Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Cooking Lessons: The runny yolk's where it's at

Cooking sin #1: I overcooked my eggs last night.

Cooking sin #2: It was intentional.

As part of my great “cleanse” which isn’t so much a cleanse as it is a break from alcohol and restaurants that undermine my ability to say “no” to the ingestion of improper amounts of food, butter and wine, I’ve been eating a lot of quinoa and veggies lately. Specifically in the form of roasted asparagus, green beans and vine-ripened tomatoes that I mix with quinoa and top with two fried eggs and an oil-free basil pesto (an alternative low-carb version can be found here). The meal is hearty enough to fuel my active lifestyle and get me through my masochistically painful Bar Method classes, yet is light enough that I don’t feel like I’ve swallowed a bacon-wrapped bowling ball for dinner.

The key to this dish’s deliciousness is maintaining the integrity of the runny yolk – a task that I am finding unnecessarily challenging. Not because I am a complete failure at cooking eggs (though I am hovering dangerously close to that undesirable label), but because the thought of contracting Salmonella terrifies me.

My childhood friend still reminds me of the day that I yelled at her for eating raw cookie dough at my house when I had her over “to play.” She finds it impossibly comical that even as a five-year-old I was a nervous Nancy when it came to raw food products that don’t resemble a carrot or apple. In recent months, I have come to appreciate (and love) the golden river of yellow yolk, but I haven’t been able to completely ignore the voice in my head that says, “If you eat this you will die.”

Okay, so it doesn’t actually say I’ll die, but it does say something rather horrifying about food poisoning that, to me, is like the holy grail of unfortunate events.

The previous three times that I’ve made this in the past week-and-a-half (yes, I’ve eaten it four times in nine days), I’ve managed to leave my yolk somewhat runny. Yet each time, I detected that a small amount of the white around the yolk was slightly gelatinous. Since I know that the white needs to be fully cooked to bar against the aforementioned unfortunate event that haunts my sleep, this happenstance has sent my brain into neurotic overdrive.

“Is it undercooked? Am I screwing myself over by eating this? Do I need to scrape it off?”

Each time, I have championed through to eat the egg without physical repercussions, but last night, I chickened out at the last minute. Nervous that I would have to play Russian roulette with some gelatinous white once again, I scrambled up the yolk and just cooked the whole thing straight through.

The result was a much blander bowl than I’ve enjoyed on previous occasions. I erroneously thought that the flavor would be preserved even if I did sin twice in the preparation of the dish, but I was wrong. Not only was it not nearly as delicious as previous attempts, it also lacked that decadent mouth-feel that has made it possible for me to be satisfied from something so healthy and bacon-free.

The creaminess of the yolk has been a mini-savior to me during this cleanse – a tiny taste of the restaurant high-life that I’ve abandoned in my pursuit of better health and a more encouraging bank statement. It is not surprising that I felt compelled to cap off my evening with a vanilla Jell-o pudding snack topped with a few mini Trader Joes’ PB cups to compensate.

Lesson learned: The runny yolk’s where it’s at. I consider myself properly schooled.


Esi said...

There is just something about a runny yolk. It used to scare me and now I can't get enough...

Gastronomer said...

I think you may have a tormented relationship with deliciousness. Hopefully in due time you'll let it all go ;-)

Erica said...

So funny how people can have such different egg preferences! I love a little run in my yolk and Josh loves his cooked beyond recognition! This dish looks super yummy to me!

Jenn said...

I love runny yolks. I always like to scoop it up some toast. Though, I must admit I don't have my preference as to how my eggs are made.

The Blonde Duck said...

Dude, the bar method will kill you! It's awesome!

Reeni♥ said...

I read that the salmonella is carried on the outside of the egg - on the shell. I don't know how much truth this holds but I rinse off my eggs now before cracking them! There's something about runny yolks that is just so yummy. I admit that if I see a bit of undercooked white I scrape it aside. But bring on the yolks!

Diana said...

Esi - I know I will one day pledge my complete allegiance to the runny yolk as well, but I just wish it wasn't so difficult to get that darn white cooked properly!

Cathy - I really do. :( Gosh darn neurotic mind!!!

Erica - Hah, I used to like mine cooked beyond recognition! The browner the better!

Jenn - It's so good with an English muffin to mop up the yolk!

Miranda - Haha, yes, I think it might. I do love it so!

Reeni - Interesting! I actually wash my eggs already though -- my mom taught me to do that! :)

Katalonius said...

The dish sounds delicious...I might make it tonight!