Monday, 7 February 2011

The Omelette Book - Narcissa Chamberlain

Whoops. I started this blog just over a month ago, posted about 5 times, and then got so busy the whole thing got abandoned - yet, today I garner a mention in The Times. Better get cracking then, hadn't I?

I do 99% of the cooking in our household, but there's one thing my partner, S, excels at - omelettes. That is, if I manage to persuade him to keep things straightforward and not throw in anything he might find in fridge or kitchen cupboard. His philosophy is, if he likes x ingredient, and he likes eggs, it follows that he will like them together. And he usually does. I, however, am harder to please. I do not generally like my omelettes to contain tinned stuff - no to corned beef and tinned sardines in tomato sauce. Another no to tinned squid in ink, mainly due to aesthetics, although I have acknowledged that this wasn't too far removed from an omelette made with dark gilled mushrooms (I didn't point out that I have in the past removed the gills to stop my omelette going grey. I know this sounds mad, but I am sure I have read of chefs doing such things.)

Narcissa Chamberlain's book from the 1950s makes me feel conservative and unadventurous, as she has no qualms about experimenting with flavours and agrees with S that tinned goods are often expedient. There are over 300 recipes in this book - savoury omelettes, sweet omelettes, cold omelettes, Danish, Chinese, Japanese and  Russian omelettes. There are omelettes which seem designed to use up leftovers (brussel sprouts, mincemeat), those which are luxurious in the extreme (foie gras, truffles, caviar), some which I can't quite imagine the taste of (an Iraqi omelette, flavoured with walnuts, raisins, saffron, turmeric, chives, breadcrumbs).

So, considering the variety, and the fact that Narcissa Chamberlain is OK with tinned goods, I think telling S that he can cook any omelette as long as it is in this book is quite brave of me. Fortunately, after a heavy weekend, including a pork fest on Saturday (fry up for breakfast, roast pork belly for lunch, ham hock cooked for stock and cold cuts) he as well as I needed something green yesterday. So we made this:

Omelette Clamart

Braise a cupful of peas on a bed of shredded lettuce (we used little gems and frozen peas with no apology), with 1 or 2 spring onions, a pinch of thyme (I substituted tarragon), a sprig of parsley, a lump of butter, salt and pepper and a little sugar (presumably to counteract any bitterness of the lettuce?). Add 2 or 3 tablespoons of water (I used white wine) and braise slowly until tender and most of the liquid has evaporated, but the peas are still moist.

Make your omelette. Put 3/4 of the peas in the centre of the omelette before folding. After folding make a shallow slit on the top of the omelette and place the remaining peas in this.

Delicious, but felt the lack of cheese!

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