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Homemade omelets satisfy dorm nostalgia

By Anthony Pesce

May 17, 2009 11:04 p.m.

For those of us no longer living in the dorms, making an omelet seems like an impossible feat of culinary agility and grace.

How did those dining hall whizzes churn out made-to-order omelets every morning, their spatulas and tongs gleaming under the fluorescent light as they stirred, chopped and sizzled to perfection?

My theory involves a small army of French elves in starched, white chef hats sitting under the countertop. But I digress.

You don’t need a freshman with a meal plan to enjoy an omelet. You can make one all by yourself, and you can do it better than the elves can. Trust me.

Start with three room-temperature eggs. Make sure to leave them out of the fridge for a bit because they play nicer with hot oil when they have less chill in the yolk.

In the meantime, you need to prepare the other ingredients.

Something our pointy-eared friends in the dining hall never did was actually cook the contents of the omelet prior to wrapping them in an egg blanket.

Sure, their technique makes a fine omelet. But without an angry mob of underclassmen silly enough to have enrolled in 8 a.m. classes waiting, you have time to make it truly excellent. It’s as much about the quality of the contents as it is about the eggs.

This week I decided to make an omelet with parsley, mushrooms, spinach and cheese.

Saute the mushrooms and spinach in a bit of oil until the spinach is cooked and wilted and the mushrooms are soft and brown. Don’t forget to season them with salt and pepper, and set them aside for later.

Next, chop up some fresh parsley. You would be surprised how much flavor a fresh herb can add to your breakfast ““ it really does make all the difference.

By now, your eggs are hopefully ready to go.

Crack them into a bowl and beat them with a fork or a small whisk until you can see small bubbles on top.

Toss in some grated sharp cheddar along with salt, pepper and a bit of chopped parsley, and give them a good stir.

Heat up a smaller, non-stick frying pan over medium heat and coat the bottom in a bit of extra virgin olive oil. If you feel like treating yourself to a few extra calories, you can go ahead and chuck your waistline out the kitchen window by adding a dollop of butter.

When the butter melts to a froth, go ahead and pour in your eggs.

Give them a few seconds to hang out in the pan and add in the mushrooms and spinach.

Now you want to incorporate the ingredients into the egg while cooking the mixture as evenly as possible.

Stir the eggs gently with a heat-resistant spatula, scraping the bottom and sides of the pan until the eggs are a bit chunky, but still wet.

When they are about halfway scrambled, pat them down until they are distributed evenly. Add on a bit more cheese, some more of the mushroom and spinach mixture, and a tad more parsley onto one side of the omelet.

When the eggs begin forming a solid mass, run your spatula around the edge of the pan and under the lip of the eggs to make sure they stay loose.

When the eggs firm up and begin to rise, the omelet is pretty much done. Take the spatula and flip over one edge onto the other, and slide it out of the pan and on to your plate.

If you have extra cheese and ingredients, you can put those on top, and you can eat it plain or with a bit of salsa.

I encourage you to avoid making the same omelet twice. Add in some sauteed onions and peppers, use brie or gouda cheese instead of cheddar, heck ““ throw in some mint or fennel or even chocolate chips.

Be adventurous. Eggs are a culinary blank canvas, and you don’t need to be an omelet elf in order to bend them to your will.

If you have a meal plan, Pesce would love to join you at the Hedrick omelet bar. E-mail him at [email protected]

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Anthony Pesce
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