Eggs-actly Right for Quick & Easy Meals - What's in the Fridge Omelette - Quick Wholemeal Bread - Sorrel

As chicken is to Easter, eggs are to spring -  so this is the perfect time to make the most of  one of Nature's great convenience foods, perfectly packaged and always to hand. 

They are nutritious, low in calories, easy to cook and value for money - and, in case you have been having doubts, an independent nutritional review of eggs carried out on behalf of Bord Bia has confirmed that eating an egg a day is beneficial as part of a healthy, balanced diet.

The nutritional study on eggs, carried out by independent researchers, is particularly significant in dispelling the popular misconception that cholesterol in food directly influences blood cholesterol.  "Cholesterol is a key nutrient in people's diets with many roles including cell formation and digestion," according to Dr Sinead McCarthy, author of the nutritional review:  "Our review of scientific studies on eggs promotes the consumption of an egg a day, provided it is part of a balanced healthy diet that is high in fibre and high in fruit and vegetables and low in fat overall - with less than 11% of energy from saturated fat, "  

Egg sales have been increasing in recent years, according to Teresa Brophy, Ireland Market Manager, Bord Bia, whose current national promotional campaign Whats in the fridge omelettehighlights the benefits of eating an egg a day through the slogan of 'An Egg a Day is OK' , a message  endorsed by The Irish Heart Foundation.  The campaign also encourages consumers to look for the Quality Assurance Mark when buying eggs as this ensures the eggs have been produced to the highest standards and can be traced from farm to table.

According to Edel Duffy, co-author of the nutritional review "Along with their nutritional benefits of protein and iron, the study also highlights the fact that eggs can be considered a 'functional food' as they contain components that may have benefits that go beyond basic nutrition.  This includes carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, which may help to protect against age-related eye diseases." The nutritional review of eggs highlighted the particular benefits of eggs at various lifestages. Further information on  the report, 'An Overview of the Nutritional Role of Eggs in the Diet', prepared by Ms Edel Duffy B.Sc. (Dietetics) and Dr. Sinead McCarthy Ph.D (Nutrition), is available from Bord Bia Tel 01 668 5155; 

What's in the Fridge Omelette
This is basically a Spanish omelette and none the worse for that - I prefer the title given here as it sums up the whole point about eggs and their constant accessibility as an everyday family food: a wholesome, tasty home-cooked meal on the table in 15 minutes, which is great for busy people and hungry kids. Serves 4

11/2 tablesp. olive oil
4-6 potatoes, peeled and diced
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
8 Q mark eggs, beaten with 2 tablesp. freshly grated cheese
A little salt and freshly ground black pepper
Chopped parsley

Heat the oil in a non-stick pan and cook the potatoes over moderate heat for 8-10 minutes, until nearly cooked and beginning to brown.  Add the onion and continue to cook gently until the onion is just golden, then add the garlic.

When the potatoes are just cooked, season the egg mixture and add to the potatoes. Stir well and allow the eggs to cook on the base.  Place a plate over the pan, carefully turn the omelette onto the plate then slide back into the pan to cook the other side.  To serve, sprinkle with parsley and cut into wedges.

Variation: you can add other ingredients, whatever is available - chopped bacon, scallions, tomatoes, mushrooms. You can of use up cooked potatoes course, but the flavour is much better if you start out with raw potatoes.

Wholemeal BreadSHORT RECIPE : Quick Wholemeal Bread

Baking is the new knitting, apparently, and this delicious and healthy bread is very simple and easy to make - the perfect route to a high feel-good factor on a chilly day. Delicious served with an omelette to make a handy brunch - or with honey or home-made marmalade at any time.  

450g / 1 lb wholemeal flour
1 tablesp. wheatgerm
1 tablesp. bran
1 tablesp. sunflower seeds (optional)
1 teasp. bread soda
1 teasp. salt
250ml / 1/2 pint buttermilk approx
2 tablesp. oil
1 egg (optional)
1 tablesp. honey

Preheat a hot oven, Gas Mark 6, 200ºC (400ºF).

When the oven is ready, mix all the dry ingredients together well, then add all the liquids and mix quickly but thoroughly, to make a fairly wet dough.  Pour the mixture into a greased 900g/2 lb loaf tin and bake for approx 50-60 minutes, until well-risen and nicely browned. To test, turn out and tap the base, which will sound hollow when fully cooked.


What Is It?
Sorrel is a rich green acidic-tasting salad herb or green vegetable that looks and behaves rather like a cross between a dock and a smallish pointed-leaved type of spinach.

Where Does It Come From?
It grows abundantly in the wild in Ireland, and the tender young leaves are coming up everywhere in sun-dappled woodland and verges at this time of year. 

Where Can You Get It?
You can forage for wild sorrel, of course, or you might even find it on sale from good greengrocers, specialist organic suppliers or farmers' markets. However, when you see sorrel for sale it is much more likely to be the cultivated variety, which you could also grow yourself; seeds are available from garden centres and this is a good time to sow them. It is a perennial and comes up each spring; it can be harvested at any time when the leaves are growing strongly then you cut it back when it flowers, before it goes to seed.

What Can You Do With It?
Sorrel is highly-prized by chefs for its refreshing acidic tang. It can be cooked in virtually all the ways suitable for spinach or lettuce and at this time of year, when the leaves are tender, they can be used raw in salads, or chopped into egg sandwiches or fillings - the classic dish 'green eggs' is made by mashing the yolks hard-boiled eggs with a pure of sorrel cooked gently in butter and cream cheese, seasoning and piling the mixture back into the egg whites before serving with a crisp green salad; like spinach, it has an affiliation with nutmeg which is often used when seasoning sorrel. It can be used as a filling for omelettes, goes well with fish or poultry (in stuffings or sauces) and also makes a lovely spring soup, perhaps with other green leaves like lettuce, spinach and watercress - or other wild leaves like young dandelions or nettles.    

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