Omelette a versatile summer meal option

Margaret
Margaret Prouse
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On the weekend, I had the privilege of helping out at the Crapaud Exhibition.

Besides chef Peter Hicks’ expert cooking demonstrations, one of the fun events that took place in the foods area was the omelette challenge. Three celebrity chefs — egg farmer Nathan Burns, devoted grandfather and home cook Sterling MacPhail and restaurateur Oliver Sauve — prepared their favourite omelettes on the spot. The three of them came up with totally different fillings, and had there been 50 people competing in the challenge, it is likely that each omelette would have been unique.

The event reminded me that the omelette is a perfect dish for summer when you want to serve great meals without spending hours getting them ready. It’s an inexpensive, nutritious, tasty, quick-to-prepare main dish that you can interpret your own way, and then use to anchor any meal deserves attention.

The two basic types of omelette, the French omelette and the puffy omelette, differ in how they are prepared. There are a few more steps to making the puffy omelette, but even so it is an easy and impressive dish.

When making French omelettes for a crowd, prepare them individually rather than try to cook one large omelette. Make up the egg mixture for as many servings as you need, using the basic information below, and then cook it in 125 mL (1/2 cup) batches for two-egg omelettes or 175 mL (3/4 cup) batches for three-egg omelettes.

The best pan for making a one-, two-, or three-egg omelette is about 20 cm (8 inches), measured at the base, and shallow with sloping sides to make it easy to slide the finished omelet onto a plate. I like to use a greased cast iron pan, but a nonstick pan is a good choice, too.

Use your imagination when deciding what to add to an omelet. Season the eggs with curry powder or other spice mixtures, fresh or dried herbs or snipped chives. Think about filling the omelet with sautéed vegetables such as green onions and diced sweet or hot peppers, cheese (could be grated sharp cheddar, but could also be Monterey jack, havarti, crumbled goat cheese, or ricotta) or diced meat such as ham, bacon or chicken, sautéed sliced white mushrooms or chanterelles or perhaps berries or chopped fruit. There is lots of room for creativity.

Here, from the experts at Canadian Egg Marketing Agency, are basic omelette instructions.

Basic French Omelette

From Eggs: Nature’s Treasure, Canadian Egg Marketing Agency, Ottawa.

2 eggs

30 mL (2 tbsp) water

 salt and pepper to taste

15 mL (1 tbsp) butter

Beat together eggs and water; season with salt and pepper.

Heat skillet over medium-high heat. Melt butter in skillet.

Pour in egg mixture. As mixture sets at the edges, with spatula, gently push cooked portions toward the centre. Tilt and rotate the pan to allow uncooked egg to flow into the empty spaces.

When the egg is almost set on surface, but still looks moist, cover one half of the omelette with filling, to taste.

Slip spatula under the unfilled side, fold the omelette in half, and slide onto a warm plate.

Makes 1 serving

Because you beat the egg yolks and whites separately, it takes a little longer to prepare a puffy omelette, but it’s still a quick entrée. Remember that it is important for egg whites not to be in contact with fat before being beaten. That means that you need to take care, when separating the eggs, to not get even a trace of yolk in with the whites. You also need to beat the whites in a glass or metal bowl and be sure that both bowl and beaters are very clean. One source recommends wiping them with a cloth or paper towel moistened with vinegar to remove any traces of unseen fat.

Puffy Omelette

From Eggs: Nature’s Treasure, Canadian Egg Marketing Agency, Ottawa.

2 eggs

Separate yolks and whites. To yolks, add 5 mL (1 tsp) water per yolk. With electric beater, beat egg yolks until thick and lemon coloured. If for a main course, season with salt and pepper.

Beat egg whites until soft peaks form. (Make the puffy omelette even fluffier by adding a pinch of cornstarch before beating egg whites.) If for dessert omelette, gradually beat in 15 mL (1 tbsp) sugar per egg. Continue beating until whites are stiff but not dry. Fold yolk mixture carefully into whites.

Pour omelette mixture into moderately hot, well-buttered pan (see note below); level surface gently. Cook over low heat on top of stove until puffy and lightly browned on bottom, about 5 minutes. Lift omelette at edges to check colour. Bake in 180 C (350 F) for 8 to 10 minutes or until knife inserted in centre comes out clean. To serve, score omelette just off centre, fold and serve at once. Try it plain or with a tasty filling or sauce. Makes 1 serving

Note: If the pan you are using has a plastic handle, wrap it completely with a double thickness of aluminum foil.

Create your signature omelette this summer, using seasonal fruits and veggies and your choice of other ingredients to complement the mild flavour of eggs. It’s an easy way to prepare summer meals with flair.

Margaret Prouse, a home economist, can be reached by writing her at RR#2, North Wiltshire, P.E.I., C0A 1Y0, or by email at margaret@islandgusto.com

Organizations: Canadian Egg Marketing Agency

Geographic location: Monterey, North Wiltshire

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