June 13, 2005

Procrastination & Egg Whites

I'd never bought a carton of egg whites before. I'd always just separated out a few whole eggs, and put a bowl of leftover yolks in the fridge to make mayonnaise or custard or a pastry-wash. A leftover yolk can be a thickener for soup, an enricher for scrambled eggs, or fulfill many other possible destinies. However, when you're staring down recipe after recipe that calls for egg whites only, it makes sense to try those pristine little carton-packs in the fridge section of the supermarket.

I originally wanted to make a Darjeeling Chocolate Cake from one of Cooking Light's annuals. I still haven't made it. Upon closer inspection, the recipe looks like a pain in the rump, and as I have suffered a few culinary flops lately, I don't feel like going to all that trouble and be disappointed. Now is the time for the tried and true, and the easy and unfussy. Since the egg whites I bought came in a two-pack, each package containing a cup of liquid whites and an expiry date, I was suddenly faced with the need to use up a number of egg whites in a hurry.

Meringue is the easy answer to start with. A batch of chocolate-chip studded meringue cookies now lives in the tupperware by the coffee maker. I'd considered pavlova, too, but that requires something along the lines of timing where both of us would be home to eat it, since it really doesn't keep terribly well. I've been adding egg whites to everything. Subbing out eggs for egg whites in coffee cake, and taking an ill-advised stab at a chocolate banana souffle - ill advised in that I did not have the requisite hardware, and what do you know? Not everything can be rescued with sambal oelek, it turns out. I used egg whites to bind lamb meatloaf, veal patties, and to glaze bread loaves. I've still got about half a cup left.

I probably have enough to make that Darjeeling cake after all, but I think I'm going to wait. There's got to be a reason that I just can't summon the will to get the thing done, and I think I'm going to respect that. I do wish I'd come to this conclusion before buying the egg whites, but at least I've had some fun with them anyway. Who knows what I will end up making with the last of them? Maybe I'll give the famous Hollywood Egg White & Chive omelette a try. Or, then again, maybe not.


Liz said...

I agree egg whites are a handy item to have in the kitchen, but your very wise to use them before the expiry date. I tried to make a meringue with a package slightly past the date and it was a flop. No, they didn't even get enough volume to flop. :o)

Dawna said...

Hi Liz,

It's shocking how many recipes call for more whites than yolks! Well, it makes sense for the lighter or lightened recipes that I've been trying lately, but still! Despite having a good week left on the expiry date, I think that "tired" egg whites was one of the contributors to the floppy souffle.

I usually buy free-run or entirely organic eggs, but that gets very expensive if you need a lot of whites for something. Next time I buy a carton, though, I'll be sure to line up a few white-heavy recipes (and the time to get to them) in advance...