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How to make perfect fried eggs

When making eggs, use the tines of a

When making eggs, use the tines of a fork to pierce and drag the whites across the pan so that they cook through. (Jan. 10, 2011) Credit: Newsday/Erica Marcus

How do I fry an egg so the whites are cooked but the yolk is still runny?

Heat about a tablespoon of butter (or olive oil, but even an avowed olive-oil-head like me usually cooks her eggs in butter) in a nonstick pan over medium heat. The little bubbles you see is the water content of the butter boiling out. When the bubbles have pretty much subsided, add the eggs. If you crack each of them into a small bowl, then add it to the pan, you will reduce the chances of shells in your eggs, but I confess I often crack them right into the pan.

As soon as the eggs go in, swirl the pan so the whites run around. Then quickly use the tines of a fork to pierce and drag the whites, revealing the naked surface of the pan. Tilt the pan so the still-liquid whites run into the hole you've made. The whites are thickest around the yolks, so focus your attention here. You'll have a minute or two to do this before the whites get too firm, so act quickly. If the whites are setting too quickly, turn the heat down; not quickly enough, turn the heat up.

Once the whites no longer run, there are two methods of getting them set: If you want your eggs sunny-side up, cover the pan with a tightfitting lid and continue to cook for a few minutes over very low heat; the steam generated by the hot eggs will further cook the whites. Or, you can make over-easy eggs. Here's the easiest way I know to turn eggs over: Slide the eggs from the pan onto the underside of a large, flat pot lid. (A plate also works, but lacks the handle that makes the pot-lid method so easy.) Then place the now-empty egg-cooking pan over the lid and flip over so the eggs land in the pan. Cook for just a few more seconds, then turn off heat and let eggs sit for a minute or so until the whites are firm.

Here's a bonus trick: It's not wise to preheat an empty nonstick pan - it's not good for the nonstick surface and the fumes may be toxic. But since I like to put fat in an already-hot pan, I came up with this: Put a half-inch of water in your nonstick pan and then place it on the heat. When the water boils, dump it out and add your butter or olive oil. It will be ready for the eggs - or anything else - in a few seconds.

My family and I have enjoyed Welsh rarebit from the "Joy of Cooking" for many years. At times, the cheese separates at the end of the heating process in the double boiler. I keep stirring, but I'm never sure if it's too hot or not hot enough. - Phyllis Callahan, Baldwin

Too hot. I looked at that recipe, and it was notable for not containing any flour or cornstarch as a stabilizer. When cheese gets too hot, the fat can separate out of it. That's why many rarebit recipes - and most fondue recipes - call for a few spoonfuls of flour or cornstarch.

I'd alter the recipe slightly by adding the rest of the ingredients to the cheese before it is fully melted, and once it is, taking it off the heat immediately. Or add two teaspoons of flour to the butter the recipe calls for. Cook the flour in the butter for a few minutes - it should not color - then proceed with the recipe.

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