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Microwave . . .

The Right Way to Cook Eggs

January 02, 1987|DIANA WILLIAMS HANSEN | Hansen is a Louisville-based cooking consultant specializing in microwaving

Somehow, most of us "microwavers" know that we shouldn't microwave whole eggs, either in or out of the shell. For most of us, this knowledge came from reading the list of "no-no's" in the oven manufacturer's literature.

This literature informed us that the shell of the hen's egg, while allowing microwaves to penetrate through it, provides almost no venting for steam buildup that occurs as the interior rapidly cooks. Thus, when too much steam forms, the shell bursts under pressure--and makes a mess in the oven.

So for eggs in the shell, the best cooking method is cooking them on the stove top of your range. But, when they're out of the shell, eggs usually cook faster, more conveniently, with a minimum of fat and delicious results in the microwave.

Probably the most popular way to microwave eggs is to scramble them. Because they cook so quickly and puff up with steam, they're much fluffier than when conventionally scrambled in the skillet.

Cook Until Eggs Barely Set

For one serving, melt one to two teaspoons butter in a one-pint microwave-safe bowl. Beat in two eggs and one to two tablespoons water, milk, cream or thin sour cream. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Microwave on HIGH (100% power) 1 1/2 to two minutes, stirring with fork about every 30 seconds. Cook eggs just until they are barely set. They should still look very moist when they're done because they will continue to cook as they stand a few minutes before serving.

You can also microwave a form of "baked" eggs virtually fat free to provide a protein-rich diet breakfast. Break one or two eggs into an individual custard cup that has been buttered or sprayed with non-stick baking spray. With a wood pick or the tine of a fork, puncture each yolk (this avoids steam buildup within the yolk). Cover the cup with plastic wrap. Microwave on MEDIUM (50% power) for 45 seconds to one minute per egg, or until white is set and yolk is as firm as desired. Season with salt and pepper and add herbs as desired.

When I need a couple of eggs for egg salad, or for grated egg topping, I microwave-"bake" them quickly, using the above method.

Another way to cook eggs is to microwave-"fry" them in a browning griddle or dish, which acts as a hot "skillet" to set the eggs quickly. Preheat the browning container for only about two minutes. Add one tablespoon of butter to melt, then break two eggs into the container. Microwave on HIGH (100% power) 1 1/2 minutes or until as firm as desired. Turn over lightly, if desired.

Using these three microwaving variations, you can create a multitude of ways to enjoy eggs conveniently and flavorfully. Here are a few examples.

The first is nice and easy for a Saturday or Sunday brunch with friends. You can adjust this recipe for more people by remembering the microwave rule for scrambled eggs: one teaspoon butter and one tablespoon milk per egg. Taco shells vary in size. This recipe uses medium-size ones, about six inches in diameter.

BRUNCH EGGS SERVED TACO STYLE

2 tablespoons butter

2 green onions, including some of green tops, chopped

6 eggs

1/3 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 cup canned chopped mild green chiles (2 ounces), drained

6 medium taco shells, fried

Chopped tomatoes

Shredded mild Cheddar cheese

Shredded lettuce

Place butter and green onions in 2-quart microwave-safe casserole. Microwave on HIGH (100% power) about 1 minute until butter is melted. Add eggs, milk, salt and pepper. Beat well. Microwave on HIGH 4 to 6 minutes, stirring every minute, until eggs are softly scrambled.

Lightly stir in chopped chiles just before eggs are set. Spoon eggs into taco shells and top with tomatoes, cheese and lettuce. Serve immediately. Makes 6 servings.

Frittatas , which are Italian omelets, incorporate vegetables and sometimes cooked meat to add heartiness, flavor and texture to the seasoned egg mixture. With microwaving, you can melt cheese directly into the heated egg mixture because the cheese will not scorch and burn as it would in a hot pan on the stove top.

The fresh tomato and green onion topping for this frittata gives color and seasoning--be sure to scrape the bowl to collect the juices that accumulate as the egg mixture cooks. If you do not have the appropriate size pie plate, use a flat casserole top (without a knob) that makes a wide shallow container when inverted.

PEPPER FRITTATA WITH SAVORY TOMATO TOPPING

3 cherry tomatoes, cut in eighths, or 1/4 cup chopped tomatoes

3 medium green onions, including some of green tops, thinly sliced

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon prepared yellow mustard

1/4 cup chopped green pepper

1 tablespoon butter

2 eggs

1 teaspoon water

1/4 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

Stir together tomatoes, green onions, salt, pepper and mustard in small bowl. Set aside.

Place green pepper and butter in 7- or 8-inch microwave-safe pie plate. Microwave on HIGH (100% power) 2 minutes until pepper has softened.

Meanwhile, in small bowl, beat eggs, water and cheese. Add egg mixture to cooked green pepper, stirring well to mix. Microwave on HIGH 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 minutes more, stirring after 1 minute to push cooked areas from edges to center. When done, all areas will be set but soft. Egg mixture continues to firm up during brief standing period.

Remove frittata from oven and top with tomato mixture, spreading evenly over top. Serve hot. Makes 1 serving.

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