February 21, 2012

Alone with an Egg


There are precious few nights when it's just me at the table, solo. Secretly, I covet those singular feasts in the silent sympathy of my sweet dog and the company of a good book. When I take my time and pay attention, the most ordinary foods taste surprisingly good. Like eggs. 

Last week, I was gifted a carton of eggs from a friend who raises those pretty Peruvian Ayacuna chickens profiled on kitchen posters. The eggs -- celadon green and pale gold -- are sunshine itself. Their yolks are brilliant orange, the whites, firm and springy. These eggs taste creamy, nutty, buttery and chickeny. They are perfect eggs.

Many years ago, when I was single and living in New York City, an older friend presented me with a well seasoned omelet pan. "If you are going to be independent, it won't do to live off frozen dinners or out of a can," he advised. "Learn to make a good omelet and eat well. Like the French women do. Don't forget to pour yourself a glass of good wine."

So, if you find yourself alone in the kitchen on a wintry night, here's what to do.

Winter Omelet
Makes 1 omelet

This recipe is easily doubled or tripled. Just combine all of the egg ingredients and ladle out about 1/2 cup of beaten eggs per omelet.

Along with the cheese feel free to toss in cooked vegetables, canned tomatoes, tinned sardines, chopped olives, whatever you choose. 

2 large eggs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 to 2 teaspoons chopped fresh herbs or 1/2 teaspoon dried (parsley, basil, rosemary, etc.)
1 teaspoon unsalted butter
2 to 3 tablespoons shredded cheese (Cheddar or Parmesan or whatever you have)

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs with a pinch of salt or pepper, until the yolks and whites are combined but not foamy. Whisk in the herbs.

In an 8-inch heavy duty skillet set over medium-high heat, heat the butter and swirl to coat the pan. Pour the eggs into the pan and with a flexible spatula scramble the eggs gently, using small circular motions until soft curds start to form, about 30 seconds and spread them out in the pan. Allow the omelet to begin to firm. Scatter the cheese and any other ingredients you'd like over the omelet, leaving a scant margin around the omelet's edge. Use your spatula to press gently to incorporate the filling into the omelet.

With the spatula, fold one third of the omelet over the center. Lift the pan up and tilt it and, using the spatula to hold the omelet, turn the pan over so that the omelet flips over itself and slides onto the plate. 

And do pour yourself a nice glass of wine.

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