It is a magic thing to be able to make a meal from a few eggs. The egg is the best convenience food I know, and an omelette is one of the quickest and most satisfying things I cook when pressed. The simplicity is comforting. I like to make a quick and easy omelette for breakfast with a little cheese, and a few sprigs of tarragon. This recipe asks to blanch some greens but this step can be avoided and replaced with a selection of soft herbs and rocket for ease.
But an omelette can be dressed up as much as it can be dressed down. If you are as enamoured by the omelette as I am, and feeling less frugal, truffles can make a wonderful addition. Placing your eggs and truffle in an airtight container for a few days in the fridge helps. Eggshell is porous, enabling the raw eggs inside to take on the aroma of the truffle, extending its flavour just that little bit further.
I am a self-taught chef, being that I have no formal training and learnt to cook on the job. I supplemented my lack of formal training with plenty of reading. My chef recommended a library of books at the time. A vast list was presented and I began. The list contained a lot of the basics of cooking and included many of what are considered “classic” cookbooks. A few of Elizabeth David’s made it to the list: A Book of Mediterranean Food, French Provincial Cooking, and her collection of previously published articles, An Omelette and a Glass of Wine.
David’s approach is matter-of-fact and practical, and gave me an understanding of the basics of cooking. This simple, considered approach offered an insight into the thoughts and ideas of an honest, natural cook. The historic style of her recipes – her first cookbook, A Book of Mediterranean Food, was published in 1950 – are interesting, asking for teacup measures and gas regulo measure 1-10 for baking and roasting. She also suggests sensible, readily available replacements for ingredients to her then mostly English readership. Her equal respect for recipes regal or of a peasant background I found refreshing. With a list of almost 30 recipes for the omelette, my curiosity was piqued. Of the lot, the recipe for a simple omelette is what resonated.
Today there are two types of omelettes I like to make. One is an omelette of barely set eggs encased in a thin outer casing, the texture of which I have been working on for years. The other is an open-pan omelette where I like to place leaves and herbs and cheese on the omelette and serve straight from the pan at the table. This rustic approach seems to work best as more of a shared item than a individual serving.
Served from the pan with some toast on the side, it works well for breakfast but could also be served post noon. I rarely encourage (and never condone) the consumption of alcohol before noon; but just say you were in the mood, a glass of bubbles would be the way to go here.
Omelette of spring greens and goat’s cheese
– ½ bunch rapini or silverbeet
– 3 eggs
– 4 tbsp cream
– handful of rocket leaves
– 2-3 tbsp soft goat’s cheese
– freshly ground pepper
Trim the tough ends off the rapini or silverbeet stems. Bring a pot of salted water to the boil and cook the rapini for two minutes or until bright green and just cooked through. Lift the greens out of the pot and cool them in a bowl of iced water. When the greens are cold, drain and pat dry with a cloth. Roughly chop and set aside.
Whisk the eggs for a minute in a bowl before folding through the cream. Season with a pinch of salt.
Heat one teaspoon of oil in a non-stick frypan over a medium heat.
Pour the egg mixture into the pan and stir gently, pushing the mixture from one side of the pan to the other as the egg forms into soft curds, allowing the uncooked egg on top to run into the pan. When the egg is half cooked and still a bit runny, arrange the greens and rocket leaves on the omelette and continue to cook, gently moving the egg as necessary until it is just set and nicely wobbly. Take the pan off the heat and dot the goat’s cheese over the omelette. Season with a little salt and ground black pepper.
Serve at the table from the frypan with a nice pile of toast and a squeeze of lemon.
This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Sep 12, 2015 as "Enchanted omelette". Subscribe here.