You can't beat a good egg for a simple and perfect meal. By Grant Allen.
Tomorrow I'm going to the inaugural SPCA Good Egg Awards. These will be presented by world renowned New Zealand chef Peter Gordon, and will celebrate the "good eggs" in the food industry.
Among the entries will be eggs produced by Beau Kirkfield. Beau could be described as a good egg - he is one of the producers who qualify to use the SPCA Blue Tick on his packaging.
The Kirkfield Family Farm has been farmed by three generations, starting as an apple orchard , then a vineyard, and now chooks happily free range over the property. Beau describes the Blue Tick as a "Rolls Royce" badge - guaranteeing the consumer that he is doing the best he can for his birds.
His favourite dish is curried stuffed eggs made with his wife Johnine's secret egg mayonnaise.
Where would we be without eggs in the kitchen?
They are the ultimate convenience food - nutritious, clean to handle, easy to cook and readily available. They are the essential ingredient in so much baking and the building block in a multitude of recipes.
They help us perform magic tricks in the kitchen, like making mayonnaise, souffles, meringues and sauces.
Just as you cannot tell a book by its cover, a pretty egg carton may contain eggs produced in less than pretty circumstances.
When buying eggs, insist on the Blue Tick, it is the only independently audited certification of its kind in New Zealand. Support the producers who are farming in a humane way, and watch out to see which producers are named the Good Egg winners.
Boiled eggs and toast soldiers
The simplest things are often the hardest to get right. To boil an egg you should start with it at room temperature, taking it straight from the fridge will affect its cooking time. The size of the egg will also dictate its cooking time. While guidelines can be given for timing many variables come into play, including of course how soft/hard you like your eggs. Place the egg into boiling water on a spoon carefully so as not to crack the shell. Boil for around 3 minutes for a runny egg , at least 5 minutes for a firm egg. Remove the egg with a spoon and serve with buttered fingers of toast, known as soldiers. Salt and pepper should be offered, and if your egg is hard boiled, a knob of butter to melt into the egg is a nice touch.
Look for the Blue Tick
The SPCA's Blue Tick scheme has been running for five years and now appears on six brands - 4 egg and 2 pork - which run multiple farms. Its standards of animal welfare are higher than those of the New Zealand Animal Welfare Code.
Brands that carry the logo pay royalties to this non-profit scheme. There is no commercial interest and the scheme is self-sustaining. Money donated to the SPCA is not used to support the Blue Tick accreditation programme.By Grant Allen