Eggs are, of course, greater than the sum of their parts, but their parts can be pretty good, too. Whites are a friend to the sweet-toothed and often find their way into meringues. “All of the meringue family are ingenious,” says king of desserts Jeremy Lee, head chef of Quo Vadis in London, and famed for his billowy creations. So what’s his secret? First, a very clean bowl, then “make sure, with that first beating, that the whites are as stiff as hell; beat the first half with sugar, then fold in the second.” That way a more delicate shell lies.
There’s nougat, too, which is “a bit of a performance, but enormously satisfying”, says Lee, who adds copious nuts (pistachios, hazelnuts, walnuts, almonds) to his. You could also transform your whites into coconut macaroons – or, with the addition of chocolate, lemon juice and sugar – chocolate mousse. “Jess could also make financiers,” says Ravneet Gill. In her latest book, Sugar, I Love You, she combines icing sugar, ground almonds, plain flour, baking powder and salt, mixes in coffee, egg whites and brown butter, and chills. Fold in chocolate chips, then spoon into moulds, top with flaked almonds and bake.
For “addictively crunchy” granola, the Guardian’s resident perfectionist Felicity Cloake adds beaten whites to her oat mix, or you could start the day with an egg white omelette, though be sure to throw a lot of flavour at it. Lee recommends: “herbs, nuts, cheese and vegetables such as swiss chard”. (Excess whites will also lighten whole-egg frittatas, omelettes or scrambles.)
And you can’t make a whisky sour without egg white. Tom Hunt shakes 100ml whisky, 50ml lemon juice, a tablespoon of muscovado sugar, an egg white and ice in a shaker, then strains into glasses and, if you fancy, tops with angostura bitters. Whites also freeze well, which Gill does in 150g portions: “Remember, one egg white equals 30g. I use them to make swiss meringue buttercream for cakes.”
Yolks, meanwhile, keep in the fridge for a couple of days, but do tend to dry out. That said, Gill picked up a tip from food stylist Valerie Berry on the shoot for her new book: “Leave the yolk in the half-broken shell, put it back in the egg box, clingfilm the top and the yolks will keep skin-free.”
If, however, you have multiple yolks knocking about, Hunt suggests packing them “in fine salt for a week, then wash in a dab of vinegar and hang in muslin or cheesecloth to air-dry”. These cured yolks will keep for months and can be grated over the likes of carbonara, which is also a good medium for non-cured yolks, as is Rachel Roddy’s linguine with courgettes, egg, and parmesan. “The elements of this dish – soft courgettes cooked in olive oil, beaten eggs, grated cheese and a slosh of pasta cooking water – come together to form a soft, yellow cream on the strands of pasta.”
Sauces derived from mayonnaise (aïoli, tartare, etc) are other good shouts for yolks, but for Gill, yolks mean just one thing: custard. “They signal luxury, and custard is a really nice luxury,” It also, Lee says, offers up a “plethora of puddings that take custards and creams that use up egg yolks magnificently”. Creme caramel, ice-cream, creme brulee … they’re all worth a crack