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Lucretia B's International Cookbook Lucretia B's Amazing International Cookbook

Tips, tricks & links - 1

What's the difference between frittata and omelette?




Definitions

Frittata
Frittata is a typical Italian dish made from beaten eggs. Additional ingredients (i.e., various vegetables, cheese or meats) can be mixed with the eggs, and the mixture of eggs and additional ingredients is cooked in hot butter or oil. When the mixture is set but still moist on top, the frittata is turned over and cooked on the other side. The frittata is usually cut in wedges and can be served either hot or cold.
Hot frittata, with salad or boiled vegetables, is often the main course of an Italian family dinner, following a bowl of pastina.
Cold frittata is particularly nice in sandwiches, and it's one of the most common picnic foods, particularly when other ingredients (e.g. spinach, onions or meat) are mixed to the egg base.
Italian frittata is very similar to the Spanish tortilla.
Omelette
Omelette is the French version of beaten eggs, cooked in a skillet and usually served folded in half or thirds. Like with frittata, additional ingredients can be used, but in this case they are added after the egg mixture has been poured into the pan. Also, omelettes are not turned and cooked on the other side; when the egg mixture is cooked and set around the edges, the edges are folded over the filling and the omelette is served immediately.
Omelette fillings can either be savoury or sweet (such as fruit, jam or fruit compote). Sweet omelettes, like sweet crêpes, are served for dessert.

Frittata: Step-by-step instructions

The main requirement for a perfect frittata is a good pan: it has to be clean, dry, rather heavy and 100% non-stick, with flared sides. Also, you'll need a flat lid, having the same size as the pan, for turning your frittata over.
The traditional method for cooking frittata is described in the following steps.

  1. Prepare the pan: choose a round, non-stick frying pan, approx 25 to 30 cm in diameter. Wash and rinse the pan in warm water; drain, then wipe the pan with a soft, clean kitchen cloth.
  2. Find a suitable lid: it has to be flat, clean, dry and the same size of the pan.
  3. If you're cooking a filled frittata, prepare the filling and let it cool down for a few minutes. Some examples are given in the eggs section of this Cookbook. However, steps 7 to 24 describe how to make the mother of all frittatas - which is, just the plain, egg-only version.
  4. For each serving, you'll need 2 eggs (whole), a dash of salt and a dash of white pepper (ground). Optionally, you can add 2 teablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese for each serving.
  5. For cooking, calculate 1 tablespoon butter for each batch.
  6. The frying pan I described above will be large enough to cook 3 to 4 eggs per batch (without filling) or 2 to 3 eggs per batch (with filling).
  7. In this example, we make a plain frittata for 2.
  8. Break 4 eggs into a largish bowl. Add salt, pepper and the optional Parmesan cheese.
  9. With a whisk or a fork, beat the eggs until the ingredients are perfectly mixed and the mixture is slightly frothy.
  10. Place 1 tb butter in the frying pan. Place the frying pan on the medium-size hotplate, over medium heat.
  11. As the butter starts melting, gently lift and tilt the pan to coat bottom and sides evenly.
  12. Place the pan back onto the hotplate. When the butter starts turning brown, quickly mix your beaten eggs in the bowl and pour the mixture in the pan.
  13. Turn up the heat and mix the egg mixture with a wooden spoon for a couple of minutes.
  14. Reduce the heat to low and cook for another couple of minutes.
  15. As the mixture sets, run the wooden spoon around the edge of the pan, lifting the egg mixture to allow liquid portions to flow underneath.
  16. Gently tilt the pan, both to distribute the mixture evenly and to avoid its sticking to the bottom.
  17. When the bottom is cooked, your frittata will start "sliding" around freely.
  18. Now it's time to turn it over: grab the panhandle in one hand and the lid in the other. If you're right-handed, you'll take the pan with your right hand, and the lid in your left hand.
  19. Gently slid the frittata into the lid, cooked side down.
  20. Turn the pan upside down, on top of the lid. Quickly turn the lid over, letting the frittata fall back into the frying pan.
  21. Place the pan back on the stove over medium heat.
  22. Gently shake the pan and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes, until your frittata is cooked also on the other side.
  23. The egg mixture should cook to a nice golden brown on both sides. To check the cooking point of the second side, you can turn your frittata over once more (see steps 18 to 20).
  24. When the frittata is ready, slid it on a serving dish.
  25. Please note: If you're making a filled frittata, add the filling after step 9. Mix well and set aside, then proceed as described above.
  26. Remember that, since the volume of a filled frittata is usually bigger that the volume of a plain frittata, when making filled frittata you might have to cook your mixture in two or more separate batches. My recipes in the eggs section of this Cookbook specify how many separate batches are needed for the given quantities.

Omelette: Step-by-step instructions

The following step-by-step instructions are adapted from The Henri Charpentier Cookbook (as published by Price/Stern/Sloan Publishers, Inc., Los Angeles, 1970). Henri Charpentier is the world-famous French chef who invented Crêpes Suzette.
I have tried to organize Henri Charpentier's instructions into "steps" and fill in the blanks for the details that the great cook deemed too obvious to describe.
Again, the main requirement is a good pan, as described earlier.

  1. Prepare the pan: choose a round, non-stick frying pan, approx 25 to 30 cm in diameter. Wash and rinse the pan in warm water; drain, then wipe the pan with a soft, clean kitchen cloth.
  2. For each serving, you'll need 2 eggs (whole), a dash of salt and a dash of white pepper.
  3. For cooking, calculate 4 tablespoons butter for each batch.
  4. The frying pan I described above will be large enough to cook an omelette made with 4 eggs, with or without filling.
  5. In this example, we make a plain omelette for 2.
  6. Break 4 eggs into a largish bowl. Add salt and pepper.
  7. With a fork, stir gently three or four times, or just enough to break the yolks. In Charpentier's words, "In order to make a good omelette, do not beat the eggs too much".
  8. Place 1 tb butter in the frying pan. Place the frying pan on the medium-size hotplate, over medium heat.
  9. When the butter becomes very hot, stir the beaten eggs in the pan with a wooden spoon.
  10. When they thicken from contact with the butter and heat, begin to roll them down with your wooden spoon to form the omelette.
  11. Tip the pan and place another piece of butter at the point where you left off rolling it. The omelette should be soft inside and brown outside.
  12. This result is only obtained by not being too stingy with your butter, and in using it as instructed. A piece placed on top just before you begin to roll it into shape will immensely improve the softness and taste.
  13. Roll up the omelette on two sides, forming two folds.
  14. When the eggs are set but still shiny, remove from heat.
  15. Transfer onto a warm serving plate and serve hot.
  16. When cooking a French omelette with filling, place the filling in the center before forming the roll.

Last updated 28 jun 2011

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