Cold weather food for those long nights of winter, Classic Beef Stew & Dumplings is…
From my days of slingin’ swanky hash at a four and a half star bed & breakfast; the Fricco Omelette was created in the middle of a frenzied service when I burnt the Tofu Scramble I had planned for my “gluten-free, lacto, no ovo” vegetarian guests. Necessity is the mother of invention.
“Please, pay no attention to the smoke coming from the kitchen.”
The key to great hostessing is a winning smile, and a good hood fan.
The price one pays for being a solo operator of a busy little business in the height of tourism season, one guest needs attention while another’s breakfast is reduced to charcoal. Gladly, not an everyday occurrence (or I would have thrown myself off that heritage roof!) but when it happened it called for fast thinking and rapid substitution.
Breakfast is a marvelous thing to specialize in, so many options both sweet and savory, but what to do when guests don’t eat eggs, which is kind of, like… your ‘thing’? In my days of being an innkeeper at Nova Scotia’s Dragonfly Inn I created a number of menu items on the fly (and completely by accident) that, to my delight (and surprise), became guest favorites. The Fricco Omelette is one of them, crisp and cheesy, lacy and delicate, it was tossed together with what I had in the fridge that day. Quick, easy, delicious and sure to please.
Here’s your shopping list:
parmigiano-reggiano (1/4 cup per omelette)
fresh vegetables, chopped (1/4 cup per omelette)
fresh basil, chopped
a grind or two of fresh pepper
The key to the Fricco Omelette is a good young parmigiano-reggiano, that contains a hint of moisture and a whole lot of fat. Once the cheese hits your hot pan and that fat cooks off you have a delicious wafer, which is malleable for a short time so it can fold, shape and mould it anyway you want. Fricco cups, fricco chips, fricco wedges and, my fricco omelette. Most of the time we do fricco in the oven at 400°F (205°C) in flat sheets or silicone cups, but for this we’re using a non-stick frying pan, brushed with a bit of oil.
First, chop your vegetables and saute, lightly with olive oil (in this shoot we used crimini mushrooms, zucchini, red pepper, green onions, & cherry tomatoes). Season with pepper only (the fricco, being make of parmesan is salty enough to add salt to the dish) and add chopped basil at the last moment, removing from medium high heat to a spot to reserve, warm.
In a separate small non-stick pan with shallow sides, pour a drizzle of olive oil and use a brush to cover the bottom and up the sides a bit to prevent the fricco from sticking. Heat the pan over medium-high heat, as oil begins to smoke, add your cheese in one layer at the bottom of the pan. You will see the cheese immediately begin to melt and cook, and the fat will begin to bubble (some of the oil will smoke off, be sure you have your hood fan on).
As you cook, for about 3 minutes, both the colour and texture of the cheese will begin to change, from white to cream to a light golden colour as it approaches doneness. If you can lift the edge of the fricco with your rubber spatula and it holds in one piece, you’re done. Remove fricco pan from heat, quickly fill one side with vegetable filling, fold other side on top to form a loose envelope. Run your spatula under the filled side, still adhered to the pan to loosen it, then *gently* slide the whole thing out of the pan and on to the plate.
That last part is the tricky bit, use the pan, make it work for you, tilt it and get it as close as possible to the plate, as your guide with your spatula in the other hand and SWISH, it will land perfectly on your plate, a thing of beauty. Yeah, OK, it might take some practice, but I have faith in you.
Serve hot. Immediately. I mean it. The Fricco Omelette will crisp as it cools and add a terrific crunch to breakfast, lunch, or brunch. Buon appetito.