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How to Boil an Egg

Back in 1998, Delia Smith wrote the first of her 'how to cook' series of books that covered all the very basics of cookings, starting with how to cook an egg. I know, because I owned all three. My husband bought me Book One when our first born was 6 months old and we'd just moved from Saigon to Sydney. After 3.5 years being spoilt by cooks and helpers, I hadn't stepped foot in a kitchen for quite a while. He assumed, perhaps rightly, that I'd lost many of my culinary skills.

And apparently I'm not the only one grateful for Delia's words of eggy wisdom. Today the radio told me that the top 3 most googled 'how to' questions are 1. how to kiss a girl 2. how to boil an egg, and 3. how to get pregnant. I'll let #1 & #3 through to the keeper, but as a nutritionist, we can certainly discuss anything cooking and food.

I love eggs. They are self-contained protein-packed powerhouses of nutrients, excellent for heart health, fabulous for weight loss, boost brain function and even your liver loves them.

Eggs haven't always been so revered. Scientists once thought they caused heart disease!I In fact, I remember my dad telling me stories of his days consulting for the Australian Egg Board, where he eagerly helped resurrect the egg's reputation. He also helped launch Vegemite into Asia... not such a success story.

Anyhow, how to boil an egg? Sadly Delia's books are no longer with me, probably went the way of so many belongings in one of my many frenzies to declutter, so of course I googled and here is what she says.....

1. Don't ever boil eggs that have come straight from the refrigerator, because very cold eggs plunged straight into hot water are likely to crack.

2. Always use a kitchen timer. Trying to guess the timing or even remembering to look at your watch can be hazardous.

3. Remember the air pocket? During the boiling, pressure can build up and cause cracking. A simple way to deal with this is to make a pinprick in the rounded end of the shell, as left, which will allow the steam to escape.

4. Always use a small saucepan. Eggs with too much space to careen around in and crash into one another while they cook are, again, likely to crack.

5. Never have the water fast-boiling: a gentle simmer is all they need.

6. Never overboil eggs (you won't if you have a timer). This is the cardinal sin because the yolks will turn black and the texture will be like rubber.

7. If the eggs are very fresh (less than four days old), allow an extra 30 seconds on each timing.

In a small saucepan, fill with enough water to cover the eggs by about 1cm.

Bring it up to the boil and when large bubbles are breaking on the surface quickly but gently lower the eggs (from room temperature) into the water, one at a time, using a tablespoon.

Now switch the timer on and give the eggs exactly 1 minute's simmering time.

Then remove the pan from the heat, put a lid on it and set the timer again, giving the following timings:

6 minutes will produce a soft, fairly liquid yolk and a white that is just set but still quite wobbly.

7 minutes will produce a firmer more creamy yolk with a white that is completely set.

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