Eggs have long been associated with spring: trying to stand raw eggs on end during the spring equinox, the decorating and hiding of Easter eggs, and the symbolism of eggs as rebirth – and every spring, we're surrounded by them. From real to chocolate to home décor, they are everywhere.
The tradition of boiling eggs began hundreds of years ago. Because eggs weren't consumed during Lent, households would eat all of the eggs they had before Lent began. But because the chickens continued to lay eggs, people began boiling them so they wouldn't spoil. As a result, many of the dishes consumed during Easter are egg-based, such as Hornazo, a Spanish meat pie decorated with boiled eggs, to Tsoureki, the Greek Easter bread that is decorated with red-colored hard-boiled eggs.
But although the egg is rooted in spring traditions, it has fallen out of favor in recent years. It has been maligned as a little ball of cholesterol – consume them and the potential for a heart attack or stroke rises. But a new study published in the journal BMJ in January 2013 found that eggs, in moderation, won't increase the risk of coronary heart disease or stroke: "Higher consumption of eggs (up to one egg per day) is not associated with increased risk of coronary heart disease or stroke."
Perfect! Eggs are back on the menu – just in time for spring. Eggs are great because they cook fast, so you don't have to worry about heating up your apartment. They are versatile, and they are one of the most basic ingredients for any type of baking. From a simple poached egg for breakfast to a quiche for lunch to egg drop soup for dinner, eggs are ideal for quick, inexpensive meals any time of the day.
People who live alone often resort to frozen, microwavable meals or ordering take-out because cooking for one is a challenge. An egg is an alternative for those nights when you want something home-cooked. If you have ramekins, try making this baked egg with spinach – it only takes 20 minutes start to finish, and you can easily cut the recipe down for just one ramekin.
If you don't have a ramekin, try making Egg Nests. This unique recipe uses the egg whites and Gruyere cheese to make the "nest" and the yolk forms the center. Just preheat your oven to 450 degrees and line a baking pan with parchment paper. Separate the eggs -- don't let any egg yolk get into the whites or they won't beat properly. Keep each yolk in a separate bowl if you are making more than one nest. In a mixer, beat the egg whites (start on low speed and gradually increase to high speed) until stiff peaks form. Fold in the grated Gruyere cheese -- carefully -- you don't want to deflate the egg whites. Create a mound (or more, depending on how many nests you are making) of egg white mixture on the baking sheet. Form them to look like nests by creating an indentation in the center of each. Put them in the oven for three minutes. Carefully add an egg yolk to the center of each nest, and bake three additional minutes.
If you have a carton of eggs that have been sitting in your fridge for a while and you don't know if they are fresh, here's how to tell: get a bowl and fill it with water. Gently place the egg in the water. A fresh egg will sink. If your egg floats, it is probably bad – toss it out. You can keep eggs (fresh in the shell) for about a month.
Eggs are high in protein, vitamin A, and riboflavin. Eaten in moderation, they are good for you! Boil some and keep them in the fridge for a quick meal or cut one over a salad. If you boil a batch and then you can't distinguish them from the raw eggs, just spin them (carefully!) on the countertop – a hard-boiled egg will spin and a raw one will not.
And if you've ever wondered why your hard-boiled eggs are hard to peel – they're too fresh! Eggs need to be at least three days old before they will peel easily. So, the fresher the eggs, the more difficult it will be to peel them. Keep that in mind when you are getting ready to boil your Easter eggs.
Speaking of Easter eggs, try making your own dyes – add two or three teaspoons of vinegar to a cup of water and use natural dyes such as tea, grape juice, turmeric, spinach leaves, beets, lemon peels, and even red wine. Here's how to dye eggs naturally (with ingredients you probably already have in your fridge and pantry!).