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How to make an omelet

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There's this big mystique about omelets: People think they're some magically difficult thing that only a true gourmet chef can get right. Maybe it's because they're a part of classical French cooking. Bah. Omelets are easy.
Making Omlet
Believe it or not, I've been known to turn them out for 20 on a propane camp stove! (This is when my friends start referring to my pop-up trailer as Dana's House of Omelets.) You can learn this quickly. Really, you can.

1. First, you'll need a good pan. I prefer a 7-inch skillet with a heavy bottom, sloping sides and a non-stick surface. Mine has a non-stick surface that isn't anymore. I still make omelets in it; I just use a good shot of non-stick cooking spray. The heavy bottom and sloping sides are essential.

Have the filling ready. If you're using vegetables, saute them first. If you're using cheese, grate or slice it. If you're using up leftovers, warm them in the microwave.

Coat the omelet pan well with cooking spray if it doesn't have a good non-stick surface, and put it over medium-high heat.

2. While the skillet's heating, crack the eggs in a bowl and beat them with a fork. Two eggs are perfect for this size pan, but one or three will work. Don't add any ingredients; just mix them up.

3. The pan is hot enough when a drop of water sizzles right away. Add a tablespoon of oil or butter, slosh it around to cover the bottom, and then pour in the eggs, all at once. They should sizzle, too, and immediately start to set.

4. When the bottom layer of egg is set around the edges -- this should happen quite quickly -- lift the edge using a spatula and tip the pan to let the raw egg flow underneath. Do this all around the edges, until there's no more raw egg to run.

Turn the burner to the lowest heat if you have a gas stove; if it's electric, have a warm burner standing by, since electric elements don't cool off fast enough for this job.

5. Put your filling on one half of the omelet, cover it and let it sit over very low heat for a minute or two. Peek and see if the raw, shiny egg is gone from the top surface. If you used cheese, it should also be melted. If not, re-cover the pan and let it go another minute or two.

Omelet tips

The word "omelet" comes from a word meaning "to laminate," or build up in layers. And that's exactly what you do -- you let a layer of beaten egg cook, then you lift up the edges and tip the pan so the raw egg runs under the cooked part. You do this all around the edges so you build it up evenly. You don't just let the beaten egg lie there in the skillet and wait for it to cook through -- the bottom will be hopelessly overdone before the top is set.

When the omelet is done, slip a spatula under the half without the filling, fold it over, then lift the whole thing onto a plate. You can get fancy and tip the pan, letting the filling side of the omelet slide onto the plate, and folding the top over as you go, but this takes some practice.

This makes a single-serving omelet. I think it's a lot easier to make several omelets than to make one big one; omelets cook so fast that it's not that big a deal. And you can customize your omelets to each individual's taste. If you're making more than two or three omelets, set your oven to its very lowest heat and keep them warm in there.

California Omelet
I've had breakfast down near the waterfront in San Diego. This is what it tastes like.

Ingredients:
2 large eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
1/2 medium avocado
1/4 cup alfalfa sprouts

Directions:
1. Spray small skillet with non-stick cooking spray, then place over medium high heat.

2. When hot, add olive oil, then eggs and make omelet as detailed above.

3. Arrange cheese over half of omelet, turn burner to low and cover for two to three minutes, or until cheese is melted.

4. Arrange avocado over cheese, then place sprouts over avocado, fold omelet and serve.

Per serving: 10g carbs; 6.9g fiber; 28.8g protein; 55g fat;474mg cholesterol; 452mg sodium; 641 calories -- and as much potassium as a banana!

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