Tuesday, 10 November 2015 15:22

When breaking a lot of eggs isn’t a bad thing

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Having broken the eggs, you must make the omelette.

Or, the angel food cake.
Or, the dulce de leche flan.
Or, so the saying goes.
In my kitchen, I might, however, prefer to cry (pointlessly) as over spilt milk, then mop up and return to the store for more eggs.
Or, I might declare my kitchen an egg-free zone. Or, I might leave the mess where it falls ... until a clearer head comes home from work.
However, in the hands of Winnipeg poet Sally Ito, a crate of broken eggs turned out to be opportunity knocking.
That, and a cushion of organic bubble wrap.
“So the husband buys a new flat screen TV at Costco, along with a flat of eggs,” began Sally’s latest Facebook update. “On the way home, the TV falls on top of the eggs. An opportunity, of course, to make angel food cake from scratch ... but what to do with all that yolk?”
Sally, it seems, is a fellow food fanatic. Clearly, though, she is of the glass-half-full persuasion, whereas I tend to see nothing but broken egg shells.
Nevertheless, I can’t help but wonder whether Sally’s having married into a Mennonite family might have caused her to acquire that particular twist of waste-not-want-not-guilt that compels one to salvage, always salvage. The same twist of guilt that causes me to freeze leftover egg yolks in sandwich baggies after every meringue, macaroon or pavlova.
When asked, Sally confirms that she, indeed, has no backyard hog to claim a share in the spoils. And so, soon enough, there follows a chorus of friendly recipe offerings.
“Créme Brulée or a Filipino leche flan,” suggests one friend.
“Or Caesar salad dressing,” another.
“Lemon curd!” say I.
“Portuguese custard tarts with puff pastry.”
While Sally goes off to count her yolks and consider her options, I begin to take notes.
To be perfectly honest, I had no idea there were so many recipes that call for only yolks.
Leche flan?
Portuguese tarts?
Where have these been all my life?
Meanwhile, back in Manitoba, Sally decides that, since it’s suppertime, she’ll whisk up a pan of ultra rich scrambled eggs with cheddar and chives.
I close my computer, cup my chin in my hands, and ponder.
After a long while, I decide on the tarts, but my frozen yolks, when I inspect them closely, look suspiciously freezer burnt. And when they thaw, I’m not convinced they’re tart worthy. Not convinced at all.
So I do the only thing I can.
I crack and separate four fresh eggs. I whisk the yolks into a vanilla custard.
And when I’m left with four egg whites and no immediate use for them, I look over my shoulder for the salvage police, then glop them into the sink, let loose a healthy swish of water, and watch them go swirling down the drain.
As it turns out, while I’m the type to skip going to the store for puff pastry when I already have 120 tart shells in the freezer, I’m not really the salvaging type, after all.

Portuguese(ish) Custard Tarts
12 tart shells
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 Tbs all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups whipping cream
4 large egg yolks
pinch salt
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tsp confectioners’ sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Partially thaw and prick bottoms of tart shells. Place on a baking sheet and par-bake according to package or recipe directions; about 10 minutes.
Whisk together sugar and flour in a medium, heavy-bottomed pot. Whisk together  cream, yolks, salt and vanilla. Whisk into sugar mixture and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until mixture boils and thickens (about 8 minutes).
Transfer to a bowl and cool, whisking frequently, until just warm (about 15 minutes).
Spoon about 2 Tbs of the custard into each. Bake in a 400F oven for 12 minutes.
Set tarts on a cooling rack. Sift confectioners’ sugar, then cinnamon, over tops. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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