Thursday, May 27, 2010

Don and Julia

When we finally moved out of our Greenwich house in February, we started what is turning into a marathon of travel. And our first travel partners were Robert and Jaki, who were visiting from California and were checking out Sydney, Far North Queensland, the McLaren Vale, Tasmania and New Zealand. By the time they left to return home, I believe they were completing LK's and my sentences, especially the ones where we disagreed about which direction to drive.

Today we are testing the limits of their patience by visiting them at their home. We're resting up today to acclimate to yet another time zone (and, hopefully, give LK a chance to get rid of a cold she's fighting). And on Friday we begin another road trip. This time up the Pacific coast through northern California, Oregon, Washington and a little bit into Canada.

But that's all for later. This morning Jaki taught me a technique for making omelets that amazed me. I was so impressed I thought it was time to drop the travelogue stuff and do a cooking blog for a change.

First, I need to state my credentials. I am a good maker of egg dishes. I am not a great cook overall, but eggs are something I do well.

The reason is pretty simple. Back about 40 years ago - long before Julie discovered Julia - I became a passionate follower of Julia Child's cooking show for one year. Ben and Tom were both very young, and Mary and I were in university. We set our class schedules so one of us was always home with the boys.

And that is how I came to watch Julia religiously. It happened to be her egg year, in which she wheezed and puffed her way through how to make souffles, omelets, and just about anything else that required you to crack a shell or two. And, since egg dishes are generally cheap, these were perfect for our student budget. So I made eggs, over and over again. But not just any eggs - really fancy eggs, made the French way.

Flash forward, and even today I love to have people for breakfast or brunch where I can show off my skills. I always thought the trick was in the technique. To this day I remember Julia showing how you had to let the butter in the omelet pan bubble up, die down and start to turn light brown before you pour in the eggs. And with that knowledge - and modern non-stick pans - I love making omelets.

But this morning Jaki introduced me to a new way. And I may never fry an omelet again.

"Come put your omelet fixings in a bag," she called out. Thinking it was a joke, I wandered into the kitchen only to be handed a sealable plastic bag with my name written on it. Jaki dumped two eggs into the baggie, told me to squish the yolks up fairly well and then told me to choose from the fillings - finely chopped onions, peppers (capsicums to my Aussie mates), bits of ham, avocado, grated cheese, tabasco sauce.

The bag was then sealed and put in a large pot of boiling water for 13 minutes.

That's right. The omelet was made by boiling it in a bag.

And it came out perfectly, looking great (OK, mine had a tail, but I hadn't put the bag in straight). The vegetables tasted much better and fresher than when you fry them up and fill the omelet. And, even though there was melted cheese holding everything together in the middle, there wasn't a mound of butter on the outside so it had to be better for the cholesterol levels.

Awesome. It tasted great. It was healthier. And all four of our omelets were ready for the table at the same time. In fact you could get a dozen ready at the same time, instead of having to keep telling people, "They're eggs, so eat them now. Don't wait while I make more."

It may sound like an odd way to cook them, but definitely try it. You can make perfect omelets if you know how to boil water. My days of showing off are over, I guess, but what a good trade off.

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