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But What Do I Do With The Whites

It's not at all unusual for cake and dessert recipes to call for egg yolks. Any kind of custard is a liaison of several yolks, sugar and milk. Which leaves the whites. What are we supposed to do with them? Well, start off by realizing that they are still a valuable food source, and do not lose any of their properties just because the yolks have been removed. In other words, you can treat them pretty much as you would the whole egg and even cook them in the same way.

For example, an omelet does not have to be yellow. Lightly beat the whites, season with salt and pepper, and cook just as you would any other omelet. The result will be light and fluffy, as well as fat and cholesterol free. The omelet doesn't have to be savory, either. Replace the seasoning with castor (superfine) sugar, fold in some fresh or stewed fruit and you have a practically instant dessert. You can take the dessert idea one step further by making meringues.

Add 50g of caster sugar for each egg white, a tsp of lemon juice and whisk the sugar into the whites, a little at a time, until the mixture forms soft peaks. Spoon dollops of this mix onto a greaseproof paper lined baking tray and bake in a cool oven (140C) for about 1 hour. Then turn the oven off and leave the meringues inside to dry out completely. Use to decorate fruit compotes or slices of tart.

You can even take the meringue idea to its logical conclusion by making that icon of Aussie desserts, the Pavlova. You achieve the Pavlova mix by whisking egg whites and sugar as above, but adding in 1 teaspoon of cornflour (cornstarch) for each egg white, plus 1 tsp of white vinegar or lemon juice. This helps to keep the meringue white during its prolonged cooking.

Draw a 20 cm circle on baking parchment, pile the meringue mixture in that and bake for two hours at 110C for 2 hours. Leave to cool in the oven as before. Once the meringue is cool, spread it with whipped cream and arrange fresh freshly sliced strawberries on top. Drizzle over this the pulp of 3 or 4 passion fruit and serve at once.

And if all of that seems like too much trouble to go to, try frying your egg whites just as they are, allow them to cool, cut them into strips and add them to your favorite salad or stir-fry.

Michael Sheridan is an accomplished chef and an acknowledged authority and published writer on cooking matters. His website at http://thecoolcook.com contains a wealth of information, hints, tips and recipes for busy home cooks.

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