Tag Archives: eggs

A Perfect Breakfast

31 Aug

As readers of the blog know, I have a more than a few obsessions, chicken being one of them. It follows that eggs are also an obsession. I eat eggs virtually every morning. Along with coffee, there is no better way to start your day. Let me then give you one of my favorite breakfasts, a dish I make at least twice a week if not more: a baked omelette.

baked omelette

Baked Omelette, with nature’s gift on the side

Is this a quiche, you might ask. No, it’s not a quiche. I know that real men eat quiche but I’ve never been a huge fan of quiche. A baked omelette is excellent, then, for people in my camp. Even if you are a fan of quiche, I trust you will love this as well. The differences? First, there is no crust. I love a good flaky crust as much as anyone but I certainly don’t have time to roll one out in the morning. A good flaky crust also isn’t the healthiest thing to eat every day. A baked omelette is lighter, healthier and easier to make. It cooks in the oven much faster than a quiche, so it has a different consistency. It may not be incredibly attractive, but when something tastes this good, who cares?

A baked omelette is also very versatile. As the recipe below shows, you can incorporate all kinds of flavors into it, which means you can make it over and over and still keep it original and delicious.

It’s also damn good.

Omelette ingredients

basic ingredients for a baked omelette

Ideally, you use a cast-iron skillet. If you have a cast iron skillet, excellent. If you don’t, now is the time. Seriously. You can get a 10 inch Lodge Cast Iron skillet at Amazon for 16 bucks. Probably cheaper if you go to Target or WalMart. I have 4 cast irons. One of them I’ve used for over 20 years! There is nothing better to have in the kitchen and there is no greater value, given the output a cast iron skillet creates for under 20 dollars.

A ten inch skillet makes a terrific baked omelette for 2-3 people. An 6 inch cast iron is perfect for one person.

Here’s how you do it. You will thank me later.

OVERVIEW NOTES

The easiest thing about this dish is what might initially be confusing… after a few basic ingredients, you can throw almost anything into a baked omelette.

The important thing to remember is once you decide what you want in it, cook in order of longest to cook to shortest to cook. If you are using potatoes, bacon and onions, for instance, add them to the pan in that order, so all are ready at the same time.

Something wonderful about this dish is even if you are short on ingredients, you can still make it. Don’t have potatoes and/or bacon? No big deal. It will still be terrific. Even better, you can prep the sautéed ingredients the night before so you can make it faster in the morning. I often make a big vat of the base ingredients on a Sunday, to keep in the fridge and have ready to use all week. Properly prepped, this is 15 – 20 minutes from fridge to table meal, prepping the recipe while the oven preheats, then a quick ten minutes to bake.

AND… if you make the amazing recipe in my last blog post, potato confit, you will always have full cooked potatoes ready to throw into the skillet every morning… or have them to eat on the side. Or both!

(Seriously, you must try the potato confit!)

I’ll give you a basic recipe and a couple of variations. But remember, if you don’t have everything, or if, say, you don’t like tomatoes or you are a vegetarian, it doesn’t matter. Make a baked omelette with what you have on hand and the baked omelette will make you very happy.

INGREDIENTS (For 2-3 people)

– Olive oil or butter

– 6 eggs, beaten, with a quick dollop of milk (milk optional)

– One small russet potato, diced (or a few smaller potatoes, diced)

– 3 strips of bacon, diced (pancetta is a lovely substitute)

– half an onion, chopped

– a handful of cherry tomatoes, halved

– handful of grated cheese

DIRECTIONS

– Preheat oven to 400

– In a 10 inch oven ready skillet, saute the diced potato over medium heat in a glug or two of olive oil. Feel free to use a small pad of butter instead. (If you are using diced potato confit, throw them in with the onion since the potato confit is already cooked.)

BakedOmelette1

diced potatoes in the skillet

– After a few minutes, add the diced bacon, then, a few minutes later, add the onion. 

BakedOmelette2

potatoes, bacon and onion

** This is where the omelette can begin to take on different flavors, or identities, if you will… see the variations below. You want to give it flavors here. For the basic version, salt and pepper is a must.

– Gently saute until the potato and onion are soft and cooked through, even caramelized, and the bacon is crisping.

– Remove from the heat and let cool for a minute or so. (This is to keep the eggs from scrambling or cooking when you pour them in.)

– Scatter the tomatoes and cheese over the contents of the skillet and pour in the beaten egg mixture. While you want to make sure the egg mixture is evenly distributed in the skillet, do this gently and resist the temptation to stir! Or you will end up with baked scrambled eggs, not a baked omelette! (Thank you for reminding me of that instruction, Andie Redwine!)

BakedOmelette3

before baking

– Place in the oven and bake. It usually takes about 10 minutes but I start checking at 8 minutes. Open the oven and slightly shake the skillet. If anything jiggles, it is not done.

– You want to pull it out just after the jiggling stops, when it is firm but not hard. Cook it too long and the taste and consistency change. If you like very hard eggs, this may be your desire.

– Remove the skillet and let sit for a minute. Use a knife or spatula around the edges to separate the omelette from the pan. Slice pizza style and serve.

BakedOmelette4

**Flavor combos:

MEXICAN: This is my favorite. Along with the onion, toss in some sliced strips of fresh corn tortilla, to cook down and crisp a little in the skillet. (The tortilla adds incredible flavor. In a rush, crumble up some tortilla chips, though fresh is much better.) I add a little cumin seed and oregano here as well. Canned diced green chilis are wonderful also. Or fresh diced red and yellow pepper added with the onion. Cheddar cheese certainly works with this, but a mexican blend, or Mancheco (yum) is great, too.  Serve this with fresh pico de gallo, Tapatio, and sliced avocado or guacamole.

FRENCH: Use fresh herbs here: chives, thyme, basil (any or all) … or herbs de provence. You could add diced roasted asparagus to the saute. And then use goat cheese. Or even Brie. A good sliced sausage would be a good replacement for the bacon.

You can begin to see just how varied the ingredients and flavors can be. Try these two variations, then pick your own favorite veggies and flavors and see what happens. It truly is a versatile and wonderful dish.

And not just for breakfast. I love it for dinner, even… you can have this any time of day!

on plate best?

Baked Omelette with a light salad and pan roasted potato confit

 

Squash Blossoms!

15 Aug

It’s still summertime, which means the Farmer’s Market remains filled with fruits and vegetables available only this time of year. I know, I know, we discussed this already here. But we haven’t talked Squash Blossoms, something truly unique and wonderful with which you can cook in the late summer.

As any gardener will tell you, squash is one of the easier things to grow and is ridiculously bountiful. As such, during the summer people are always on the lookout for inventive ways to use squash. I love layering sautéed onions, thinly sliced tomatoes and thinly sliced zucchini, layer by layer, with lots of fresh thyme, basil, salt and pepper, for a wonderful gratin. Add in a little white wine and/or broth, cover with foil and roast in the oven on 350 for 45 – 60 min (the last 15 min uncovered) and you will end up with a fresh, healthy divine dish that is redolent of summer. Squash is also great for pickling.

With squash also comes squash blossoms. For years I’ve admired these beautiful blossoms at farmer’s markets, in the store and in my own garden. But I never knew quite what to do with them so I didn’t try cooking with them.

Squash Blossoms

Fresh Squash Blossoms

Restaurants sometimes offer squash blossoms stuffed with cheese and then fried which, when done well, is terrific. But I am not much of a deep fryer at home and the recipes I looked at were too much of a pain. I finally decided to try a few inventions with squash blossoms and ended up with two dishes I know you will love.

Both have the same base:

– Sauté an onion, diced, in a little olive oil. Add a couple of cloves of thinly sliced garlic, some fresh thyme and salt & pepper.  (If you want a bit of spice, never a bad thing, add some finely diced jalapeño, serrano or red pepper. Remember the spice is in the seeds.)

– Then add a bunch of squash blossoms, chopped. Be sure to first gently wash the blossoms. Oh and tear them open before you wash and chop them to check for, you know, a creepy crawly. It’s rare but it happens.

– Saute everything down a little more until the blossoms are soft. This is a mixture I can eat by itself, with a spoon, it’s so good.

Now you have two options:

Squash Blossom Quesadillas or Baked Eggs with Squash Blossoms.

Both are very easy. And. To. Die. For.

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The Chicken Or The Egg…

4 May

It may be the age-old question but for me the answer to ‘Which came first?’ is simple: The Egg. Not that I don’t love chicken. I’m obsessed with chicken, as some of you know. This obsession started early as we ate a lot of chicken when I was a child. Growing up in The South, we ate a lot of fried chicken. Mom made a killer Chicken Tetrazzini I still think of with intense fondness. We had roast chicken occasionally and, in my teen years when we were trying to get my dad to eat healthy, we ate a lot of grilled chicken. But even before my love of chicken there was The Egg.

I always loved eggs. I loved them even before I remember, well, anything. My first actual memory as a child isn’t an egg but is sitting in a movie theatre. This experience lead to my career path as well as to this blog. I remember actually falling in love with movies that day. I sat in the theatre thinking, ‘Yeah, Ok, I get it, that’s amazing, I love this, that’s what I want to do.‘ But I don’t have a moment in my memory where I fell in love with eggs. I simply always was in love with them. An egg has to be one of the first items of real food Mom fed me. We had them for breakfast 4 or 5 times a week … and occasionally for supper, ‘Breakfast for dinner’!… so I fell in love with them even before that first actual memory in the movie theatre.

This is a love affair that has not waned.

At this point I’m beating a dead horse but, my goodness, I love eggs. An egg truly is the perfect food. Not only can you eat one on its own in so many wonderful ways, an egg is remarkably versatile. An egg can do virtually anything or go into virtually anything. Feel free to suggest a food in which you can’t use an egg but I’m hard pressed to think of what. If a dish is savory, at the very least you can top it with a fried egg, a trend that has exploded in restaurants lately. If on the other hand a dish is sweet, chances are you can still beautifully incorporate an egg, for taste, for texture, for plain old wonderful goodness. The Egg is definitely a deserted island food for me. You know the game: If you could only have 5 foods for the rest of your life to eat on a deserted island, what would you choose? The egg is at the top of my list.

Click here for the best egg recipe you’ve ever had (and the rest of the post)

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