Monday, December 26, 2011

"The Omelette Book" - Italian Omelettes with Greens (Mixed Vegetables)

Date I made this recipe: December 25, 2011 (Christmas Day)

The Omelette Book by Narcissa Chamberlain
Published by: Alfred A. Knopf
© 1984
Recipe: Italian Omelettes with Greens – p. 108-109

Faithful readers know that I’m weather-obsessed and this year was no exception. After a very rough year during which my father died, I was dreading this year’s holiday season. Besides all the hoopla that is Christmas, and the absence of my dear dad, there’s the snow and the cold and the darkness. Every year my fondest wish is for warm weather and no snow at Christmastime. This year, I got my wish.

Last week, the temperature started warming up in Minneapolis and the gloomy skies went away, replaced by brilliant sunshine. By the time we got to Christmas Eve, the temperature hit 40 degrees. Yesterday, Christmas Day, my husband, Andy, and I went for a walk along the Mississippi River. Amazingly (and thanks no doubt to a well-paid lawn service provider) some of the stately homes along the river had green grass. Many of the trees still had their leaves on them (okay, so they were dead leaves but still….). The temperature was a balmy 42 degrees. Had the earth turned on its axis?

Apparently it has. Today I went for a walk with a friend of mine at Como Park in St. Paul, Minnesota. The temperature was 48 degrees. (Update: the temperature was 52 degrees today and we shattered a previous record high of 51 degrees, last seen in 1936. Oh yeah!!) If not for the wind, I might have walked in my summer shorts (tanning season cannot start fast enough). My husband is out for a bike ride. It’s 4:00 and the sun is just now fading for the day. Life is good. And this omelette helped to make things even better.

Out of all the recipes in this cookbook, the one that caught my attention was the Italian Omelettes with Greens. And by “greens,” the author means a sautéed mixture of onions, peas, green pepper, zucchini and tomato. The dish all but screamed “spring” and with the weather we’ve been having, it might as well be spring. (By the way, there’s a song by the same name – It Might As Well Be Spring – from the musical, State Fair. Life is just full of musical connections like this!)

So “spring” it was on Christmas Day! The recipe is very easy and flavorful (and so healthy – right?) and in our house, was a team effort; I got the veggie mix ready and my husband became Omelette Man. Not that I’m a slouch but he has way better technique than I do when it comes to crepes and omelettes and whatnot. I think it’s all in the wrist.

The omelette batter for this recipe is in part what drew me to it. It’s almost like a crepe instead of an egg omelette as it calls for you to add a mixture of ½ cup of milk and 2 tablespoons flour to the egg batter. So our omelettes had the consistency of a pancake without all the cakiness (if that’s a word).

The recipe calls for you to make a small “crepe,” then put a tablespoon of the veggie mixture on top and then add more batter on top. Well this got messy. So you might want to consider making a frittata instead by adding more batter to the pan and then adding your vegetables. We even had grated Parmesan cheese at home to finish the dish. After making a couple of the smaller omelettes, Andy opted for the frittata approach and I have to say he nailed it!

Whatever you want to call these, they are delicious. Sure, I could have gone with a more traditional egg and ham and cheese omelette (and lord knows, with 5 cookbooks about eggs, I had enough recipes to choke a short order cook), but would that have said “spring” to you? Probably not. And I’m all about spring, even on Christmas Day.

Speaking of which, and maybe it’s just me, but does anyone else think it’s weird to show the movie, Ben Hur, on Christmas Day? Although it’s been a while, I’m pretty sure the movie ends around the time of the crucifixion and Easter. Then again, maybe TCM (Turner Classic Movies), was channeling spring as well. Hmmm….”Dear TCM, RE: Ben Hur and today’s weather….”

Happy Holidays!

Italian Omelettes with Greens – serving size not given (perhaps 6 small omelettes?)

2 tablespoons oil
½ onion (I had half a red onion on hand and so used that), sliced
½ cup cooked peas
1 medium green pepper, finely chopped
1 small zucchini, finely chopped
1 tomato, peeled, seeded and diced
½ teaspoon oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons flour
½ cup milk
4 eggs

Sautee the sliced onion in the oil until softened. Add the peas, green pepper, and zucchini and cook slowly for 20 minutes. Add the tomato, oregano, salt and pepper and cook 3 or 4 minutes longer.

Stir the milk gradually into the flour until smooth, then add the eggs, salt and pepper to taste and beat for 5 minutes.

In a tiny frying pan (and note, they do mean “tiny” here—use the smallest you can find), put 2 tablespoons of this batter and cook slowly until set. Place 1 tablespoon of the vegetable mixture upon it and cover with 2 tablespoons of the egg batter. Turn carefully and cook gently on the other side. Remove to a warm platter and repeat until you have used all the batter and vegetables. (Ann’s note: we still had leftover vegetables so I guess we’ll just have to make some more omelettes!)

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