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Trust Me I’ve Done The Eggwork: Fridge Cleaning 101

April 26, 2010
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I’ve been sprinkling my ideas here and there on the internet for a pretty long time, but until I started using “tag clouds” I never realized that the single biggest subject I wrote about was food. So while I’ve been a huge fan of this here blog that’s unfolding, I was mildly disappointed by the lack of posts about, you know, frying stuff in butter. My mistake was mentioning this to Snarky’s Machine, who of course decided that I was just the person to correct this discrepancy.

Keeping with Snarky’s suggestion, I thought I’d start with eggs, which I do in fact rather frequently fry in butter. I don’t eat meat, so along with legumes and dairy, eggs provide a significant part of my protein intake. I like them because they’re cheap — even organics are just two bits a pop — versatile, and widely available, at least before 11 AM.

I do enjoy going out to breakfast, and I plan on writing about that soon. But right now I want to talk about cooking, particularly that kind of cooking I learned when I was first on my own — the kind I resort to when I haven’t done much shopping lately, and the state of the refrigerator is hovering somewhere between raidable and Fight Club.

  • As a kid, I spent a lot more time watching my mom cook than out in my dad’s garage. So while I didn’t know how to drive or check my oil until I was 24, I knew at an early age that eggs make a great refrigerator cleaner. Not in the Arm-and-Hammer sense, but as a way to tie together small quanitites of accumulated leftovers. One of my favorites of these has always been potatoes and eggs, consisting of eggs, salt, a little romano or parmigiana cheese, and whatever potatoes have been hanging around. Anything works: I’ve used baked, boiled, post-Thanksgiving roasted potatoes, tater tots, even McDonald’s french fries — and trust me (I’ve done the eggwork) they always turn out great. I heat the spuds (in butter of course) in a frypan at medium heat and then add in a few eggs scrambled with the cheese and salt, flipping once when it starts to brown at the bottom. When I can’t keep it together (which is most of the time), I find scrambling the heck out of it doesn’t affect the taste at all.
  • Once I mastered the basic technique I found that pretty much anything else could be added after the potatoes and before the eggs: onions, cubes of cheese, broccoli (though I usually save larger quantities of it for quiche), red or green peppers, green beans, peas (though if you have kids be careful as I find the addition of peas often makes anything I cook inedible) and sausage or bacon or really any kind of meat if you’re so inclined.
  • A little less versatile but still useful is my spaghetti omelette, which is the only way I’ve found to dispose of leftover spaghetti that doesn’t involve wiping sauce off the sides of the garbage pail or the kitchen floor. It’s the same idea as potatoes and eggs, except that I mix the pasta, cheese and eggs together in a bowl before pouring it all into the buttered pan. The long strands of spaghetti work like a polymer resulting in the only kind of omelette I’ve ever consistently been able to flip. Something I’ve figured out only recently is that this also works as a casserole, baking the whole thing at 375° until it’s solid in the middle.
  • Keeping with the “mix something starchy with eggs and fry it in butter” motif, another favorite nothing-in-the-fridge dish is fried matzo which, growing up in an Italian/Jewish section of Brooklyn, I was exposed to at an early age. The main difference from the other dishes is that the matzo needs to soak in the eggs ahead of time. Some recipes I’ve seen call for dunking it in water first, but I prefer just using eggs, even if it takes a bit longer and cooks up a bit drier. I also like to add a little onion — onion powder works great when the cupboard is bare of anything fresh — and some ground pepper.

One of the wonderful things is that all these recipes scale from one person to a whole family, making them one of the few pieces of information from my college years that I still use on a more or less daily basis.

redlami also blogs at In Love But Not At Peace.

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. badhedgehog permalink
    April 26, 2010 4:01 pm

    Egg! Egg egg egg egg egg!

    I love fried matzo – I soak the matzo in hot water just to make it soften faster. Has to be butter, and you have to put salt and pepper on it. I like mine with tomato chutney, if there is any in the cupboard.

    I recently learnt to make shakshuka/chakchouka/Tunisian egg. You fry slices of green bell pepper til they’re soft, add garlic, harissa (or hot sauce, paprika, and a little cumin), salt and pepper, and chopped tomatoes, then make little wells in the mixture, break an egg into each well, turn the heat down and pop a lid on and the eggs steam until the whites are done and the yolks are as done as you like (I like them just past runny and just short of set). It’s quick to make, and has a very favourable effort to tasty ratio, and it uses up any spare green (or red) pepper or half an eggplant nicely. I have it with fries or bread.

  2. April 26, 2010 4:13 pm

    Damn, I ate lunch but y’all are making me hungry again.

  3. April 26, 2010 4:31 pm

    Redlami makes a fantastic quiche! Trust me, I’ve done the legwork.

  4. IrishUp permalink
    April 26, 2010 4:32 pm

    Wow – the spaghetti omelette! That is some bold leftover innovation right there, and you may be sure I will be trying it; pasta and eggs are frequent attendees of “fend for yourself” leftover nights.

    @badhedgehog – boy that’s yummmeh sounding, too.

    For minimal cooking options, I like to chop leftover veggies into an egg salad, or alternately, use chopped hard boiled eggs & veggies in a kind of build-your-own egg taco/burrito bar approach.

  5. April 26, 2010 6:37 pm

    @badhedgehog: that sounds yummy! I have an issue with liquid egg — yolks or whites — so I’d probably cook it way past where you would, but it definitely sounds like something I’d like to try. Leftover peppers and onions (from summer sausage fests) also go great scrambled up with a few eggs.

    @IrishUp, after Easter, there was much egg salad and potato-and-egg salad and egg-and-olive salad to be had, as well as significant deviled eggery.

  6. IrishUp permalink
    April 26, 2010 9:33 pm

    “significant deviled eggery”

    I have been giggling over this for 10 minutes. It is going to see hard duty, I can tell you.

  7. April 26, 2010 11:10 pm

    My fave egg raves are “Eggs in Purgatory” where you baste the eggs in leftover tomato/pizza sauce then cover with a nice hard grating cheese (I prefer Pecorino Romano, but y’know, whatever you have on hand will do the trick), and an over easy egg on top of fried rice. Chop up some green onion and then a nice small dice of radish… toss on top and sprinkle with some Maggi sauce (or Tamari/Soy sauce if you don’t have Maggi). I love a nice squirt of Sriracha sauce, but I like that stuff on just about anything. I actually have had a spaghetti fritatta and it was awesome! I need to do the omlette some day.

    The beer buyer at my last gig used to make “Spaghetti Burritos” when his wife was out of town. This basically consisted of him shoving spaghetti into a tortilla, covering it with Tillamook sharp cheddar and eating with a 6 pack of beer. I can’t really vouch for this as I haven’t tried it yet…

    I love food and I love these food posts! When will be having the company picnic? Because I want Redlami behind the grill and makin’ the macaroni salad!

  8. April 27, 2010 6:54 am

    Because I want Redlami behind the grill and makin’ the macaroni salad!

    My Y chromosome seems to be missing the grilling gene. But I do a mean Italian pasta salad with artichoke hearts, black olives, split cherry tomatoes and chunks of mozzarella.

  9. Raul Edmonds permalink
    August 13, 2013 7:11 pm

    The other day, while I was at work, my sister stole my
    apple ipad and tested to see if it can survive a twenty five foot drop, just so she
    can be a youtube sensation. My iPad is now broken and she has 83 views.

    I know this is entirely off topic but I had to share it
    with someone!

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  1. Trust Me I’ve Done the Eggwork: Fridge Cleaning 101 « In love but not at peace

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