julia child, mastering the art of french cooking, julie powell, french cuisine

Even Julia Gets It

 

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“This is a Basque specialty, and quick to make…As the omelette is not folded, and is served in its cooking vessel, it is not a disaster if it sticks a little on the bottom.”  – Julia Child

Browned ham slices...these smelled so good!

Let’s face it…sometimes, after a long day of work and running errands and tidying up the house, the last thing we feel like doing is cooking dinner. Fortunately, not every recipe has to be a complicated process and elaborate meal. Even Julia Child knew that. So the other night, when I had just a couple of hours between getting home from work and heading out to a meeting, Julia’s Piperade was the perfect thing. This open-faced omelette garnished with onions, peppers, tomatoes and ham was not only easy to throw together, but it didn’t take long at all to make. 

Piperade in progress.

I sliced a few strips of ham and browned them in a pan with butter and set them aside. In the same pan, I cooked some thinly sliced onions and bell peppers, seasoned with a little salt and pepper. I added some mashed garlic and sliced PSJ tomatoes over the onions, sprinkling with a little more salt. I covered the pan and let the veggies cook for about five minutes, bringing all the juices out of the tomatoes. Next I uncovered the pan and brought the mixture to a boil, shaking the pan around over the heat until nearly all the moisture had evaporated and I was left with a pulpy vegetable mixture, the actual piperade of the recipe. 

Not quite scrambled - eggs set in a creamy mass.

In a separate skillet, I melted butter and added 8 beaten eggs. I stirred them quickly with a fork, waiting for them to “set into a creamy mass”. Only, they didn’t really do that. With my perfect hindsight vision, I realized I should have used a wider, more shallow pan as this skillet was a little too deep to cook the eggs evenly. The bottom was cooking much faster than the top, so by the time all the eggs had set, the bottom of the dish was a little too browned – not ruined, just not perfect. Oh, well. Remember that part about quick and easy? I was moving on. 

Eggs topped with piperade and ham.

Once the eggs were set, I turned off the heat and used a spatula to serve the piperade over them, mixing a little of it into the eggs themselves. I lay the strips of ham over that, and topped with a light sprinkling of herbs for a finishing touch. 

I sliced the omelette like a pizza and served a couple of small pieces onto my plate with a side of turkey bacon. I really liked the flavor of this dish. The eggs were thick and creamy, sort of midway between scrambled and a firm omelet (I peeled off the browned bottom and all was well), and the piperade with the ham was terrific. I liked the way the vegetables had cooked – they were tender and added a nice subtle flavor to the eggs. With the exception of the large slices of ham, this tasted just like a typical omelette, but better. Best of all, it was really simple and I had plenty of time to make dinner and get to my meeting, AND there were leftovers for later in the week. Talk about a low-stress meal! 

Voila!

Perfect for a quick dinner or a nice brunch, this dish would make a good stand-by for those times you want something tasty in a hurry. It’s nice to know that sometimes even Julia Child could appreciate a quick and easy meal. 

Bon appetit!
– Jessica

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