Side Dish: Book a useful guide for raising chickens, cooking eggs

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“The Farmstead Egg Guide & Cookbook”

by Terry Golson.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $19.99.

192-page paperback.

HHH

Eggs are a big seller at local grocery stores and farmers markets in the days leading up to Easter. But, these days some city folks and suburbanites only have to head to the chicken coops in their backyards to get eggs for decorating and cooking.

In her latest book, cooking instructor and author Terry Golson tells you almost everything you need to know about raising chickens in your backyard and then what to do with the hens’ fresh eggs.

“The Farmstead Egg Guide & Cookbook” isn’t just for those who keep hens or are thinking about getting them. Anyone who likes egg dishes will appreciate its wealth of egg recipes from scrambled eggs, quiches and sauces to puddings, cakes and cookies.

Golson, who has a degree in animal science, shares her years of experience in keeping a flock of hens in her yard in the book’s first section. She discusses eggs and egg laying; how to store eggs; how to tell if they are fresh (do the float test); egg safety; how to select, house and feed chickens; and chicken care.

The book’s second section is all about the recipes. When reading the recipes, it’s obvious Golson, formerly a chef, is a cooking instructor used to dealing with students who need clear instructions. Her recipes are easy to follow and concisely written.

She offers a collection of about 100 recipes, many of which are illustrated with full-color photographs by Ben Fink.

Among them are Croque Madame, Eggs and Croutons for Steamed Vegetables, Cobb Salad, Avgolemono Soup, Shirred Eggs on Polenta, Salsa and Guacamole Frittata, Savory Spinach Cheesecake, Chocolate Soufflé, Lemon Meringue Pie, Weekend French Toast, and Orange and Almond Pound Cake.

The book is a good resource for anyone interested in home-raised chickens or looking for tasty egg dishes.

Cheramie Sonnier is The Advocate’s food editor. Her email address is csonnier@theadvocate.com. Advocate-tested recipe

Goat Cheese and Asparagus Custards

Serves 6. Recipe is from “The Farmstead Egg Guide & Cookbook” by Terry Golson, who says, “Texture is important in custards, so the asparagus is cooked until pliable but not mushy. If the spears are fat, then peel the tough skins from their ends before steaming. If the spears are as thin as pencils, peeling isn’t necessary.”

3Nonstick cooking spray

8 ozs. asparagus spears

1 tsp. butter

1/4 cup minced shallot (1 medium)

4 large eggs

13/4 cups half-and-half

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

4 ozs. soft goat cheese, crumbled (1/2 cup)

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1. Preheat oven to 350 F.

2. Coat six 6-ounce ramekins with nonstick cooking spray. The custards are baked in a water bath, so set the ramekins into a baking dish large enough so that they don’t touch. Bring a kettle of water to a boil.

3. Set up a steamer and steam the asparagus until you can bend it but its not yet soft. Cut into 1/2-inch pieces. Measure 3out 1 cup and reserve any remaining asparagus for another use. (It can be tossed into a green salad.)

4. Melt the butter in a small sauté pan over low heat and cook the shallots until they begin to brown. Divide the asparagus and shallots equally between the ramekins.

5. Whisk the eggs, half-and-half, and salt in a bowl. Pour into the ramekins, filling not quite to the rims.

6. Put the baking dish into the oven and carefully pour in the hot water until it reaches halfway up the ramekins. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the centers of the custards are firmly set.

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