Friday, January 14, 2005

By demand " How to make the perfect omelette"

I was thinking the other day about how serendipitous it is that I did my maiden post for my new food blog on 'Breakfast'.

I guess I am not ready to move on from this repast just yet. Maybe my next entries (when I get round to them) can involve brunch, then morning tea and so on. I don't know if it wise to subject myself to this kind of categorical pressure but for now I am willing to give it a try. How I wish I could do illustrations for my food blog- but for now I will have to make do with digital photographs.

I was feeling a bit nervous about whether I had spelled omelette correctly so I decided to consult a dictionary. Phew! I was correct and there is an alternative spelling namely, 'omelet'. I prefer the first version.

I also enjoyed the rest of the definition: "beaten eggs cooked in melted butter and folded and often flavoured with or containing herbs, cheese, chopped ham, jam, etc. (savoury omelette with herbs etc; sweet omelette,with sugar or jam; one cannot make an omelette without breaking eggs, something must be sacrificed in order to achieve one's purpose).

Now is that saying " you can't make an omelette without breaking eggs" one which is cited when we draw analogies to some of life scenarios? Just seems to "twig a bell" (one of the mixed metaphors I heard which I can't resist using sometimes and has become one of my personal favourites).

It is news to me that there are sweet omelettes. I wonder what they taste like? Good to know there are still so many more culinary experiences to discover.

Long before I had ever had my own on-line journal or had even heard of the word "blog", in fact I don't think the word had even been spawned, I spent my time reading the newspapers of the world on-line. One of my favourite on-line newspapers being the New York Times. What attracted me to the NYT was the Dining and Wine feature section and I think it was around 2000, that I came across a series of articles which provided some very detailed instructions from a Cookery School/Institute on how to make the perfect french omelette.

I wish I could reproduce or link to that article and its lessons but alas that was too long ago and all the googling in the world can't unearth it. The best I can do is explain how I have come to prepare omelettes based on those instructions.

"Fine de herbs"
In the vague recesses of my mind I remember that terminology and the phrase refers to an omelette being made with the incorporation of finely chopped herbs. I usually make this particular one.

I use 3 fresh free range eggs (approximately 60gram eggs). I break the eggs into a bowl and gently whisk the eggs together with a big dash of cream (though milk is fine instead of cream too) and a pinch of sea salt and ground pepper. I finely dice some chives and italian parsley and add the herbs to the egg mixture.
I place my omelette pan over a medium to high heat and use some butter and olive oil and heat them till they coat the bottom of the pan.

When the butter and olive oil evenly cover the pan I pour in the egg mixture and reduce the heat till it is low to medium. I then draw the egg mixture into the middle of the pan with a fork, from the edges so that the egg mixture will begin to cook evenly - and letting the uncooked egg mixture run onto the surface of the pan. Obviously the egg mixture having hit the warmed pan will cook quickly. What I am seeking to obtain is an evenly cooked, smooth and shiny omelette and not to brown the egg mixture, so the slower the cooking process the better.

After drawing the egg mixture into the middle of the pan a few times so that it is approximately 1/3 - 2/3's cooked, I then use the fork tines to gently squash the top of the omelette so that the lumps that have been produced by my having previously moved the egg mixture will be made smaller. I squash the surface of the omelette in order to produce an even look over the surface of the omelette and for even cooking as well.

At this stage I do not want to move the egg mixture it only involves the pressing of the tines evenly over the surface of the omelette till eventually I leave it to set in one unbroken circular piece.

At this point I usually add grated cheese - guryere is a favourite. If you can't get hold of guryere, then Jarlsberg would be great or even crumbled feta. By adding the cheese at this stage the cheese will be warmed through and ooze out of the omelette when cut.

Once the omelette has set further and the cheese appears to be softening and melting, I move the handle of the pan in front of my body and lift the handle so the omelette is tipped away from you. l try to coax the top of the omelette down over the filling. If it only partially covers the filling I usually then decide to try slipping the omelette out of the pan and on to a plate and as I do so I flip the omelette so it folds again. So the edges of the omelette should be under the omelette and the top surface will be what was the bottom of the omelette.

(O my goodness this is so hard to explain and I think the French Culinary Institute, New York Cordon Bleu whoever they were did it much better though it was still quite involved).

Key to the success of my omelettes have been the following:

low heat; and
a new omelette pan kept only for omelettes and the occasional pancake but no eggs or bacon may darken its fine scratch free Teflon surface.

Sometimes you can brush the omelette with some melted butter just prior to serving so it looks all glossy. I have found that an omelette made this way just melts in your mouth.

Another addition to the middle of omelette might include smoked salmon just prior to folding the omelette and then topping it with creme fraiche and finely diced chives.

This size omelette is a hearty breakfast for two or a nice light breakfast for three. Of course there must also be either English muffins or Turkish bread and bacon or smoked trout and asparagus.

Tomorrow morning I will cook an omelette and I will take a photograph of a few stages namely the part where I use the fork tines to produce that surface I speak of.

1 comment:

Lloyd said...

After reading this, i am feeling very hungry. Cant wait to try this out. Perhaps i will add to myWorlds Best collection of Omelette recipes

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Mother of two with one of each. Wife of one.Dogless. Busy working five days a week, baking and cooking when time allows. Writing rarely these days. Wishing I had time to read more often.