Friday, January 15, 2010

Cleo Coyle's Guest: Julia Child on the Perfect Omelette

Eggs, eggs, eggs, eggs... I keep hearing the chant in my head like Monty Python's Spam.
Hey, aren't eggs and Spam supposed to go together? A few winters ago, I remember masticating slices of that little canned ham (with my eggs). I had a head cold at the time. Snow was falling, the temp was south of zero, and I couldn't get to the store. Everyone has Spam in their cupboards in case of nuclear winter, right? Well, I did. So I broke it out of its cute little tin and tried it on toast with a poached egg. Delicious! I could not believe it! What was I thinking not eating Spam all my life?! Then my head cold cleared up and I tried it again. Oh, god. It tasted like cat food.

Cleo's Spam Warning
a la Andy Warhol.

(Click arrow below to see Cleo drunk
on digital art toys...)

So anyway, a few days ago, the R on my laptop's keyboard stopped working (I'm typing this on a borrowed computer); and the day before that my digital camera died (batteries that work might help); and I have this writing deadline thing (I write for a living, in case you haven't noticed my book covers all over this blog, lol...). So that brings me to the need to call on today's guest blogger....

The one and only Julia Child!

Isn't she great? Okay, so she's not actually appearing here because she's no longer living. But wouldn't it be keen if she could give us culinary advice from the afterlife?

One of my two mystery series (The Haunted Bookshop Mysteries) has a dead private eye for a character, and he routinely annoys a bookshop owner with advice on solving crimes. Wouldn't it be equally keen to have Julia come back and whisper her advice in our ears: "That's a little too long in the pan, dear." Or... "Just flip the darn thing and if it falls on the floor, scoop it up and try again."

Well, thanks to the written word, we do still have Julia with us, don't we? And thanks to YouTube, we have a digitally recorded memory of her younger self. So...

In honor of Janel G.'s wonderfully classic Iron Chef suggested ingredient, the egg...I give you Julia on making the perfect French flat (or tossed) omelette.

All kidding aside. It is in the handling and mastering of the simplest ingredients that top chefs judge whether a cook truly does have the right stuff...

Julia Child's French Flat (or "Tossed") Omelette

(Just click the arrow in the window below
to start the video...)

Servings - 1

2-3 large eggs (no more!)
a splash of water
salt and pepper to taste
1-2 tablespoons of butter
Non-stick frying pan (10 inches suggested)

Break the eggs into a bowl (no more than 3 eggs or the magic of that toss will be lost, trust me!), add a splash of water, salt and pepper, and whisk lightly with a fork. Melt butter in your non-stick pan, swirling to coat the bottom (do not let burn).
Add the eggs, once again swirling to evenly coat the bottom of your pan then follow Julia's video technique above. A nice, final trick is to rub a bit of butter over the plated omelette, letting those steaming hot eggs melt the delicious essence of sweet cream, which will give your masterpiece a nice sheen--and impress you buds with a final buttery lusciousness (your taste buds, that is).

JC SAYS: "Remember that a tossed omelette goes very fast--really 20 seconds--far, far less time than it takes to read all the directions here..."
~Julia Child, The Way to Cook

CC SAYS: Of course, I agree. Over cooking eggs is a bigger mistake than under cooking them. The best advice I ever received was from my late father-in-law who told me, "You want to take the eggs out of the pan right before you think they're done."
~Cleo Coyle, this blog!

Omelette Variations from The Way to Cook...

Cheese - For a cheese omelette, Julia suggests that you spread 2 tablespoons of grated cheese over the eggs after they have coagulated on the bottom of the pan but before you begin jerking the pan around. Julia likes Swiss, but I tend to use freshly grated Queso Blanco, Monterey Jack, or mozzarella. Don't use more than 2 T of cheese or you'll have trouble manipulating the egg.

Herbs - You can mix a tablespoon of minced herbs into your eggs before you begin to cook them. Julia suggests parsley alone or parsley and chives, chervil, or tarragon. I loved Riley's recipe (scroll down to see Thursday's post) of using dill and smoked salmon with shirred eggs. Bits of smoked salmon and dill would make an excellent omelette, especially served with half a bagel and a cream cheese schmear on the side and a nice mimosa to wash it all down. (Don't forget the coffee. In the morning, you'll want a light roast, more caffeine--you'll need it after the mimosa.)

More omelette ideas from Julie...(and feel free to share you own favorites with us!)

* Potato - add to the cheese omelette 1/2 cup of diced potatoes that have been sauteed with herbs and shallots...

* Savory - Sauteed chicken livers or diced ham (but NOT Spam, trust me.)

* "Piperade" - green and red bell peppers that have been sauteed with onions and garlic

* Vegetables - Broccoli florets, mushrooms, cooked and chopped spinach, and/or asparagus tips (that you have already sauteed butter and seasonings...)

* Seafood - Crab, shrimp, lobster that you've warmed in butter and herbs.

Finally congrats again to Janel for winning this month's Iron Chef suggestion contest--and a deliciously edible prize of a Junior's Cheesecake. In February, we'll reveal the new, winning secret ingredient!

If you'd like to try your hand at winning our next Iron Chef contest (the new prize and winner will be announced soon), just send your Iron Chef secret ingredient suggestions to

One entry per person per day is allowed. If we choose your ingredient for our Iron Chef week, you'll win a great prize. Only open to our blog followers, so be sure to follow. Just click one of the two "follow" buttons in the right column.

Cheers to the easy yet elegant omelette and
the simple but beautiful egg!

~ Cleo Coyle
author of the Coffeehouse Mysteries

To get more of my recipes or to learn about the books in my nationally bestselling series, visit my Coffehouse Mystery Web site by clicking this link...

Comments welcome!


  1. Love omelets. Love Julia.

    My favorite is just a simple diced green pepper and cheese, sometimes with onion if I'm in the mood, and the occasional bits of ham.

    Anything much more than that should be a quiche, grins.

  2. Eggs and Spam. Spam. Ham and Spam. Spam. Spam, spam, spam...ack! Stop me. :)

    Oh, I just love Julia. Thanks for the link. My favorite part in this link is when it looks like Julia tosses the omelet/souffle pan on the floor. Ha!

    Mushrooms and spinach in my omelets makes me happy.

    Mystery Writing is Murder

  3. What a great post, Cleo! How fun! And now I have the Spam song running through my head. It'll probably be there all day ;-) Thanks for reminding us of Julia's charm. Wish I would have read this post this morning before I scrambled my hubby's eggs. Coulda had an omelette!


  4. Eggs are in the air! I did a Julia Child stacked gateau omni omelette, it's an insane pile of dairy products - it's from the same French Chef episode as the 20 second omelette:
    You have to try it, it's crazy!! I agree - omelettes are so much fun to make, and totally addictive!

  5. I love omelets. Adore them. The incredible, edible egg. Thanks for sharing fond memories of Julia. What fun.

  6. The only time I ate Spam was at a summer camp where I was a counselor one year. We also drank a lot of "bug juice"--very high culinary standards.

    Bless Saint Julia (did I mention I have three copies of Mastering the Art of French Cooking?)! Although I still haven't mastered that flip of the wrist that makes the omelette roll itself up neatly.

  7. My dad used to eat Spam when I was a kid. Can't remember the last time I touched it, though!

    I am definitely going to try Julia's omelette technique. So simple, yet perfect.

  8. I admit it... Me and Jimmy Carter, I have lust in my heart for her

  9. Great post, Cleo. I think I'm going
    to watch Julie and Julia tonight. LOL
    on the cooking advice from beyond. If
    Julia the ghost did whisper in my ear,
    I'm quite positive I'd burn something!

  10. @Katy – LOL – stay tuned…(there may be a quiche yet in this Iron Chef week!) Krista Davis will be posting her Iron Chef recipe tomorrow and Avery Aames on Monday.

    @Riley, Julie, Jenn, Avery – (my fellow mystery writing cooks) – Eggs are such a fun, basic ingredient. An excellent Iron Chef suggestion—I wonder if the real Iron Chefs have tackled this (on either the Japanese or US versions). I would love to see that show if they have.

    @Tasty Trix – Tasty is in the House! Thanks for stopping by! Great minds think alike, I guess. You know, I first referenced this Omelette Episode waaaaaay back in August 2009 when the "Julie & Julia" movie was first released. You can see my old August post, where I talk more about Julia, by clicking here. My old post even includes a recipe for corn muffin tops, inspired by one of Julia’s entries in The Way to Cook, a fantastic book that also gives great step-by-step photos on making a tossed omelette.

    @Sheila Connolly – Saint Julia indeed! We are all indebted to her, aren’t we? You have THREE copies of MtAoFC?! There must be a story behind that…!

    @Janel – On Spam…it does seem to be one of those foods father’s eat, doesn’t it? LOL! I love using Julia’s technique. Her urging us to cooking it quickly really is the key to keeping the egg tender and buttery and delicious. And thanks again, Janel, for giving us this great January ingredient!

    @A Year on the Grill – You have lust in your heart after Julia?! Love it! From everything I’ve seen and read about her, she had a wicked sense of humor. I’m sure she's somewhere in the great beyond, she’s grinning right now.

    author of The Coffeehouse Mysteries
    "Where coffee and crime are always brewing..."

  11. Cleo, what a funny story about Spam. Love omelets. They're so satisfying.

    ~ Krista

  12. Cleo... you changed my life (well, my egg life)...
    here's my post today, after making your (Julia's) omelette yesterday for lunch (and then for dinner for my wife, and I am going to make another for breakfast now)

  13. Replies to:

    @Krista - Indeed they are a nice, quick meal.

    @A Year on the Grill - You know when I blogged about Julia Child back in August, I had another man say that to me, too--a lovely British man who reads my Coffeehouse Mysteries! Back then, I also linked to the YouTube clip of her very famous Omelette Show, as well. That show has made quite an impression on so many people. Your blog today is awesome. If anyone would like to see A Year on the Grill's transcendent omelette experience just
    Click here

    ~Cleo Coyle