Omelette with Artichoke

We love artichokes! It’s such fun to serve a steamed artichoke with a nice dipping sauce made of mayonnaise, whole grain mustard and some lemon juice. Thoroughly relaxing food. And when we have time on our hands, we prepare them à la barigoule.
Recently we wrote about la Cuisine Niçoise d’Hélène Barale. In this very informative book about the traditional food of Nice, you will find a recipe for an omelette with artichokes. We liked the idea, did our shopping and followed the instructions. Unfortunately, sorry Madame Barale!, we were not too happy with the result. The recipe suggests frying the omelette on medium heat on both sides. We think that’s a bit too much: in our case the flavours of the fried egg overwhelmed the subtle taste of the onion, artichoke and garlic. We tweaked the recipe (see below) but that shouldn’t stop you from buying the book and preparing the original.

The taste of the omelette is sweet thanks to cynarine, an intriguing chemical especially found in the leaves of the artichoke. Cynarine will enhance even the slightest trace of sweetness, in this case the sweetness of the onions and the cooked garlic. The taste of the artichoke is also nutty and bitter in a gentle way, which works really well with the eggs.

Wine Pairing

The cynarine will also enhance any sweetness in your wine, so you need a bone-dry, crisp, unoaked white wine with clear, present acidity. For instance a Sauvignon Blanc, Grüner Veltliner or Albariño.

What You Need

  • 1 Large Artichoke
  • 1 Shallot
  • 1 Garlic Clove
  • 2 Eggs
  • Olive Oil
  • Black Pepper

What You Do

Clean the artichoke, steam for 45 minutes depending on the size and let cool. Use a spoon to remove the ‘meat’ from the leaves (bracts) of the artichokes. Use a fork to make a chunky mash of the heart. Set aside.
Chop the shallot. Warm a heavy iron skillet, add olive oil and gently fry the shallot. Add the artichoke, mix and leave for 10 minutes on low heat. Mash the cooked garlic and add to the mixture. Add some black pepper. Beat two eggs, a bit longer than usual. Add the eggs to the mixture and allow to set, very slowly, making sure the omelette is baveuse (moist, warm and soft).

La Cuisine Niçoise

There are not many cities that can rightfully claim to have their own ‘cuisine’. The French city of Nice is one of them. Just think about Salade Niçoise, Bagna Caude, Tourte aux Blettes and Socca. Strongly influenced by Italian cuisine it is flavourful, rich and varied.

Hélène Barale was owner and chef of the restaurant Chez Hélène in the Rue Beaumont, number 39 in Nice. Here she prepared delicious, regional and traditional food. Ravioli à la Niçoise, gnocchi’s, panisses, pissaladière, ragout de mouton, loup grillé, pattissoun, everything freshly cooked in her kitchen for 150 guests per day.

Three examples

Panisses are made with chickpea flour, water, salt and olive oil. You make a hot dough, allow it to cool and set, then cut it into chips and deep fry. Serve with black pepper. Delicious.
Obviously you also want to know what Pattissoun is! If you search for it, you will find references to a nicely shaped squash, but Hélène Barale’s recipe is for a cake. She makes it with flour, yeast, sugar, raisins, orange zest, rum and eau de fleurs d’oranger (orange flower water). Sounds absolutely lovely.
Another very tasty recipe is for an omelette with artichokes. It’s a combination of onions, garlic, artichoke and eggs. Straightforward recipe, yummy result.

Retirement

She retired at the age of 88 in 2004. For a few years the restaurant was a museum, but it is now closed. Thankfully her son Paule Laudon wrote down 106 recipes of his mother’s cuisine. His style is very clear so it’s not too difficult to prepare the dishes. The book looks like a cahier and it is edited with much love and care. It comes with an interesting introduction by Paule Laudon, the text of Nissa La Bella, which is the unofficial anthem of the city (O la miéu bella Nissa/Regina de li flou/Li tiéu viehi taulissa/Iéu canterai toujou/etcetera, meaning something like O my beautiful Nice/Queen of all flowers/Your old rooftops/I will always sing of you/etcetera) and pictures of the restaurant. The book does not contain pictures of the dishes.

La cuisine Niçoise d’Hélène Barale (in French only) was first published in 2006 and is now in its 11th edition. You can buy it via the usual channels and the French publisher for € 15,90.

Omelet with Winter Truffle

Black truffles are harvested from November to March, so be extravagant and buy one before the season ends. When buying a truffle, please ask if it’s okay to smell them, because the aroma will tell you everything you need to know about the quality.
Black truffles combine really well with a warm purée of potatoes, with scallops, risotto and everything eggs. We used our truffle to make one of the simplest and tastiest truffle dishes ever: an omelet with truffle and Parmesan cheese.
If you store a black truffle for a day or so, then please store it in a small box with some rice and an egg. The rice will prevent the truffle of becoming wet and the egg will embrace the aromas of the truffle and become a treat in its own right.

Wine Pairing

A not too complex white wine goes very well with this omelet, best would be a classic Pinot Blanc or Riesling from the Alsace region (for instance produced by Kuentz-Bas). Think fruity aromas, floral characteristics, minerality and a touch of acidity and sweetness.

What You Need

  • 2 Eggs
  • Butter
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • 10 grams or (budget permitting) more Black Truffle
  • White Pepper

What You Do

Clean the truffle if necessary. Take a fairly small iron skillet and make sure the pan is warm through and through but not hot. Using a fork (a spoon is even better) whisk the two eggs together. Add butter to the pan and wait until it is melted. It should not change colour or sizzle. An omelet should not be fried; the bottom must remain yellow. Add the whisked egg to the pan and wait until the egg is beginning to set. Check the consistency with your fingers. There is no alternative to baveuse! Take your time.
Serve the omelet on a warm dish with some freshly grated Parmesan cheese, white pepper and grated black truffle.

Cèpes à la Bordelaise

What’s In A Name?

Porcino, Steinpilz, Eekhoorntjesbrood, Cèpe de Bordeaux, Penny Bun, Seta (de) Calabaza, Herrenpilz: a diverse range of beautiful names referring to one of the tastiest and most common mushrooms (in Europe): the Boletus Edulis.

The French name refers to the city of Bordeaux and is linked to the classic dish Cèpes à la Bordelaise. It brings out the texture and the flavours perfectly. The standard ingredients of the dish are cèpes, (fresh of course, the dried version can’t be compared to the real, fresh mushroom), olive oil, pepper, shallot and parsley. Some people add breadcrumbs (which doesn’t add any flavour so forget about it).

The interesting aspect of the Bordelaise is that the caps and stalks are separated. The caps are cooked for some 15 minutes; the chopped stalks for 5 minutes. This is a really clever approach because the caps become very tasteful and moist, while the chopped stalks add volume and texture. The downside (we think) is that the shape of the mushroom is gone. That’s why we prefer to slice the mushroom vertically in six parts. Two slices of the side of the cap, two centres (stalk with cap) and two slices of stalk (to make the stalk-with-cap slices more even). We chop the last two slices.

Originally Cèpes à la Bordelaise is a starter, but we prefer to combine it, for instance with an omelet as a starter or with beef or fillet of deer as a main course.

Wine Pairing

This very much depends on how you serve your Cèpes à la Bordelaise. If served as a starter we could imagine a glass of Bordeaux (quelle surprise!). In general a full bodied red wine with gently fruit and present tannins will be a great choice.
With our omelet we drank a glass of Bodegas Mocén Selección Especial made from verdejo grapes. This Spanish wine has big aromas, for instance ripe tropical fruit. In the mouth it is fresh, fruity, round and balanced. Not too complex.
With our beef we enjoyed a classic Medoc: Château Moulin de Taffard with aromas and flavours of red fruit. It is well balanced, with rich, smooth tannins.

What You Need

  • For the Cèpes à la Bordelaise
    • 200 gram Cèpes (or 300 gram if you serve it as a starter)
    • Olive Oil
    • One Shallot
    • Parsley
    • Black Pepper
  • For the omelet
    • Two eggs
    • Parmesan Cheese
    • Butter
  • For the Beef
    • 150 gram of excellent Beef (we served Rib Eye)
    • Olive Oil

What You Do (Cèpes à la Bordelaise)

Clean the mushrooms and slice. Chop the remainder of the stalks. Chop the shallot and the parsley. Add olive oil to a relatively hot heavy iron skillet. Reduce the heat and fry the caps and centre slices of the mushrooms for 5 minutes. Turn and fry for another 5 minutes. Add the chopped stalks and the shallot. Cook on medium heat for 5 minutes. Stir gently, making sure the chopped stalks are nicely coloured. Add chopped parsley, stir and add fresh black pepper. Serve on a warm plate.

What You Do (Omelet)

Whisk the two eggs and add a bit of fresh Parmesan Cheese. Warm a very small heavy iron pan (or a non stick pan if that’s what you prefer) add the mixture and let it set on low heat. This could easily take 10-15 minutes. The omelet must be moist (baveuse) and the bottom may not be colored.
Quarter the omelet and serve with the Cèpes à la Bordelaise.

What You Do (Beef)

Transfer the beef from the refrigerator a few hours (not 30 minutes, that’s too short) before you start cooking. It’s important that the meat is at room temperature. Heat a heavy iron skillet, add olive oil and fry quickly. Let rest. Slice the beef and serve on top of the Cèpes à la Bordelaise.

Tamagoyaki (Japanese Omelette)

Rolled Omelette

Tamagoyaki is best described as a Japanese rolled omelette and it is often served for breakfast or included in a bento box. It’s made by rolling multiple thin layers of egg; let’s say the concept of a Swiss roll but with much thinner layers. Making Tamagoyaki requires years of practice and a special rectangular pan (a makiyakinabe) using chopsticks only. But we, as western cooks with little patience, we use a round small, non-stick pan and two spatulas. The result is very tasty and it will make you think of a real Tamagoyaki.

The ingredients are a bit of a puzzle. Eggs, soy sauce and mirin for sure. Other ingredients include sugar (for a sweet version), sake and dashi (for a savoury version called Dashimaki Tamago).

The technique of rolling thin layers of egg is a great way of making an omelette. Feel free to replace the Japanese ingredients with some chicken stock and finely grated Parmesan cheese. You will love it!

Wine Pairing

Tamagoyaki comes with some umami thanks to the dashi and a touch of sweetness. Enjoy with a sparkling wine, for instance a Crémant de Bourgogne. Our choice was a glass of Blanc de Blanc Brut made by Vitteaut Alberti. Its aromas are fresh and flowery; the flavours suggest honey and pear. You could also serve a dry Riesling or Sylvaner.
Serving sake is also a good idea; our choice would be a Ginjo-Shu because of its delicate and light flavour.

What You Need

  • 2 Eggs
  • 2 Tablespoons of (Light) Dashi
  • 1 Teaspoon of Mirin
  • 1 Teaspoon of Light Soy Sauce
  • Oil

What You Do

Heat a small non-stick pan (10 -15 centimetre) until warm but not hot. Whisk the eggs, add dashi and mirin. Use kitchen paper soaked with oil to coat the pan. Use a (small) sauce spoon to add a bit of the mixture. Make sure you can repeat this as often as possible, so it has to be a really thin layer of egg. When nearly set, roll it up and move to the side. Coat the pan with oil. Add some of the mixture, make sure it connects to the roll, wait until nearly set and roll it up. Repeat until the mixture is used up. The tamagoyaki should be yellow with perhaps a touch of golden brown.
When done, feel free to shape the tamagoyaki by rolling it in a bamboo sushi mat. Slice and serve, perhaps with some grated daikon on the side.

Omelet with Black (Winter) Truffle

Omelet with Black (Winter) Truffle with a glass of Kuentz-Bas Alsa­ce Pi­not Blanc

It’s mid March so still some time left to enjoy tasty winter food. Treat yourself to Choucroute with pork, sausage and Confit of Duck. Or pumpkin soup with ginger and jus de truffes.
Talking about truffles, black truffles are harvested from November to March, so be extravagant and buy one before the season closes. The one we bought was 17.6 grams, so you could imagine how happy we were to find it. When buying truffle, please ask if it’s okay to smell them, because the aroma will tell you everything you need to know about the quality.
Black truffle combines really well with warm purée of potatoes, risotto and egg.
Hint: if you need to store a black truffle for a day or so, please store it in a small box with some rice and an egg. The rice will prevent the truffle of becoming too wet and the egg will embrace the aromas of the truffle and become a treat in its own right.
We used our truffle to make one of the simplest and tastiest truffle dishes ever: an omelet with truffle and Parmesan cheese.

A white wine goes very well with this omelet, best would be a classic Pinot Blanc or Riesling from the Alsace region (for instance Kuentz-Bas AOC Alsa­ce Pi­not Blanc Tra­di­ti­on). Think fruity aromas, floral characteristics, minerality and a touch of sweetness. If you want to drink a red wine, then go for a blend like Feteasca Neagra with Syrah as produced by Radacini from Moldavia. Sounds a bit exotic, so if you can’t find it go for a fruity (ripe cherry, plum), spicy red wine with a velvety structure; serve it slightly cooled.

Here is what you need

  • 2 Eggs
  • Butter
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • 10 grams or (budget permitting) more Black Truffle
  • White Pepper

Clean the truffle if necessary. Take a fairly small iron skillet and make sure the pan is warm through and through but not hot. Using a fork (a spoon is even better) whisk the two eggs together. Add butter to the pan and wait until it is melted. It should not change colour or sizzle. An omelet should not be fried; the bottom must remain yellow. Add the whisked egg to the pan and wait until the egg is beginning to set. Check the consistency with your fingers. There is no alternative to baveuse! Take your time.
Serve the omelet on warm dishes with some freshly grated Parmesan cheese, white pepper and grated black truffle.

Omelet with Oyster Mushrooms and Nasturtium

Try This at Home

Oyster mushrooms were among the first mushrooms to be cultivated. They grow very well on straw so great to grow at home. See pictures!
The vast majority of oyster mushrooms are grey, but we have seen and tasted the yellow and sensational pink oyster mushroom. Since you can eat oyster mushrooms raw, the pink and yellow variety is great in a salad. Oyster mushrooms can be a bit watery, which impacts the taste. A pity because the taste is delicate and soft anyway. Not a mushroom to combine with more powerful mushrooms like shiitake. Oyster mushrooms cook quickly, so great to use in a stir-fry or a soup. You can try using them in a stew, but make sure your chunks are not too small.

Wine pairing

A crisp, floral white wine goes very well with this omelet. Best would be a Pinot Grigio or a combination of Chardonnay and Viognier.

What You Need

  • 250 grams Oyster mushroom
  • 3 Eggs
  • 1 Spring Onion
  • Butter
  • Olive Oil
  • Black Pepper
  • Chives
  • Nasturtium

What You Do

Harvest your oyster mushrooms or buy really fresh and tasty ones. Tear the mushroom into smaller but not too small chunks. Slice the spring onion in small rings. Fry the oyster mushrooms in olive oil and butter for 3 minutes or so until slightly cooked. Add the white of the spring onion. Perhaps you want to add some butter to the pan. Now make sure the pan is nice and hot. Whisk the eggs well, add the green of the spring onion and add to the pan. After a few seconds reduce the heat to very low and wait 5 to 10 minutes until the egg is nearly set. Take your time but keep an eye on the surface and the consistency. Check with your fingers if the omelet is beginning to set. A good omelet must be baveuse so Timing is All. There is no alternative to baveuse!
Serve the omelet on warm dishes with black pepper, chives and nasturtium (not just for fun, also for the peppery taste of the nasturtium leaves).