The humble and versatile egg lends itself to many different cuisines and recipes.

As I write this article late at night with a house full of sleeping children, my husband has just offered me a plate of egg, cheese and ham toasted sandwiches with a glass of cabernet. A simple supper.

That is the beauty of an egg; whether quickly scrambled or gently fried, it is a meal in itself that takes no time at all to prepare and is packed full of protein.

Eggs are used across all cuisines from aioli to egg foo yong, in baking and classic salads.

Today I am doing a version of Salade Nicoise, altering the ingredients a little, a flash version of mince on toast - a perfect brunch or supper dish, and reworking that classic canapé of old - the curried stuffed egg.

There are a few points to note when discussing eggs.

Firstly, fresh is best as anyone who has tried to poach an egg that is not fresh, will know. The white flails around madly and it is impossible to create a neat rounded little bundle.

The freshness of an egg is easy to test - place in a bowl of water, a fresh egg will lie at the bottom while a stale egg will float.

When you break an egg on to a saucer, if fresh it will have a bright yolk surrounded by a thick white.

If stale, the yolk will break easily and the white will be watery.

It is also interesting to note that eggs should be kept in their carton in the fridge because they can absorb odours from other foods.

I believe free-range eggs are superior because, though there is no nutritional difference, happy hens enjoying a varied diet will naturally produce better tasting eggs with rich, deep yellow yolks.

Chef's tip

Eggs should be kept in the fridge but removed 30 minutes before using. Once at room temperature they will whisk to a greater volume.