Story, Recipes, and Photos by Kaitlin Hill

Chef, author, and food activist, Alice Waters once said, “To have a basic ingredient that can be prepared a million different ways is a beautiful thing.” Of all imaginable ingredients, this is perhaps most true of the humble egg. From breakfast favorite to unseen yet essential dessert ingredient, eggs are extremely versatile and, for most, quite healthy.

They are packed with roughly seven grams of protein, a healthy dose of iron, and even antioxidants. It’s no wonder the average American eats nearly 300 eggs a year and egg sales have a hit 50-year high, according to The Washington Post.

You can put your dozen to good use and enjoy eggs all day with my recipes for Classic French Omelette, Smoked Salmon Deviled Eggs, and an egg dependent dessert, Vanilla Bean Crème Brûlées.

Breakfast:
Classic French Omelette

Unlike a two-fold American version, a Classic French Omelette is distinguished by its pure yellow, three-fold or rolled appearance and creamy inside made up of just-cooked small curds. Achieving the perfect French omelette requires a little more finesse, enthusiastic whisking, and a lot of butter, but the end result is so worth it.

Serves 1
Ingredients:

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • salt, to taste
  • fresh chives, for garnish

Method:

  • Place the eggs in a medium bowl and whisk until the white and yolk are combined and the mixture is completely uniform. There should be no spots of egg white or yolk remaining. Whisk in a pinch of salt.
  • Place a non-stick pan over medium-low heat and add the butter.
  • Once the butter has melted, add the eggs. While shaking the pan vigorously, move the eggs around with a rubber spatula to create small curds. This should take about 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Press the eggs into a circle and cook until the edges begin to hold their shape.
  • Using your spatula, begin to roll the eggs over on themselves. Tilting the pan will help.
  • Once the omelette is completely rolled up, transfer it to a serving plate with the seam side down.
  • Sprinkle with chopped chives and
  • serve immediately.

Appetizer:
Smoked Salmon Deviled Eggs

Classic deviled eggs are effortlessly reinvented with the addition of smoked salmon and fresh herbs. This easy recipe comes together in a snap and is perfect for your next tailgate, cocktail party or even as a quick afterschool snack. Get your kids in the kitchen and have them help peel eggs and pipe filling for a fun activity with a delicious reward.

Serves 4 – 6
Ingredients:

  • 8 eggs
  • 2 ounces of smoked salmon, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup of mayonnaise
  • 1 – 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh chives (or dill), plus more for garnish
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Method:

  • Place eggs in a large pot and cover with water by about two inches. Bring the water to a boil and then reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook for 10 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and carefully drain the hot water. Run cold water over the eggs and peel immediately.
  • Once all the eggs are peeled, cut them in half lengthwise and carefully remove the yolks, placing them in a medium-sized bowl. Set the egg whites aside while you make the filling.
  • Using a fork, mash the egg yolks until they are finely ground. Add the salmon, mayonnaise, chives, salt, and pepper. Mix to combine. Add the vinegar a little at a time until the mixture is creamy but thick enough to pipe and has your desired level of acidity.
  • Transfer the filling to a piping bag and fill the cavities of the egg whites. You can also use two spoons to distribute the filling.
  • Top with extra chives for garnish and serve.

Dessert:
Vanilla Bean Crème Brûlées

Impress guests with restaurant quality but secretly easy Vanilla Bean Crème Brûlées. Just five ingredients and mastery of your oven’s broiler button is all it takes to achieve creamy centered, crispy topped, perfectly torched crème brûlées. They are great for those daunting dinner parties with endless to-do lists, as they can be made a few days ahead and charred just before serving.

Serves 4
Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of heavy whipping cream
  • 1 vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • A pinch of salt
  • 5 egg yolks
  • ½ cup of sugar, plus 4 teaspoons for topping

Method:

  • Preheat your oven to 325°F.
  • If using a vanilla bean, split it lengthwise with a sharp knife. Using the back of the knife, scrape out the seeds of the vanilla bean. Keep both the pod and seeds.
  • Combine heavy cream, vanilla bean pod, vanilla bean seeds, and salt in a small saucepan set over low heat. Cook until the cream just starts to bubble around the edges. Turn the heat off and let the mixture sit for a few minutes to cool slightly and for the vanilla bean to steep.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar. Whisk until thoroughly combined and light in color. While whisking, slowly pour a quarter of the warm cream mixture into the egg yolks. Touch the egg yolk mixture with your finger. If it is warm to the touch, add the eggs to the pot with the remaining cream and stir to combine. If the eggs aren’t warm, add in a little more hot cream to bring up the temperature before adding the eggs to the remaining cream.
  • Divide the crème brûlée base between four 6-ounce ramekins. Place the ramekins in a brownie pan and fill the pan with about two inches of boiling water, or enough to come halfway up the ramekins.
  • Transfer the baking dish to the preheated oven and bake for 35 – 40 minutes. The crème brûlées are finished baking when they are mostly set with just a slight wiggle in the middle.
  • Remove them from the oven and cool to room temperature. Transfer the ramekins to the fridge to set up for at least 4 hours or overnight.
  • When you are ready to serve, remove crème brûlées from the fridge and sprinkle each with a teaspoon of granulated sugar. Place the ramekins under the broiler and cook until the sugar is a deep brown color and is crispy, about 2 minutes. Don’t walk away during this step, the browning time will depend on your oven’s broiler and can happen quickly.
  • Remove the crème brûlées from the oven and let sit for 5 minutes before serving. ML

Kaitlin Hill is a Culinary Institute of America trained chef and the creator of the Emotional Eats Blog, where she shares her original recipes and studies in food history. To read more, visit www.emotionaleats.com.

This article first appeared in the August 2019 issue of Middleburg Life.