Friday, 17 January 2014

Are You a Good Egg?

There are many times in my life when I have found myself truly in awe of nature. The complexity of a structure versus the simplicity of design.
There is nothing simple about an egg. It is sophisticated, intelligently packaged, a highly portable, a highly nutritious, protein fix. A perfect, natural occurrence without interference by man! (Not much anyway) So I have a great love of this very versatile product.

I used to keep chickens and would be so excited when I found a new laid egg, still warm. Now there are no chickens, but I search out the best free range eggs available locally.

When I lived in Sydney, I would spend Friday evenings after work browsing the shops for an hour or so, then I would meet up with my husband and we would head to our favourite little restaurant in a basement in Albion Street. It was usually very full by the time we arrived, but being regulars we would be guaranteed a seat. The interior was basic, subdued lighting, red walls, wooden tables, a blackboard menu, great atmosphere and cheap!

We always ordered a carafe of house red or white and we would sit back and watch the waiters take orders, serve tables and wait for our food to arrive. Service was fast, food simple, fresh and delicious.

We only ever ordered Omelette and salad, my favourites being "Omelet fine herbe" or "Savoyarde", cheese and potato. Every omelette was beautifully made, elegantly served with crusty baguette and a side of vinaigrette to splash on the salad.
One of the house specialities was Bouillabaisse. This arrived in large white bowls with a mound of steaming mussels, succulent fish pieces and a mild but superbly seasoned, sauce. And it was all served with a minimum of fuss and maximum pride. 

La Guillotine in inner city Sydney, began operating in late 1960's and is still operating as a restaurant. They have moved premises, around the corner from the original, but the red walls remain and the omelettes are the same, although not served as the traditional folded one. They have extended the menu but omelettes are still the hero on the menu.
Recently, a relative called in for lunch at La Guillotine and commented that "it was a nice experience, not trying to be trendy, basic food but good quality" "breath of fresh air"!

Photograph by Ian Drummond

I haven't been to Sydney for a while, but I am can guarantee that on my next trip I will make a heading back to La Guillotine. The restaurant is now located at 518 Kent Street, Sydney.

So where is this all leading? - you guessed it, omelettes.

A few people have told me that they lack confidence in making an omelet , because it always turns out like scrambled egg. Now you may think it is rather funny, that some people can't make an omelette, because to me there is nothing simpler if you follow the rules. If you are one of those people that tremble at the thought of making one then read on, this is classic French cooking.

Omelet aux Fines Herbes

For each person allow:
2 - 3  eggs 
2 tablespoons of mixed herbs - parsley, tarragon, chervil (you can just use parsley)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon water
knob of butter or tablespoon of oil

Warm a non stick frypan on low heat until it is hot, add a small knob of butter and swish it around the pan, making sure it does not burn.

Whip eggs very slightly just to break the yolks, add a tablespoon of water

Add eggs to the pan and immediately begin to stir the eggs with a fork while shaking the pan at the same time. This will ensure the eggs don't stick. Keep stirring the uncooked bits of the egg so that they begin to set. Make sure the pan is covered with egg and there are 'no gaps'. 

Once the eggs have started to set, stop shaking  and stirring.

Season with salt and pepper, add your filling - herbs, quickly. This last bit needs to be done very quickly so the omelette does not over cook.

Tilt the pan away from you and allow the omelet to slide up the side of the pan. Now using your fork, fold this part over the filling, fold the opposite edge over as well. Slide the omelet onto a plate, making sure that the 'fold' is underneath or seam side down. Add a sprinkling of parsley or a sprig to decorate and serve immediately with a green salad and some fresh bread to mop up the runny bits! Or pan fry cubes of potato with a little lemon zest and season with salt.
Now tell me, how easy is this?

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