The Egg.

My attention always turns to eggs in the spring as Easter approaches. This morning I watched Chef Diana Moles, our Director of R&D, scraping a bowl of batter with a rubber spatula, incorporating a bright orange ribbon of egg yolk. An essential ingredient in our cheesecakes to be sure, eggs provide structure, color and flavor. The addition of eggs requires that our cheesecakes are baked, as opposed to a “no bake” cheesecake made with gelatin. I’m always tickled when our customers in the U.K. specifically call our desserts Baked Cheesecakes, where here it seems more the norm that a plain old cheesecake implies that it’s a baked cheesecake.

Diana was making a batch of our Burnt Caramel Cheesecake Flan, part of our Couture line and our staff’s favorite cheesecake flavor of the moment – I think it’s the salty almond crust that does it. She explained that in this dessert, the eggs also give it the custardy goodness of a flan.

This Friday will include my annual pilgrimage to Chicago foodie mecca Fox & Obel for a carton of quail eggs (by no means do I only visit Fox & Obel once a year – but I usually only buy quail eggs once a year for Easter). These little speckled darlings are about a buck each so a bit of careful preparation is necessary. I usually hard boil them, slice them in half, and sprinkle with sea salt, chopped chives and tiny pile of caviar (salmon roe is the loveliest).

I’ve checked out some new Chicago restaurants lately and they have all seemed to cater to my love of eggs. A recent fantastic dinner at Brasserie Ruhlmann was made ever so special by the addition of a raw quail egg on top of a handsome mound of steak tartar served with pommes frites for dipping. Last week I enjoyed a Lyonnaise salad at Old Town Brasserie topped with a poached egg. I pierced the yolk and let it pool onto my plate before I began eating. Each bite had the perfect flavor of smoky, salty bacon and bitter frisee, bound together by the unctuous egg.

I’ve often said that I married my husband for his love of food, and that love is shared by his parents. My In-Laws have accompanied us on many a degustation adventure without batting an eye. My mother-in-law is a great cook and her deviled eggs (photo at left – taken last Easter by my brother Mike) are the best I’ve ever tasted. She brings them to every holiday meal on the same brown plate painted with a sunflower, wrapped in plastic and aluminum foil. Prepared with the perfect amount of mustard, garnished with green olive slices and a dash of paprika. Though at the end of any given holiday meal mounds of my turkey, lamb or ham could remain, the brown sunflower plate of sliced eggs is always demolished.

To put it simply: they blow my quail eggs right out of the water.

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