The Humble Omelette
Lets go back to the days when my cooking skills were inexistent. Actually, I could boil rice, which hardly counts as a gourmet prowess though it goes a long way towards sustenance.
When faced with the task of learning to cook, where do you start? These were the late 1980’s, pre-internet days, so forget googling recipes or join food forums. I had no family and very few friends in Australia, international phone calls cost nearly $2/minute therefor calling Mum for family recipes was out of question. So I bought The Robert Carrier Cookbook, which was perfect for 2 reasons: the blurb on the back cover stated “if you have only one cookery book on your shelf, make it this one”, and even though it was nearly 900 pages, it was the size of a paperback, so would not take space on the boat.
This is the most comprehensive cookbook I could find at the time, it covers everything from Choosing your menu, to How to set up your kitchen, All about beef, and even Christmas fare. His chapter on Souffles alone has 22 pages! Unlike most books nowadays, there is not a single photograph, which at times was unnerving, when I had no idea how the dish was supposed to turn out.
One meal I had no problem picturing though was an omelette. A standard fare in France, I had eaten omelette nature hundreds of time, just never cooked one. Until I read Robert Carrier’s recipe, which not only included the most simple ingredients (eggs, butter) but also described the technique used to produce the perfect basic omelette (it’s in the lifting and the sliding!).
After purchasing a dedicated pan*, I practised and practised for days, using Terry and his daughters as guinea pigs. Then one night, we had unexpected guests, and with nothing in the fridge but eggs, I offered my humble omelettes as an impromptu dinner. It was such a success, my neighbour asked for the recipe! I find it so quick and easy to make, over the years it’s been my go-to dish when pressed for time or ideas. That’s the first thing I taught my kids to cook, when they were old enough to handle a hot pan. An individual omelette is the quintessential fast-food on the boat!
*my omelette pan has followed me from boats to boats. It is a heavy duty non skid pan, 20cm wide with rounded slides, so the omelette can slide easily onto the plate when cooked.
Individual French Omelette Adapted from The Robert Carrier Cookbook
1 tbsp water
1tbsp whipped egg white (optional)
- Beat eggs with water until well mixed. Add salt to taste.
- Heat butter until sizzling in a preheated omelette pan. Remove pan from heat and pour in egg mixture.
- Return to heat and quickly stir eggs for a second or two to assure even cooking.
- As eggs begin to set , lift edges with a fork or spatula so that the liquid can run under. Repeat until liquid is all used up but the eggs are still moist and soft. All the while, shake the pan to keep the eggs from sticking (alternatively, run a thin spatula gently underneath)
- When eggs are set, roll omelette on to a warm plate by tilting the pan starting it away from edge at one side with a fork and letting it roll over itself.
This is a plain omelette. Variations are endless, here are some of suggestions from our crew.
Add between step 4 and 5:
– Grated cheese and chopped ham or fried bacon ( our 10 year old daughter)
– Grated carrots, shallots, bean sprouts, and a splash of soya sauce (from me)
– Buttered mushrooms and garlic (from Terry)
– Left over bacon and potatoes, finely chopped (from our 15 year old son).