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  • Deb Lindsey / The Washington Post

    Ricotta frittata includes spring vegetables such as asparagus and spinach.

  • Deb Lindsey / The Washington Post

    Deviled eggs with ramp puree.

  • T. Ortega Gaines / Charlotte Observer

    Breakfast bowls of sausage, eggs, potatoes and tomatoes are spotlighted in “The Pioneer Woman Cooks,” by Ree Drummond.

  • Deb Lindsey / The Washington Post

    Uove al forno (baked eggs) is prepared on a bed of mixed greens, such as Swiss chard, dandelion greens and tender spinach. The greens are first seasoned with oil, garlic and crushed red pepper. The eggs mingle with mozzarella on top of this casserole.

  • T. Ortega Gaines / Charlotte Observer

    Shakshuka, left, is a Middle Eastern breakfast dish of eggs poached in tomato sauce. From “Breakfast for Dinner,” by Lindsay Landis and Taylor Hackbarth.

More Information

  • Strata with sausage, cheese and herbs

    Prep time: 20 minutes plus minimum 30 minutes chill time

    Cook time: 52 minutes

    Serves 12 (generously)

    Stratas are a cook’s best friend when it comes to the holidays, whether Easter or Christmas. They are time-savers because they are easy to prepare and assemble a day ahead. This strata uses sweet Italian sausage, but you can substitute any mild or hot Italian or other breakfast sausage. You also can use Italian turkey sausage or frozen vegetarian crumbles.

    From and tested by Susan Selasky for the Detroit Free Press Test Kitchen.


    20  ounces sweet Italian sausage, casings removed if in links

    1  tablespoon butter

    1  medium onion, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces (about 1 cup)

    8  ounces cremini mushrooms, cleaned, sliced

    red bell pepper, diced

    1  tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

    cup heavy whipping cream

    1/2  cup half-and-half

    10   eggs

    1  teaspoon salt

    1/2  teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

    16  ounces egg bread or country bread (preferably 1 to 2 days old), cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices

    21/2  cups shredded Fontina or Swiss cheese


    Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.

    In a large skillet over medium heat, break up sausage and sauté until golden brown, about 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside on paper towel to drain. Add the 1 tablespoon butter to the same skillet and melt. Add the onions, mushrooms and bell pepper and saut until they are tender. Remove from the heat and cool.

    In a medium bowl, whisk the thyme, cream, half-and-half, eggs, salt and pepper, and set aside.

    Lay half of the bread in the buttered baking dish, sprinkle with half of the sausage mixture, half of the mushroom mixture and about half of the cheese. Repeat layering with remaining bread, sausage, mushroom and cheese. Slowly pour egg mixture over top. Press down on the bread so it gets covered with the egg mixture. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes or overnight.

    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Remove the strata from the refrigerator while the oven is preheating. Uncover and place the baking dish on a baking sheet to catch overflow. Bake 40 minutes, or until golden brown. Allow to sit 10 minutes before serving.

    Per serving: 438 calories (61 percent from fat); 30 grams fat (14 grams sat. fat); 23 grams carbohydrates; 21 grams protein; 929 mg sodium; 269 mg cholesterol; 214 mg calcium; 1 gram fiber.

  • Uove al forno (baked eggs)

    Prep time: 20 minutes

    Cook time: 21 minutes

    Serves 4


    8  cups packed mixed greens, such as Swiss chard, dandelion greens and tender spinach

    6  ounces fresh whole-milk mozzarella (in a ball)

    1  medium clove garlic

    3  tablespoons olive oil

    1/8   teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

    1/4  cup water

    4  ounces thinly sliced coppa (Italian salami)

    4  large eggs

    1/8   teaspoon kosher or sea salt

    Freshly ground black pepper


    Rinse the greens well, then shake off as much water as possible. Cut the leaves (only) into 1-inch pieces. Cut the mozzarella into very thin slices. Mince the garlic.

    Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Have a 10-inch ovenproof gratin dish or casserole at hand.

    Combine the oil, garlic and crushed red pepper flakes in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook for about 45 seconds to flavor the oil, adjusting the heat or stirring so the garlic does not brown. Add the greens, in batches if needed, and the water; cook for about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, so the greens wilt. Transfer them to the gratin dish or casserole, spreading them to the edges.

    Arrange the coppa atop the greens in a ring that hugs the edges of the dish or casserole, leaving an open space in the middle for the eggs. Lay the mozzarella slices on top of the coppa. Carefully crack open the eggs at the center of the pan. (Some of the eggs may overlap the coppa and cheese; that’s OK.) Season the eggs with the salt and pepper to taste. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the whites of the eggs are opaque and just set; the yolks should be runny.

    Serve right away.

    Per serving: 400 calories; 31 g fat (11 g sat.); 275 mg chol.; 930 mg sodium; 5 g carb.; 2 g fiber; 2 g sugar; 25 g protein.

  • Deviled eggs with ramp purée

    Prep time: 35 minutes

    Cook time: 15 minutes

    Serves 3 to 6

    Ramps are members of the onion family, harvested in spring. Look for them at farmers markets and specialty food shops.

    Make ahead: The ramp purée can be made and refrigerated up to 4 days in advance, or frozen for 6 months. The eggs can be cooked a day in advance, but don’t assemble until just before serving.


    For the ramp puree:

    2  ounces (2 bunches) fresh ramps (root ends trimmed), rinsed well

    About 1/3 cup olive oil, or more as needed


    Freshly ground black pepper

    For the eggs:

    6  large eggs

    3  tablespoons regular or low-fat mayonnaise, or more as needed

    1/2  teaspoon Dijon-style mustard


    Freshly ground black pepper


    For the ramp purée: Bring a medium pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the ramps and cook/blanch them for 1 minute, then drain. Refresh them under cool running water, then drain and dry thoroughly.

    Place the ramps in a blender or food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add the oil and purée until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. If the purée is too thick, add 1 tablespoon of oil.

    For the eggs: Place them in a large saucepan. Add cold water to cover by about an inch; bring to a boil over high heat. Once the water boils, cover tightly, then remove from the heat. Let the eggs sit in the hot water for 14 minutes.

    Drain the water, keeping the eggs in the pan. Shake the pan back and forth and up and down a few times so the shells crack just a little. Fill the pan with cold water; the water will seep into the cracks in the shell, making the eggs easier to peel.

    Peel the eggs, then cut each one in half lengthwise. Carefully transfer just the yolks to a medium bowl and add the mayonnaise and mustard. Mash to the desired consistency and to incorporate the ingredients. Season with salt and pepper to taste. For a creamier deviled egg filling, add a bit more mayonnaise.

    Place a small dollop (about 1/4 teaspoon) of the ramp purée in the well of each egg white half, then fill with a spoonful of the deviled egg mixture. Top with a tiny dollop of the ramp puree.

    Per serving (based on 6): 110 calories; 8 g fat (2 g sat.); 210 mg chol.; 190 mg sodium; 2 g carb.; 0 g fiber; 0 g sugar; 6 g protein.

  • Ricotta frittata with spring vegetables

    Prep time: 10 minutes

    Cook time: 10 minutes

    Serves 6

    The vegetables can be mixed and matched as you desire and as they become available. Serve with a green salad. Make ahead: The cooked vegetables can be refrigerated for up to 5 days.

    Adapted from The Washington Post.


    8  large eggs

    1/4  cup whole milk

    1/2   teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste

    2  tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

    2  cloves garlic, thinly sliced

    2  stalks green garlic (may substitute 1 clove garlic, thinly sliced, or 2 large scallions, thinly sliced)

    8  ounces asparagus (woody ends trimmed off), cut into 1/2-inch pieces

    4  ounces baby spinach leaves, chopped

    1/2  cup whole-milk ricotta cheese

    4  large scallions, thinly sliced, or 1 small bunch ramps


    Lightly beat the eggs with the milk and 1/2 teaspoon of salt in a mixing bowl.

    Pour 1 tablespoon of the oil into a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the garlic, green garlic and asparagus; cook, stirring frequently, for a few minutes, until the asparagus is barely tender. Add the spinach and cook, stirring to incorporate, just until it wilts. Season with salt to taste. Scrape the mixture into a bowl.

    Position an oven rack several inches from the heating element or flame; preheat the broiler.

    Return the skillet to medium-high heat. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil. Once it shimmers, pour in the egg mixture and cook for a few minutes, until it is set on the bottom. Use a spatula to lift the edges of the eggs on one side and tilt the skillet so any uncooked egg runs underneath. Repeat on several sides until the frittata has mostly set but is still a little runny on the very top.

    Spoon the garlic-vegetable mixture evenly onto the frittata. Drop tablespoons of the ricotta on the surface, and scatter the slice scallions or whole ramps on top. Transfer the skillet to the oven; broil until the frittata has puffed, set and browned in spots, about 3 minutes.

    Serve the frittata straight from the skillet, if desired, or run a knife around the edges and carefully invert it just long enough to flip it onto a platter so the ramps and ricotta are on top. The frittata may deflate a bit; that is OK.

    Serve warm or at room temperature.

    Per serving: 200 calories; 14 g fat (5 g sat.); 295 mg chiol.; 320 mg sodium; 6 g carb.; 2 g fiber; 2 g sugar; 13 g protein.

  • Eggs 101

    Nutrition: Recent USDA studies give eggs a better nutritional profile than a decade ago. With about 70 calories, a large egg contains 187 mg of cholesterol, about 14 percent lower than previously measured. Eggs are rich in vitamin D (41 IU per egg) and protein (6 grams). Eggs also contain choline, which has been linked with preserving memory, as well as lutein and zeaxanthin, which may protect against vision loss.

    Selection: Look for unbroken, uncracked shells and uniform shape. Check the date on the carton.

    If harvesting your own eggs, they should be cleaned before storage. But don’t put them in cold water to soak. When submerged, the eggshell can actually draw bacteria inside the egg. Preferably, “dry clean” the egg by gently rubbing off any dirt or bird droppings with sandpaper, loofah or an abrasive sponge. Sanitize the cleaning tool after use. If dried egg is stuck on the outside of the shell, clean it off under running tap water. Do not let fresh uncooked eggs stand in water.

    Storage: Eggs should be refrigerated between 35 and 45 degrees F. Do not freeze. Chilled eggs keep a long time. If the shell is unbroken and the egg has been properly handled, it will keep for four weeks with refrigeration. Eggs will stay fresher protected within their carton instead of stored open in the refrigerator in a rack or bowl. The carton also keeps eggs from absorbing flavors from other foods stored in the refrigerator (such as onions). Hard-boiled eggs will keep one week, refrigerated in their shells.

    Egg safety: Food poisoning is a real concern when handling eggs, which are subject to bacterial contamination. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in every 10,000 eggs may contain salmonella. (Other estimates decrease that risk to 1 in 30,000.) That danger is why food safety experts recommend always cooking eggs before consumption.

    Pasteurized eggs or egg products are treated to kill bacteria, so they can be used in dishes that are uncooked or only lightly cooked.

    Here are other egg safety recommendations from the American Egg Board:

    • Wash hands with soap and warm water before handling eggs.

    • Avoid pooling and combining eggs from different dozens.

    • Use clean and sanitized utensils and equipment.

    • Keep eggs chilled and take out eggs from the refrigerator only for immediate use.

    • Never stack egg flats near a grill or stove.

    • Never leave egg dishes at room temperature more than one hour (including preparation and service time).

    Preparation: Eggs can be boiled, baked, fried, poached, scrambled and used as an ingredient in a huge variety of other foods. Never microwave an egg in its shell; it may explode.

    According to the American Egg Board, eggs should be cooked until the whites are “set” (completely coagulated and firm) and the yolks begin to thicken (no longer runny, but not hard). Scrambled eggs and omelets should be cooked until firm throughout with no visible liquid egg remaining. For egg-containing dishes (such as sauces and casseroles), cook until an internal temperature of 160 degrees F. or above has been reached.

    When using fresh eggs in any dish, break the egg into a small bowl, then transfer it to the mixing bowl or pan. By breaking it into a small bowl, it’s easier to retrieve any broken shell. If the egg smells bad, discard it.

    Perfect hard-boiled eggs: Older eggs are easier to peel than very fresh eggs when hard boiled. According to experts, eggs that are 7 to 10 days old are ideal. Place eggs in a saucepan large enough to hold them in single layer. Add cold water to cover eggs by 1 inch. On high heat, heat water and eggs just to boiling. Remove pan from burner. Cover the pan. Let eggs stand in hot water about 12 minutes for large eggs (9 minutes for medium eggs; 15 minutes for extra large). Drain immediately and serve eggs warm. Or, cool eggs completely under cold running water or in bowl of ice water and refrigerate until ready to use or eat. To peel, gently tap cooled egg on countertop until shell is finely crackled all over. Roll egg between hands to loosen shell. Start peeling at the large end, holding egg under cold running water to help ease the shell off.

    Freshness test: As they age, eggs develop air pockets as air seeps inside the porous shells. That means an old egg will float in fresh unsalted water. To test an egg for freshness, fill a cup with fresh water. With a spoon, lower the egg into the water. If it sinks to the bottom and stays there, it’s fresh. If it sits at an angle, it’s still fresh. If it stands on the pointed end, it’s safe to eat but not quite as fresh; use it for baking or hard boiled. If the egg totally floats, it should be discarded.

    Shell as tool: Retrieve errant egg shell fragments with another piece of shell instead of your finger or a utensil. Use a half shell or other large piece to scoop out the broken bit, which is attracted to the shell and its albumen.

    Resource: For more egg recipes and tips, visit the American Egg Board site at

    — Debbie Arrington

  • Shakshuka

    Prep time: 15 minutes

    Cook time: 37 minutes

    Serves 3 to 4

    From “Breakfast for Dinner,” by Lindsay Landis and Taylor Hackbarth (Quirk, $19.95, 160 pages). This Mideastern breakfast of eggs poached in a spicy tomato sauce can be a substantial vegetarian dinner.


    tablespoons olive oil

    1  medium yellow onion, peeled and chopped

    2  mild chili peppers, such as Anaheims, seeded and diced

    1  hot chili pepper, such as jalapeño, seeded and diced

    1  can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained

    1/2  cup vegetable or chicken broth

    1  teaspoon ground cumin

    teaspoon smoked paprika

    1/2   teaspoon dried oregano

    1/2   teaspoon salt

    1/4  teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

    6 to 8 medium or large eggs

    2  tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

    1/4  cup crumbled feta cheese

    Pita bread or crusty bread


    Heat the oil in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and chili peppers and cook until the onion is softened and just beginning to brown, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add tomatoes with their juice, broth, cumin, paprika, oregano, salt and pepper. Lower the heat and simmer 20 to 22 minutes, or until thickened. Stir occasionally so it doesn’t stick.

    Make indentations in the sauce with the back of a spoon and crack an egg into each. Cover and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, or until the whites are set and yolks are thick but still runny. Sprinkle with parsley and feta and serve with warm bread.

  • Breakfast bowls

    Prep time: 20 minutes

    Cook time: 20 minutes

    Serves 4

    Adapted from “The Pioneer Woman Cooks,” by Ree Drummond (William Morrow, $27.50, 256 pages). This is a very family-friendly dish. Kids can help put these together.


    1  tablespoon butter, plus more for the bowls

    1/4  large onion, diced

    1  russet (baking) potato, baked, cooled, cut in cubes

    Salt and pepper to taste

    5  eggs, beaten

    1/2   cup half-and-half

    3   plum tomatoes, cored and diced

    2  green onions, chopped

    1/2   pound breakfast sausage, browned and crumbled

    1/2  cup each grated Monterey Jack and sharp cheddar (or 1 cup grated cheese mix)


    Butter 4 ovenproof bowls or ramekins. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

    Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and potatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are warmed through and the onions are a little softened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside. Whisk together the eggs and half-and-half in a mixing bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Combine the tomatoes and green onions in a small bowl and set aside.

    Assemble by placing potatoes, sausage, a little of the cheese, a quarter of the egg mixture and some of the tomato mixture in each ramekin. Top with a little more cheese.

    Place the ramekins on a baking sheet and place in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes, until the eggs are just set. Watch carefully and make sure the eggs don’t brown and overcook.

In Season: Get cracking with eggs, the versatile staple

Published: Wednesday, Apr. 2, 2014 - 12:00 am

Eggs are popping out all over – and not just from spring chickens.

They’re showing up fried on burgers, baked atop casseroles and poached on pasta. Any time has become egg time as this versatile ingredient has gone far beyond breakfast.

It’s enough to make the Easter Bunny’s head spin.

“Actually, eggs have been labeled the top trend for restaurants; they’ve declared 2014 the ‘Year of the Egg,’ ” said Jenny Englert, representing the American Egg Board. “We’re seeing lots of eggs in dishes you would never think of – like on top of pizza – but it’s really good.” president Christopher Krohn echoed that sentiment. He put eggs atop his current trends report.

“You won’t be asking which came first, the chicken or the egg,” Krohn said. “If you’re like many Americans, you’ll be seeing and eating a lot more huevos in restaurants in 2014.”

Krohn credited chefs with starting this trend by topping favorite foods with eggs such as burgers, pizza, sandwiches, casseroles, pasta, salads and stir-fries. Eggs also have moved onto the dinner menus of America’s top-tier restaurants as comfort food with a twist.

“The ‘breakfast for dinner’ craze and increasing popularity of regional specialties such as Korean bibimbop and Mexican huevos rancheros will accelerate this trend,” he said. “Plus, there’s an emerging sense from the scientific crowd that eggs are healthier than perhaps you previously thought, which will feed consumer interest in this farm-fresh favorite.”

With its hard-boiled egg traditions, Easter ranks as the apex of egg time. Egg purchases nearly double the week before Easter, which this year is April 20. Last year, Americans bought 161 million eggs that week.

“For several years, we were seeing Easter egg (popularity) declining,” Englert noted. “People had turned to plastic eggs (for egg hunts). But in the last two years, egg sales have skyrocketed for Easter.”

Egg experts credit that comeback to renewed interest in crafting – and sharing: There’s been a resurgence in creatively decorating eggs, then posting the results online for others to see.

As for recipes, pre-Easter downloads tend toward brunch favorites – make-ahead meal makers such as frittatas and quiche. “There’s also a lot of interest in deviled eggs with a twist,” Englert said.

But eggs go way beyond Easter. About nine out of every 10 households regularly buys eggs. On average, we each eat nearly 252 eggs a year. And there are plenty to go around. American chickens produce more than 77 billion eggs a year. With almost 19 million laying hens, California egg production ranks behind (in order) Iowa, Ohio, Indiana and Pennsylvania.

Once scorned for high cholesterol content, eggs now are much more favorably viewed by nutritionists.

“Eggs are lower in cholesterol that previously thought,” Englert said. “According to the USDA, people even at risk of heart disease can safely consume two a day. Their protein content is really important, too.”

But it’s eggs’ culinary assets that have cooks cracking.

Sacramento food expert and author Elaine Corn has been cooking eggs for all meals for decades. Among her cookbooks is “365 Ways to Cook Eggs” (HarperCollins, 1996). This classic is still available on For dinner, she cites two old favorites: spaghetti carbonara and egg flower soup.

“Eggs are the acrobats of cuisine,” said Corn, who also writes the World Eats column in The Bee’s new Feast section. “They perform feats no other food can claim. They emulsify, thicken, poof, puff and fluff – from the appetizer course to dessert.”

Corn always has eggs on hand and notes it’s easier now that more of her neighbors have chickens.

She sees eggs’ nutritional profile as a bonus.

“One egg has all nine amino acids,” she said. “It’s a perfect food. It’s great that they’re nutritious, but I eat them because I love them and they’re simple to cook.”

About a quarter-million egg recipes are featured on Foodily, the popular recipe website and app.

“That number is not surprising to me at all,” said Foodily co-founder Hillary Mickell. “… What’s surprising is the changing dynamic; there’s definitely a shifting dynamic of eggs where it’s moving across all meals. Breakfast, lunch, dinner; people are getting really creative.”

With more than a half-million regular users, Foodily usually sees a surge in egg searches right before Easter, Mickell noted. “Those usually break down into breakfast and what I’d call ‘fancy eggs’ (brunch recipes). But now, the emerging (egg) trend is everyday meals beyond breakfast. Eggs in sandwiches are way up. We’re seeing a lot of savory egg recipes such as baked eggs for dinner.”

Among the most popular recent recipe downloads from Foodily: a chickpea, kale and sausage casserole baked with an egg on top.

Added Mickell, “As an egg lover, I think (this trend) is fabulous.”

Call The Bee’s Debbie Arrington, (916) 321-1075. Follow her on Twitter @debarrington.

Read more articles by Debbie Arrington

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