September 19, 2012 7:22:52 AM
Jan Swoope - firstname.lastname@example.org
Few foods figure as prominently in American breakfasts as the good ole egg. So, in a nod to September as National Breakfast Month, how about a closer look at omelets?
They are -- as Chef Sarah Labensky of Columbus succinctly shares in her reference book, "On Cooking: Techniques from Expert Chefs" by Labensky and Alan Hause -- "needlessly intimidating egg creations that begin as scrambled eggs."
It's probably safe to say that cooks have been chasing perfection in color, shape and texture since the French word "omelette" came into use in the mid-16th century. Reliably producing a company-worthy omelet every time out may take a do-over or two, but even if things go awry, you'll still have some tasty scrambled eggs, right? So relax and have some fun.
Most of us think of omelets as half-moons of cooked egg folded over our favorite fillings. But to add variety to your repertoire, you may want to try a French-style omelet, with the filling inserted into an opening cut into a rolled cooked omelet. Or mix your filling ingredients in with the uncooked egg mixture, pour it all into the pan at the same time, letting it cook into an omelet "pizza." You can even create a omelet that resembles a log roll.
Celebrity chef Rachael Ray offers another suggestion: Cook beaten eggs, two tablespoons at a time, in a small skillet to make lots of thin omelets. Top each with deli-sliced ham and Swiss cheese or other sandwich filling, and roll each up like a cigar. Wrap these tightly in plastic wrap to keep cool and serve, sliced cross-wise, sushi-style with hot sauce for dipping.
A few tips
Most chefs recommend an 8-inch non-stick skillet for omelets; a heavier-bottom pan helps reduce browning. Two to three eggs usually work best for a nice-sized omelet (two eggs for kids or dieters)
Many (not all) cooks recommend adding milk (up to 1/4 cup) to make omelets fluffy. You may prefer using a little water. Some swear by whisks or electric beaters to whip the egg mixture; others prefer a fast fork.
Labensky recommends heating an omelet pan over moderately high heat and adding clarified butter to it, then pouring the eggs in and stirring until they begin to set, approximately 10 seconds. Pull cooked egg from the sides of the pan toward the center, allowing raw egg to run underneath, and keep it up for 20-30 seconds. Remember, your egg mixture will continue to cook a bit after it's removed from the heat.
This is where the fun comes in. The possibilities for goodies to put in an omelet are endless. Justchillhere.com offers some flavorful options.
Go Italian with pepperoni, black olives, green bell peppers and maybe some Italian sausage. Mozzarella cheese is a must, along with minced onions and a pinch of garlic powder. (Add your cheese last with omelets, so it can melt down to cover the other ingredients.)
A meat lovers version might have smoked sausage, browned hamburger, salami, pastrami, roast beef, steak strips, chicken, turkey, or any combination thereof. Kick up the flavor with American cheese, mushrooms and onions.
For veggie fans, make a filling of spinach, romaine lettuce, olives and cheese. Add cilantro, chives and even a few cooked potatoes. Top with a few thin sliced tomatoes or a sweet but zesty salad dressing.
Some like it hot. Fresh jalapenos, habanero sauce and pepper jack cheese, with chicken or steak fajitas, onion, bell pepper tomatoes and cilantro light the fire. You could top with chili sauce or even a pinch of chili powder.
For a seafood dish, sauté some shrimp and crab chunks in crab boil seasoning with a little butter and add to your omelet. Include a light coating of sharp cheddar cheese, a few chives, minced garlic and a shake of sea salt and cracked pepper. When folded, add a squeeze of lemon or lime on top.
If you're counting calories, you may like Rachael Ray's peas and asparagus omelet. It calls for one whole egg and three egg whites, instead of three whole eggs. Stir thawed frozen baby peas and snipped fresh chives into the beaten egg mixture. Fill half the omelet with pieces of blanched asparagus and dabs of a lower-calorie cheese.
For the adventurous, the justchillhere.com site even suggests adding some mayonnaise to your egg mixture instead of milk, for a unique zest.
In other words, your final creation is pretty much a matter of personal preference. Have some fun with it, and go break a few eggs.
Makes 4 servings
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 23 minutes
2 small tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1/4 pound feta, diced
2 ounces salami or pepperoni, cut in small cubes
1/4 small red onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
8 Irresistibles Oméga-3 eggs
1/4 cup milk
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
4 teaspoons butter
Italian parsley leaves, for garnish
CARAMELIZED PEAR AND GORGONZOLA OMELET WITH BACON AND PECANS
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 pear (cored and sliced into big chunks)
1/4 cup gorgonzola
1 strip bacon (cooked and crumbled, optional)
2 eggs (lightly beaten)
1 tablespoon pecans (toasted and chopped)
HAM AND CHEESE OMELET ROLL
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons Dijon Mustard
2 1/4 cups shredded cheddar or Swiss Cheese, divided
2 cups finely chopped fully cooked ham
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.