Spring Omelet with Asparagus and Peas

Spring Omelet with Asparagus and Peas  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Spring Omelet with Asparagus and Peas | Image: Laura Messersmith

When life picks up its pace and it seems like there isn’t a moment to spare in between packing and unpacking for the next adventure there’s still an important question to answer: what’s for dinner? Lately the answer has been eggs – plain scrambled, fried on avocado toast, and when the planets align to make a trip to the grocery store also this Spring Vegetable Omelet.

Thank the good Lord for a main dish that can be on the table in less than 20 minutes, and still checks all the boxes for fresh, delicious, and healthy. Serve with a slice or two of whole grain – cut into golden toast soldiers if you please – and this could be breakfast, lunch, dinner or any meal in between.

Spring Omelet with Asparagus and Peas  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Spring Omelet with Asparagus and Peas | Image: Laura Messersmith

Spring Omelet with Asparagus and Peas (serves 2)

Ingredients:
8 stalks asparagus
1/2 cup English peas, shelled
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
5 eggs
3 tablespoons whole milk
1 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons minced chives
kosher salt
black pepper

Instructions:
Pre heat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Cut the asparagus spears into 1/2 inch lengths discarding the tough, woody ends. In a medium oven-safe sauté pan (8 or 10 inches), melt the butter and olive oil together. Add the asparagus and peas and cook over medium heat for 3-4 minutes until the asparagus is tender. Season with salt and pepper.

While the vegetables cook, whisk together the eggs and milk in a medium bowl, finely mince the chives, and grate the parmesan cheese.

Using a slotted spoon, remove the vegetables from the pan and set aside leaving the remaining butter and olive oil in the pan. Turn off the heat and pour the eggs into the warm pan. Scatter the parmesan cheese and half the minced chives over the eggs along with a sprinkle of salt and pepper.

Spread the asparagus and peas over the top of the eggs and immediately move the pan to the hot oven. Bake for 7-8 minutes until the eggs are firm at the edges, but the center of the omelet remains soft set.

Use a fish spatula to loosen the omelet from the pan and serve immediately with topped with a sprinkle of the reserved chives.

Inspired by Ina Garten’s Country French Omelet and Saveur Magazine’s Brown Butter Peas and Mint Omelette

Small Kitchen Friendly?
You know it. I used a medium oven-safe sauté pan, small mixing bowl, medium cutting board, chef’s knife, microplane grater, and a fish spatula. That’s it!

Spring Omelet with Asparagus and Peas  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Spring Omelet with Asparagus and Peas | Image: Laura Messersmith

Spring Omelet with Asparagus and Peas  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Spring Omelet with Asparagus and Peas | Image: Laura Messersmith

Mahi Mahi Fish Tacos with Mango Salsa

Mahi Mahi Fish Tacos with Mango Salsa  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Mahi Mahi Fish Tacos with Mango Salsa | Image: Laura Messersmith

If you had asked me, say 10 years ago, whether I’d be eating, let alone recommend making fish tacos I’d have said you were nuts. Before I lived in Texas I had a weird, Taco Bell-informed concept of Tex-Mex where I assumed everything would be (should be?) spicy, melted-cheese covered, and possibly involving pinto beans. None of those words, perhaps with the exception of spicy, was anything I wanted anywhere near fish. Eww. No way.

And so, I avoided the fish tacos on every menu like the plague until one fine day shortly after we moved to Dallas we stopped at a roadside taco stand housed in a converted gas station called Rusty Taco. The menu was a revelation to this Yankee that things other than ground beef and a ton of shredded jack cheese could be contained in a soft tortilla. Mike and I ordered a variety of their offerings, pork with pineapple, brisket, and you guessed it: fish.

Another revelation. I loved the bright freshness of the white fish topped with a squeeze of lime, layered over a bed of crunchy thinly sliced red cabbage, and lightly drizzled with spicy crema. I was a new convert to the dish and psyched by the realization that stopping for a taco (or 2 or 3) didn’t have to mean a queso-induced food coma.

The recipe below isn’t a direct interpretation of Rusty’s version, just my personal preferences drawn from the many variations I’ve eaten since. But I’ll still remember and tip my cap to that first bite sitting under the whirling fan, just out of the hot Texas sun with a cold margarita to keep me company.

Mahi Mahi Fish Tacos with Mango Salsa  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Mahi Mahi Fish Tacos with Mango Salsa | Image: Laura Messersmith

Mahi Mahi Fish Tacos with Mango Salsa (serves 4)

Ingredients:
2 pounds fresh mahi mahi, skin removed
1 package small soft tacos, 8 flour or 16 corn (plan to double up if using corn)
2 cups shredded red cabbage
2 cups (2 medium) diced ripe mangos
1/4 cup finely diced red onion
4 limes, divided
3 tablespoons minced cilantro, divided
5 ounces lime yogurt
2 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt
Ground black pepper

Instructions:
Zest and juice three of the four limes. Cut the fourth lime into 8 wedges and reserve. Next, peel and dice the mangos into 1/3 inch pieces and place in a medium mixing bowl. Add the red onion, cilantro, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and 2-3 tablespoons lime juice according to taste. Mix the ingredients together until evenly combined and set aside in the refrigerator.

Next, in a small bowl mix the lime yogurt with 1 tablespoon lime zest, 1 tablespoon lime juice, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and set aside in the refrigerator.

To cook the fish, heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers and just begins to smoke. While the oil heats, pat the mahi mahi dry with paper towels and cut into 1/2 inch wide strips. Sprinkle one side generously with kosher salt and ground black pepper just before adding to the pan placing the seasoned side down.

Cook in batches if necessary to give the fish plenty of room, and don’t try to move or turn them until 3-4 minutes have passed and the edges have begun to turn golden brown. If the pieces begin to curl up, or aren’t getting enough contact with the pan, gently press the fish down with a spatula. While the first side is cooking, sprinkle the unseasoned side with kosher salt and pepper.

When you’re ready to turn, use a spatula to gently nudge the edges, they should come away from the pan with minimal effort. Flip and cook another 3 minutes on the other side until the fish is just opaque. Same rules apply – no fiddling, give them room.

When all the fish has been cooked, assemble the tacos by layering 2 corn tortillas, then topping with a drizzle of the lime cilantro crema, shredded red cabbage, and 2-3 pieces of mahi mahi. Add a spoonful of the mango salsa and serve immediately with the lime wedges.

Salsa adapted from Bon Appétit’s Mango Salsa. Need more advice on handling mangoes? Real Simple has a great video tutorial! What about your fish pan-frying game? Saveur and Fine Cooking both have excellent advice on the subject.

Mahi Mahi Fish Tacos with Mango Salsa  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Mahi Mahi Fish Tacos with Mango Salsa | Image: Laura Messersmith

Small Kitchen Friendly?

Yes! I used a medium mixing bowl, small bowl, and 12” sauté pan along with a Y-shaped peeler, chef’s knife, microplane grater, a rubber spatula and a metal spatula. (A flexible fish spatula would be ideal, but I don’t own one at the moment!) You’ll also want a liquid measuring cup, measuring spoons, and some paper towels.

And, depending on your ventilation situation a small fan placed in the kitchen window is a useful addition.

The Verdict:
To me, this dish just sings of summer whether that’s in a breezy coastal location or punishingly hot North Texas and is the perfect dinner to make when it’s too hot to cook, but not quite too hot to eat. The mahi mahi is tender underneath it’s thin golden exterior, red cabbage gives the taco a crisp texture, and the whole package is jubilant with it’s punchy lime-spiked crema and fragrant mango salsa dressings. Simple and perfect.

Mahi Mahi Fish Tacos with Mango Salsa  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Mahi Mahi Fish Tacos with Mango Salsa | Image: Laura Messersmith

Bastille Day Cherry Clafoutis

Bastille Day Cherry Clafoutis    | Image:   Laura Messersmith

Bastille Day Cherry Clafoutis  | Image: Laura Messersmith

So many of the recipes I love to make are inspired by the flavors and traditions of France, so in honor of Bastille Day I wanted to make a classic French dish to celebrate a country that has given so much to the culinary world. As I scrolled through the Google results looking for inspiration I came across a dessert called clafoutis.

The descriptions and photos I studied made it sound like a recipe straddling the borders of pancake, soufflé, and custard (distinctions that seem to depend on cooking time, flour content, and batter ‘fluffiness.’)

Intrigued and psyched to find a dish that didn’t involve a ton of actual cooking on this humid quatorze julliet (I do want to make bouillabaisse some day, just not on in the middle of summer!) I decided to attempt it. I came across many other recipes that used other fruits and contained variations on the batter proportions, but decided to go with Saveur’s recipe, which uses the traditional black cherries. 

Bastille Day Cherry Clafoutis    | Image:   Laura Messersmith

Bastille Day Cherry Clafoutis  | Image: Laura Messersmith

Lessons Learned:

The biggest challenge I encountered was regulating my oven temperature. Remember all the trouble I had with the Honey Vanilla Pound Cake a few weeks ago? Well, I think I found the culprit: wonky calibration. I discovered when I bought an oven thermometer that my oven runs about 20 degrees cooler than the marked temperature. Turning it up 20 degrees doesn’t fix the issue because then it over compensates. As a result, I nearly burned my Bastille Day Cherry Clafoutis! Thank goodness I checked on it after about 10 minutes. I think I salvaged it by covering the top with foil and reducing the temperature for the remaining cooking time….

Small Kitchen Friendly?

Yes, absolutely! I used a 9” cast iron skillet (heavily buttered with a pastry brush), but any baking dish about the same diameter should work. All the mixing takes place in a blender, so all I needed was a small bowl for the pitted cherries, measuring cups and spoons.

A note on pitting cherries: Even though traditionally the cherries are just de-stemmed and added whole; I’m just not interested in dodging pits when I’m trying to enjoy a delicious dessert so I did pit them for this recipe. However, I don’t own an olive/cherry pitter… Food52 to the rescue with this DIY kitchen hack using a beer bottle and a chopstick. I tried it and it really works!

The Verdict

Black cherries are one of my favorite fruits and are definitely the star of this Cherry Clafoutis. The batter surrounding them is fairly mild even with the strong doses of liqueur and vanilla, a little more salt (I started with 1/8 teaspoon but I think ¼ or even ½ might be better) would help enhance the flavor. I like the lightness bread pudding-esque texture, but next time I’d like to try a variation that uses even less flour for a more custard-y result.