With Easter just around the corner, busy cooks are already gearing up and creating decorative Easter eggs of all forms. The tools that come to mind are automatic egg cookers, which are great for timing egg cooking perfectly. For brunches, egg poachers, which really work as steamers because the eggs don't touch the water, are wonderful for foolproof preparation.
One of the kitchen items revised by Oster in 1986 for its upscale Designer Line is the Oster Automatic Egg Cooker/Poacher ($29.99). Like other equipment in the series, it's styled in a clean, crisp international white that is also now so typical of the California look.
Some pluses for Oster's unit are its non-stick, non-stain interior surfaces, a see-through cover and handles on both sides of the base. A metal egg rack holds up to eight eggs while the non-stick poacher is designed with four triangular wells for poaching. Located in the center of the rack is a needle for piercing each egg. When eggs are pierced, they don't crack while cooking.
One feature that offers simplicity is the no-fuss water-measuring design. Three water levels or graduated indentations are located in the base of the unit, which will hold the recommended amounts of water for soft-cooked, medium cooked or poached eggs and hard-cooked eggs. Ease in cooking and timing is facilitated by the automatic push-control button that glows when the egg cooker is on. When the water has evaporated, the light goes off and the unit shuts off automatically, indicating the eggs are ready.
Compact and sleek, Rowenta's new Egg Cooker ($45) cooks from one to seven eggs in its plastic egg holder and poaches up to three eggs in the separate individual poaching wells. The unit has a dome-shaped, clear plastic cover with handle and convenient hidden cord storage at the bottom. Also provided is a transparent beaker which has gradations or markings for measuring recommended amounts of water for hard, soft, medium and poached eggs plus a needle to pierce eggs.
A buzzing sound will go off to indicate when the eggs are done, and the unit has to be manually switched off. To avoid overcooking and getting those unappealing dark rings around the yolks, the eggs should be removed as soon as the alarm goes off. A keep-warm feature (setting 1) maintains optimum temperature without danger of further hardening, but the eggs have to be quickly rinsed in cold water and returned to the heating bowl.
Another very useful tool for cooked-egg preparation, particularly for garnishing, is the egg slicer with the wire cutter. No way could the resulting even, clean slices be duplicated with a plain knife. One of the most sturdy-looking ones I've tested is the Combi Egg Slicer/Wedger ($25) from Leifheit International in North Brunswick, N.J. Manufactured in Germany, the slim white Combi is made of heavy-duty plastic and is rectangular in shape. It cuts and divides eggs quickly into round or oval slices with thin, sharp stainless steel cutting wires. The wires for wedger, cutter or slicer don't sag and seem to last a long time.
The Egg Master ($9.95) from Donhill Trading Co. in Beverly Hills goes beyond an ordinary egg slicer in function. The round stackable egg-tool set is an egg topper, pinhole maker, egg cup, egg wedger, rosette molder, egg slicer and egg separator. When an egg sits on the egg-topper base, the shell cap can be broken with the retracting "teeth" pincher.
Designed to save space for storing, the seven-gadget set weighs less than 12 ounces. "It will come in particularly handy before and even after Easter," said Gary R. Engler of Donhill; "the pinhole maker and the egg cup will help in preparing painted Easter eggs. After Easter, use the egg slicer, wedger and rosette mold and knife to quickly transform the Easter eggs into egg salads or decorative egg dishes."
The Oster Automatic Cooker/Poacher is available at Buffum's, JW Robinson's, J.C. Penney and the Broadway.
The Rowenta Egg Cooker is available at Sunset Boutique (Los Angeles) and Mise en Place (Los Angeles).
The Leifheit Combi Egg Slicer/Wedger is available at Montana Mercantile (Santa Monica) and Kitchen World (Santa Monica).
The Egg Master is available at Hughes Market.