Tuesday, January 24, 2012

To Make an Omelet . . .

    My partner, Cat Dancing, does most of the cooking here at Earth Song. A wise choice, as she does it very well and makes very healthy meals for us. However, she is away for a couple of weeks in Florida. It therefore has become necessary for me to fall back upon my bachelor cooking skills. (Such as they are.)
My repertoire of meals is somewhat limited. I confess; when I lived alone I relied upon frozen dinners and eating out much of the time. I really never liked cooking for one. On occasion I could prepare a full meal, but it was just easier not to.

I like to bake bread. I can make chili, pinto beans and cornbread, and a few other things on demand. I also learned to do biscuits, gravy, pancakes and the like. 

One of the things I like to do for breakfast is omelets.
I used to have one of those hinged omelet pans. Mine even had a recipe printed on one side for easy reference. I liked it a lot, but the Teflon coating on it was getting ragged and I re-purposed it to a currently unspecified non-cooking use. I think Teflon is fine as long as it is intact, however, when it starts coming off the metal it can cause health problems, I've heard. I also like to use cast iron, so I just had to adjust to not being able to easily fold the omelet using the special pan. Trivial, I know.
An omelet is a simple dish to prepare, really. Most of it is variable to personal taste. It lends itself well to inclusion of many different types of ingredients depending on taste and availability. It is a tasty way to "clean out the fridge" of those small amounts of leftovers that are still good, but not enough for a meal. Hardly any measuring is required. Everything is pretty well done to taste.
Here is my own version of an omelet. Before you begin, you should make a quick survey of what you are going to include. First of all you will need several eggs. Six large eggs will make a good omelet for two people. Cheese is also good. Take stock of all the other things you may have in the fridge. Personally, I like refried beans, onions, potatoes and chili. 

The omelet in the picture above was cooked today. Eggs, potatoes, onion, spinach, Parmesan cheese.

Time consuming tasks like grating cheese and chopping vegetables should be attended to first if you are planning to use them. In this case, I wasn't.

I sprayed a medium sized cast iron pan with organic Pam non-stick spray. A small amount of oil or butter will also suffice. I warmed the pan on low while I chopped up two small potatoes and a half slice of fresh onion. The potatoes had been washed and the skins left on. After chopping, rinse and drain the  potatoes to keep them from sticking together. 

Put the onions and potatoes in the warm pan and turn the heat up a bit. Keep an eye on it, don't let it burn. Stir often. At this point I would also be warming any beans, chili, or another filling ingredient that I want to be hot. 

While the potatoes and onions are cooking and making lovely smells, break the eggs into a bowl and mix them up well with a fork.  Be sure and break up the yolks. I also add a dash or two each of salt, pepper, and seasoned salt to the mix. Pour in a small amount of milk as well and mix it up. I do it by eye, but it usually runs about a quarter cup or so of milk. When the potatoes are cooked and not quite browned distribute them fairly evenly in the pan and add the egg mix on top.

For this morning's omelet, I was using fresh baby spinach and already grated Parmesan for my filler. No pre-warming was required. Chopping was minimal, so I did this while the eggs were cooking. As I said before, virtually anything you like can be added here as filler. I chopped the spinach till I had about a half cup finely chopped.

As the eggs were cooking I kept an eye on them. Cooking slowly is better than too fast. Of course, in a pan eggs will cook from the bottom up. It helps to use a spatula to lift the part that is already solidifying and let the more liquid part run under it. If you keep mixing it in the pan, you simply have scrambled eggs. If you let the mass solidify or "set" as a unit, you have omelet. I watch the top of the mix. When the liquid on top begins to "set" it is time to add the filling. 

I added my spinach filling to one half of the top of the eggs, then half of the grated cheese. I then gently lifted the other half with the spatula and folded it over on top of the filling. This leaves you with a pan filled on one side and nearly clean on the other. Be as neat as you can. The more the mix has set, the better this works. (This is where that special omelet pan is nice! You can not only make a neat fold, you can then cook a bit more on each side.)

I added more cheese on top of the mixture and turned off the heat. I use an electric range, so this lets it keep cooking with gradually decreasing heat, melting the cheese but without burning. On a gas range you may wish to turn the flame down and keep cooking until the cheese melts on top. The cast iron pan also helps here as it will retain heat for awhile. 

Use the spatula to slice the omelet in two across the center. Scoop half onto your plate and enjoy! It's really tasty to top your omelet with chili at this point. Picante sauce also works well!

Yumm! I had the omelet above for breakfast this morning. (No chili, alas!) While talking about it I just made myself hungry again!

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