I was trying to figure out what to make for our anniversary dinner when I ran across a copy of Elizabeth David’s An Omelette and a Glass of Wine essay in one of my recipe folders. When I read the words, “Let’s just have an omelette and a glass of wine.’ Perhaps first a slice of home-made pâté and a few olives, afterwards a fresh salad and a piece of ripe creamy cheese or some fresh figs or strawberries … I knew I had my answer. I’d make my favorite pâté recipe (which just happens to come from The Ranch House) and I’d buy some good bread and special olives. We’d drink classic champagne cocktails and after our appetizer we’d have omelettes with chives and a butter lettuce salad with a mustard vinaigrette dressing. But we’d forego the cheese and fruit for cookies that would be hand-cut into champagne glass shapes.
It wasn’t half bad, and the former groom even took on the omelettes, so I didn’t have to make everything. You can find the pâté recipe (halved from what is shown in the book – that’s enough) here. I’m just showing the book photo so you can see the Beatrice Wood illustration for the recipe. I usually only make this pâté for holidays or parties. But there’s no reason not to make it for dinner; it’s delicious and goes together very quickly (although ideally you should make it the day before, so you can give it ample time in the refrigerator).
The omelette is my husband’s creation – two eggs, no cheese. There are two recipes for omelettes in Elizabeth David’s essay. The first comes from a Madame Poulard. It was published in a magazine as a reply to a letter in 1932:
Here is the recipe for the omelette: I break some good eggs in a bowl, I beat them well, I put a good piece of butter in the pan, I throw the eggs into it, and I shake it constantly. I am happy, monsieur, if this recipe pleases you. Annette Poulard
The other omelette recipe in the essay comes from a favorite small French restaurant of Elizabeth David’s. Here is the recipe for Omelette Moliere as it appears in the essay: Beat one tablespoon of finely grated Parmesan with 3 eggs and a little pepper. Warm the pan a minute over the fire. Put in half an oz of butter. Turn up the flame. When the butter bubbles and is about to change colour, pour in the eggs. Add one tablespoon of very fresh Gruyere cut into little dice, and one tablespoon of thick fresh cream. Tip the pan towards you, easing some of the mixture from the far edge into the middle. Then tip the pan away from you again, filling the empty space with some of the still liquid eggs. By the time you have done this twice, the Gruyere will have started to melt and your omelette is ready. Fold it over in three with a fork or palette knife, and slide it on to the warmed omelette dish. Serve it instantly.
Omelettes are really quite good when you don’t overload them with excess eggs and fillings.
The mustard vinaigrette recipe came from Fine Cooking #59. To make it you whisk together 2 t whole grain Dijon mustard, 1/2 t Dijon mustard, 1/2 t honey, 1/4 t table salt, 1/8 t black pepper, 3 drops hot sauce, and 2 T white-wine vinegar. Then you slowly whisk in 6 T olive oil until the dressing is creamy and blended. Finally, taste and adjust the seasonings.
For dessert, I was thinking of making a pink champagne cake, but that would have been too much – too much effort, too much food. So I thought it could be fun to make pink champagne cookies instead. I didn’t have a champagne glass cookie cutter, so I hand cut the cookies with a knife. I didn’t actually use any champagne in the cookie dough or frosting, but I had some grand ideas for decorating that turned out to be a little too ambitious. A good idea that needs more time. They provided a sweet and festive ending to the meal, though. I used my favorite cut-out cookie recipe from Penzey’s (halved) that you can find here.
Speaking of champagne, do you know how to make a champagne cocktail? Put a cube of sugar in your glass, soak it in a few drops of aromatic bitters, pour in your sparking wine and add a twist of lemon or orange. Cheers!