Making eggs seems to be quite a simple task, but people's tastes and preferences vary so greatly that it is not easy to get them just right. What's the perfect egg to one, is a perfect egg disaster to another.
My first experiences cooking eggs date back to a summer job I had at a 4-star hotel in my hometown - although working at reception for most of the time where my language skills came in handy, the breakfast rush in the morning always needed an extra pair of hands. Keeping the buffet tidy and regularly filling up the plates and bowls as well as serving hot beverages was easy enough, but I remember almost breaking out in a sweat every time somebody wanted an egg.
In my family, a soft-boiled egg cooks 6 minutes (and over the years - especially when I lived in Mexico City - I've come to learn that apart from the number of eggs in your pot, altitude is the biggest variable in the cooking time vs softness equation) to ensure that the whites are properly cooked through and the yolks still runny. I got my first proper shouting-at in the breakfast room of afore-mentioned hotel when one guest (= customer = King) ordered a soft-boiled egg and was expecting the whites to be much runnier than I'd ever eaten them... making an omelette was torture, a fried egg (sunny side up) an impossible mission given that our equipment consisted of a portable electric (!) stove and the cheapest pans imaginable. Teflon was a four-letter word in that place...
But I digress. In reality, there is not such thing as the perfect egg, be it soft-boiled, scrambled or en cocotte, it's simply a matter of personal preference. Over years of enjoying a hearty weekend breakfast with the family gathered around the kitchen table, I have found MY perfect eggs - I still like my soft-boiled eggs 5-6 minutes, my oeufs cocotte 12 minutes, my omelette just with the addition of water and finished off in the oven to emerge beautifully puffed up, and my scrambled eggs very creamy indeed. The latter I am still experimenting with - one time just using eggs, another time adding cream or mascarpone, sometimes water... I have tried making them in every one of the vast array of pans I possess. Then I read some celebrity chef makes them in a bowl over water - it didn't say whether plastic, metal or glass (I can say for sure that using glass is a nightmare) and a few weeks/months back, Gordon Ramsay made his way into our living room by means of a CD ROM that came free with some magazine or another to share with me his five best secrets. I was drooling over the keyboard less over the dishes he prepared, but over his 1-million-pound kitchen... but then he got my attention again with the last secret, which was how to make the perfect scrambled eggs.
I didn't have much choice but to try it out immediately. Here, you break the eggs straight into the pan without beating them up before, and you don't add anything to them, except ice-cold butter cut in cubes. The will slowly melt, also making sure that the egg mixture doesn't get overly hot, thus cooking the eggs very slowly indeed. He then performed the most amazing choreography while he was chanting to take the pan "off the heat, then on again, off the heat, then on again, off the heat..." stirring throughout the process. I must say that despite 12 years of ballet training, my legwork was appalling in the circumstances, but then I wasn't performing for a TV crew and I did it for free, so no complaints!
Ham bagels with the creamiest scrambled eggs
4 medium eggs
1 tbsp butter (ice-cold and cut into 1cm cubes)
4 wafer-thin slices (Brunswick) ham
1 tbsp freshly snipped chives
1 expensive, heavy-based, non-stick pan*
Heat the pan over medium heat, break the eggs into the pan, add the butter cubes and stir slowly until the eggs are starting to set. Turn off the heat and continue to stir until the eggs reach the consistency you desire. Season.
While you're busy stirring, ask someone kindly to half the bagel and toast it lightly and top with the ham slices. Divide the eggs between the two portions and sprinkle with the chives.
*(I am the proud owner of a Le Creuset Trivita with Excalibur non-stick coating)