Sunday, 25 September 2011

Omelets or Post-Ska-Show-Life-Saver

Here's a funny story: one gray, mucky Saturday, I felt too tired to do much around the house, and my boyfriend and I had tickets to go see the Real McKenzies and the Planet Smashers that very night. We figured we'd do some grocery shopping the next day, so we just enjoyed our day of farniente, went to our show, danced our hearts out because the bands are absolutely amazing (we discovered an awesome British band called Random Hand; check them out, they will blow your socks off!)... and woke up the next morning ravenously hungry to an almost empty fridge... Curses were mumbled as we made some coffee and tried to figure out what to do to get some food in our alcohol-shocked system. We were out of milk, so muffins and scones were not an option, we had finished the bagels and the bread, we had one lonely mango in the fruit bowl... I looked bleak.

And then, I saw eggs, cherry tomatoes and a small block of cheddar in the fridge. Saved!

Omelets are an amazing morning-after breakfast, as they are easy and quick to prepare,  they will soak up any alcohol left in your belly, and give you energy to get up and do all the important things you need to take care of (you can even make them upon returning from your nightlife adventures, before you pass out into a Jack and Coke stupor). Obviously, they are very versatile, so lazy folks rejoice, as this recipe can be used not only for breakfast, but also for lunch and dinner, when you can't be bothered to spend more than 10 minutes in the kitchen. Unless you want to go very fancy additions, omelets are also cheap, making them a favorite dish of students and broke musicians everywhere.

Allow me a hippie moment to strongly suggest that you encourage free-range and organic farming, and make sure you buy eggs laid by happy hens who run around a bit. They are not really more expensive than the other eggs, and you'll sleep better at night. Oh! And avoid those prepackaged egg mixes like the plague!

The following recipe serves one, so my advice is to not crowd your pan, and make your helpings one at the time if you are not cooking just for yourself. Omelets are good fresh, and in a morning-after haze, social conventions are not as strict as usual. I use a small frying pan (cast iron is great!) and a firm spatula, to fold the omelet over and serve it. Make sure you slice anything you want to add to you omelet before you turn the heat on under your pan, to avoid frustrating accidents and messy results. If you want, you can grate the cheese directly on the omelet as it cooks, but whenever you grate it, use the small holes on a box grater. Big lumps of cheese won't melt well in your eggs.

Here is the basic omelet recipe from Jamie Oliver's "Food Revolution", followed by a few of my favorite ideas to pimp up your omelets. The version I cooked post-ska show was the tomato and basil omelet; I can never get enough of that combination of flavors.

3 large eggs
Sea salt and ground pepper
1 small nub of butter
1 small handful grated Cheddar cheese

Crack the eggs into a mixing bowl with a pinch of salt and pepper, and beat well with a fork. Put a small frying pan on medium-low heat and let it get hot. Add a small pat of butter to the pan; when it has melted and is bubbling, add the eggs and move the pan around so that they spread out evenly. When the omelet begins to cook and firm up, but still has a bit of raw eggs on top, sprinkle the cheese. Using a spatula, ease around the edges of the omelet, then fold it over in half. When it starts to turn golden brown underneath, remove the pan from the heat and slide the omelet on to a plate.

Tomato and basil: Pick the leaves off 2 or 3 sprigs of fresh basil and roughly tear them. Cut a handful of cherry tomatoes in half and add it to a hot frying pan with a bit of butter and a drizzle of olive oil. Fry and toss around for about a minute, then lower the heat to medium and add the basil leaves. Add the eggs and proceed with the recipe.

Mushroom: Roughly chop 2 or 3 nice Portobello mushrooms and add to a hot frying pan with a bit of butter and a drizzle of olive oil. Fry and toss around until golden. Turn the heat down to medium, add the eggs and proceed with the recipe. Not a bad idea to switch the Cheddar for Swiss cheese in this variation.

Hangover: Finely slice 1/2 fresh red chile. Squeeze the meat out of 1 good-quality sausage and crumble it into a hot frying pan, with a tiny drizzle of olive oil. Fry until golden, turn the heat down to medium and add 1/2 teaspoon of crushed fennel seeds, the chile and the eggs. Proceed with the recipe.

I also threw a small handful of chopped scallions to our omelets, along with the tomatoes, to give the flavor a bit more bite. Use your imagination and whatever is left in your fridge to give your omelet that personal touch and turn it into a quick feast. If you are serving it the morning-after, don't forget the huge mug of black coffee and a big glass of orange juice!

P.S. My flipping-of-the-omelet went slightly awry, so this picture shows the genuinely messy, but delicious, breakfast we enjoyed! Presentation is not that relevant when it's just you and a half-asleep significant other...

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