Egg Cookery

Use these handy techniques to ensure perfectly turned-out eggs and omelettes, every time.

1. SOFT-COOKED: Lower large eggs into gently simmering (not boiling) water. Cook 3-4 minutes for soft-cooked, 4-5 minutes for medium-cooked. Remove from pan and run under cold water.

2. SCRAMBLED: The secret to scrambled eggs is low heat and constant stirring. Melt 2 tbsp. butter in a heavy pan, add 3 eggs whisked with 1 tbsp. cream and cook slowly until just set.

3. OMELETTE: The trick here is a well-seasoned or nonstick pan. Work quickly over medium-high heat. Lift omelette edges to let liquid egg flow underneath. Don't overcook; the center should be moist.

4. POACHED: Crack eggs into buttered poaching cups. Lower into a pan of boiling water that comes just below the rim of the cups. Cover, lower the heat, and simmer for 4 minutes. Remove from water and slide the eggs from the cups onto buttered toast.

5. OVER EASY: Melt 2 tsps. of butter in a heavy skillet. Crack eggs onto a saucer, then slide them gently into the pan. Reduce heat, then spoon the butter over the whites. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Turn with a spatula and cook for another 30 seconds.

6. SHIRRED: Preheat oven to 400°. Put 1 tsp. melted butter in each small baking dish. Crack two eggs into each dish. Season with salt and pepper. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 7 minutes. For variation, add 3 tbsp. chopped ham or 2 tbsp. heavy cream.

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