Friday, September 28, 2012

Mushroom Omelet

Last night I made a delicious mushroom omelet with the fresh shiitakes Gerard bought from Matt and Kristen Anderson at the Farmers Market—the same people who make the mushroom spread that, coincidentally, I highlighted below—and some fresh eggs I bought at the market as well.  My husband and friends consider me an “Omelet Queen,” but I just have a few secrets that make it easy to make a perfect omelet every time.

Secret # 1—I make an omelet per person, never a large one to be split up. Individual omelets are fast to make, easy to handle and easy to make as “baveuse” (the French-style) or well cooked as the individual eater prefers. 
Secret # 2—I use two pans, one for the fillers (not cheese, which would go into the omelet when half cooked so as to melt into the eggs) and a 9-inch nonstick pan for the eggs.

Secret # 3—I cook the fillers first. In this recipe we are using shiitake mushrooms and shallots, but I also make chopped ham or ham, onions, and green peppers for a western omelet, and so on.
Secret #4—Heat up the plates on which you will serve the omelets (I do this in the microwave) and serve each one as it is ready, encouraging the diner to start eating immediately. 

For two mushroom omelets:


3 tablespoons olive oil
3 shallots
1 pound fresh shiitake mushrooms
Salt, pepper
3 tablespoons cream
Eggs (per person, 2 jumbo, 3 medium, or 2.5 large eggs)
3 tablespoons butter


Peel and cut off the ends of the shallots. Slice them lengthwise so as to get long, thin slices.

Wipe the mushrooms with a damp cloth. (Do not soak, or they will get soggy). Cut off and discard the stems. Slice the mushrooms.

Heat a pan. Add the olive oil and allow to heat but not burn. Add the shallots. Sauté until they become translucent, and then add the mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper.  Stir and continue to cook until the mushrooms get a bit of color. Add the cream and sauté for two more minutes. Turn off the heat, cover and set aside.

Crack the eggs into a glass mixing bowl and beat them until they turn a pale yellow color. Add two tablespoons of water (one per omelet). Season to taste with salt and pepper. Then whisk vigorously.

Heat a heavy-bottomed, nonstick sauté pan over medium-low heat. Melt the butter in the omelet pan, and when hot enough to make a drop of water hiss, pour in half of the eggs. Don't stir! Let the eggs cook for up to a minute, or until the bottom starts to set. With a heat-resistant rubber spatula, gently push one edge of the egg into the center of the pan  while tilting the pan to allow the still-liquid egg to flow in underneath. Repeat with the other edges, until there's no liquid left (for well-done omelets) or until there are just a few spoonfuls of liquid left in the center for French style “baveuse”omelets.

Now spoon your filling over one half of the omelet. With your spatula, lift one edge of the egg and fold it across and over, so that the edges line up. Cook for another minute or so, but don't overcook or allow the egg to turn brown. Serve on the heated dish, and quickly make the second omelet. 

Pineapple-Coconut Tart

This wonderful recipe, inspired by one from pastry chef François Payard, has the flavor of piña colada and is one of our favorites. You need a tart pan that comes apart. I often use ready-made pie dough, but not for this tart. This sweet tart dough is one of the secrets of its success. 


Sweet Tart Dough
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon confectioner’s sugar
1¾ cups all-purpose flour
Pinch salt
9 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg

A 20-ounce can of pineapple chunks (packed in juice, not syrup)
7 tablespoons softened butter
1 cup sugar
2½ cups (200 grams) unsweetened dried, shredded coconut
2 large eggs
Pinch confectioner’s sugar


Preheat oven to 350°F.

Sift together the sugar, flour, and salt. Place butter in a food processor and process until soft (about 15 seconds). Pour dry ingredients over the butter, add the egg and process again, just until the dough forms a mass. Turn the dough onto the counter and divide into two parts. Shape into two discs and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for at least two hours, or up until 24 hours. (You will only use one if you are making just one tart, but you may freeze the other for up to a month and make any tart with it—including the chocolate tart for which I posted recipe months ago).

Bring dough to room temperature. Drain the pineapple in a strainer. Roll out the tart dough onto the tart pan. Scatter the pineapple pieces over  the tart shell and freeze for a few minutes.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, using a paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar on medium speed for one minute. Beat in the dried coconut and then each of the two eggs, one at a time. Spread the filling evenly over the pineapple in the tart shell.

Bake tart for 50 minutes or until top is golden brown. Cool completely on a wire rack. If not serving within two hours or so, refrigerate the tart. Bring it to room temperature and then dust with a bit of confectioner’s sugar before serving. 

Summer Vegetable Tian

This is an easy recipe to succeed with if you have delicious ingredients. If not, no matter what you do, it will not be good. The exact amounts are not important. You want to cut each of the vegetables (or fruit) into slices that are as equal in size as possible, so fairly large plum tomatoes and small eggplants will work with medium zucchini. Look for glossy, brightly colored, unblemished skins. 

Butter, for greasing the baking dish

2 small zucchini
1 small eggplant
3 medium tomatoes
Extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium leeks, or one medium onion, rinsed, chopped, drained and patted dry
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 or 3 sprigs fresh thyme
1/4 cup dry white wine


-          Cut a piece of parchment paper to the size of a ceramic baking dish. Set aside. Butter the inside of the dish and set aside. Preheat the oven to 375°F.

-          Remove the ends from the zucchini and eggplant and discard. Cut each crosswise into rounds about 1/8-inch thick.

-          Remove the stem ends from the tomatoes and discard. Cut each crosswise into rounds 1/8-inch thick.

-          Coat a small pan with two tablespoons of olive oil and heat until shimmering. Add the garlic and swirl to coat. Gently add the leeks, avoiding splashing. Cook, stirring frequently, until the leeks have begun to soften and the garlic has released its fragrance, approximately two minutes.

-          Carefully spread the leek-garlic mixture across the bottom of the baking dish. Sprinkle with salt and a few grindings of fresh black pepper; strip the leaves from one of the sprigs of thyme and sprinkle over the mixture.

-          Layer the zucchini, eggplant and tomato on top of the leek-garlic mixture, alternating a slice of tomato between every eggplant and zucchini slice, overlapping slightly. If working with a square or rectangular dish, layer in rows; if working with a circular or oval dish, work in fans from the center. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and splash with the wine. Sprinkle with salt and a few grindings of fresh black pepper; strip the leaves from the remaining thyme and sprinkle over the casserole.

-          Butter the cut parchment paper and carefully place, buttered side down, on top of the vegetables.

-          Bake for 45 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft but not mushy while the edges are nicely crisp and brown.

Cherry Tomatoes Confit over Pasta

Contributing to the great “tomato skin debate’, I , who like to eat tomatoes with their skins offer this dish, a favorite of mine, to be made exclusively in tomato season (now) when they are so flavorful. This dish takes time but no talent or fuss. The dish is low in calorie, low in fat and high in flavor. It is an easy-to-make almost fool-proof gourmet treat which should not be attempted if you need to peel the tomatoes first. It would be far too much work and the tomatoes would break down and get overcooked creating a sauce. So only for those who have no problems eating tomato skins – revel in the season with this lovely pasta dish. (Gerard hates tomato skins and threw his in the garbage and made himself fried eggs instead- but my brother and I loved it- and I will make it again for us next week while Gerard is back in France.)

2 lbs fresh red, yellow and/or orange cherry tomatoes (rinsed, halved and stems removed)
1½ teaspoons fine sea salt
3 - 4 turns of the grinder of fresh pepper
1 tablespoon of confectioner’s sugar
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
1½ tablespoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 225F
Coat the pan with the olive oil. Arranged the tomato halves face up on a baking sheet. Sprinkle lightly with the slat, pepper and sugar. Scatter the thyme leaves over the tomatoes. Roast in the oven for about one hour.
Turn the tomatoes basting them with the juice. Cook until they begin to melt down (probably about another hour, but check from time to time because this timing varies according to the exact size of the tomatoes. You want them to be moist and soft when done).

Remove from the oven and spoon over some freshly cooked pasta. Preserve any extras in the cooking juices in a plastic bowl or jar with lid. Use in salads, on sandwiches, or pasta or anywhere you want to add a rich tomato flavor (with skins).