Q: What's the best way to boil eggs for Easter?
A: Actually, it's better not to boil eggs. Boiling makes eggs tough and rubbery. If you cook eggs too long or use heat that's too high, they also can turn green. In hard-boiled eggs, this makes a green ring around the yolk. This is okay to eat, but it doesn't look very nice. You can make tender eggs with no green ring by cooking more gently. And you can save energy if you don't leave the heat on for a long time to boil.
Here's directions on how to make the perfect hard-cooked egg:
¢ Put the eggs in one layer on the bottom of the pan. Put the pan in the sink. Run water into the pan until the water is 1 inch over the eggs. Put the pan on a burner. Turn it to medium-high heat.
¢ Let the water come to a boil. Put the lid on the pan when the water is boiling. Move the pan onto a cold burner. Set the timer for 15 minutes for large-sized eggs (or 12 minutes for medium-sized eggs, 18 minutes for extra large-sized eggs).
¢ Put the pan in the sink when the time is over. Run cold water into the pan until the eggs are cool. Put the eggs into the refrigerator if you're going to use them later, or peel them if you're going to use them right away. Use all of the cooked eggs before a week is over.
To peel the hard-cooked egg:
¢ Gently tap a cooled egg on the countertop or table until it has cracks in it. Roll the egg between your hands until the cracks turn into small crackles all over the egg.
¢ Use your fingers to start peeling off the shell at the large end of the egg. If you need to, you can hold the egg under running cold water or dip it in a bowl of water to make peeling easier. Throw out the pieces of eggshell when the egg is all peeled. You can eat the egg or use it in a recipe when it's peeled.
Q: Is it true that the fresher the egg, the harder it is to peel after you cook it?
A: That's correct, so you may want to buy your eggs ahead of time for easy peeling. A fresher eggs has a small air cell, and the membranes between the shell and egg white are quite snug. As the egg ages, it takes in air through the shell's 7,000 to 17,000 pores, and it loses carbon dioxide and water. This process makes the egg more alkaline rather than acidic. It also increases the size of the air cell and helps separate the membranes from the shell, both of which make peeling easier. For eggs that are easier to peel, buy them ahead of time and refrigerate them for a week to 10 days before you cook them.
Q: What food safety rules should I keep in mind when decorating hard-cooked eggs?
A: The most important thing to decide is whether you want to eat the decorated eggs later. If you won't be eating the eggs, you can use any decorating materials you want and display the eggs anywhere for as long as you like. If you do want to eat the eggs, follow these rules:
¢ Wash your hands between all the steps of cooking, cooling, dyeing and decorating.
¢ Be sure that all the decorating materials you use are food-safe.
¢ Keep the eggs refrigerated as much as possible. Keep putting them back into the refrigerator whenever you're not working with them.
¢ Dye the eggs in water warmer than the eggs so they don't absorb the dye water.
¢ If you hide the decorated eggs, put them where they won't come into contact with pets, other animals or birds or lawn chemicals.
¢ After you've found all the hidden eggs, throw out any that have cracked or have been out at room temperature for more than two hours.
¢ Eat uncracked, refrigerated hard-cooked eggs within a week of cooking them.
At the Krumm home, when our family's kids were younger, we would dye Easter eggs "just for fun" without worrying about eating them. Then, we would use the plastic eggs for the Easter egg hunts and fill the eggs with money for a special treat. Today, even though our kids are older and we don't have the Easter egg hunts, we sometimes still get out the food coloring and eggs. After all, it's tradition. And, of course, growing up in Lindsborg and singing in Handel's Messiah, sponsored by the Bethany College Oratorio Society, we have always enjoyed listening to the audiotape of the performance as we savor Easter dinner.
Speaking of meals, you may want to try a new breakfast egg dish for Easter morning. There are a ton of great recipe options on the Internet. Here's a couple of favorite Web sites: Bed & Breakfast Inns Online at www.bbonline.com/recipe/egg.html and American Egg Board at www.aeb.org/recipes. In perusing the sites, I can't wait to try the following recipe from the American Egg Board. I've never tried rolling baked eggs - what fun!
Elegant egg roll-up
1 1/2 cups sliced zucchini
1 1/2 cups sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup diced sweet red peppers
1/4 cup chopped onion
6 eggs, separated
3 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon salt, optional
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 1/4 cups skim or low-fat milk, heated
1/2 cup grated reduced-fat Cheddar cheese
Parsley sprigs, optional
Evenly coat a 10-inch skillet with spray. Add zucchini, mushrooms, peppers and onion. Cover and cook over medium heat until peppers are crisp-tender. Set aside. Meanwhile, evenly coat a 15-by-10-by-1-inch jelly roll pan with spray. Line with wax paper and spray again. Set aside.
In large mixing bowl at high speed, beat egg whites until stiff but not dry, just until whites no longer slip when bowl is tilted. In small mixing bowl at high speed, beat together yolks, flour, salt, if desired, and pepper until smooth. Gently fold yolk mixture into beaten whites. Pour into prepared pan and gently spread evenly. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven until the top springs back when lightly touched with finger, about eight to 10 minutes. With spatula, loosen egg from sides of pan and invert onto clean tea towel. Carefully pull wax paper. Trim all edges with serrated knife. Starting from long edge, roll up egg, rolling towel in with egg. Place wrapped roll seam-side down on wire rack until cooked, about 30 minutes.
Carefully unroll cake and spoon 3/4 cup of the milk over egg. Sprinkle with reserved vegetables and 1/4 cup of the cheese. Reroll. Place seam-side down on shallow baking pan. Spoon remaining 1/2 cup milk and sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup shredded cheese over top. Bake in preheated 375-degree oven until cheese is melted and heated through, about 10 to 12 minutes. Cut into 1 1/4-inch slices. Garnish slices with parsley sprigs, if desired. Makes 6 servings.