By Rick Nelson
What a gift, having a few pints of Ron and Sue Cloose’s heavy cream in our refrigerator for the past few days.
Whipped up, this pride of the Blackstar Dairy became a luxurious final touch to an applesauce cake that I baked for my sister’s and nephew’s birthday celebration. It also added a rich finish to a chowder that I put together after being unable to resist the sweet corn piled high in the produce section at the Wedge Co-op.
But this beautiful farmstead product has really been getting a workout in the morning, called to duty as a key ingredient in scrambled eggs. This latest obsession of mine is inspired by Julia Child’s can’t-put-it-down autobiography, “A Life in France.” Early on in the book, when Child is recounting her experience at the Cordon Bleu cooking school and sharing her affection and admiration for her favorite instructor, Chef Bugnard, my imagination was captured by a short passage. Bugnard is demonstrating how to properly prepare scrambled eggs, and Child's account of that teaching moment was such a revelation that I couldn’t wait to test-drive the start-with-a-cold pan formula. She writes:
“One morning he asked, ‘Who will make oefs brouilles today?’ The GIs [Child’s fellow students] were silent, so I volunteered for scrambled-egg duty. Bugnard watched intently as I whipped some eggs and cream into a froth, got the frying pan very hot, and slipped in a pat of butter, which hissed and browned in the pan. ‘Non!’ he said in horror, before I could pour the egg mixture into the pan. ‘That is absolutely wrong!’
"With a smile, Chef Bugnard cracked two eggs and added a dash of salt and pepper. ‘Like this,’ he said, gently blending the yolks and whites together with a fork. ‘Not too much.’ He smeared the bottom and sides of a frying pan with butter, then gently poured the eggs in. Keeping the heat low, he stared intently at the pan. Nothing happened. After a long three minutes, the eggs began to thicken into a custard. Stirring rapidly with the fork, sliding the pan off and on the burner, Bugnard gently pulled the egg curds together – ‘Keep them a little bit loose; this is very important,’ he instructed. ‘Now the cream or butter,’ he said, looking at me with raised eyebrows. ‘This will stop the cooking, you see?’ I nodded, and he turned the scrambled eggs out onto a plate, sprinkled bits of parsley around, and said, ‘Voila!’
Voila, indeed. After shaking off the lifelong habit of pre-heating the pan and throwing my wrist into a lively egg-cream whisking, I tried it Julia's way. The results? A plate of moist, pillow-ey eggs that shamed any and all previous attempts at what I'd always considered a no-brainer breakfast. Thanks, Julia and Chef Bugnard, for the valuable tutorial, with proper credit, of course, to the Clooses and Harmony Organics, my go-to egg purveyor.