Carla's Corner: Making Simple Memorable

I decided to title my blog this week “Making Simple Memorable,” because I feel simple is too often underrated. We rave about Mom’s roast chicken, but when we go out to eat we look for something we can’t, or don’t, make at home. We go for the impressive-sounding dish and leave the simple stuff for the unadventurous. But can you really make a roast chicken like Mom? I’m telling you, it’s becoming a lost art. I think we need to reclaim the simple, the comforting, the YUMMY!

When a cook comes to my kitchen looking for a job, I will ask him/her to make an omelet. (I loved seeing this on Bravo's new show, Chef’s Academy.) If you can make an omelet perfectly, you’ve got some skills. I would also say that you have an appreciation for the seemingly simple. It’s not uncommon for me to order the roast chicken when I go to a restaurant for the first time, or a vanilla cone when visiting a new ice cream parlor. The question in my mind is, “Can you impress me with the basics?" It’s hard to hide behind simple.

So today folks, I’m taking you by the hand and we’re going to make an omelet step-by-step.

Step 1
Gather the necessary equipment by the stove: a nonstick 6-inch pan, a high-heat spatula, and a serving plate.


Step 2
Get all of your ingredients prepared—once the eggs go into the pan you only have about 3-4 minutes until the omelet hits the plate. Initially, keep your additions simple with herbs, tomatoes and shredded cheddar. Don’t forget the staples: salt, pepper and oil (canola, vegetable or olive oil). Crack 3 eggs into a bowl, beat, then season with salt and pepper. Cut the tomatoes up into a nice dice by using the outside of the tomato only. (You don't want the omelet to be watered down with the seeds and juice of the tomato.) Save the rest of the tomato to use in something else. Stir the herbs directly into the eggs.

Anything that goes into the omelet must be seasoned first. I know there are folks out there who are watching their sodium intake, so if you're not using salt, use another seasoning. If you’re adding meats and vegetables to your omelet, you must cook them first.

Step 3
Heat your pan over medium-high heat. If you’re right-handed, the handle should be pointed to the left. The opposite for left-handed folks (this will make sense later). Add oil to your pan, then pour in the beaten eggs. Working quickly, use the high heat spatula to scrape the bottom of the pan while stirring the eggs. If the eggs sit too long on the bottom they will brown and you don’t want that. At this point don't think omelet, think scrambled eggs. Keep moving the eggs around until you have softly scrambled eggs in the pan. Spread them out with the spatula, so they cover the bottom of the pan and reduce the heat. Again, let me stress, you don’t want brown eggs.

Step 4
Sprinkle the omelet ingredients down the center of the eggs—perpendicular to the handle. For those of us who took geometry ages ago, think of making the letter “T” with the handle and the ingredients.

Step 5
Finish the omelet by making a tri-fold. Using the spatula, fold the side closest to the handle over the filling. Now switch your grip on the pan by holding the handle with an underhand grasp. Move the pan over the plate and let the omelet slide out halfway. Angling the pan to help you, make the second fold on the plate as the omelet slides out of the pan. Voila! A perfectly folded omelet. Sprinkle some of the remaining ingredients on top as garnish.

If you need to make more than one omelet, don't go to a bigger pan. Trust me! It's faster and easier to crack as many eggs as you may need, then eyeball 3 eggs per omelet.

Step 6
Practice, practice, practice, but always enjoy!

Carla Hall was a finalist on Top Chef: Season 5 and runs Alchemy Caterers in Washington, D.C.

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