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Break a Few Eggs: Making an Omelet

Omelet Recipes

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After a long day at work, people everywhere return home to hungry mouths, often without having planned for any kind of meal. This potentially tense situation can spin out of control. Fortunately, however, cooks can look to the amazing egg to provide a hot, nutritious, made-from-scratch meal in fifteen minutes -- twenty at the outside.

Now, I am not talking about breakfast for dinner, you understand. I'm talking about omelets. Omelets are the solution to one of the most pressing dilemmas of modern life: How to feed yourself and your family real food -- that is, food that doesn't come in a can or box, isn't processed or dehydrated or frozen or, worst of all, isn't some kind of take-out -- in the time you have to devote to weeknight cooking.

Eggs are high-quality protein, reasonably priced, lend themselves to a multitude of flavor combinations, and so can provide the basis of all kinds of great dishes. But we are concerning ourselves here with omelets and that 15-minute meal I mentioned.

You will need a 10-inch skillet with sloping sides. It does not have to be a special omelet pan, and it need not have a non-stick surface. You will also need an inexpensive, plastic spatula or "egg flipper" that is flexible.

Omelet Recipes

The following recipe will make an omelet that will satisfy two very hungry people or even three or four less ravenous appetites.

Ouick Anytime Omelet

You should begin by setting the table because in a very few minutes, you'll be able to sit down and eat.
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion, either scallions or regular onion
  • 1/2 cup (or more) grated cheddar cheese
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon butter (olive oil spread works very well, too)
First, chop the peppers and onion and grate the cheese. Set aside. With a fork, beat the eggs in a small bowl until blended.

At this point, you should make a pan of toast. Keep the toast warm while you make the omelet.

Melt the butter in the skillet over medium heat. Swirl it around and up the sides of the skillet to coat. When the butter begins to foam, pour in the eggs. Let the eggs cook for about 30 seconds, then begin running the spatula around the sides of the pan, lifting the edges of the omelet. Uncooked egg from the top will flow underneath. You can tilt the pan a little to encourage the flow. Keep this up until the top surface is almost dry. It only takes 3 or 4 minutes.

Quickly sprinkle the chopped vegetables evenly over the surface and follow with the grated cheese. Reduce the heat to low.

Take the spatula and run it about halfway under the omelet. Lift that side and fold the omelet in half. Cooked eggs are not that delicate, and the omelet should fold easily without tearing. Slide the folded omelet back into the center of the pan, turn off the heat, and allow the cheese to melt for 30 seconds or so while you put the toast on the table.

Cut the omelet into portions with the spatula, and serve.

Now that is what I call simple and quick.

As you can imagine, the filling ingredients can be varied endlessly. From the recipe above, you could omit the vegetables and have a plain cheese omelet. Or add chopped ham, crumbled bacon or leftover cooked chicken or turkey. Chopped tomato (omit the seeds and pulp) and pimiento add both color and flavor. See what's in your refrigerator.

Building an Omelet

  • Do not add salt to the eggs before cooking. It will toughen the eggs.
  • The butter does not merely prevent the omelet from sticking to the pan. It definitely enhances the taste. If you want to avoid butter, use an olive oil spread. Other spreads without trans fatty acids may work as well.
  • If using a non-stick pan, you may reduce the amount of butter by half.
  • A three-egg omelet requires a smaller, 8-inch skillet. Cooking time will be a little less, so you will need to work fast.
  • Many people like to beat a tablespoon or so of water or milk into the eggs. The result is a somewhat fluffier omelet, but this is strictly a matter of personal preference.
  • You may wish to sauté the chopped vegetables in a little butter before adding them to the omelet. If you use fresh mushrooms as an ingredient, they should be sautéed.
I will follow with recipes for some specific types of omelets. You can use these verbatim, or they may fire your imagination to create the perfect omelet.

Tex-Mex Omelet

  • 1 tablespoon olive or canola oil
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion, either scallions or regular onion
  • 2 tablespoons canned chopped green chiles
  • 2 tablespoons chopped black olives
  • 1/2 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • chopped cilantro
  • sour cream
In a small non-stick skillet, sauté the bell peppers and onions in the olive oil just until softened. Remove from heat and stir in the green chiles and olives. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, cumin and black pepper until blended.

Melt the butter in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Swirl it around and up the sides of the skillet to coat. When the butter begins to foam, pour in the eggs. Let the eggs cook for about 30 seconds, then begin running the spatula around the sides of the pan, lifting the edges of the omelet. Uncooked egg from the top will flow underneath. You can tilt the pan a little to encourage the flow. Keep this up until the top surface is almost dry. It only takes 3 or 4 minutes.

Spoon the sautéed vegetables evenly over the omelet surface and follow with the grated cheese. Turn off heat.

Take the spatula and run it about halfway under the omelet. Lift that side and fold the omelet in half. Slide the folded omelet back into the center of the pan, and let stand for a few seconds to allow cheese to melt.

Cut into portions and serve. Pass sour cream and cilantro for garnish.

Gazpacho Omelet

  • 1/4 cup diced ripe avocado
  • 1/4 cup diced tomato (seeds and pulp removed)
  • 1 green onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup diced cucumber, seeded and peeled
  • 1 teaspoon lime or lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup Monterey Jack cheese
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 2 teaspoons butter
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
In a small bowl, combine the avocado, tomato, onion, cucumber and lime juice. Toss to coat, and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, water and black pepper to taste.

Melt the butter in an 8-inch skillet over medium heat. Swirl it around and up the sides of the skillet to coat. When the butter begins to foam, pour in the eggs. Let the eggs cook for about 30 seconds, then begin running the spatula around the sides of the pan, lifting the edges of the omelet. Uncooked egg from the top will flow underneath. You can tilt the pan a little to encourage the flow. Keep this up until the top surface is almost dry. It only takes 2 or 3 minutes.

Spoon the avocado mixture evenly over the omelet surface and follow with the grated cheese. Turn off heat.

Take the spatula and run it about halfway under the omelet. Lift that side and fold the omelet in half. Slide the folded omelet back into the center of the pan, and let stand for a few seconds to allow cheese to melt.

Cut into portions, if two persons are sharing, and serve. Garnish with chopped cilantro and avocado slices, if desired.

Farmer's Omelet

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 cup cubed cooked potatoes or cooked hash browns
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped green onions
  • 1/2 cup chopped cooked ham or crumbled cooked sausage
  • 1/2 cup grated Cheddar cheese
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon butter
Melt the butter in a small non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the potatoes, green onions and ham, and sauté until the potatoes are lightly browned. Cover and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk and black pepper until blended.

Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Swirl it around and up the sides of the skillet to coat. When the butter begins to foam, pour in the eggs. Let the eggs cook for about 30 seconds, then begin running the spatula around the sides of the pan, lifting the edges of the omelet. Uncooked egg from the top will flow underneath. You can tilt the pan a little to encourage the flow. Keep this up until the top surface is almost dry, about 3 or 4 minutes.

Spoon the potato mixture evenly over the omelet surface and follow with the grated cheese. Turn off heat.

Take the spatula and run it about halfway under the omelet. Lift that side and fold the omelet in half. Slide the folded omelet back into the center of the pan, and let stand for a few seconds to allow cheese to melt.

Cut into portions and serve.

Omelets are so versatile and, as you can see, can make a hearty, quick meal or, with just a little more time, an elegant repast. Consider making omelets part of your regular weeknight repertoire, and you will quickly become an expert omelet chef.

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