My dear future ‘sister-in-law’ made breakfast this morning. We had home-made ‘baked beans’, pan fried mushrooms, poached eggs, salad and Brasserie bread. I have always loved poached eggs, Eggs Benedict is my absolute favourite brunch menu item. It got me into thinking about eggs. I’ve decided to give everyone a basic crash course about eggs.

Eggs are a good source of vitamins and minerals. They can be served alone, prepared in many ways, or used as an ingredient in other meals. From watching the Lifestyle Food channel on Foxtel, I have noticed that in America they have white eggs. However, I found out there is no relationship between the colour of the eggshell (brown – Australia, white – America) and the quality or taste of the egg. So don’t worry if your carton of egg is different shades of brown.

Cooking Considerations: Eggs are most commonly found on the breakfast menu. The following guidelines should be kept in mind:

  • Use eggs as soon as possible after purchasing. Flavour and appearance deteriorate with age. I usually try and find the carton that has the use by date furthest from the day of purchase.
  • Boiling causes eggs to become rubbery. When cooking eggs in the shell, place the eggs in water (some dispute that this should be boiling water, some say cold water). I use cold water and cover the egg/s by 1cm. Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat to a simmering temperature.
  • Soft-boiled eggs should be cooked for no longer than one to three minutes.
  • Hard-cooked eggs should be cooked no more than 15 minutes.
  • However, it does really depend on your stovetop. I cook my eggs for about 7 minutes at a low simmering heat. It also depends on how big your egg is. Experiment a bit and write down: 1) How big your egg is. 2) How long it takes to cook to your liking. 3) Which stovetop you used and on which setting.
  • After removing eggs cooked in the shell from the water, immerse them in cold water and peel them immediately to prevent yolk from turning green.
  • To poach eggs, bring water to a simmer and add some vinegar before adding the eggs. Eggs should be broken into a separate dish before they are added to the poaching liquid. The poaching liquid should be spinning before you place the egg into the liquid so that the white coats the yolk and hopefully you end up with a nice little ball of poached egg. This method needs only a minute or two in the simmering water for the egg to be ready. The yolks will be thick but with a runny consistency.
  • Once again, poaching does depend on the egg and the heat of the water. So if you make it quite often, write down some information to creating your own perfect poached egg.

Cooking Uses: There are many different ways to use eggs in cooking. When eggs are heated, the protein in the yolk coagulates. This makes eggs useful as thickening agents and for coating other foods. When heat is applied to the egg white, it changes from a transparent to a soft white colour. When sugar is added to an egg mixture, higher heat is needed for coagulation. When salt is added, a lower temperature is needed. When an acid such as lemon juice is added, the temperature for coagulation is also lowered and a fine gel is produced.

Binding and Coating: Eggs help make ingredients stick together in products such as hamburgers and in batters for deep-fried products.

Leavening Agent: Leavening involved incorporating gases into a product to increase the product’s volume and make it lighter. Beaten egg whites create a foam made up of air bubbles surrounded by thin layers of egg white film. When this foam is incorporated into a mixture and heated, the air bubbles expand and the film hardens. This process occurs in making souffles and sponge cakes. Egg whites should be beaten only until the peaks stand straight. If they are over-beaten, the volume of the foam will be reduced. If sugar is added to egg whites while beaten, the resulting foam will be more stable, when baked this will become a meringue. Egg yolks can also be used as a leavening agent: when heated, they increase in size. However, because of the presence of fat, yolks are less effective leavening agents than egg whites.

Emulsifying Agent: Oil and vinegar separate unless the oil droplets are coated with egg or some other emulsifier to prevent the separation. Egg yolks are used as an emulsifier in mayonnaise, ice cream, and my favourite Hollandaise sauce.

Interfacing Substance: Eggs prevent ice crystals from combining to create a larger mass. They are used in this way when sherbets are made.

Clarifying Agent: When egg protein coagulates, it traps particles in the substance so they can be removed. This makes liquids clear and free from impurities. Broths can be clarified with egg whites.

All this is just basic information for eggs. Of course there are other ways of cooking eggs: frying, scrambled, omelette. Hopefully this opens your minds to many other different ways eggs can be used and creates a better understanding to how such a ball of protein can have so many uses. There are also many different eggs: chicken, hen, duck, ostrich, goose, quail and many more. One of my favourites is thousand-year-old egg, it’s very nice in congee. Don’t be scared and have a try of different types of egg.

Happy nom nom nom-ing!

Chef’s Armoury Event – Rosebery, Sydney

Last Saturday, the boyfriend, his sister and I made our way to Rosebery. I had signed us up for two classes for this Saturday a couple of months ago. The classes were being held at the Chef’s Armoury store in Rosebery. The store is relatively easy to find as it was on a main road and there was quite a lot of parking available nearby for free. Chef’s Armoury is a store that specialises in Japanese food and knives. As well as this, they do have quite an extensive range of Japanese cookware and accessories.

I have always loved Japanese things. The food, the culture, the fashion, the history, the people, the technology and of course the dramas. I have been to Japan a couple of times and am always willing to go back. Japan always brings back great memories…

But back to Chef’s Armoury…It is quite a quaint store that offers many classes including knife skills classes, knife sharpening classes, cooking classes and sashimi and filleting classes. Check out some of their classes and events that they have to offer. I found that it was quite smart to introduce some free events where people could have a taste of what they were offering and well as to lure people into the store to purchase their products (we came away with some goodies).

As I personally do not like being late, we arrived about 30min early for the event. The store was quite empty with a couple of customers looking around. I was nosy so I also had a look around.

This was probably about 1/3 of the store.

Even the fake sushi was kawaii!! Behind are some tins of real 100% powdered wasabi. Alas I don’t eat sashimi or sushi at home so I didn’t buy a jar even though I wanted to.

Sashimi and Filleting Demonstration

People started rolling in and soon enough, the demonstration started. The sashimi demonstration was done by Leigh Hudson. I had first met Leigh at the Good Food and Wine show a couple of week back and had had a little chat with him about the blog (which he updates). He was very nice and it was good to see him again.

Top: Yanagiba knife. Bottom: Deba knife.

Leigh is very into cleaning the knife properly as there is bacteria right under the skin of the kingfish. You have to carefully scale and fillet the fish properly to avoid any cross contamination.

Filleting the kingfish. Try to cut as close to the bones as possible. Otherwise you can use the fish bones to make a stock.

Leigh filleting the other side of the kingfish.

Look at the beautiful fillet of kingfish. I could eat it all myself.

Slicing sashimi

Plates and plates of delicious, fresh kingfish sashimi.

My plate of sashimi with fresh wasabi and shredded daikon. The daikon helps with the bacteria in the fish.

The demonstration finished , but we hung around as the next demonstration was in 1.5 hours and there was nothing nearby worth going it. We had a chat with Leigh and Eddie (Leigh’s lovely assistant) about random things.

Genmai Brown Rice. It looks yummy. I am a massive fan of Genmaicha.

Kyoto Green Tea and Sweets Demonstration

Left to right: Kyuusu teapot, tea sifter, green tea whisk.

The mochi before it is worked and divided to make the daifuku.

Ichigo (Strawberry) Daifuku

Green Tea Pancakes

Green Tea Pancakes with Red Azuki Beans

The final product: Dorayaki!

Dorayaki and Ichigo Daifuku

I had a great time at Chef’s Armoury. With a morning of sashimi to an afternoon of green tea and Japanese sweets. I really did learn a lot. The next event is in a couple of weeks and I shall be attending yet again, this time it’s Takoyaki. Yum! I will make some Dorayaki and some Ichigo Daifuku of my own soon (when I’m free from assessments).

Learn how to use other Japanese ingredients and Japanese knives at Chef’s Armoury.

Until then…

Happy nom nom nom-ing!

Valrhona Chocolate

My best friend Lemon bought some Valrhona Chocolate last week from Simon Johnson and he finally brought it over for me to try. He had first heard about Valrhona when he worked at La Renaissance Café Patisserie in The Rocks. I had never heard of Valrhona before and was quite skeptical of how nice it could really be when it I found out it was $13.50 for a 70g bar. But when I tasted it, I could see why. Each chocolate had its own distinct taste. Even some with a difference of 2% cocoa made the chocolate taste quite different. Each chocolate is from a different region.

Jivara 40% Grand Cru 70g Bar $13.50

Valrhona’s Jivara is created using cocoa from Ecuador and is a smooth and mild mannered milk chocolate with added malt and brown sugar. The 40% cocoa content provides an easy eating milk chocolate with a creamy texture and light finish.

Manjari 64% Grand Cru 70g Bar $13.50

Manjari a 64% Grand Cru is created from a blend of Criollo and Trinitario beans from Madagascar. An aromatic bouquet of fresh slightly acid chocolate flavour, with intense hints of red fruits. A delight that works well with the pieces of preserved orange peel.

Caraibe 66% Grand Cru 70g Bar $13.50

Valrhona Grand Cru – Caraibe 66% is a blend of Trinitarios cocoa beans from the Caribbean Islands. The “grands crus” are created from beans grown in a given geographic region but on different plantations. It is gentle and fruity revealing delicate flavours of almond and roasted coffee.

Guanaja 70% Grand Cru 70g Bar $13.50

Valrhona Grand Cru chocolate – Guanaja – 70% cocoa – a blend of Criollos and Trinitarios cocoa beans from South America. Bitter dark chocolate revealing exceptional complexity and incredible length of flavour.

My favourite was the Manjari 64% Grand Cru. Although the Caraibe 66% Grand Cru has only 2% difference in cocoa, there was a distinct difference in taste. The 64% was slightly sweeter and also had a smoother texture in the mouth. Whereas I enjoyed the taste of the 66%, but it left a dry feeling in my mouth, which is what I don’t like about dark chocolate when there is too much cocoa. Which is also why I didn’t really enjoy the 70%. I found the 40% one too sweet, milky and creamy for my liking. I’m not a big fan of milk chocolate because of this.

Lemon also bought me a bar of 68% Le Noir Gastronomie bar to cook with. I was researching on the Internet last night and I found some recipes on their website. I don’t want to waste such an expensive chocolate so I decided to make the Molten Chocolate Lava Cake and Le Souffle from the Valrhona website. I will post up photos when I do get around to baking these desserts.

68% Le Noir Gastronomie 250g $28.50

Le Noir Gastronomie bar is made from a blend of Criollos and Forastero beans from South America and Africa. Used in chocolate desserts, this chocolate is well-rounded, powerful and has a slightly bitter taste.

Happy nom nom nom-ing!