About Me
I'm a Melbourne boy, hailing from St Kilda with one ex, one current wife and four kids. Love the outdoors and making new discoveries. I cook a lot at home (cheers from wife) and do some preserving, mostly jams, pickles and fruit liqueurs. This is the diary of a cooking journey.

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Monday, May 22, 2006
Not Really Cooking
Do you ever have a day when you feel to lazy to cook? Sunday was my day. It's not that I didn't want to cook exactly, rather I didn't want anything complicated. Having forgotten to bring home this which seemed easy and tasty, it looked like tinned and packet soups would be getting a run. I've never had a problem with keeping a few tins of soup in the pantry cupboard; when the weather turns colder and rainy, and when you come home wet and tired, a quick bowl of soup is the perfect restorative. We also have the odd packet of instant soup powder, specifically the Knorr brand, from Poland, which are more than passable. If you are in Melbourne, you can get them from the Polish importers, BJP International P/L, 21 Elma Road, Cheltenham, who stock a wide range of Polish foodstuffs. A dehydrated Knorr soup was recently discovered on the ship of Roald Amundsen, the world-famous Norwegian explorer. End of ad.

So there I was with a packet of instant mushroom soup (made with porcinis), just enough for two. Only there are three of us. Maybe it could be bulked up with some noodles, so a dry noodle packet was fished out and cooked up and what was two bowls of soup became two generous bowls of soup, still not three. I wasn't too worried because daughter M was no mushroom lover, so a tin of minestrone soup would do for her. Until she discovered the noodles in the mushroom soup that is, so then it was minestrone for dad!

After the soup it was kind of like, what next?

A quick look in the fridge revealed a treasure trove of eggs. Lovely free range eggs straight from a farm in Mansfield. The kind that when you crack them the white stays together, gelled up around the saffron yellow yolk, but more importantly they taste like real eggs, not some tasteless pap masquerading as eggs that comes from poor, caged birds. What about a frittata or tortilla? That was more cooking than I wanted to do, besides after the soup, something light was called for. A boiled egg, not quite right. An omelette, that's it.

Now I know that I wrote earlier that I didn't want to cook, but an omelette is barely cooking; crack two eggs into a bowl, give a season then a light whisk, pour immediately into a frypan with a small knob of butter, then about a minute later perfection on the plate.

The thing with omelettes is that such a simple process can go awry. I've heard of chefs that in order to test a new applicant for a job, ask them to make an omelette. It has only one ingredient, but requires attention to detail such as not overbeating the eggs, perfect timing to ensure a moist, gooey centre and the outside tinged with gold flecks, hand skills to fold the eggs into a neat crescent shape, seam down, then slid neatly out of the pan onto a warmed plate. What could be easier or harder?

In the days before teflon or non-stick - yes there was such a time - home cooks often approached omelettes with some trepidation. People who knew kept a seasoned steel pan just for this job. The pan would be treated with reverence, for even a scratch to the seasoning would cause sticking and it was never washed, only wiped out, for without this non-stick surface it's impossible to make an omelette. Then along came teflon and suddenly omelettes were within reach of everybody. But even with a non-stick pan it still better to reserve one just for making omelettes as repeated frying at high temperature eventually degrades the non-stick properties of any teflon or associated non-stick coatings. You will need a small frypan of about 125 to 150 mm (5" or 6") with a shallow rim to allow the omelette an easy slide from the pan.

Take two eggs, preferably at room temperature and crack them into a bowl. I season mine at this point, but some say the salt toughens the egg proteins and they season the nearly cooked omelette, the choice is yours. Lightly whisk the eggs together, it doesn't matter if there are still little globs of unmixed egg, because overbeating does toughen the eggs. Melt a small knob of butter about the size of an unshelled hazelnut, over medium heat, in your non-stick pan and when it foams pour in the eggs. Working quickly, with a spatula or something you are comfortable with, but definitely not something that will scratch the pan, drag it from one side to the other and work your way around the pan dragging through. Once you are satisfied that enough runny egg has been set, leave it alone. The object now is to cook the omelette base but leave enough egg that is not set to make it creamy, this happens very fast, so don't be distracted. At this point if you like a fancier omelette add any filling and with your spatula fold over one third towards the centre and lightly press to make it stick. Now roll over the omelette from the centre towards the other edge so that the seam is now on the bottom and the omelette is sitting at the edge of the pan and leave like that for a few seconds to seal the seam. Tilt the pan towards the serving plate and with the spatula ease the omelette onto the plate seam side down. Don't worry if it doesn't fall neatly onto the plate, it will still be delicious.

For M's omelette I grated some parmesan cheese on it before folding over, with ours I cooked some kaiserfleisch that was cut into lardons until soft and added them along with some cheese, a sort of egg and bacon omelette. Very satisfying it was too. And quick, three omelettes were on the table in five minutes.
  posted at 8:53 am

At 5:03 pm, Blogger Ed Charles said...

I should get you together with the person who left the met at the market lat week and the silverbet and grapefruit in the store last night.

At 6:31 pm, Blogger neil said...

Hi Ed, and what would I be cooking?

At 8:04 pm, Blogger pentacular said...

when I think of all those crumpled, scrambled, remains of attempts at making an omelette i have produced in the last 2 years because of a poor technique and a dodgy pan, i could cry. Will keep this post on my fridge.


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