Friday, June 1, 2012

50 Women Game-Changers in Food - #50 - Julie Powell - Poached Eggs

Poached Eggs:  They're not just for breakfast anymore.   Alyce's  Poached Egg Chef's Salad
If you saw the movie "Julie and Julia," you'll know Julie Powell didn't like eggs.  While working her way through Julia Child's Mastering The Art of French Cooking, Volume I in one year, Julie one day had to wake up and smell the eggs.  Yuck.  Something she never cooked.  But eggs were on the list and eggs are what she finally did fix.  And liked.  Who knew?

To begin with, Julie was a young married woman in NYC with a job that was stressful.   She needed more.  She loved to cook.  What else to do but to cook all of Julia Child's recipes from The Art of French Cooking in a year and blog about it?  The original blog (2002-3?) is still online if you'd like to peruse it; blogs have changed immeasurably since then.  I actually did read it once upon a time...  If you'd like to read quite a bit of it all at once, you can still order the book, Julie & Julia .  As you more than likely are aware, the book became a very popular movie of the same name (2009) that taught everyone I know about  food bloggers.  I no longer ever have to explain what I do with my free (insert eye roll) time; people just say, "Oh, like Julie in Julie and Julia."  I just nod my head, "Yes."  What more can I say? She did change our world.  No doubt at all.  I don't know how many food bloggers there were in 2005 versus 2012, but a current figure  (wrong/right?)  is over 11,000 in the United States alone.  Smile.

As far as poached eggs go, I'm a fan.  I often blog them:

Egg Salad #2

Alyce's Asparagus-Mushroom Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette and Poached Egg #3

Poached Eggs on Grilled Cheese Tomatoes--one of my favorite breakfasts

After the cut.
Don't know how to poach eggs or are scared?  Ah, gwahhn.  Heat up some water and let those eggs slip naked into the hot tub.   There are ways to make them more perfect, but here's the easy lesson I posted in my Dinner Place blog, which is all about cooking for one person: 

Alyce's Method for Poaching Eggs:
1. In a deeper small skillet or saucepan, heat 3" water to boiling.  Turn down the heat to simmer and add a small splash of white vinegar (1 tsp) if you have any.  You don't want a big boil here, the whites will fly all through the water.
2.  Crack one egg into a ramekin or tea cup and tip the egg slowly and gently into the water, holding the cup in place for a couple of seconds as the egg begins to set.  Repeat with second egg a certain distance away so that the whites, if possible, aren't touching.  Either let simmer for 3 minutes or so (occasionally spooning hot water over yolk if you like)  or, alternately, turn heat off and cover tightly for 3-5 minutes, depending on how set you like your eggs.  3 for runny yolks, 5 for firm.  Approximately.
Not perfect, but perfectly edible.  Just add salsa.
I like my eggs "eye ball" set (haven't drawn hot water over tops) and quite runny -- often for salad dressing or part of anyway.   Most people want the yolk completely masked--above.
3.  Remove each egg from its bath using a slotted spoon or spatula and tap the spatula gently on a towel or paper towel to remove excess water before sliding the egg onto the plate.
4.  Season well with salt and pepper.   Eat immediately.
A couple of tips:  Room temperature eggs crack more easily than cold eggs; you have less chance of shell fragments.  Also:  crack  your eggs on a flat surface, not on the edge of the pan.  You can also buy egg poachers (metal cups with long handles on legs) or silicone poachers for the microwave.  I've never tried either gizmo, so let me know if you like them.

Here's my equipment:

And, of course, tasty eggs--all sizes!

We can raise chickens right in the city here in St. Paul.  These are from Cathy Velasquez-Eberhart and her ladies.

Here's my copy--a first edition even.

Julia's Method

 Notice that Julia Child was always "Julia Child" until the movie came out.  Now she's just Julia.  Kind of like Just Joan. ("Jewel of the Nile" l985--Kathleen Turner)  Well, maybe not!

Just for grins, I'm going to look up Julia's instructions. Hold on.  Whoa.  This is all coming back to me.  If you've the book (Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume I), it's on pages 116-117.  Yes, it's two pages of instructions that you're welcome to.  I make my instructions short and simple; you'll learn technique and improve your eggs over time IF you're a beginning cook or even an accomplished cook who hasn't made poached eggs.  Not that my technique is better (cough cough), but while I'm wordy, I'm not quite as wordy as Julia---usually. 

One biggy is that even Julia admits you might want to make a 6 minute (boiled) egg instead of poached.  (Not likely for me.)  She also wants you to use fresh eggs, which are worth hunting for.  Check out your Farmer's Market if you can't find eggs any other way.  You can then set up a schedule to buy eggs from that person throughout the year.  I trade things for my eggs--things like baked cookies, granola, homemade ice cream sauces, etc.  You could try trading a service even.  Often, however, the eggs are no more expensive than quality eggs from the store.

One thing Julia writes is that if you need to keep the eggs for any length of time, place the cooked eggs in ice water.  You can store them in the frig like that.  Later, to heat them, slide them into salted hot water for 30 seconds. This is perfect if you'd like to have some friends for Sunday brunch.  You fix your poached eggs on Saturday, and do the hollandaise and English muffins (oven) on Sunday.
Or what if you'd like to do a few eggs for yourself for weekday breakfasts?  Do them Sunday afternoon and eat them Monday-Tuesday.

A Couple of Thoughts About Eggs 

We eat a lot of eggs and while they have a bad rap for cholesterol, so far we have no problems as we ease on toward 59.  I encourage young or new cooks to make eggs.  They are easy, fast, accessible, and inexpensive protein.   They store well.  They travel beautifully (if boiled.)  You can do all kinds of things with them!  In two minutes flat, you have an omelet and you can put nearly anything in the frig or pantry into it.  In twenty, you've cooked a dozen, boiling, and you  have lunches for work done.  Go eggs.

Want more about Julie Powell?

Watch a great video of Jacques Pepin and Julia Child poaching eggs together.  Julia uses the metal egg poacher with the long handle!  HA HA!!
Read Amanda Hesser's 2003 NYT article about Julie Powell's "web log or 'blog'"
NYT 2009 updated article on Powell
Julie's 2010 blog
Wiki biography
Time Magazine, 2010--Julie becomes a butcher.


With this post,  I give a low bow and fine thanks to our great group of bloggers writing about Gourmet Live's 50 Women Game-Changers in Food as we come to the tail end of our project.  A few folks will write another post summing up the whole 50 or writing about someone spectacular who didn't make the list (Marion Cunningham for me), but mostly this is our last hurrah.    I joined the group late, but have enjoyed all of my experience and am thankful for all of the learning, camaraderie, and fun...  Please take time to visit the other fine bloggers and see what they made for "Julie" week -- or any other week, for that matter.


Linda A - There and Back Again, Nancy - Picadillo, Mireya - My Healthy Eating Habits
Veronica - My Catholic Kitchen, Annie - Most Lovely Things, Jeanette - Healthy Living
Claudia - Journey of an Italian Cook, Alyce - More Time at the Table
Kathy - Bakeaway with Me, Martha - Simple Nourished Living, Jill - Saucy Cooks
Sara - Everything in the Kitchen Sink

Several of us plan to begin another blogging venture (though I'm about to put the blog on vacation and join up a little later) featuring the 38 healthiest foods featured in 

Power Foods: 150 Delicious Recipes with the 38 Healthiest Ingredients by The Editors of Whole Living Magazine (Dec 28, 2010)

I hope you'll join us!

Sing a new song and poach a new egg,


  1. It has been quite the journey sharing this challenge with so many inspiring ladies. We learned so much and I learned even more reading your article about eggs.

  2. Loved it all! I'll miss it. Wish we could do a girls' blogger weekend.

  3. Alyce, this was a marvelous post to end the series. It has been a pleasure to get to know you and become familiar with your wonderful blog. I think we all have leaned a lot. If you'd like to make the cake, try the flourless version that I featured on my Elizabeth David post. The cakes are nearly identical and I know that one works without flour. Have a great day. Don't be a stranger. Blessings...Mary

  4. Perfect; I adore Elizabeth David and will do just that. Thanks so much. I'll see you around the blogs, Mary!

  5. Wow - what a gorgeous wrap-up! I just poach eggs - with no thought. (And the evil cholesterol rap it's been getting seems to have dissipated - so yes, eat eggs!) I must say - eggs never looks as beautiful as those you displayed here - they are making me want to poach an egg right now! Funny - I am in White Bear and don't get to St. Paul much anymore! (Except for Saturday mornings where you will find me at the Farmer's Market - like clockwork!) Enjoy Colorado! Amused that you leave MN just when the going gets nice!

  6. Have a house to get ready to rent in Colorado springs ... Or I would not leave my garden here! I love our market on Saturdays, but also like st. Thomas More on Friday afternoon. Closer and not crowded.

  7. Wow what a fabulous post. I love the rich content and feel as if I know far more about eggs than a few minutes ago. I loved all the photos of the egg dishes and am struggling to decide which to make NOW!! Thanks.

  8. Hello, Alyce. I wanted to become a member of your Google friends but I can not. I will try tomorrow. I wanted to tell you that your site is beautiful. Kisses, Mother

  9. Oh yes, Alyce....fresh eggs make all the difference. Nice dish for our final posting. And enjoyed your info on Julie/jJulia.
    Its been wonderful meeting you and posting together. Will keep up with you form now on!

  10. I make poached eggs for my kids a fair amount. I used to think it was so tricky but once I realized it was so easy, I make them a lot more often. Can't believe this series is over, but looking forward to seeing what else you cook up in your kitchen.

  11. Alice, I had tried to make poached eggs once and failed miserably…I’ll have to give your way a try. Your eggs look so perfect! Such a lovely post! You are in my google reader, as are all of the ladies, so I’ll still be visiting! It’s been fun getting to know you!
    By the way, Julie’s Original Blog has been archived and can be accessed here….

  12. Way to go! Poached eggs are hard to make. You picked a great recipe to end our series. Thanks for sharing with us.

  13. Poaches are mine and my hubby's favorite type of eggs. I love all of these a matter of fact, I think I'm going to go make a couple right now for lunch. It was a pleasure meeting your through this experience and I hope to join in the next venture down the line :D

  14. Alyce,
    We do think alike. Poached eggs are wonderful: tasty, easy to prepare, and good for you! Why is it that I make scrambled eggs more othen when I prefer the taste of a poached egg?
    I so glad that you'll be participating in the 38 Power Foods blog group that starts Friday the 15th. Let the blog fest commence!

  15. @Heather: I'd love to hear how any of my recipes turned out for you..really. @Mireya: Can't wait to join the next healthy journey.

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