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Mastering the Art of the French Omelette

Once upon a time I watched a movie called Julie & Julia, about a food blogger and Julia Child and the food blogger's journey to cook all of the recipes in Mastering the Art of French Cooking in one year.  I laughed and I cried and I was reminded that I always wanted to write a cookbook.  

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Soon after first seeing this movie and watching all of the episodes of The French Chef I started my own food blog, as did half the world (not sure if the movie was a motivation or if the tipping point of blogging becoming an everyday thing happened simultaneously).  I started my blog because I received the advice from a food article about writing – before getting into a cookbook project one should be sure if they really actually like writing recipes.  Above this paragraph is my first attempt at food photography with my iPhone.  Below is a shot from my first recipe – French Onion Soup in the style of Julia Child with a Paprika Angel twist.  

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Meanwhile, since the start of my blog I've become a devotee of sorts to Julia Child, reading her letters to Avis Devoto, her biography My Life in France, watching her old TV programs, educating others about her revolutionary food, recipe, and teaching ways.  The one thing I never did however is own one of her cookbooks, specifically, Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  Until this week, I finally stopped fondling it on the shelf and actually brought it home.


The first thing I did when I got the book home was read the introduction and table of contents. Then I immediately turned to the egg chapter and read how to cook a french omelette, an art that has mystified me my entire cooking life.


Julia's instructions are clear, illustrated even, but the art of the omelette is still not as easy as one-two-three.  First you have to start with the right pan, cleaned the right way, with butter heated at just the right temperature.


Then you need eggs beaten just the right amount, the right grip on the pan and a fork in the other hand.  Then somewhere in there magic happens – as I have not quite figured out how to gather and flip the eggs in the pan into the perfect omelette shape without cheating.  But I have made quite a few attempts.


This one is overcooked as you can tell from the overly brown exterior.   


This one is only slightly better.  In niether case did I successfully make the shape in the pan.  I cheated and poured it onto the plate.


The lesson here that I am learning is that perfecting a french omelette is difficult and will take multiple tries.  It is also really hard to flip eggs in a pan.  What I have also learned is that the texture of a french omelette, just slightly cooked, still a little custardy in the middle with the spices and flavor throughout the eggs is far superior to the American version.   I am almost won over to the omelette again – and have definitely found a way to transfer flavor to eggs and not gain the horrible overcooked texture I find everytime I attempt the standard American omelette.  

As you can tell above, Odin approves, and my journey with Julia has just begun.

Fall 2013 tomato zucchini 102


French Omelette

2 eggs

pinch sea salt

pinch black pepper

herbs of your choice – no more than 2 tsp

1 tbsp butter

Preparation:  Crack eggs into bowl, add salt, pepper and herbs, beat with a wire wisk or fork until everything is just blended.

Step 1: If you have a gas stove turn on to medium heat and set pan on burner.  If you have an electric stove – turn heat to high and wait until the burner is red before you set the pan on it.

Step 2: Melt butter in the pan, moving the pan and the butter around until it coats the entire pan, and starts bubbling slightly but isn't yet brown.

Step 3: Pour eggs in the pan, stir them with a fork so that they cover the whole bottom of the pan, keep the pan moving so that the eggs do not burn.  Stir the top of the eggs with the fork.

Step 4: When the eggs have thickened start working the edges of the egg with the fork and gather it all in one side of the pan.  Again keep the pan moving so you do not overcook.

Step 5:  Flip the egg onto itself and immediately deposit on a plate.  (Good luck with this step)

Enjoy your french omelette.  I look forward to any comments or tips folks may have about flipping the omelette in the pan.  


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