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7:23 AM Wed, Sept. 26th

Eggs are eggs-actly the right choice for many meals

It's the time of year for chicks, bunnies and eggs just about everywhere. As a food writer I am always looking for column ideas, so eggs seem to be the right choice. Most people like eggs, and even with the fat issue they still have other good qualities. From the cook's standpoint, versatility is one. Here are some egg ideas.

• MAPLE TOAST AND EGGS

12 bacon strips, diced

1/2 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup butter or margarine

12 slices firm textured white bread

12 eggs

salt and pepper to taste

In large skillet, cook bacon until crisp; remove to paper towels to drain. In a small saucepan, heat syrup and butter until butter melts. Set aside. Trim crusts from bread; flatten slices with rolling pin. Brush one side generously with syrup mixture; press each slice into an ungreased muffin cup with syrup side down. Divide bacon among muffin cups. Carefully break one egg into each cup. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover with foil. Bake at 400 degrees for 18 to 20 minutes or until eggs reach desired doneness. Serve immediately. Makes 12 servings. Adjust if you need fewer servings.

• EGG SUBSTITUTE (homemade)

Several people commented on the usefulness of a recent column featuring products we can make versus buy. This might be useful to those avoiding egg yolks, since they sometimes get a bad rap!

8 egg whites

1/4 cup non-fat dry milk powder

1 tablespoon canola or polyunsaturated oil

6 drops yellow food coloring

Place egg whites, dry milk powder, oil and food coloring in a blender jar. Blend until smooth. Store in tightly covered jar in refrigerator for no more than one week. May be frozen if desired. One-fourth cup egg substitute equals one egg. Use in recipes as required.

• EGG AND TOMATO TARTLETS

These are great for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Serves 4 and is an attractive entrée for guests.

4 prepared 6-inch pie crusts, uncooked

6 eggs

8 cherry tomatoes

1/2 cup fresh chives, snipped into small pieces

6 oz. Jarlsberg or gruyere cheese, grated

1 tablespoon flour

1/2 cup cream

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly oil four 4- to 5-inch individual tart pans. Press crusts into pans and trim edges. (You could make your own crust or use one of the "roll out" ones). Add flour to cheese and mix lightly. Cut tomatoes in half, using two tomatoes per tart. Whisk eggs together with salt and pepper and cream in a medium-sized bowl. Divide cheese into four equal parts and place in each tart shell. Attractively arrange tomatoes and chives over cheese. Pour egg and cream mixture into each tart, dividing equally. Place pans on a cookie sheet and bake for about 20 minutes until set. Cool briefly before serving.

• BREAKFAST BURRITOS

Flour tortillas

scrambled eggs

chopped, cooked bacon

salsa

refried beans

In a giant flour tortilla, ladle 4 ounces refried beans, warmed. Sprinkle with scrambled eggs and the bacon. Fold into thirds. Top generously with salsa, add a dollop of sour cream, green onions as desired.

EGG TRIVIA: You should store eggs in the carton in the refrigerator rather than the door, as the temperature in the door fluctuates due to opening and closing. Eggs should remain in the coldest part of the fridge. For best volume when beating egg whites, you should separate the eggs when cold and then allow them to stand a little before beating. A little cream of tartar adds stability.

• PERFECT HARD COOKED EGGS

Place eggs in saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to boil and remove from heat. Cover and let stand 17 to 20 minutes. The eggs should be tender, with no gray ring around the yolks!

• PICKLED EGGS

(From my Amish cookbook)

1 2/3 cups red beet juice, with salt

1/4 cup sugar

2-1/2 tablespoon vinegar

about 8 hard boiled, peeled eggs

Mix juice, sugar and vinegar. Bring to boil. Remove and cool. Soak eggs in juice 12 to 24 hours in refrigerator. Remove from juice to serve.

• CHIVE MUSTARD STUFFED EGGS

Since most people like "deviled eggs" as they are popularly known (at all the church potlucks I attend they go fast), here is a recipe for a new twist.

3 hard-boiled eggs (see above Perfect Hard Cooked Eggs) which are peeled, halved and yolks removed and reserved

1 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh chives

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon low-fat sour cream (I sometimes substitute plain yogurt here)

pinch of salt and pepper

Mix the reserved yolks with chives, mustard, sour cream or yogurt and seasonings and blend to a paste. Spoon mixture into cooked egg-white halves.

EGG TRIVIA: Occasionally recipes get our egg white/egg yolk off balance and the question arises about what to do with these, as you hate to throw them away. Well, you can freeze both. Here's how: WHITES: You can freeze them without any additions. You may use ice cube trays or muffin tins and then store them in freezer bags. Helpful to note how many, etc. for later use and date, too. YOLKS: They can coagulate, so add 1/2 teaspoon salt to 6 yolks (adjust to number freezing) or 2 teaspoon sugar to six yolks (adjust for more or less, using that as a guide). Mark freezer bags for later use if using salt or sugar (so the wrong flavor "yolk" won't be on you! Couldn't resist the pun!) For later use: one yolk equals 1 tablespoon and 1 white equals 1-1/2 tablespoon.

My egg files are large, so next week look for quiche. Happy Easter to all.