Several years ago, my girlfriends and I were away for a weekend at a friend’s cabin in upstate NY. At breakfast time, we decided to make some hard-boiled eggs for breakfast. Simple enough, right? Wrong. What followed was a hilarious (and now legendary) very opinionated debate on just exactly how do you boil eggs? Everyone had a different philosophy about how it should be done…
“Bring water to a boil and then drop them in the pan. Cover for 14 minutes.”
“Cooking time depends on how many eggs are in the pan.”
“Add cold water to a pan and the eggs. Bring to boil, cover and turn off the heat.”
“Add a little vinegar to the water to prevent them from cracking.”
You get the idea. I forget which option I suggested at the time – but I was wrong. (Yes, I’ll admit it!) But, it turns out, maybe we all were.
The New York Times launched a new Cooking section earlier this year and in September they followed with an app. If you’re not familiar with it, check it out. It offers tips, recipes and ideas that are useful whether you’re a beginner or more experienced cook. I find I’m often learning something new.
Yesterday they posted 50 videos of cooking techniques and one of them included “How to Boil Eggs.” Thirty-nine seconds later, my long-standing debate was over. Add eggs in a saucepan in a single layer. Cover with 1″ cold water, add salt and bring to a rolling boil (uncovered). Once boiling, turn off heat and cover the pot. Leave alone for 10 min and then run cold water over the eggs for a full minute (or more if you want firmer eggs).
As a largely self-taught cook, I wish I’d seen these videos about 10 years ago. They are all about 30 seconds long and many of them offer simple tips I’ve learned over time that have changed the way I cook forever. Don’t have time to watch 50 videos? I suggest watching these three. These were tips I already knew but I still remember how each one changed my world – so I hope it can do that for you, too:
1) How to dice an onion (Remember to keep the root end somewhat in tact. It holds it all together.)
2) How to poach an egg (Creating a current in the pan really is amazing!)
3) How to schuck an oyster (I was terrified of cutting myself when I first tried this but it’s not as scary as I thought.)
There’s only one tip in the videos that I disagree with – and that’s how to clean mushrooms. They say to wipe each mushroom clean with a damp paper towel. WHO HAS TIME FOR THAT? No one. I learned a trick a few years ago at the CIA that I swear by:
Step 1: Place mushrooms in a bowl and add enough water to give them a little bath.
Step 2: Don’t freak out that you are adding water to mushrooms. When our instructor at the CIA did this, people gasped.
Step 3: Add a little flour to the bowl and stir the mushrooms around with your hands.
Step 4: Watch in awe as the flour “cleans” the dirt off the mushrooms. (If they’re really dirty, you might need to do this twice – but typically once around does the trick.)
Step 5: Remove mushrooms from water and let dry on a towel.
If you’re cooking the mushrooms, proceed with your recipe. Any leftover water will evaporate as they cook. If you’re eating them raw, give them a little time to dry out on the towel. Frankly, this whole thing takes about 20 seconds to do so it’s not like your mushrooms will be sitting in a pool of water for a long time. They’ll only be a little damp.