Although we live in a large city, it is a city surrounded by farmland. There are amazing local food producers and farm shops everywhere.
Our closest farm shop, Spring Lane, is less than a mile from our apartment and I go there every weekend to buy eggs, cheeses, vegetables and meat. There’s a bakery there, too, and sometimes… just sometimes, I buy fresh cream cakes.
But the best things of all, in my eyes, are their fantastic eggs.
Free range, with fantastic golden, almost orange yolks… and oh, the size of them….
I’d gone there as usual and picked up a dozen extra large eggs and got my fresh vegetables and came back. I had a fancy for an omelette.
Specifically, Omelette Arnold Bennett, the beautiful, open omelette with smoked haddock and a creamy cheese sauce.
(Whenever Arnold Bennett stayed at the Savoy Hotel, he ordered this and loved it so much that wherever else he travelled he asked for it. Eventually, the Savoy Hotel named it after him and it has stayed on the menu ever since)
I always buy the extra large eggs at Spring Lane and this time, being in a hurry, I grabbed my dozen eggs, some fresh vegetables and cream, then set off home again.
I hadn’t checked the eggs because I have never before found a broken one in one of their boxes (they are so careful with all of their produce) so I hadn’t looked inside the box. Anyway, there I was, standing at the bench, about to prepare for the omelette when I noticed that the lid wasn’t down properly on the box.
I opened the box to see this rather surprising sight
Look at the size of that!
That wasn’t just an extra large egg… that was an extra, extra large egg.
In the UK there are regulations about egg sizes. Each egg size, from pullet to small, to medium, to large and then to extra large has a weight range.
An extra large egg must be 75g and above.
That beauty weighed 114g.
All I could think was that the hen who was involved in that production was probably just as surprised as I was.
Onto the omelette then – I also had some smoked haddock
(actually, I prefer undyed smoked haddock, but needs must and all that. I wanted that omelette and I wanted it that day so I was prepared to accept the dyed fish)
And some cheese – both Emmental and Gruyere.
And I always have pots of cream in the fridge.
Now there are plenty of recipes available to tell you how to make Omelette Arnold Bennett and some of them are very involved indeed – telling you to make flour based cheese sauces, making you use lots of pans and it is all very labour intensive. What I do would get me thrown out of the Savoy kitchens but, you know, it works for me.
So… here goes… the quick and easy way to make an Almost Arnold Bennett Omelette …
Poach the haddock gently in some milk. You don’t want to boil it fiercely, just sort of bubble along softly for a few short minutes.
While that’s doing, break 4 eggs into a bowl and whisk them gently with a fork and add a good spoonful of cream.
Grate huge handfuls of lovely cheese and add it to another bowl where you have put some more of the thick cream. You want more cheese than cream and the cream needs to be thick.
What you need is a thick and delicious mixture of cheese and cream.
By now, the haddock will be ready, so, carefully, take it out of the pan and flake it.
(Remember to take the skin off before you flake the fish – imagine how difficult it would be to peel the skin off after tearing it to pieces!)
Put the grill on high and get your best omelette pan out and start heating it on the hob with a knob of butter
Pour the eggy, creamy mix into the pan and swirl it round, pulling the softly cooking bits to the middle and letting the runny bits spread out so it cooks gently.
I like to pop it under the grill at this stage so it puffs up slightly in a sort of souffle-ish fashion.
Just a bit though, you don’t want it too cooked because it goes back under the grill later.
Scatter the flaked fish over the omelette and then pour over the cheese and cream mix and then pop it straight back under the grill.
You need a minute or so so the cheese browns on the top
And there it is…..
Fluffy omelette with smokey fish, covered in a creamy cheese sauce…. all you need, perhaps to go with it is a salad
That’s it. Sit down and fork up that gloriously tasty omelette.
Oh, and say a quiet thank you to the hen who valiantly produced such wonderful eggs!