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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Mollycoddle?

Last week the subject of soft boiled eggs came up. We agreed that there is something inherently comforting about eating them. I also find comfort in preparing them.

When I was a child my brothers and sisters and I all ate breakfast together before school. In younger days, mom made soft boiled eggs. We ate them over toast, which we crumbled into pieces in our bowl. We did not have egg cups (a friend has egg cups in her cupboard and says she uses them). Instead, the cooked egg was laid on the toast and it was up to us to crack it and scoop out the insides. In those days we probably buttered the toast as well.

As we got older mom left us on our own for breakfast, which by then consisted mainly of toast and cereal, although sometimes fried baloney or salami would find its way into the menu. The toaster would be placed on the dining room table along with cartons of milk and boxes of cereal (or actually bags of cereal since mom had a proclivity for buying generic puffed rice at the A&P - a false economy since few of us actually ate it).

I later learned of an implement called an egg coddler. This was a small ceramic cup with a metal screw on lid. China companies like Royal Worcester made these in patterns to match or complement their china designs.

I heard about and decided I needed to buy an egg coddler. Don't asks me why. I went to J. L. Hudson at the Oakland Mall and asked for an egg coddler. I wanted a bird or flower from the Worcester collection. All they had was a Peter Rabbit. It was made by Wedgewood. At that time Wedgewood owned the licensing privileges for Peter Rabbit and Beatrix Potter's illustrations.

I was a little dismayed that a Peter Rabbit egg coddler was the only one available to me - no other stores seemed to have them in stock at the time. But no matter, I bought the coddler and today it is one of my most prized possessions (I also have some by Wade, an Irish potter, and two floral Worcester bought at e-bay or le shoppe junque. A cursory search of e-bay reveals the Peter Rabbit cup is worth a fair amount of scratch).

The way an egg coddler works is this; butter the cup (or spray with vegetable spray) and crack an egg into it. Butter, salt and pepper may be added (I prefer to add these later). Screw on the lid and place in a pan of water. Bring to the boil and time your eggs. I like mine at just four minutes. The advantage of using the coddler is that the lid can be removed and if it's not done, you can replace the lid and pop it back into the boiling water for another half minute or so.

Coddlers are sized for one or two eggs. Mine are all "singles". I find that the Wade coddlers do not cook at the same rate as the others. Either the porcelain is a different thickness, or the ceramic lid makes a difference or there is some other force at play. No matter, I prefer the other cups anyway.

Soft boiled eggs require a different timing method. They cook faster since they are not sheltered by a thick layer of porcelain. If you want to soft boil eggs and have not done so before, try cooking three, removing one at three minutes, one at four and if necessary, one at 5 minutes. You should then know know long you like your eggs. Make a note and don't forget.

Place your soft boiled egg in an egg cup or just lay it on the toast which you have torn into pieces into your bowl. Crack the shell all around and scoop out the yolky egg. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper and tuck in.

The disadvantage of an egg coddler is a somewhat oddly shaped "boiled" egg. No matter, you will scoop it onto your toast and smoosh it all up anyway so shape is of little importance. What is important is the comfy cozy feeling you will have eating your warm egg and toast with a spoon.

Find an egg coddler, or just soft boil your eggs, and feel like an English child breakfasting with your Nanny in the Nursery School Room. Be glad I did not instruct you to eat dripping toast for tea.

Quotable quotes; in the category Well At Least She Knows What She Means!

“This recipe is certainly silly. It says to separate the eggs, but it doesn’t say how far to separate them.” - Gracie Allen