Saturday, February 4, 2012

Art of the Omelet, Part II: Alternatives

Section I : Misses and Hits

Miss Chef and I enjoyed a slow morning today.  We woke up late and stayed in bed talking, catching up on the last few days.  After sharing stories about coworkers and customers, I said, “I’m hungry.” 

Then, wanting to support Miss Chef in her drive for self-improvement, I continued, “You could make me an omelet.”

Soon thereafter, she was indeed in the kitchen, pulling out dairy products and our best, heavy All-Clad pan.  I, of course, pulled out the camera.


She heated the pan thoroughly, then put a big ol’ hunk of butter in to melt, making sure it coated the entire pan.  Then she poured in the eggs.  As they cooked, she pulled the edges back and let the uncooked liquid ooze over it to hit the hot surface.


But it wasn’t working right.  “It’s sticking really bad,” she announced.  Once the egg begins to set, it should slide across the pan, allowing the cook to flip it easily.  The sticking apparently is a symptom of one’s pan not being hot enough.  As I watched her swirl her spatula right through the custard, breaking up the disk-like shape, I had to ask, “So, I’m eating...


…scrambled, huh?”

They were good scrambled eggs, though.  And while I was digging in, Miss Chef was cracking more eggs!  “Are you going to make me eat four eggs this morning!?” I had to ask.  Because I don’t think I’ve mentioned recently that Miss Chef does not like eggs.  She wants to make a perfect omelet, but not to eat it.  Just to be able to say she can.  And to feed to me, of course.

Don’t get me wrong; I like eggs a great deal.  But there’s this whole high-cholesterol thing in my family, and I’m quite aware that a single egg has 50 mgs. more than the daily recommended allowance.  I was working my way through two eggs already.

Of course, it was too late, and Miss Chef soon had another omelet working.


She had turned the flame up and let the pan heat some more before adding her butter and pouring in the egg & milk mixture.  This time it did not stick, and she did come out with the appropriately-formed final product.


Sort of.  It’s still a far cry from a good omelet, though.  See that lumpy texture?  That means a tough skin on it--now the pan was too hot.  The bit showing under the bottom is more what she’s looking for—smooth and tender, with just a bit of…fluff to it.  The omelet I’d had at Customshop was like that all the way around, inside and out.  (If you look at the picture above this one, you can see that tough texture forming already.)

I've seen Miss Chef make better omelets than this, and I consoled her by suggesting she just had to get used to the stove and the pan in relation to omelets.  And no, I didn’t have to eat it.  Miss Chef tasted some, I tasted some and Rosie tasted some.  Even the dog enjoys the benefits of living with a chef!

Section II : Other Options

So, what to do with the remaining 8 eggs or so we’d bought a few weeks ago?  It was time to use them up, but neither of us was terribly interested in day after day of omelets.  Once again, it was time for quiche!

Miss Chef whipped up a quick custard base—one part egg to two parts milk.  That’s about 1/4 cup of milk per egg—but it’s probably easier to scramble the eggs first and eyeball the addition of milk.


This is the custard base.  It’s seasoned with salt, pepper and…what’s that crumby-looking stuff on top?  Nutmeg.  It’s a nice additive that you don’t notice unless you’re looking for it, but adds some depth of flavor.

By the way, have you ever seen a whole nutmeg nut?


The nuts are about an inch long.  The one on the right is a cross-section, after being run across the microplane.  Isn’t it cool-looking?  By the way, a microplane is one of Miss Chef’s essential kitchen tools.  I thought using whole nutmegs was something for rich foodies, with granite countertops and six-burner Viking stoves.  But the nuts last forever, the microplane should be in your kitchen drawer anyway, and the scent of freshly-ground nutmeg will convince anyone they’ve waited too long to do this.

So, back to the quiche.  As usual, Miss Chef had to run off to work, so she left me set up with a sort of quiche kit.  We had already lined the deep-dish pie plate with a pre-made crust (yep, no shame in using Pilsbury).  She had peeled and diced a large baking potato, then boiled it briefly and drained it.  (Of course her diced potato looks better than anything I’d do.)  This went onto the crust, along with a generous helping of frozen broccoli.


Hmm.  Not so appetizing at this point.  Miss Chef had also shredded a buttload of cheese.  Can you tell how many different kinds she pulled out of the fridge?

Probably not.  There’s both slices and regular shredded of swiss and cheddar, along with some leftover goat cheese, and possibly some gouda.  Not sure if that made it in.  What I’m trying to say is, don’t worry about what kind of cheese you’re supposed to use.  We used leftovers plus some cheddar purpose-bought.

Once Miss Chef was out the door on the way to the restaurant, I began the assembly process.  My assignment was simple: brown some sausage…


(Alas, we had been too lazy to get to the market for some Grateful Growers’ sausage, so we had to make do with Jimmy Dean.  After reading Jenna’s recent pork tragedy at Cold Antler Farm, I honestly said a little apology to the pigs whose flesh I was preparing—apology for supporting an industrial meat system that had undoubtedly cut off the tails of these piglets, crammed them into unspeakable conditions, fed them an unnatural diet and injected them with hormones and antibiotics.

Hey, if I’m not gonna do the right thing and buy humanely-raised meat, I want to keep my eyes open as to what I’m really doing with my money.)

Ok, end of lecture.  Sausage done, I added it to the quiche shells…


…layered on the cheese…


…poured on the egg mixture…and quickly realized there wasn’t nearly enough!  The custard mix should rise just below the solid ingredients.  They shouldn’t be swimming in it, but it should be apparent that this is an egg dish, not a sausage-and-cheese dish with a bit of egg around it.  So back to step one I went, scrambling up the rest of the eggs with some milk, salt, pepper and nutmeg and pouring that over, too.

And it still wasn’t enough.

At which point the confident cook shrugs her shoulders and opens the oven door…only to realize that when she’d preheated the oven to 350 degrees, she’d hit the wrong button and the oven was still cold.

Whatever.  I simply started the oven, successfully this time, slid in the quiche—appreciating the fact that for once spillage wasn’t an issue—and set the timer for an hour.  I had to add another ten minutes or so at the end, but I was happy to see that the rising power of eggs had come to the rescue!


I may also have cooked it a little long.  I was just looking for the custard to be fully set—it really shouldn't be browned like that at the top.

But you know what?  Quiche is a really hard dish to mess up.  And so versatile…remember the last ones Miss Chef made included a roasted red pepper, spinach and goat cheese?  Once you’ve got the custard base down, the flavor combinations are endless.

We’ll probably freeze one of these, as I eat my way through the other.  I plan on bringing a piece to work for breakfast for several days.  Bet I’ll have some jealous coworkers…right, Kelly?

Update / correction:  So, it turns out the center of the crust didn't cook through.  We should have "blind-baked" it first; putting it in the oven to bake empty for 15 minutes or so before filling it.  Whoops.  In the meantime, I'm reheating my piece in a pan on the stove over a low flame.  Maybe that will help.

Oh, and for our Superbowl snacks?  Miss Chef's planning on preparing a big pot of homemade mac'n'cheese with bits of chicken, peas and broccoli in it.  I don't plan on documenting that; I'm just telling you that to make you jealous.  :-)

And on a totally unrelated note...I've started back to the gym seriously this month and started yoga classes.  I don't know why, I thought that might have some relevance here...


  1. Dreaming makes a fabulous omelet!

    I agree with you about the treatment of animals for meat. I just don't eat meat.

  2. I am so cracking up at Terry's comment!
    I hadn't expected that when I got on to make a comment.
    Often, my first omelet doesn't work out right. I guess it his part of seasoning the pan!

    Keep trying... but, damn, that quiche looks fabulous!

  3. I love your pictorial food stories!

  4. I agree with Alison. I've had my share of baking blunders. Ooops.

  5. I feel like I've been to cooking school! Thanks for the lesson, and the photos - that quiche looks pretty darn fantastic to me!

  6. When I make a pan omelette, I whisk the eggs and milk and whatever other ingredients are in it before adding it to the med-hot pan. It never sticks. Last week, after 30 years of making them the other way, I might add, I decided to skip that step and just broke the eggs into the pan and added the milk. It stuck like a son-of-a-gun! Perchance Miss Chef did likewise? If that wasn't the problem, I got nuthin' else :)

    And now I want quiche and it's all your fault!

  7. I'm a little late here. Thanks for saving some chow bag for me!

    Thanks also for your comment this morning! Love you!

  8. I would be the size of a house if I lived with a chef. I'm too willing to test omelets all day long :-)
    xo jj

  9. Best lesson I ever got in omelet making was our state fair a few years ago from the World's Fastest Omelet Maker. I'd been scared to try my hand at a true omelet up until that point- I always just went for scrambled eggs with stuff in it. It's been a while but i think I could still make a great omelet.

  10. Stopped by to wish you and Miss Chef a happy Valentine's Day!!!! Let's meet at a bar and have lunch.


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