Thursday, June 3, 2010

Azerbaijani herb omelet

No doubt there's an Azerbaijani name for such a thing, but that's the title on the recipe I found on World Hearth. The cookbook it came from, Please to the Table, has got translations, but that page isn't in the Amazon preview so I can't tell you what that translation might be (or even what language it was translated into. It's a Russian cookbook, but not a Russian recipe.) The cooking method is more Spanish tortilla than omelet, but, hey, close enough.

2 cups spinach, finely chopped
5 large scallions, finely chopped (I've only got three regular-sized ones)
1 cup parsley, finely chopped
1/2 cup dill, finely chopped
3 Tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped
1/4 cup walnuts, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
salt and pepper to taste
6 large eggs, well beaten
3 Tablespoons olive oil

When herbs are getting finely chopped I use the stems too, but that's just me.

Of more general concern is the question of when a recipe says "2 cups spinach, finely chopped" does it mean to finely chop two cups of spinach leaves or to finely chop enough spinach to make two cups? Finely chopping cuts the volume in half, more or less. See?

Whoops, I should have scraped down the bowl; you can't really see. Just trust me on this one.

When I write recipes, I usually mean the latter and it bugs me that what I write literally means the former but the latter seems more precise as to the amount that ends up in the dish.

Since I wasn't sure what the creator of this recipe (presumably Anya von Bremzen and John Welchman, the authors of the cookbook) meant, and since I had started with the amounts listed and ended up with half that, I decided to mix three eggs into the herb mixture to see what that got me.

What it got me was a bowl of barely moistened herbs. I doubted that was right so I added the other three eggs and got something more reasonable. That means the authors meant what they wrote: "2 cups spinach, finely chopped". OK, good to know.

Once everything (bar the olive oil) is mixed the instructions are to heat the oil over medium heat in a 10-inch pan, pour in the egg mixture, cook for 5 minutes to let the eggs start to set, cover and turn heat to low and cook for 15 minutes more.

That's where my second problem presented itself. The large burner on my stove doesn't really do medium. Not very well anyway. When you turn it on it only does high and barely-warm with nothing in between. If I leave it on high for a while, temperatures in between slowly become available, I think, or possibly that's just heat stored in the pan. Anyway, getting a pan over medium heat is tough, particularly when the only suitable 10-inch pan I've got is cast iron. I gave it my best shot, but the eggs set right away so I skipped the first 5 minutes, covered the pan and checked progress at 5 minute intervals.

In fact it did take the full 15 minutes for the omelet to set, after which it was time for the next step: slicing it into 8 pieces while still in the pan over the heat and then flipping each piece. That sounds like it would be problem number three for this recipe, but it actually was pretty easy. The trick was to pull one slice out of the pan and set it aside. That leaves room to flip another slice and slide it over to make space to flip the next one. Once everything was flipped, it was 5 more minutes over the heat (which seemed pretty well medium at this point) and then out to a serving dish.

Now let's see how it tastes...
It's mostly savory egg, with some very nice flavor from the browned edges, with aromatic parsley and dill. I'm not getting a lot of spinach, cilantro or walnut. The egg is a bit, but not badly overdone, chewy but not rubbery. There's a bit of crunch from the nuts (and the stems). Nothing spectacular, but nice enough, if you like parsley and dill anyway. It could use some contrast; at least a bit of acid, but I think I'd like it in a sandwich with a mayonnaise with some vinegar in. Maybe I'll try that tomorrow as I've already had three slices and I want to save the rest. I wonder how it's served traditionally.

1 comment:

kat said...

The nuts in it really intrigued me