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In the last two cooking classes we learned how to make delicious meals in fifteen minutes. With all this talk of quick meals, I started thinking about a staple that most people always have in their kitchen and how it is ideal for creating quick meals - the egg.
Eggs make a great centerpiece to any meal, be it breakfast, lunch or dinner. They are an inexpensive protein source and more importantly, they are delicious. I think that most people never really learned the basics of properly cooking eggs, so in this cooking class, we will cover how to make a French omelet, a perfectly poached egg and delightfully fluffy scrambled eggs. Let’s go break some eggs!
We start with a French omelet. When a cook goes into a French kitchen looking for a job, this is the test he or she is given. Why? Because there is truly an art to cooking a perfect French omelet and I am going to teach you that skill.
What makes a French omelet different from an American omelet is that a French omelet has absolutely no color. There is no caramelization, so the omelet is a glorious light yellow. The following will make one omelet, if you are cooking for more, simply multiply the recipe. Here is what you will need: three large eggs, one tablespoon of unsalted clarified butter (more on this in a minute), salt, pepper, rubber spatula and an eight inch sauté pan. Please use a non-Teflon pan for this technique. Teflon does not work when making a French omelet because the butter separates all over the pan instead of coating it evenly and you need that even layer of butter.
Speaking of butter, we use clarified butter in this recipe because it is without whey. It is the whey in butter that causes it to brown. You can find clarified butter in most markets, if you can’t find it, simply use high quality unsalted butter.
Let’s make an omelet!
Heat the butter in the sauté pan over low-medium heat. Your heat should be just a tad below medium. Let the pan heat for three minutes. While it is heating beat the three eggs in a bowl. Make sure they are VERY well beaten. After three minutes, slowly pour the eggs into the center of the pan. Let them cook for two minutes.
At this point move the pan to see if the omelet is moves around as one piece in the pan. Yes? Good. Now let it cook another two minutes.
After the two minutes have past, salt and pepper the omelet. Okay, now tip the pan away from you at a 45 degree angle and with a rubber spatula; carefully fold the omelet into thirds. Leave the folded omelet on the heat for another two minutes. Then slide onto a plate. Viola, a French omelet.
If you want to add cheese, add it after the first three minutes of cooking. Do you want vegetables? Cook those separately and add them hot right before you are ready to do the triple fold. You now know how to make a French omelet.
Next we will cover poaching. Poaching scares a lot of people, but with the right techniques, it is a simple and healthy way to serve eggs. For this recipe you will need a small sauce pan, one teaspoon white vinegar, slotted spoon and a cooking thermometer. Heat four cups of water and one teaspoon white vinegar over medium heat in the sauce pan.
Here is your first tip with poaching eggs; the water MUST be 180 degrees. That is why you will use your cooking thermometer to make sure that your water is at the ideal temperature. This temperature allows the eggs to cook thoroughly without becoming tough or breaking apart. Why the white vinegar? The vinegar will ensure that your yolks stay bright yellow.
Once the water is at 180, you will want to break an egg into a small bowl and then slide it from the bowl into the water. By breaking it into the bowl first, it keeps the egg together as you put it in the water. You can poach more than one egg at a time, but don’t over-crowd the pan. It will bring the heat of the water down and if the eggs touch, they will fuse together and become one.
Poach your eggs about two minutes, just until you see the white has completely cooked. Remove with the slotted spoon, letting any excess water drain off and place on a plate. Do NOT drain on towels. The egg can get stuck on the towel. There you have it, poached eggs.
The final egg dish we will cover is perfect scrambled eggs. This recipe is for one, so if you are making it for more, simply multiply the ingredients by the number of people you are serving. For this you will need: eight inch non-stick sauté pan, cooking spray, rubber spatula, three eggs, two tablespoons cream, salt, pepper and two tablespoons club soda.
Why the cream? It makes the eggs incredibly rich and creamy. The club soda? It gives the eggs a very fluffy texture.
Start by thoroughly coating your sauté pan with cooking spray. Heat pan over medium for two minutes. While it is heating beat together the three eggs, the cream and the club soda. After the pan is hot, pour in the eggs. As the eggs are cooking, stir them constantly with the rubber spatula.
You will cook them about three minutes, right before you remove the eggs from the pan, salt and pepper them. We wait until the end, because if you season them sooner, they become tough.
And there you have it, perfectly fluffy scrambled eggs.
As with the French omelet, you do not want any color on your scrambled eggs, they should be a nice light yellow with no brown. Once they brown, they will get rubbery. And nobody wants a rubbery egg.
Now that you have these techniques, create some dishes with the eggs. Think a French omelet paired with a green salad and a glass of chardonnay for dinner or eggs Benedict with the poached eggs for brunch. Scrambled eggs make an ideal late night snack. The possibilities are limitless. As with any technique or recipe, the most important component is the cook’s heart. The heart is what creates delicious.
Chef Ivan Flowers brings 25 years of fine cuisine experience to Top of The Market, San Diego. Prior to becoming Executive Chef at Top of The Market, Chef Flowers owned Fournos restaurant in Sedona, Arizona, named a top 25 restaurant in Arizona. He was also Executive Chef at L’Auberge de Sedona, the AAA Four-Diamond, Four Star award winning restaurant. Flowers has created extraordinary cuisine for some of the finest restaurants in Arizona, including T. Cooks at Scottsdale's Royal Palms Resort and the Phoenician's Mary Elaine's and Different Pointe of View.