Sunday, 24 July 2016

Omelette Exploration 4: The 'Bliny' Omelette

If you are not familiar with 'bliny', they are pancakes, with savoury or sweet fillings, originating in Eastern Europe.  The singular is 'blin'.  They are also popular in the USA, largely as a result of their use in Jewish cooking.  A bliny pan is a frying pan about the size of your palm.  Naturally it can also be used for making omelettes.  All the rules I have outlined in previous Omelette Exploration postings, i.e. that you need butter for the cooking, good free-range eggs and should avoid an excessive amount of filling, still apply.  The question of the filling is even more important with the 'bliny' omelette than the standard, larger omelettes that I have written about so far.

Heat is also a vital factor.  This is something that people often get wrong and there is nothing wondering about clouds of butter smoke pouring from your pan and yet, you tend to want a golden colour to your omelette.  People tend to forget that the pan itself gets hot, it is not simply about the flame or electrical glow beneath it.  Indeed if making a number of omelettes as you will tend to do with the 'bliny' approach, by the end you will find you can do quite a bit of cooking actually lifting the pan away from the heat source and using the heat retained in the metal of the pan to finish them.

Cooking bliny omelettes is a fast process and you will need to make sure everything is in place, including the people who are going to eat them.  The quantity of egg liquid you pour into the pan each time will probably be equivalent to the contents of a third to half an egg.  Be sure that you can pour your egg liquid in with care and not just dollop in too much that will prove difficult with the small plan usually ending up with egg liquid wasted all over your cooker.  Keep the filling to no more than what you might hold between three fingers.  It tends to go into the centre of the omelette rather than being evenly distributed as with standard omelettes.  Indeed you may fold the bliny omelette over in half to effectively make an omelette 'sandwich' of the contents.

The bliny approach allows you to vary the fillings from omelette to omelette so catering to a range of tastes at your table.  I did this approach with four people none of whom liked the fillings favoured by the others.  As before, cheese is a good ingredient for sticking together; herbs are not problem, but make sure that heavier fillings like ham or bacon are cut into small pieces, smaller even than with a standard omelette, otherwise they will break the structure.  You can then easily end up rather than a perfect sunshine disc of omelette with simply lumps of omelette adhering to bits of filling.

As with the mille-feuille omelette, there is something aesthetic about the bliny omelette.  With the former you are looking for the layers when you cut through it.  The bliny omelette is about a row of discs of omelette.  I suggest a minimum of four per person's plate, lined up, slightly overlapping each other; perhaps with a different filling in each.  Unlike with a standard omelette, however, they are not at the centre of the dish, they are the accompaniment.  Thus, you might want to keep to vegetable fillings, e.g. finally chopped onions, especially red onions or spring onions, or mushrooms, maybe even fresh chunks of tomato, rather than meat.  Your main item on the plate may be slices or ham or even cold fish, a piece of peppered mackerel will go well with a set of bliny omelettes.  I tend to do this approach with my diners ready to eat straight from the pan.  However, there is nothing to say that you cannot produce a range of bliny omelettes and then store them to eat later, especially at a picnic.

Cooking four to sixteen bliny omelettes in the same pan is going to mean it is hot.  By the end you will find that the egg liquid will cook on contact with the pan surface.  For this reason you may want to leave plain/unfilled bliny omelettes in your set to last.  Of course, there is something elegant about a whole set of unfilled omelettes anyway, well, in my view.  What you will find unless they are being coloured by blackened butter in your pan, is that you will not get to the golden brown shade on the outside that you will find with standard omelettes.  They will be the yellow or (hopefully if you are using good eggs) orange shade of the egg liquid.  This is fine.  As they are thin and small, they are certain to be cooked right through, a great phobia still of British people eating omelettes.  In addition, the trick with some olive oil, that I have mentioned before, can help give them a golden tinge.

The bliny approach is different to the typical one of going in with big omelettes jammed full of stuff.  They allow you to produce omelettes for a range of tastes around a single table and to provide what I feel are an attractive food especially for going with summer dishes.

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