The Classic French Omelet
I learned to make a French omelet from the late Bert Greene, cook, cookbook writer and proprietor of The Store at Amagansett. His class was the first in my career as a perennial cooking class student. A small group of professionals from various walks of life gathered in an Eastside townhouse of a friend of Bert’s to learn from his genial expertise.
No teacher could have been more approachable than Bert, yet at the end of the first class, a young New York Magazine staffer confessed, “This class is over my head.”
Bert, quite surprised, responded, “What did you find difficult?”
“I was lost at the beginning,” she said, “when you said, ‘Take a saucepan and . . . ‘ I don’t know what a saucepan is!”
Bert persuaded her to continue.
One of my favorite classes was Crepes and Omelets Ad Infinitum. Bert had asked us to bring our own crepe pan to class advising us never to use it for anything else. I felt like the star of the class when Bert pointed out to the assemblage that mine was the only seasoned pan of the lot. T-fal and its successors had moved into the market, demonstrating an apt competitor for the perfect crepe and French omelet. Now I use my nonstick GreenPan Bert would be impressed with the results.
Ingredients (Serves one)
- 2 large eggs (not medium and not extra large)*
- One teaspoon finely chopped chives, plus more for sprinkling
- One tablespoon sweet butter
- One tablespoon cream or water (Bert said cream makes a creamy omelet, water, a fluffy omelet)
- Salt and pepper to taste.
Beat ingredients together with a fork.
Heat an 8-inch nonstick pan to hot. Add butter. When the foam subsides, pour in egg mixture. Mix vigorously with a heatproof spatula. Shake pan back and forth. Continue mixing in a circular motion until egg starts to set. Lift edges to make sure egg is not sticking. Jerk pan back and forth until egg gathers up in the far side of the pan. Just before the egg is totally set, slide onto a warm plate holding the handle of the pan with your thumb topside and, tilting pan at a 45 degree angle, allow the omelet to fold over on itself. Use a couple of forks to smooth any raggedy edges. The omelet should be soft and creamy with no browning. Smear top with a bit of butter and sprinkle a pinch of chives on top. Voila!
*It’s important to use the right amount of egg mixture. Too little and you won’t wind up with a creamy omelet; too much and the bottom will brown before the egg has set.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s . . . or Vic’s or Bill’s or Phyllis’
by Victor Ribaudo
You know what they say. It’s the most important meal of the day. That may be so, but breakfast has often been the most delicious meal of my day. I include brunch in this statement. Living in the city, brunch is a mainstay of weekend living. I adore it, whether I’m partaking in a café or treating friends to my own creations.
Breakfast wasn’t always a household favorite of my youth. Rushing off to school, and my perpetual tardiness, often resulted in a mealy shake with raw eggs in it. Needless to say, I wasn’t always pleased with my morning repast. As I grew older, and made time for a good breakfast, my idea of a morning meal shifted dramatically. Now one of the last things I think of before I drift into a dreamless sleep is what the following morning’s meal will bring. I know, you’re thinking “Gee… what an exciting guy!” Guess I’m just a simple man, but that’s the way it is for me.
Given schedules, breakfast can be just as the word suggests, a “fast break” before heading off to a busy day. When time is at a premium, I often turn to a morning sandwich of some sort. Now, I’m not talking about fast food offerings. I’m thinking of a nice bagel brimming with cream cheese, premium smoked salmon and a bit of raw red onion. Or a pepper, potato and egg sandwich on a crusty roll. Even the ubiquitous bacon, cheese and egg in an English muffin. Something portable, but always delectable.
Cold cereal is not really on my radar. But that’s just me. Please enjoy. I’d rather sit down to a hearty bowl of coarse cut oatmeal or creamy grits. A little butter, heavy cream, brown sugar, cinnamon… maybe some fresh blueberries…and I’m set. It’s warm, substantial and gratifying. That’s what I’m after to get my morning metabolism jump started. Especially on colder days.
Guess if I had to choose, I’d say that omelets are my preferred breakfast item. A fluffy French omelet, peppered with fresh chives, is what I call heaven. Check out Phyllis’ recipe. It’s divine. But really, any type of omelet does the trick. Inventive combinations abound at your favorite eateries, and may be created easily at home. All kinds of veggies, herbs and cheeses, as well as bacon, sausages and ham, are fair game. Whatever you do, please don’t be intimidated by the preparation. Just be sure to use a well greased, non-stick pan. Single serve omelets are a cinch. Just press the sides in towards the center and jiggle until the runny center hits the rim of the pan to cook. When done to your preference, fold and cook for just a few more seconds. Larger omelets, or frittatas, are simple as well. When the bottom is done to your liking, they may be finished off in the oven, or under the broiler, to solidify the top. I like to sprinkle on some grated cheese before I pop in the oven. It gets brown and crispy when the heat does its magic.
Of course, sweeter breakfast options are always welcome, especially when I’m looking to indulge. Waffles (no, not the ones you pop into the toaster) are dreamy when served with whipped cream and fresh strawberries. Pancakes, especially when buckwheat and other nourishing grains are included in the batter, make for a bountifully fulfilling morning meal. I prefer real maple syrup. A bit thinner than the artificial varieties, but I fix that by simmering for a while to reduce and thicken. I really pour it on. I suspect you do as well.
There’s nothing more heartwarming than a first-rate breakfast. Think about it. Waking up to the aroma of frying bacon and freshly brewed coffee. Brings you back, doesn’t it? So while my cousins in Italy are satisfied with a Continental breakfast – usually a hard roll and coffee – my American sensibilities require more to start my day. It’s part of our national food experience. I encourage you to make time for breakfast. And have a better day to follow.
Recipe by Phyllis Kirigin, aka sweetpaprika