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Fear Conquered: Omelettes
About 3 years ago, back when I regularly managed to swim, run, hold down a full-time job, devote whole weekends to yard work, survive Cleveland blizzards and still find time to cook every night, I somehow also managed to begin each morning with a healthy, homemade breakfast.
Notice, I said healthy. I did not say delicious. In fact, most mornings my breakfast consisted of a thick paste slow-cooked overnight and with about as much flavor as sodden paper towels - oatmeal mush. It was healthy and filling - and that was the important part. If I had time between showering and dashing out the door, I might try to enhance the mush with a sprinkle of raisins or a scoop of fresh pineapple. But breakfast was about nutrition and starting off healthy each morning - who has time for delicious?
To be honest, I still eat the same oatmeal most mornings for breakfast. For the past couple of months, I've been testing different variations of a somewhat more exciting baked oatmeal (it's almost ready to share) and very recently I've even been dabbling with more creative uses for oats - like waffles and muffins.
Yet as much as I adore the nutrition, fiber and slow-release protein all packed into one bland serving of oats, I must confess I sometimes grow weary of this super-grain. That's not really fair to oats - after all, they really are perfectly speedy, versatile and healthful. In truthfulness, I really should be devoting this entire post to a love note for oats. And I promise I shall - soon.
But today's post is about what I eat for breakfast when I'm not shoveling down oats - a mostly egg white omelette. This is what I would make a friend for breakfast - it's fast, packed full of flavor and still protects the health of those I love. Granted, a hot bowl of oatmeal mush would certainly be another outpouring of love for healthfulness, but somehow mush isn't quite as special as an omelette.
I really can't take all the credit for this omelette - the real thanks would go to my mom. In support of my dad's cholesterol-restricted diet, my mom often tried to eliminate yolks from her cooking and baking. She taught me to replace one egg yolk with 2 egg whites - sometimes it works out fine, sometimes not so much. A mostly egg white omelette just happens to work out perfectly and on very special occasions, my mom would treat us to one of these cholesterol-reduced omelettes.
As a kid, the real reason I loved omelettes had nothing to do with the soft creamy eggs or the buttery flavor from the pan - it was all about the melted cheddar cheese inside. Twenty-some years later, not much has changed. An omelette remains the perfect vehicle for sneaking melted cheese into my breakfast. And when it's all about the cheese, who needs the extra egg yolks?
Traditionally, omelettes are made with 2 or 3 eggs - and I keep with tradition. I just separate out two of the yolks and save them for something else I'm making (like ice cream or cookies). Removing the yolks lightens the omelette - both in texture and calories - yet the single remaining yolk provides pleasing yellow color and improves the final flavor. A little melted cheddar cheese and even the tastiest bowl of oatmeal is forgotten (sorry oats - you know I still love you).
Oh, and about the word omelette. Don't let it scare you into thinking you have to learn some kind of fancy French technique to make this delicious breakfast. Forget the horror stories about rubbery eggs, raw uncooked eggs, flipping eggs in the pan or perfecting a trifold. Grab a non-stick pan, heat a little butter, add your eggs and shake and stir. 60 seconds in the pan and you've got an omelette.
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|Mince the parsley.|
|Mince the garlic.|
|Mince the onion.|
|Add the onion, garlic and parsley with 1 Tablespoon of olive oil to a small pan over low heat.|
|Saute for 5 minutes until softened; set aside.|
|Meanwhile, grate 2 ounces of extra-sharp cheddar cheese.|
|Melt the butter in a medium saute pan over medium-high heat. Swirl the butter in the pan every minute or so until the butter stops foaming, about 5 minutes.|
|In a measure or bowl, beat together egg, egg white, mustard powder, salt and pepper.|
|Do not over-beat the eggs.|
|Prepare a serving plate for the omelette.|
|Pour the egg into the pan and immediately shake the pan back and forth while stirring the center of the eggs with a heat-proof spatula.|
|Reduce the heat to low; slide the spatula under the cooked edge of the omelette to lift the egg away from the pan while tilting and rotating the pan to allow uncooked egg to run beneath the edges of the omelette.|
|As soon as the egg is mostly set, spread the herb filling over the omelette.|
|Sprinkle the omelette with grated cheese.|
|Remove the pan from the heat and shake the omelette to the lip of the pan. Turn out the omelette by flipping over the pan on top of the plate.|
STORY | PHOTO TUTORIAL | HUNGRY FOR TIPS?
Mostly Egg White Cheese Omelette
Prep Time: 15 min
Cook Time: 1 min
Ingredients (1 omelette)
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 3 Tablespoons onion, minced
- 2 Tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 large egg
- 2 large eggs, separated
- 1/8 teaspoon ground mustard powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper
- 2 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese, grated
- Heat the olive oil in a small pan over medium-low heat; add the onion and sauté for 2 minutes, then add the parsley, thyme and garlic and sauté for another 5 minutes; set aside
- Add the butter to a separate medium non-stick pan and melt over medium-high heat, swirling the butter around the pan every minute or so until the butter stops foaming (about 3 minutes)
- Meanwhile, beat together the egg, egg whites, ground mustard, salt and pepper in a small bowl or measure until just combined
- Pour the egg mixture into the hot buttered pan and immediately shake the pan back and forth while stirring the center of the eggs with a heat-proof spatula
- Reduce the heat to low; slide the spatula under the cooked edge of the omelette to lift the egg away from the pan while tilting and rotating the pan to allow uncooked egg to run beneath the edges of the omelette. Continue to shake, tilt and rotate the pan while gently scrambling the center of the omelette with the spatula
- As soon as the egg is mostly set, spread the herb filling over the omelette and sprinkle with cheese; allow the cheese to melt for 30 seconds
- Remove the pan from the heat and shake the omelette to the lip of the pan; rest the edge of the pan on the lip of a plate and turn out the omelette by flipping over the pan on top of the plate; serve immediately
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Hungry for Tips?
- Prep: Prepare the filling, grate your cheese, separate your eggs and grab a serving plate - before you start melting the butter. As soon as the egg hits the pan, it’s too late to deice you want to make a filling or add another cheese. An omelette happens in about 60 seconds of cook time, so prepare everything in advance.
- Filling: Never add raw herbs, onion, garlic or cold meat to an omelette - it won’t have time to cook or even warm through once its inside the omelette. So if you want to add a filling (besides cheese), prepare it separately and in advance.
- Cheese: As much as I love cheddar cheese, there can be too much of a good thing. If you really load cheese onto the omelette it will never melt in time - the eggs will overcook and you'll end up with cheesy rubber.
- Folding: Don't stress about a perfectly folded omelette. You can always slide the omelette out of the pan and onto a plate and then fold in half. Who cares? Unless you're trying to win a ribbon for technique. In which case, go for the more difficult trifold omelette.
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