How do you like your eggs? Fried, Boiled, poached or scrambled? I’m torn between buttery marmite soldiers dipped into the oozing yolk of a soft-boiled egg or a simple poached egg atop a thick buttered slice of granary toast. Then again, an omelette is perfect for a lazy weekend brunch. A fridge inspection revealed I didn’t have enough eggs to make a frittata, but the bunch of kalian (a tenderstem Chinese brocolli kind of similar to purple sprouting) I’d bought in the market the day before was calling out to me. The solution was simple: a soufflé omelette.
What better way to ‘bulk’ up an omelette whilst retaining a light and airy feel. The trick is to separate the eggs and whisk up the whites, before gently folding in the yolks and other ingredients.
The base of the omelette is cooked in a frying pan with a knob or butter, but rather than flipping or folding, it is finished off under the grill so the top puffs up or ‘soufflés’. It’s so much simpler to make than a soufflé, but the airy and fluffy texture makes it more special than an ordinary omelette. I first discovered the technique when rooting through one of my mum’s Delia Smith cookbooks. Actually, I think I was trying to convince her that with 40 years of cooking experience under her belt she didn’t need to buy Delia’s ‘How to Cook Book One’ (she is an avid Delia fan as it was the classic ‘Complete Illustrated Cookery Course’ that taught her – and by default me – to cook Western dishes).
I stuffed mine with sautéed kailan, garlic, chilli, lemon zest and parmesan, but the combinations are endless, if not somewhat dependent on what is left in the cupboard. Purple spouting or courgettes would be good substitutes for the kailan and you could even stir in some flakes of hot-smoked salmon.
Other favourite fillings of mine include:
– Caramelised red onion, spinach and goat cheese
– Pan-fried garlic mushrooms, thyme and gruyere
– Crispy pancetta, asparagus and Tallegio
RECIPE: KAILAN (OR PURPLE SPROUTING), LEMON AND CHILLI SOUFFLE OMELETTE
Serves 2 for a lazy brunch or light supper
A knob of butter
A bunch of kalian or purple sprouting
2 cloves of finely chopped garlic
1 finely sliced dried chilli with seeds removed
The zest of one lemon
4 eggs, separated
50g of grated Parmigiano Reggiano
A sprinkling of salt and two grinds of pepper
Fry the kalian, garlic and dried chilli for three to four minutes until the kalian is just tender. Separate the eggs and whisk the whites until they form soft peaks (the peaks should droop over slightly when you like the whisk up). Next, whisk the egg yolks with the salt, pepper, lemon zest and parmesan and gently fold in the whites. I find that it helps if I fold in one tablespoon first to help loosen the mixture. Add in the filling and return the mix to the pan. Cook for a couple of minutes and then pop the pan under a hot grill until the omelette begins to brown and puff up. Serve with crusty bread and a simple salad of sliced tomatoes dressed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and enjoy…