Cooking School for Kids: Eggs and Emulsions

Today’s menu:
Cheese souffle, green salad.

Time for eggs.

What can you do with eggs? Scramble, poach, fry, boil, sure – that’s a lot of options. Fry, boil – pretty simplistic. Poach? It’s a good technique, but best observed in conjunction with hollandaise, bacon and a muffin. Scrambling?

Right, right, you say. Beat up an egg and subject it to some heat, okay. Well, I figured we could go one step further.

Pt 1: Cheese Soufflé: Are you serious?

Yes. Because it turns out that soufflé is nothing more than bechamel (see previous lesson) lightened with egg whites.

THAT’S IT.

Discussion points

How do you crack an egg? Contrary to the edge-of-a-bowl method, I greatly prefer to give a gentle rap on a flat surface.
How do you separate eggs? There’s the standard pour-back-and-forth broken shell method, but there’s also the catch-the-yolk in your hand method.
Why are you making us use three bowls for egg separating?I teach the kids to use three bowls when separating eggs: One to catch your white, a medium size for the yolks, and one main bowl to receive the clean egg whites. Break and separate your egg, make sure the white is clean, and dump it in the big bowl. Because the one time you contaminate an entire batch of whites with a broken yolk, you will kick yourself vigorously for ignoring this step.
The odds of breaking a yolk go way, wayyy up when teaching kids how to separate eggs. You’ve been warned.
What are the stages of beaten egg whites?

  • Foamy: The individual whites are coming together
  • Soft peaks: When you pull your whisk straight out, a soft tip forms but falls over
  • Firm peaks: When you pull out the whisk, a tip forms and stays

Mm, Emulsion

Kids and salad, like Oil and water

I don’t know about you, but salad seems to be a hit and miss proposition with many kids I know. However, this lesson is a great example of Kids Will Eat It If They Made It.

All my kids have seen the elementary school experiment of oil and water in a bottle. They don’t like each other because their molecules repel each other, so you can see them separate when you try to mix them together.

So how do you make a vinaigrette? You introduce an emulsifier. We could get into complicated explanations, but the easy one is this: an emulsifier is a fonger-trap type molecule that can grab a water at one end, and an oil molecule at the other end. When you add an emulsifier to oil and water and shake vigorously, the emulsifier forms a kind of web that prevents the oil and water from separating – at least for a while.

The easiest method to encourage salad dressing is this one, by Serious Eats. Kenji is a great teacher, go with it.

Posted by on March 17th, 2017

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