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

Scrambling for Time


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“(When making omelets) you must have the courage to be rough or the eggs will not loosen themselves from the bottom of the pan.” – Julia Child

Last night was another late one. I got home around 11:00, having eaten nothing but a handful of pretzels, so despite the late hour I headed to the kitchen. I had planned accordingly, so the menu for dinner was omelets – they take minutes to make and require very few ingredients, so they’re perfect for the chef on the go.

The thing about Julia Child’s omelets is this – the recipes are more about technique than they are about ingredients. According to MtAoFC, there are basically two ways to make omelets: there’s the scrambled omelet and there’s the rolled omelet. Each one gives a basic recipe of eggs and seasoning, but is accompanied by a list of possible additions (ham, cheese, tomatoes, etc.). I decided to give both techniques a try, making a total of two omelets, and splitting those between the two of us for dinner.

Scrambled Omelet in the Making

The scrambled omelet, l’Omelette Brouillee, was first on the list. I used 3 eggs for one omelet (which turned out to be a pretty generous serving, probably too much for one person but great for two) and beat them in a bowl with some salt and pepper. I melted a tablespoon of butter (shocking!) in a pan on high heat to coat the bottom, and then it was time to pour the eggs into the pan. Now, get ready, because these next steps go by FAST. Once the eggs hit that hot pan, they’ll immediately start to bubble up. You must instantly begin sliding the pan back and forth over the heat, while simultaneously stirring the top of the eggs with the flat side of the fork (thus, scrambling, see?). As they become solidified, it’s time to add any extra fillings (I added some shredded swiss cheese and ham). Then you lift the handle of the pan up at a 45-degree angle and gather the eggs at the far lip of the pan with the back of the fork. Smack the handle of the pan with your fist a couple of times to make the eggs curl over themselves and hold it over the heat for a couple of minutes to lightly brown the bottom of the omelet. (I couldn’t quite get mine to curl all the way over, but got pretty close.) Then, turn the omelet onto the plate and voila! A lovely omelet!

Yanking the Pan to Roll an Omelet

The other technique (l’Omelette Roulee) is a little trickier, but the first time I saw Julia Child do it on The French Chef, I was in awe. Granted, my attempt wasn’t nearly as graceful as hers, but amazingly enough I was able to make it work on my first try! Same first steps as before (beat eggs and seasoning in a bowl, pour into a buttered pan), and let the eggs settle for a few seconds to form a coagulated egg in the bottom of the pan. Next (here comes the tricky part), you hold the handle in both hands and immediately start yanking the pan toward you at a 20-degree angle over the heat. The force of pulling the pan will throw the eggs against the far lip of the pan, then back over its bottom surface. Eventually, it will roll over itself, forming its shape. While the technique itself isn’t difficult, you have to use force, which is hard when there is the fear that you’ll send the eggs flying out of the pan. But really, if that’s the worst that can happen, what is there to be afraid of? Nothing, I say! (Although I admit, I did find myself muttering under my breath, “Must have courage. Must have courage,” while flipping eggs around the pan.) Once your eggs have rolled into an omelet, slip it out onto a plate and celebrate. You did it!

It tasted a lot better than it looked. Promise.

I know omelets aren’t very exciting, especially for dinner, and to be honest, they didn’t look very pretty on the plate when I was finished. But the taste? Holy moly. They were so light and fluffy, and the insides were a perfect creamy texture. While Ben is the official omelet maker in our house, even he admitted that these were the best homemade omelets he’s ever had. My favorite technique was the rolled omelet – it really is cool when you see it happen and it was fun to make! Unfortunately, while I had planned to add spinach as a variation on the original recipe, I ultimately decided I was just too tired to take the time to cook and prepare the spinach before making the omelet. MtAoFC counted the plain omelet as a recipe with the spinach as a variation (it has its own recipe in the vegetables chapter), so the meal I made still counts as one of Julia’s 524. However, from the beginning I’ve promised I won’t cut corners, so if any of you feel the need to call “Foul!”, I’ll gladly go back and make the spinach omelet. Sometime when it’s not 11:30 on a Wednesday night.

And last but certainly not least, we finally got to enjoy the Creme Plombieres Pralinee for dessert! I have to say, it was really tasty! Sweet and light. The rum and coffee drizzle came across pretty strong in the spongecake, but I didn’t feel it was overpowering, and the toasted almonds added a nice, light crunch which complimented the smooth texture of the cream. The portion size of each little dessert cup was just right, although for some reason I ended up with a ton of leftover cream (which is firming up in the fridge until I decide what to do with it. I’ll see if Julia has any suggestions). I think coffee drinkers (which I am not) would particularly like this little treat. Give it a try!

Tonight we tackle Potage Parmentier – leek and potato soup. Thursday nights I play on a bowling league with some co-workers and get home around 9:00. Soup sounds easy, filling and we already had a ton of potatoes, so it’s also efficient! (Now, that’s my kind of meal!) Tune in tomorrow for the how-to, my reviews and an entertaining anecdote about French potatoes (no, really!). You won’t be sorry!


Today’s French Lesson:
“Quelle heure est le dîner?”

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