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Omelets: Something To Flip Over by Mara Reid Rogers, CCP

 
Omelets are wonderful for entertaining, especially for small groups. They make a superfast dinner, breakfast, or brunch. Mara Reid Rogers, the Cyber Home Chef, shares her favorite omelet recipe along with some tips on how to make great omelets in this terrific article.

Omelets: Something To Flip Over

Omelets savory and sweet, steal seductively into my kitchen. I have come to the Rubicon that though omelets play a starring role at breakfast or brunch as a rule, they are an ideal dish for an impromptu dinner, as the only essential ingredient is several eggs.

A Cinch in a Pinch

Omelets should be fundamental in any home cook's repertoire, due to their ease, quickness to prepare, and the democratic way they successfully team up with nearly any ingredient. Even with the kitchen the size of a closet, one range burner and a modest batterie de cuisine (skillet, mixing bowl, whisk, and spatula) you can have a comforting, wholesome, and creative meal.

Rubber Biscuit or Rubber Omelet?

Another reason to cook omelets at home is that its nearly impossible to get a good omelet at a restaurant. Most people's restaurant omelet experiences range from the undercooked-(what I call the "slippery special") to the overcooked-rubbery, bounce-of-the-plate omelet that's probably been sitting under the restaurant warming lamps for a few hours waiting...just for you.

Omelet 101

There are three general schools of savory omelets: rolled (French-style), folded (a half-moon shape), and flat (round and open-faced).

The rolled omelet requires a shaking and stirring skillet technique that can take a lot of practice to master. The folded omelet is my personal favorite (see recipe below). The folded omelet has a slightly firmer texture and is more manageable than the rolled omelet. While the flat omelet, is open-faced and cut into wedges to serve. Examples of this omelet style include the "Italian Frittata" or the "Spanish Egg Tortilla," which is served as tapas (an appetizer, which can at times constitute as a light dinner) at Spanish bars and restaurants.

In addition to these omelet permutations, there are two other sub-categories of omelets (though not considered true "styles")"egg-white omelets" (excluding the egg yolk) for those people who are restricted to a low-cholesterol, reduced-fat diet. And "dessert omelets," which are typically subtly sweet soufflé omelets that are of the "folded" style (half-moon shape).

So grab your skillet and get cracking (please excuse the pun), 'cause your edible prize awaits you!

Master Omelet Recipe

Makes one omelet

1 tablespoon butter, preferably clarified or substitute olive oil

3 large eggs, place in a bowl and cover with hot tap water; let stand for 4 to 5 minutes

Scant ¼ teaspoon salt

Pinch freshly ground pepper

Melt the butter in an 8-inch nonstick omelet pan or 8-inch skillet with gently sloping sides over medium heat. Tilt the pan to coat the bottom and sides with the butter. The omelet pan should be hot but not scalding. Meanwhile, combine the eggs, salt, and pepper in a small bowl and whisk together until well blended. If you want to season the egg mixture further, do so now. Pour the egg mixture into the pan and tilt the pan around gently so that the mixture spreads evenly over the bottom. As the omelet begins to set, run the spatula gently around the edges of the omelet to loosen it. Using the spatula, carefully lift the edges of the omelet and tilt the skillet to allow the uncooked egg mixture on the surface to flow to the bottom. Let the omelet cook undisturbed, until it is almost completely set, 1 to 1-½ minutes, depending on desired consistency and temperature of skillet and eggs. When the bottom of the omelet is set and the top of the omelet is slightly moist, but not runny, add the filling (if a filling is desired). Gently spread the filling evenly on one half of the omelet. (Note: Do not stir the filling.) Slip the spatula underneath this half and lift it, folding it over the other half, in one fluid motion; the folded omelet should form a half moon shape. If you prefer an omelet with a slightly browned surface, let it sit in the pan once folded, for a few seconds. Using the spatula, invert the omelet (or flip it with the use of the spatula-yes, this takes practice; it's just like flipping a pancake) and slide it onto a warmed dinner plate so that the omelet is browned-side-up. If desired, ladle with a sauce, or sprinkle with a garnish, and serve at once. (Note: Traditionally, omelets are garnished with something that relates to the filling, but this does not need to be a hard-and-fast rule.)

Variations

While the variety of fast and easy fillings, sauces, and garnishes is endless, don't forget that for an even simpler omelet, just season the eggs with fresh or dried herbs and/or spices prior to cooking. Make sure that the ingredients you use to fill an omelet have cooled before using. Keep in mind that an omelet filling should complement the delicate flavor of the eggs, not overwhelm it. Here are some very speedy, one-step (no prior mixing or cooking involved) filling suggestions for savory omelets, all of which are available at the supermarket.

Shredded or crumbled cheese of any variety

Chopped ham or other cold cuts

Mango chutney

Pesto (Italian basil sauce)

Mustard

Chopped scallions

Cream Cheese (a variety of flavors are available)

Cottage Cheese (a variety of flavors are available)

Sun-dried tomatoes

Tomato Salsa

Caponata (a Sicilian eggplant-based appetizer, available canned at the supermarket)

Olive Tapenade (an olive-based Provençal spread, available jarred at the supermarket)

 

Sweet & Sour Chicken
 
Scrunchy Sweet and Sour Chicken - Chicken and pineapple combine wonderfully and this dish shows it to great effect.
Preparation - 20 minutes, Cooking time - 15 minutes.
Enjoy!
 
 
Scrunchy Sweet and Sour Chicken - serves 4

Preparation - 20 minutes, Cooking time - 15 minutes

2 egg yolks
2 tbsp cornstarch
salt and ground black pepper
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cubed
vegetable oil

For the sweet and sour sauce:
1 onion, sliced
1 small red pepper, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 small orange pepper, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 lb can pineapple cubes in natural juice
1 tbsp cornstarch
2 tbsp tomato ketchup
2 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
handful of fresh cilantro leaves, to garnish

Mix together the egg yolks, with a tbsp of water, the cornstarch, and some salt and pepper.
Heat 2 inches of oil in a wok or deep frying pan. Toss the chicken in the cornstarch mixture and deep-fry in batches for 5 minutes or until crisp and golden. Drain on paper towels.
Empty the oil from the wok to leave a thin coating in the pan. Stir-fry the onion and peppers over a high heat for 3 minutes.
Drain the pineapple cubes (reserving the juice), add to the pan, and cook for a minute ot two.
Mix together the cornstarch and a little of the pineapple juice to form a paste, then stir in the remaining juice, the ketchup, soy sauce, vinegar, and 1/2 cup water. Pour this into the pan and bring to a boil, stirring until the mixture thickens.
Stir the chicken pieces into the pan and simmer for 5 minutes until cooked through. Check the seasoning then divide between bowls.
Scatter the cilantro on top and serve. Enjoy!

 
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Red Wines & Food
 
Wine and Food pairings is an individual choice. Every person's sense of taste is different. In general, each person should decide for him or herself what combinations of wine and food taste good - don't worry about what anyone else says should work. However, I understand this is difficult when a wine drinker is just starting out. Hence, this listing.

Remember - these are only guidelines!! You will figure out quite quickly that your own tongue has its own idea of what goes well with what. Trust your own judgement, and eat and drink what you enjoy!

Typically, you want to drink light-to-dark, just as when you plan a meal you start with delicate tastes and work towards heavier tastes. For this reason, you normally don't serve a red wine with appetizers or opening courses in a meal. Red wines do go very nicely with heavier foods - beef, red pasta, and so on.

 

Wines
 
Cabernet Sauvignon (red)
Produces long-lasting, deeply coloured red wines that are astringent when young but mellow with age. As red Bordeaux, particularly from the Médoc and Graves regions, the wines are leaner and more elegant than Cabernets grown in California, Australia or Chile.

Noted flavours: Cedar and blackcurrant


Chardonnay (white)
Makes a dry wine whose range of flavours depends on where the grapes were grown and how long the wine stayed in oak (if at all). Chardonnay will be labeled as such in most regions other than France where it is named after the village where it was grown. Examples: Chablis, Meursault, Montrachet, Pouilly-Fuissé.

Champagne also uses Chardonnay in the blend and exclusively as Blanc de blancs Champagne

Noted flavours (cool climate): Apple, vanilla, nutty; (warm climate): Tropical fruits, smoky, spicy.


Chenin Blanc (white)
The wines can range from very dry to off-dry to sweet as well as sparkling. Best known as Vouvray and Saumur (villages in the Loire Valley). Also grown in California which makes a softer, less acidic wine, and in South Africa where it is frequently called Steen.

Noted flavours: Pear, apple.


Gamay (red)
The grape of Beaujolais. Makes a light, fruity wine that can be consumed young, especially chilled. When blended with Pinot Noir in Burgundy, the wine is called Passe-tout-Grains.

Noted flavours: Cherry, pepper.


Gewürztraminer
The most unforgettable of grapes. Grown in Alsace and Germany and throughout Europe as Traminer, the wines have an exotic perfume of lychee nuts, rose petals and sometimes red peppers. They suggest sweetness on the nose, but the best (from Alsace) are dry. Also produced in Oregon and California and Ontario. Gewürz is German for spicy, and Traminer means from the town of Tramin where the vine was first propagated.

Noted flavours: Lychee, rose petals.


Merlot (red)
Very similar to Cabernet Sauvignon but softer, fruitier and faster maturing. In Bordeaux and in many other regions, including California, it is blended with Cabernet to make the wine rounder. Merlot predominates in the St. Emilion and Pomerol, producing dark, full-bodied wines.

Noted flavours: Blackberry, blackcurrant.


Muscat (white, less commonly black):
Although it is made as a dry wine in Alsace and sometimes in Australia, Muscat wines are generally sweet and rich. They are usually grown in warm climates; the hotter they are, the sweeter the wine will be, culminating in the Muscat of Samos (Greece). Black Muscat is invariably a sweet dessert wine.

Noted flavours: Grapey, aromatic


Nebbiolo (red)
Grown extensively in Piedmont and other northern Italian provinces, Nebbiolo produces the long-lived, somewhat austere Barolo and Barbaresco with their characteristic bitter finish.

Noted flavours: Truffle, tar, roses


Pinot Blanc (white)
Similar in character to the Chardonnay, it is generally broader in flavours. Grown extensively in Alsace. The Italians call it Pinot Bianco, and it is widely used in sparkling wines. In Germany it's the Weissburgunder. Generally low in acidity.

Noted flavours: Apple, peach.


Pinot Gris (white)
One of the most underrated of grapes, grown mainly in Alsace where it is called Tokay-Pinot Gris. In Italy it's called Pinot Grigio. In Germany and Austria, Ruländer. Full-bodied white with lots of flavour. Some of the best come from Oregon.

Noted flavours: Peaches


Pinot Noir (red)
A notoriously fickle grape. When fully ripe, makes exquisite wines in Burgundy that age almost as long as red Bordeaux. Also successfully grown in Oregon and California. Extensively used in the production of Champagne (where it is blended with Chardonnay). When used by itself, it is called blanc de noirs (a white wine from black grapes.)

Noted flavours: Raspberry, strawberry.


Riesling (white):
Perhaps the most versatile white wine, it can range in style from steely dryness to honeyed sweetness. The bouquet is floral with a freshness from the acidity. It grows best in cool climates and reaches its apogee in Germany. Best wines come from Mosel and Rheingau in Germany, Alsace and Washington State.

Noted flavours: (Dry) lime, grapefruit; (Sweet) honey, apricot.


Sangiovese (red)
The major grape in Chianti (along with Canaiolo) although now Italian producers are beginning to make it a varietal wine. It is 100 percent in Brunello di Montalcino and a constituent of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. Highly acidic and tannic.

Noted flavours: Cherry, truffle.


Sauvignon Blanc (white)
This grape smells of grass, pea pods and elderberries. It is best known for the wines of the Loire, Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé. It grows well in California, too. In Bordeaux it is blended with Sémillion to produce such wines as Entre-Deux-Mers. Generally dry and crisp, it can make a sweet late harvest wine with good acidity.

Noted flavours: Gooseberry, fig


Sémillion (white)
Not often used as a varietal, this grape is generally blended with Sauvignon Blanc to make dry white Bordeaux. Similar in style to Sauvignon Blanc, but more floral and not as herbaceous. Sémillion is the major grape in the sweet wines of Sauternes and Barsac.

Noted flavours: Fig, green plum


Syrah (red)
Makes the powerful, rich dry wines of the Northern Rhône (Hermitage, Côte Rôtie), and is a constituent in the blend of Châteauneuf-du-Pape and the wines of the Southern Rhône. Ages well. Also grown successfully in California. In Australia, it is called Shiraz, where it makes a varietal wine and is also blended with Cabernet Sauvignon.

Noted flavours: Blackberry, pepper


Tempranillo (red)
The major grape of Spain where it is also called Ull de Llebre. Has long ageing capabilities and produces wines that remind you of both red Burgundy and red Bordeaux.

Noted flavours: Strawberry, spices


Zinfandel (red):
Native to California, this grape is used to produce off-dry blush wines for immediate consumption as well as powerful dry reds for aging and port-like dessert wines.

Noted flavours: Blackberry, raspberry, spices, pepper.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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