Sunday Brunch (recipes and tips included)

Three weeks ago, on our first “real” day of Foods 1, we had “Breakfast Day,” meaning the topic covered and food cooked that day all fell into the category of “breakfast.” We learned how to flip an egg (I give a brief, simple how-to here) and how to properly whisk eggs for scrambled eggs and omelets—basically, if you think you’ve whisked them enough, keep going. The goal with whisking eggs is to make them light and fluffy by incorporating air into them. You don’t want any of the whites (clear bits) floating in the mix and you want to see lots and lots of little air bubbles—that’s when they’re perfect. Aside from some egg preparation and cooking techniques, we all got a chance to make crepes (which were later used to make cheese blintzes), and each kitchen was assigned a different breakfast item to prepare and cook for the class. My kitchen made cinnamon french toast, and other kitchens made cheese blintzes and pancakes, then we brought all of the dishes together and had a breakfast smorgasbord.

I must say, I make a pretty mean omelet and my crepes weren’t half bad either, and I’ve been eager to show off my breakfast cookery skills. I had a chance to do just that during my Labor Day Weekend visit to my cousin’s place in D.C., but I’d promised my parents I’d make them a big Sunday brunch as soon as we had a weekend at home. This past weekend was just that, and yesterday, I planned out a big Sunday brunch of made-to-order omelets and crepes filled with fresh whipped cream and ripe strawberries. Now, making the omelets was a little tricky, because in class, we used the salamander (essentially, a broiler), but I was just using the broiler setting in my oven at home. The crepes were pretty easy to do, though it took me a little while to master the technique of flipping them without tearing them (because they’re so thin, they’re pretty fragile). Because everything was basically done one at a time (make one omelet, then another; make one crepe, then another), I didn’t really get a chance to sit down and eat with my parents, and it was a long brunch, but I’d still call it a success (especially since everything was so delicious).

Sauteing mushrooms and onions for my dad’s omelet…and making a mess on the counter while I do so.

Now, first things first: omelets. As I said above, the keys to a great omelet are to properly whisk the eggs and to not burn or brown the eggs as they’re cooking. I kind of failed on that second key point (though I’m still including a picture), but I was adapting to an oven broiler as opposed to a salamander and figuring out the right amount of heat for our stove (which is different than the restaurant-grade stoves we use for class). Omelets can be simple and just be filled with cheese and maybe ham or sausage, but you can stuff them with just about anything you want. My mom requested tomatoes, spinach, and cheddar cheese. My dad was eager to eat an omelet stuffed with mushrooms, onions, and cheddar cheese. I opted for spinach, onion, and cheddar cheese. (Guess we all really like cheddar cheese…) Whatever you choose to fill the omelet with won’t cook very long in the egg, so I recommend lightly sauteing those ingredients first (especially harder ingredients, like onions and peppers)—sauteing helps soften and release some of the flavor of the ingredients. Now, onto some omelet-making instructions…

Turn on the broiler in your oven. Heat a medium skillet (nonstick is best) over medium high heat. Add a little bit of butter (about a tsp.) to the pan, and once it’s melted, add your omelet ingredients (the stuff you’re putting in the omelet) to the pan and saute lightly for a few minutes. Remove the ingredients from the pan and set aside. Wipe the pan out and return to medium-high heat. Melt a little butter in the pan, then add the well-whisked egg to the pan. Gently push the edges of the egg inward and let the still uncooked, wet egg pool out into the edges of the pan (this helps cook more of the egg, and do it faster). Do this just a few times (but not too many times, because then you’ll just end up with gently scrambled eggs…and yes, next time I do a tutorial in a post, I’ll include pictures), until the middle of the egg is wet looking, but slightly cooked underneath. Add the filler ingredients (what you sauteed earlier), then place in the oven, under the broiler, for a minute or two, until the top looks cooked.

Mmmm…look at all that melted cheese.

Now, when you pull the skillet out of the oven (using an oven mitt, because that handle will be HOT), set it on a flat surface. You can fold the omelet in half, then plate it, or you can make it a little nicer and fold it twice—fold one side to the middle and then the other to the middle, slightly overtop of the already folded side. Flip over onto serving plate, so that the folds are on the bottom. If you want a pretty plate, top the omelet with some of the ingredients used to stuff it. My presentation is not very pretty, but to be honest, I had already made two omelets and I was starving, so I took the picture as fast as I could. Big mistake for a food blogger, but oh well.

If you do it right, your omelet won’t be brown like mine. It’ll be golden-yellow. Also, I should have sprinkled some spinach on top for color. Alas and alack. For once, beating my hunger was more important than taking a great picture.

So, now that the omelets are done, it’s time for crepes. Crepes can be sweet or savory, and kind of like omelets, there’s a lot you can fill them with. My favorites include berries and fresh whipped cream, as well as bananas and Nutella, but you can fill them with a variety of other ingredients. The recipe I’m sharing comes from my culinary arts class textbook, On Cooking, and, though I halved the recipe (going from 30 to 15), I still managed to get about 20 crepes (plus one or two rejects). Crepes are typically cooked in a special crepe pan, but a small, nonstick skillet will work just as well. They’re a little tricky to flip, and I recommend using a spatula and having a fork on hand in case you need something small to help with flipping. Oh, and sorry for the measurements in ounces. Just weigh the ingredients on a kitchen scale (but be sure to weigh whatever it is you place the dry ingredients on/in first, so you can figure that out of the total weight).

Yields: Approx. 20 
Prep time: 30 minutes to an hour
Cooking time: 1-3 minutes per crepe
Difficulty: Moderate

Ingredients

  • 3 whole eggs
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 6 fl. oz water
  • 9 fl. oz. milk
  • 3 oz. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 7 oz. flour
  • 2.5 oz. unsalted butter, melted
  • Butter (for the skillet)

Directions
Whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, water, and milk, then add the sugar, salt and flour, and whisk together. Stir in the melted butter (after you’ve let it cool just a bit). Cover and set aside to rest for 30 minutes to an hour before cooking.
Heat a small skillet over medium high heat. Add just a little bit of butter (seriously, a little bit goes a long way; if you add too much, it’ll make your crepes greasy). Pour in a spoonful of batter (use a large serving spoon) and swirl it around in the pan to coat the bottom evenly. Don’t pour in too much batter—you aren’t making pancakes, you’re making thin crepes, so you don’t need much. Cook until the crepe is set, and looks slightly dry around the edges and in the middle. Carefully flip over and cook until the bottom is lightly browned. Remove from pan. Serve hot or let it cool first, and serve with whatever fillings you want. Repeat this process until all of the batter is used up (don’t chill or freeze the batter, then try to use it later). Crepes can be kept briefly in a warm oven while you continue to cook more. Leftover crepes can also be stored in the fridge for 2 or 3 days or frozen for a few weeks.

So that’s my lengthy brunch post. Despite it being a long and busy morning, the food was definitely worth it. Savory omelets, perfectly fluffy and hot, plus sweet, warm crepes filled with fresh whipped cream and ripe strawberries….breakfast doesn’t get much better than that.

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