May is National Egg Month. It is really not hard to find recipes that include eggs; they are used in a lot of ways. They may be found in cakes, cookies, breads, casseroles, salads, pies, plus many other dishes. They are eaten boiled, baked, fried, scrambled, shirred, poached, deviled; I am sure there are other cooking methods I haven’t mentioned.
For many years, eggs had a bad reputation. It was thought that they were a significant cause of high cholesterol. Now the pendulum has swung the other direction, and eggs are once again considered to quite nutritional. They are a good source of protein; other vitamins and minerals in eggs help the body fight off disease. WebMD has more information about eggs, should one care to read it.
One useful property of eggs is that they help hold things together. They are often used in batters to ensure that they cling to something that is going to be fried. This past week, I was writing a devotion about dandelions. During my research, I came across some recipes for fried dandelion flowers. I couldn’t help but be intrigued by the different descriptions of how they tasted. The recipe I chose to try involved pan-frying; I don’t like to deep-fat fry anything. I found it on Food52.com.
As I was outside gathering dandelion flowers for my experiment, I remembered how much fun two of my grandchildren had had several days before. When they arrived at my house, the first thing they did was spot all the dandelion puffs that had sprung up all over my yard. They spent a great deal of time picking them and then blowing the seeds to the wind. Vivian’s long, brown hair became filled with fluff. She and Elijah also picked bright yellow blooms that they intended to give to their mother. However, they later decided to use them to adorn an empty bird’s nest found in one of my pear trees. Their hope was that the new décor would attract a new resident.
Back in my kitchen, I carefully followed the directions on preparing the dandelions. I dipped them first in an egg-and-water mixture and then dredged them in a crumb combination (I have to admit that I forgot to put in the lemon zest called for in the recipe.) I fried them in light-tasting olive oil, as that is what I have on hand. Although the recipe called for panko bread crumbs, I substituted crushed saltines instead. I also reduced the amount of salt I used in the coating mix. Now it was time to find out how the dandelion flowers tasted. I had eaten the greens before, but never the blooms. My verdict? They were quite tasty! I put some in the refrigerator because I couldn’t eat all of them at once; the leftovers were good, too.
The other two egg recipes for this week are more “normal.” Each of them passed a taste test with friends, so I know I am not the only one who thinks they are worth sharing. Egg-and-Olive Potato Salad is great for an olive-lover like me. The Southwestern Egg Casserole made a wonderful Sunday evening dinner for a couple of friends I invited to my house.
Pan-Fried Dandelion Flowers
15 to 20 dandelion flowers – make sure they’ve not been treated with herbicides or pesticides
1 large egg
1/2 tablespoon water
1 cup panko bread crumbs (may use crushed saltine crackers)
Zest from one lemon, lemon then cut into wedges
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Thoroughly rinse dandelion flowers. Carefully slice off the stem end (too much and the flowers will disintegrate). Carefully remove the small dark green sepals. Remove all the dark green bits because they are bitter, but leave the light green “meat” to keep the flower intact. Place cleaned flowers on paper towels to dry after they’ve been cleaned.
In small bowl beat eggs and water until well-combined.
Combine panko, lemon zest, salt, and pepper in another bowl. Mix well.
Heat enough olive oil in a sauté pan so it is about 1/8th-inch deep on medium to medium-high.
While your oil is heating, dip dandelion flowers into egg mixture, then dredge in crumb mixture, making sure both sides are well coated. Stir the panko mixture occasionally to make sure the seasoning is well-distributed. Place dipped and dredged dandelions on a clean plate.
Drop a few panko crumbs into oil to make sure it is adequately heated. The crumbs should start to sizzle immediately. Once oil is hot enough, fry dandelions on one side until golden brown, then flip and fry the other side. This should take no more than 2 minutes per side, and the second side takes less time than the first.
Remove fried dandelions to a paper towel lined plate to absorb excess oil. When all dandelions have been fried, transfer to a serving plate and spritz with lemon juice. Serve immediately with additional lemon wedges if desired.
Egg-and-Olive Potato Salad
3-1/2 pounds potatoes
1 teaspoon salt
5 hard-cooked eggs, grated
1 (7-ounce) jar pimiento-stuffed olives, drained and chopped
1 large celery rib, diced
1/2 small sweet onion, grated
1-1/2 cups mayonnaise or salad dressing
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Peel potatoes and cut into 1-inch cubes. Cook potatoes and salt in boiling water to cover 15 to 18 minutes, or just until tender. Drain potatoes and let cool 10 minutes.
Stir together eggs and next 5 ingredients. Add potatoes; toss gently to coat. Cover; chill 2 hours. Sprinkle with paprika, if desired. Makes 8 servings.
Southwest Egg Casserole
1 pound mild ground pork sausage
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
2 (10-ounce) cans diced tomatoes and green chiles, undrained
8 (10-inch) flour tortillas, torn into bite-size pieces
3 cups shredded Pepper Jack cheese (or Monterrey Jack cheese)
6 large eggs
2 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
Cook sausage in a large skillet over medium-high heat, stirring until it crumbles and is no longer pink. Drain; return to skillet. Add onion and bell pepper to sausage; sauté over medium heat 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Stir in tomatoes and green chiles; reduce heat. Cover and simmer 10 minutes.
Layer half of tortilla pieces, sausage mixture, and cheese in lightly greased 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Repeat layers.
Whisk together eggs, milk, salt, and pepper; pour over layers in dish.
Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes or until lightly browned and set in center. If desired, sprinkle with cilantro before serving. Yield: 8 servings.
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