Fast, healthy and easy to cook, omelettes make great family fare. And, if you don’t mind the odd bit of shell, the kids can help.
A happy, healthy dish that can be made anywhere. Well, providing you can get eggs and butter. My daughter still believes it’s filled with marshmallows. But as long as they shove it in their gobs, that’s fine by me.
Salt and black pepper
Knob salted butter
Handful chopped ham
Handful grated Cheddar
I remember asking the great Rowley Leigh, the man behind Kensington Place, how to make an omelette. After all, his good friend Simon Hopkinson declared him the master of this particular art.
‘Well,’ he said, in his usual wry drawl, ‘there was a lady called Madame Poulard of Normandy, who was famed for the brilliance of her omelettes. People would travel miles for just one bite of her fluffy, burnished beauties. And every person believed she had some secret, which turned the everyday into the exceptional. So one day, a Monsieur Viel turns up and asks her, “What do you do?”.
She answers, “I break some good eggs in a bowl, I beat them well, I put a good piece of butter in the pan, I throw the eggs into it, and I shake constantly.” That was it!’
A good omelette is more than mere eggs. You want a firm, slightly browned exterior which, when sliced open, unleashes a beautifully runny torrent of butter-scented bliss. At first, the children were sniffy. ‘Would you like an omelette?’ I’d ask. ‘What’s an omelette?’ came the invariable reply. Followed closely by the usual, ‘No thanks. Don’t like it.’
‘But you haven’t tasted it,’ I’d plead. ‘And it’s got cheese and eggs and butter and all the things you love in it.’ Silence. Then, ‘Has it got marshmallow in?’ I nodded, forced a smile and got to work.
Beat the eggs together with a firm hand. Don’t overdo it.
Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Heat the butter in a pan, swirl around until the surface is gleaming, pour out the excess and heat until it shimmers.
Add the eggs and leave alone for 30 seconds, or until the base is firm.
Whack the pan against the cooker, add the ham and cheese and, tilting the pan away from you, start folding one half towards the middle with a spatula.
Cook for another 15-30 seconds, so the top is still a little liquid, then flip out onto a plate and serve.
Feeds two children or one adult.
A heavy, non-stick pan with shallow, sloping sides is key. A little butter is all that’s needed to coat the pan and heat until there’s a slight haze (but no smoke). Then pour in three eggs, well-seasoned and not too heavily beaten, and leave the mixture for about 30 seconds to a minute; then start folding one half towards the middle (if using cheese and ham, add now), tilting the pan away from you.
Cook for another 15-30 seconds, and flip out onto a plate. The end result should resemble a large yellow cigar.
As ever with cooking, if the children get involved, they’re more likely to clear their plates. My daughter is a dab hand at cracking eggs, while my three-year-old boy takes pleasure in scattering grated cheese.