways.

The following information about eggs was complied by instructors at the Art Institute of CA San Diego:
Eggs

Eggs are ONE OF THE MOST VERSITILE OF FOODS AND ARE VALUED FOR THREE MAIN REASONS:

1. THE ABILITY TO BIND OTHER LIQUIDS INTO A MOIST, TENDER SOLID
2. THE ABILITY TO FORM A REMARKABLY LIGHT DELICATE FOAM
3. STABILIZE OIL AND WATER SAUCES WITH THE EMULISIFIERS IN THE YOLK
Also:
1. In cooking, they provide flavor, texture, structure, moisture and nutrition.
2. Associated most with breakfast, eggs can be prepared for any meal… in Spain, it is often a mid-afternoon snack, called a “tortilla”.

NOTE: EGG WHITES OR ALBUMEN AND BAKING SODA ARE THE ONLY CULINARY ACCEPTABLE ALKALINE INGREDIENTS (except for VERY diluted lye solutions used to make hominy, in pretzel baking, etc.)

EGG COMPOSITION
• The primary parts of an egg: SHELL, ALBUMEN/WHITE, YOLK, CHALAZAE CORD, AIR CELL AND GERMINAL SPOT.
The SHELL: (12%)
– Composed of Calcium Carbonate.
– The breed of hen determines the shell color. For chickens, it can range from bright white to brown. Shell color has no bearing on quality, flavor or nutrition.
– Prevents microbes from entering and moisture from escaping.
– Does NOT prevent odors (from environment) from entering shell and odorizing the egg. Keep away from strong odors. The shells are porous and they absorb odors easily.

The YOLK: (30% of egg) yellow part of the egg. Contains ¾ths of the calories, most of the minerals and vitamins and all the fat. The yolk contains LECITHIN, the natural emulsifier used in Hollandaise and Mayonnaise. Yolks coagulate at ≈ 160°F.

The ALBUMEN: white part of the egg (58%.) Constitutes about 2/3 of the egg, contains more than half the protein.
– Coagulates between 144°F and 149°F.

The CHALAZAE CORD: The thick, twisted strands of egg white that anchor the yolk into place. They are not EMBRYOS or IMPERFECTIONS. The more prominent the chalazae cord, the fresher the egg. They do not interfere with cooking or whipping egg whites.

SIZING
• Eggs are sold in JUMBO, EXTRA-LARGE, LARGE, MEDIUM, SMALL and PEEWEE as determined by weight per dozen.
• Large eggs – 24 oz/dozen; Extra large – 27 oz./doz.

GRADING
• USDA grades eggs based on interior and exterior quality – NOT size.
• GRADES ARE: AA, A or B.
• GRADING CAN BE UNRELATED TO AGE OF EGG, BUT RATHER INHERENT QUALITY
• White and yolk condition often ARE RELATED to age
• Graded on condition of white and yolk, size of the air cell, exterior quality of the shell (clean, even, unbroken, etc.)

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS OF FRESH EGGS
Opaque whites and well-rounded yolks

STORAGE
• Eggs should be stored at temperatures below 40F.
• Eggs will age more in one day at room temperature than a week under refrigeration.
• Eggs should be stored “air sac-up” (pointy side down) – this keeps the yolk at the bottom of the egg for storage, and away from the air sac. If the air sac is allowed to touch the yolk, the fats in the yolk can go rancid.
• Uncooked eggs can be stored under proper refrigeration for up to 5 weeks.
• Keep away from strong odors. The shells are porous and they absorb odors easily. – Store in original shipping containers when possible.
• As the eggs age, the albumen becomes thinner and the yolk becomes flatter. This has no effect on nutrition.
• Older eggs are good for hard-cooking as the shells are easier to remove than with fresher eggs. Newer eggs – best for POACHING
• Separated egg whites can be store covered/refrigerated for 4-5 days.
• Separated egg yolks can be stored covered/refrigerated for 1-2 days.

SANITATION
• Eggs are a potentially hazardous food. What does that mean?
• They are an excellent breeding ground for bacteria.
• SALMONELLA is a great concern with eggs and egg products because the bacteria is often found in the chicken’s intestinal tract.
• Coddling – drop room temperature eggs into boiling water for 30-45 seconds – shock. If used immediately, makes raw eggs safer for use in things like Caesar salad.
• Although shells are cleaned at the packing houses, some bacteria may remain. The bacteria exists on the shell of the egg, not the interior, so care should be taken when breaking eggs that the shells do not come into contact with the center.
• PASTEURIZATION occurs at 140F for 3 ½ minutes for whole eggs. Then, bacteria are killed.
• Remember the temperature danger zone.

COAGULATION

Whole eggs coagulate at 160 – 165
Egg whites at between 145 and 150 degrees
Egg yolks between 150 and 158 degrees.

Diluted eggs – eggs with the addition of sugar, milk or cream – as in custards – coagulate at 175 – 180 degrees (milk, sugar or cream DELAY coagulation.)

VARIOUS COOKING METHODS AND EGGS
Dry Heat Cooking Methods
• BAKING: Shirred Eggs, Quiche
• SAUTEING: Scrambled Eggs, Omelets, Frittatas
o Scrambled Eggs:
 1-2 fl. oz of egg product per serving
 Cook slowly over low heat
 Stir often to break coagulating lumps into small pieces
 Remove from heat when slightly underdone to avoid overcooking (carry-over cooking)
o Omelets
 French – thinner – filled after being rolled and often plated
 American – thicker and usually filled in the pan
 EITHER: Surface should be smooth and COLORLESS – no browning!!!
• PAN-FRYING: SU, OE, OM, OH.
o Eggs will be fried best at 225ºF- 280ºF
o Butter will sizzle but will not brown at this temperature

Moist Heat Cooking Methods

• IN-SHELL COOKING/SIMMERING: Soft-cooked and Hard-cooked. These should simmered, but should never be BOILED as it toughens the eggs and discolors them.
Soft-boiled about 3-5 minutes to get the white set anf the yolk still runny
Medium about 7 minutes
Hard-boiled about 12-15 minutes.
• A greenish-grey ring will form around the yolk when the egg is cooked or allowed to remain to hot for too long
• Caused by a chemical reaction between inherent iron and sulfur
• Plunge into cold water and peeled immediately after cooking to prevent this reaction

• POACHING: Use fresh, cold eggs as whites stay together better. Poached eggs should be soft and moist. The whites should be set, but the yolk should be runny. I season my poaching liquid with salt, some people do not. Also 2T of vinegar per quart of water helps coagulation.

WHIPPING EGGS
• Eggs are often beaten into a foam in order to incorporate them into various products, including cakes, custards, soufflés, pancakes, waffles (griddlecakes,) etc. They will form and maintain lofty foam best under a few simple conditions:
– use the freshest eggs whenever possible
– be sure the whites are TOTALLY YOLK-FREE – any fat whatsoever will prevent full foaming
– use room temperature eggs
– be sure the bowl and whisk are clean and grease free.
– Whipped whites should be moist and shiny, NOT dry and spongy.
– The addition of a bit of salt or cream of tartar to stabilize foam
– Use whipped whites immediately – if the liquid starts to separate, the whites cannot be rewhipped and must be discarded.

In addition to eggs, cereals (hot and cold), fruit (and fruit juices), quickbreads,coffee, tea and some meat items are commonly consumed for breakfast in America.

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