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Posts Tagged ‘eggs’

Incredibly Edible

Yep, this is a picture of my kids in Paris. Paris, France. A couple years ago when my husband was between jobs and the kids were still young enough to miss school, we spent a winter and spring skiing and living in France. But my family’s travels are really not the point of this post. (Although I must say, there’s nothing like a couple months in a the markets and cafes of France to wean the little people off mac-n-cheese and chicken nuggets; so what if the kids discovered baguettes and chocolate chaude, France was still a turning point in my family’s culinary life.)

What is the point here: eggs. I think the French make the best eggs in the world. Ever since the first time I went to France, I’ve loved those little omelettes they serve in just about any cafe or brasserie. (And yes, I know Les Deux Magots is touristy, but to me it’s still the epitome to Parisian literary cafes — and they make damn good eggs.) It seems like the worst omelette in France is better than any of the overstuffed, football-like behemoths you get in American breakfast joints. The French versions are creamy, delicate, and just the perfect size. And believe me, I’ve tried to recreate them many, many times over the years, and always failed.

Then I went to cooking school and — voila! — les oeufs were the subject of our very first lesson. If we had done nothing but chat and drink wine for the rest of the course, I would have gotten my money’s worth. So now I am thrilled to say that French omelettes are not just for European family vacations anymore; they’ve become a large part of our weeknight dinner rotation. With a simple salad (and French bread, mais oui), they are about the perfect meal, even for finicky kids like mine. Yes, you have to cook them one at a time, but they only take about two minutes each.

Here’s how to make les oeufs parfaites commes des Francais:
First, get yourself an 8-inch nonstick pan and protect it with your life. I’m not normally a huge fan of nonstick pans, but for this purpose nonstick is crucial and will probably save your some tears. If your 8-inch pan is old or scratched, get a new one. It doesn’t have to be expensive because you won’t be using it for high-heat applications or anything else actually. Don’t use soap on it, avoid contact with all utensils except a rubber spatula, and store it wrapped in a dishtowel.


French Omelette

Ingredients:
3 large eggs (These will be much better if you have free range, organic, very fresh eggs.)
1 pat of butter (unsalted best)
1 tbs. shredded Gruyere cheese (Any kind of cheese you like will taste great, but this is traditional; you really only need about 4-5 strokes over a cheese grater’s worth here, so splurge on the cave-aged kind if you can find it.)
Salt & pepper
Chopped fresh herbs or herbes de Provence (optional)


Get all your ingredients out and ready to go; this is a very fast-moving process. Crack the eggs into a bowl and beat lightly with a fork; add a pinch of salt. Put the butter in the pan over medium heat. When the butter has melted and gone from foamy to not, pour the eggs into the pan.


Immediately begin stirring the eggs with a rubber spatula and keep stirring them the entire time. When very soft curds begin to form (about 1 minute), you can slow down, let your eggs rest briefly, and sprinkle them with the cheese, pepper, and herbs.


Lift the pan off the heat. The eggs should be very slightly solidified but still very moist. If there are bits that are completely uncooked, tilt the pan and let the egg run over to the edge to cook slightly. The goal here is to have the eggs just cooked but not browned on the bottom at all.


Tilt the pan over a (warmed is nice) plate and use your spatula to fold the top third over, then gently slide the omelette onto the plate, folding the last third back on itself to create a roll.


Eat immediately. (Just like most eggs, they taste crappy when they’re cold.)

Some variations: My son, being a bit of a pain, likes “stuff” in his omelettes (and who am I to turn down a kid’s request for vegetables?). So for him, I first chop and saute whatever veggies I’m using, then set them aside, proceed with the omelette-making, and add the stuff when I add the cheese (after I’m done with the stirring). We’ve made versions filled with diced red peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms, and carmelized onions. If there’s any ham or cooked bacon around, that’s obviously a nice addition, too. Me, I love them straight up.

Bon appetit!

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The other morning, while I was trying to coax breakfast orders out of my groggy six- and nine-year-olds, my husband said, “When I was a kid, unless it was my birthday and I got to pick out a box of cereal, my mother never once asked me what I wanted for breakfast.” Now that I think of it, neither did mine. Of course I want my kids to enjoy their food and therefore — at least theoretically — eat a balanced, healthy breakfast. But do I really have to be a short-order cook at 7 a.m.?

So I decided to just make something, put it in front of them, and see how it goes. So far my experiment — i.e. “it’s smoothies and boiled eggs today” — has gone over really well. In fact, I don’t even think the kids have noticed. 

I know breakfast, especially during the school week, can be a pain. But we all know how important it is. I think of breakfast as one of the only meals that I can completely control. I am not naive enough to think (for one minute) that the healthy lunches I’m packing every day are really exactly what my kids eat for lunch every day. For example, recently my son let it slip that he traded his (nitrate-free, organic turkey on whole wheat) sandwich for his buddy’s (GMO-laden, highly processed) Lunchables Ham & American Cracker Stackers. While the food evangelist in me cringes, the mom and former kid in me understands.

What about dinner? Well, as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I am a big believer in family dinner — for about ten thousand reasons. One of the main reasons is that when we eat together, I can make sure there’s a nice pile of sliced veggies and lean, hormone-free protein on the plate. And we do eat together as often as we can. Which is certainly not every night. This is not because I’ve got a good excuse like a high-powered job or long commute; it’s simply reality. We try, but we’re busy. I do pack healthy on-the-go meals for my kids when they have after-school activities. But the truth remains that breakfast is my best shot at consistently getting real food into my kids’ mouths.

So, now I’m in charge of breakfast, which is less painful than trying to communicate about breakfast choices with a cranky kid (“Sweetie, we have the same kind of yogurt we had yesterday.”) — but also requires me to come up with something to feed them every day. Because I’ve read several studies that say eating protein at breakfast reduces cravings for unhealthy sugars and fats later in the day, I cook a lot of eggs. One egg has about 6 grams of high-quality protein and is a naturally good source of vitamin D, something a lot of us are deficient in. Not all eggs are created equal though. If you can’t get farm-fresh eggs, go for the next best thing, which is organic eggs from truly free-roaming chickens. There is an unbelievable difference in taste as well as health benefits: Pastured eggs have been shown to contain far less cholesterol and saturated fat but more vitamins A and E, omega-3 fatty acids, and beta carotene. My kids like them almost hard-boiled, so I cook them for 9 minutes and serve them in darling little egg cups with chicken feet.

Another big hit has been PB & J’s. My son sits at a nut-free table at school, so this is his only chance to have what I think is close to a perfect meal. The key, of course, to a healthy PB & J is getting the right ingredients. First, you need organic (to ensure you’re not eating GMO wheat) whole wheat bread. We love Rudy’s Honey Sweet Whole Wheat (the Whole Foods version is also good and is less expensive). Peanut butter is a very personal thing, so go with the brand you and your kids love. Of course I recommend going organic and avoiding the brands that add weird oils, sugar, or any unpronounceable ingredients to an item that really should contain one thing: peanuts (okay and maybe a little salt). As for the jelly, in order to keep it healthy, watch the sugar. (My banana jam is fabulous, if I do say so myself, and is actually quite low in sugar.) Otherwise, I buy Crofters Just Fruit Spread, which has 8 grams per tablespoon, compared to Smucker’s Raspberry Jam, which has 12 g. Another great idea is to sub out the jam for chopped and slightly smooshed fresh berries. When they’re good (like right now), this is beyond delicious, and nobody misses the preserves.

Next post will be a couple great smoothie recipes, because those are another staple around here. Hey, What’s your kid’s favorite breakfast?

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