Eggs are quite possibly the single most useful food there is: we use them in cakes and sauces; to bind sausages and stuffings; for meringues, hollandaise, carbonara, salad dressing ... the list is endless.
Or we can cook them on their own - poached, fried, scrambled, boiled, and most wonderfully of all, in the humble omelette.
The Omelette - beaten eggs simply fried in a pan with butter - has been around since at least the Medieval times. Despite its French name, the dish could have originated in Persia. Here, something very similar to the omelette was known as kookoo, consisting of beaten eggs mixed with herbs, fried in a circular pan until quite firm.
The French omelette is a much slighter and simpler affair, served hot and a little runny on the inside. Sadly, many today overcook the dish from fear of salmonella poisoning. It is true that some groups, including the elderly and pregnant women, should steer clear of raw eggs, but if you’re using farm-fresh, free-range organic eggs then you can eat deliciously gooey omelettes with confidence.
Here are some great tips, recipes and gadgets to help you on the way to making the perfect omelette:
While it takes less than a few minutes to prepare and cook, a little skill will go a long way in creating the perfect omelette.
Here are some great examples of twists on the classic omelette:
Light as a cloud omelette
Submitted by Fi Bird of www.stirrinstuff.org
This simple omelette is ideal for a snack or to entertain the kids.
Separating yolks from the egg whites:
• 2 large eggs
• black pepper
• knob salted butter
1. Carefully separate the eggs and put them in two bowls (a large one for the egg whites).
2. Use an electric or balloon whisk to whisk the egg whites until they look like white clouds.
3. Use a fork to beat the egg yolks then use a metal tablespoon to fold the beaten yolks into the whisked egg whites.
4. Heat the butter in a frying pan and add the omelette mixture. Gently shake the pan until the mixture covers the base of the pan. Cook for four to five minutes until the top has set and the underside is brown.
5. Loosen the omelette with a palette knife and fold one side over. Slide the omelette on to a large plate and it is ready to eat.
The classic Spanish Omelette
A Spanish omelette is perfect for those look for something a little more filling.
• 100g chopped bacon
• 1 chopped onion
• 1 tsp herbes de Provence
• 250g cooked new potatoes
• 5 cherry tomatoes cut in half
• 6 eggs
• 3 tsp chopped parsley
• salt and pepper
1 Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Heat some oil in a heavy-bottomed pan.
2 Add the bacon and colour slightly for two or three minutes.
3 Add the onions, herbes de Provence and potatoes and cook for three to four minutes then add the cherry tomatoes.
4 Beat the eggs in a separate dish adding the parsley, salt and pepper.
5 Add the eggs to the potatoes, herbs and onions and place in the oven for five to six minutes. Remove and serve.
The perfect cheese omelette
Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay gives his recipe for the perfect omelette.
Submitted by Gordon Ramsay
(Serves 1 as a light meal)
• 3 medium free-range eggs
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• large knob of butter, about 15g
• 50g grated Gruyre or mature Cheddar cheese
• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 Place a 20-21cm omelette pan over a medium-high heat. Beat the eggs in a bowl until evenly blended, but don’t add salt or pepper at this stage. Add the olive oil to the pan and, when you can feel a good heat rising, slip in the butter and swirl it in the pan as it foams and melts.
2 Pour in the beaten eggs and swirl them round and round in the pan with a fork, shaking the pan frequently with one hand. The trick is to get the eggs to an even, light, creamy texture at this stage.
3 When the mixture is three-quarters set, stop stirring with the fork and leave undisturbed for 30 seconds or so, until the base of the omelette is just set. Loosen the edges with a palette knife.
4 Wrap your free hand in a clean tea towel, hold the pan just off the heat, tilt away from you and bang the side opposite the handle on the surface a few times. This has the effect of shaking the omelette loose from the pan so that it will slide onto the edge furthest away from you.
5 At this point, season with salt and pepper and scatter over the cheese. Then, holding the pan handle again, flip the third of the omelette furthest from you into the centre. Now hold the pan over a warmed plate and slide the omelette out, so it folds over into a neat roll. For real perfection, use your tea towel to shape the omelette roll neatly. The heat of the creamy centre is sufficient to melt the cheese. Serve at once.
Why not try sweetening up your morning with these sweet style omelettes?
Sweet soufflé omelette
• 2oz/55g butter
• 6 large eggs
• 2oz/55g caster sugar
• finely grated rind of 1 lemon
• half a teaspoon vanilla extract
• 2 rounded tablespoons best quality raspberry jam.
1 Break four of the eggs into a bowl and separate the other two eggs, adding the yolks to the eggs in the bowl and putting the whites into another bowl.
2 Whisk up the whites till stiff, whisking in 1oz/25g of the caster sugar. Cover the bowl with a plate to keep out the air and, using the same whisks, whisk up the eggs and yolks and the remaining sugar, whisking till very thick and pale.
3 Using a flat whisk, fold in the finely grated lemon rind and vanilla extract, and then the whisked whites, combining thoroughly.
4 Meanwhile, melt the butter in an omelette or crepe pan and, when it is foaming, pour in the entire omelette mixture. Cook over moderately high heat, lifting up the edges to allow the raw mixture to slip underneath to cook. When it is almost all cooked, spoon the jam over the entire surface and fork it down into the omelette mixture. Cook for the final minute or two under a pre-heated grill.
5 Dust with a teaspoon of sieved icing sugar, cut the omelette into four, and slip each quarter on to warmed plates. This is very good with whipped cream.
Sweet Omelette (with fruit)
Submitted by Juliet Lawrence Wilson
• 4 eggs
• 2 tablespoons water
• 2 tablespoons castor sugar
• A few drops vanilla essence or fresh vanilla seeds
• 3 egg whites
• 2 apples and 2 peaches or any soft fruit you like, such as mango, grapes or pears
• 2 tablespoons icing sugar
• 2 oz butter
1 To make the fruit filling, core, slice and remove any pips or stones. Melt a knob of butter in a frying pan and fry the fruit until it has softened. Sprinkle a little icing sugar on the fruit and keep warm until needed.
2 To make the omelette, whisk the eggs with the water, castor sugar and vanilla. Whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks and fold them into the egg mixture.
3 Melt a little of the butter in a frying pan and either make one big omelette or four small ones. Pour the egg mix into the pan when the butter has just started to colour as this gives the omelette a nutty taste. As it is cooking, loosen the edges with a palette knife and allow the egg mixture to run into the sides. The omelette should be only just set when you fold it in half and slide it on to a plate.
• To whisk egg whites make sure the bowl and whisk are very clean
• Folding one egg into the other, using a metal spoon, will help keep the air in and ensure the mixture is light. Folding is more gentle than stirring.
• Eggs react best to being kept at a constant temperature so, although they are stored on the shop floor in supermarkets, it is best to keep them in the fridge at home.
• To test the freshness of eggs, pop one in a bowl of water. If it sinks to the bottom, it is super fresh but if it floats, it will not necessarily be good.
• Decide on ingredients for the filling of the omelette; try not to include too many ingredients as this will make the omelette hard to fold.
• Adding cold cubed butter to the eggs before beating will give the omelette a extra layer of richness.
• Garnish with fresh herbs to complement the wonderful flavours of the omelette.
• The perfect omelette is pale golden on the outside without the slightest tinge of brown, and soft and creamy in the centre, which the French term bauvese.
• The secret of a great omelette lies in the technique of constantly stirring and shaking the pan during cooking, then folding and tipping the omelette straight on to a warmed serving plate so it folds neatly into three.
• Don’t season the eggs before you cook them, because salt breaks down the albumen in the egg white and thins the mixture, giving a less satisfactory result
• The choice of pan is important. You need a frying pan about 21cm in diameter, with rounded sides that make it easier to flip the omelette. Use a heavy-duty non-stick pan that can take metal forks, but if yours is not as robust, use a wooden or heatproof plastic fork for stirring.
For savoury omelettes ingredients such as soft or smoked cheeses, fresh herbs, salsa, and certain types of smoked meats or fish will work well.
For sweet omelettes why not use soft fruit like Scottish strawberries and raspberries, mashed bananas, stewed apples or pears.
Why not go Japanese by making Tamagoyaki, an omelette usually made using mirin, soy sauce, bonito flakes, sugar and water:
Or go Indian by making your own masala omelette:
Lakeland Egg Cooker
How do you like your eggs in the morning? Boiled? Poached? Scrambled? In an omelette? Well, with this device you can have them any way you choose.
Small enough it won’t eat into your precious counter space, you can quickly cook a batch of eggs without cracking (sorry) under pressure. Fill up the base with water - the amount you pop in will dictate how you want your eggs cooked i.e. hard, soft or medium boiled - flick the switch and when the light goes out your eggs are cooked. Given you use water to cook it, you won’t be surprised to hear the gadget works by steaming them. It’s a lovely little device that will save on washing up big pots and pans.
£17.99, from www.lakeland.co.uk
Cook’s Essentials Deep Filled Sandwich & Omelette Maker
Enjoy a protein-rich omelette for breakfast and keep hunger at bay until lunch. Easy enough to make when you’re in a hurry, turn on the machine and while you’re waiting for it to heat up (a green light will glow when it’s ready), get the rest of your ingredients in order. Then add your veg/ham etc to the hot plates, pour on your whisked egg, close the lid and in a couple of minutes you’ll have perfectly formed omelettes.
You can also use the hot plates to make a hot sandwich - or make the most of the fact there’s two plates and make both at the same time. £20, from www.qvcuk.com