The Quest For The Perfect Bran Muffin Begins Today

bran muffin1I have been on a long quest to find the perfect omelet for over a year now and I have pretty much got it about 95% done. I have the technique, cooking time and ingredients down but there is still a slight problem with the flipping.

But rest assured when the recipe has been perfect you will find it here.

In the mean time… I am going to start working on the Perfect Bran Muffin.

By why?

No Bran Muffins Here

No bran muffins in this bakery case

More and more I have had a hard time finding a good bran muffin no matter where I am. I not sure why more coffee shops, bakeries, and grocery stores don’t have good (or any bran muffins.

Example… A new bakery opened up a few weeks ago in my area so I went in looking for a bran muffin. Any bran muffin. None were in sight. I looked over a case full of high fat/low fiber, high sugar offerings and when they asked if I wanted anything I said no and walked out. I did not want to put anything they made into my body. I (like many of you) just don’t need anymore fat or sugar even if there is a healthy bran bonus.

So… What are my guidelines for the perfect Bran Muffin?

Sugar kills

Sugar kills

1. Needs to taste good and have a nice texture – I guess good taste is relative but the texture is also important. The way the muffin dances on your tongue and goes down the hatch is a high priority.

2. Needs to be low sugar, low fat, low calorie, low glycemic – I looked at about fifty recipes and most are loaded down with sugar and fat. Face it… This is what makes stuff taste good. But they also have flour which is high glycemic. This white stuff turns into sugar once you eat it and is the real think when it comes to overworking your bathroom scale. This Perfect Bran Muffin will use other types of ingredients minimize or eliminate fat, sugar, glycemic load, and calories.

carb_graph3. Needs to look good – You have to look at it and (show it to others) before you eat so it needs to look yummy.

What I am seeing in coffee shops and other stores seems to say that somehow the lonely Bran Muffin has fallen out of favor. Well maybe a Perfect good tasting, truly healthy (low fat/low sugar) Bran Muffin could change that.

Stay tuned…

The perfect omelet saga continues…

I have not quite perfected this omelet yet but I am getting very close.

A few weeks back I had that quick trip to Chicago. I was able to catch an earlier flight and after picking up a rental car I was sitting at Lou Mitchell’s (no waiting thank you) counter on a Sunday at around noon.

I ordered my usual cheddar & broccoli omelet and spent a little more time picking at the egg concoction to see if I could learn anything on how to get that last 10% to perfect my own at-home version.

This is how Lou's counter looked back in 1950

I usually don’t sit at Lou Mitchell’s counter but I discovered that from that vantage point I could see through the order window into the kitchen. And sure enough the cooks were putting the omelet pans into a large oven to finish them off. I had not seen that before but it validates the method I had found to make a fluffy omelet.

My waitress looked like she had worked for Lou since he opened the place in 1923.  For research purposes I asked her what the secret is to getting these omelets so fluffy. She looked around to make sure Lou wasn’t watching then leaned over and said, “They use a blender!”

So another one of the elements of my current omelet formula had been sort of verified.

The perfect omelet goal

The omelet I made last weekend was very close. The color was a little light and it was a little too fluffy.

How could an omelet be too fluffy? There were too many bubbles in the omelet.

The formula I used was:

1) Separate the egg whites from the yolks.

2) Whip the whites then fold in the yolks.

3) Only leave it on the burner for about a minute before putting in an over heated to 350 degrees.

Guess who?

4) Bake it for 5 minutes then add the cheese and fold the omelet in half then bake it for 5 more minutes.

This yielded an almost perfect omelet.

This week I am going to try the same formula but with these changes:

1) I am going to mix two tablespoons of pancake batter with the yolks before folding them into the whipped egg whites.

2) I am going to leave the pan on the stove for 2 minutes total.

I’ll keep you posted on how things turn out. I hope this is not a step backward.

P.S. I will only be running 6 miles tomorrow since I will be running in a road race on the following Saturday.


More on the perfect omelet…

This omelet stuff is serious business. Just to recap for those of you who have just joined us…  I lived in Chicago for many years and was able to enjoy omelets at a place called Lou Mitchell’s when ever the need arised. But now that I live over 750 miles from Chicago in a place where people just don’t take breakfast seriously, I am determined to duplicate the Lou Mitchell’s omelet in my own kitchen.

This perfect omelet has been eluding me for many years but I am getting closer.

A perfect Lou Mitchell’s omelet is fluffy and packed with the fillings of your choice. I usually get the broccoli and cheddar version.

I wish it was as easy to get a Lou Mitchell’s omelet as it is to get a White Castle slider. You can get White Castle’s burgers in just about any freezer case and the microwave up just fine. But it’s not so for omelets.

At this point I have tried a variety of methods to reproduce the Lou Mitchell’s omelet. Everything from trying different pans to adding pancake batter. The best method that has worked so far is whipping the whites up into a foam then folding in the yolks and finishing the omelet in the oven.

NOTE: Not of picture of me. I am invisible. You would only see the hat.

My last attempt was close except:

1) I cooked the eggs in the skillet too long because they were a little to “burned” when they came out of the oven.

2) I need to fold the yolk in more because the omelet was not uniformly fluffy. Part of the omelet was fluffy when other parts were more dense.

So for tomorrow mornings omelet experiment I will get the pan off the stove faster and instead of folding the yolks into the whipped whites I will run the mixer a few extra seconds and whip the yolks.

We’ll see how it works…

Who is that at Lou Mitchell's?

P.S. I will be earning this breakfast with a 10 Mile run bright and early Saturday morning.

P.S. #2 I will be making quick trip (In Sunday->out Monday) to Chicago but it will be nearly impossible to get to Lou’s for breakfast. I would need to wake up too early and possibly be late for my 9AM meeting. Is it worth the risk?


The perfect omelet saga continues…

Inside Lou Mitchell's - Where the real omelets live

Last Saturday’s omelet adventure went pretty well.  I separated the eggs and whipped the whites before folding the yolks back in then finished the omelet in the oven for about 5 minutes.

Just so we don’t lose site of the goal here… What I am trying to do is duplicate as close as possible the omelets at Lou Mitchell’s in Chicago. These are the best omelets in the world and unfortunately I live 750 miles from the windy city now.

How close did last Saturday’s omelet experiment get?

Notice the fluff... Smell the yummy aroma

Very close.  The omelet definitely had the Lou Mitchell’s fluff factor going on. Not quite as fluffy but I did not whip up the egg whites as much as I could have. Also I probably cooked the egg mixture a little long in the skillet since they got a little too dark (burnt) in the oven.

This week’s plan is to whip the egg whites more and cook the mixture for less time in the skillet. The oven will be doing most of the work.  It will be interesting to see how this works and tastes.

P.S. I only have an 8 mile run tomorrow morning since my weekday mileage was higher.


The perfect omelet continued…

How do they get them so fluffy?

I still don’t have this omelet perfected yet. I have gone down the spiking it with pancake batter path and although it tastes great the still are not that fluffy. In fact the pancake batter seems to make the final product even denser.

So I did a little more research on the web. I tried to type in search terms like “How does Lou Mitchell’s make omelets fluffy?” or “The secret to Lou Mitchell’s omelets” and all I got was a list of reviews on the food at Lou Mitchell’s. I already know the food is great. Unfortunately it is 750 miles from my house. Too long a trip every Saturday morning.

But when I did a search for “fluffy omelet recipe” I hit a bonanza of recipes and video demonstrations. One guy mixed olive oil into the eg mixture. A woman separated the eggs into a bowl with the yolks and one with the whites, whipped them separately, then combined them together. She cooked them in a skillet then finished them for 12 minutes in the oven. They looked real fluffy. Maybe too fluffy.

So here are my options now…

1) Keep the pancake batter but use a mixer to get the egg mixture fluffier.
2) Ditch the pancake batter and try the separate egg method.
3) Keep the pancake batter and try the separate egg method.

Who is that at Lou Mitchell's?

I guess the best thing to do would be to follow the pure fluffy separate egg method (Number 2 above) and see how things go. This would be the most drastic departure from the direction I am on with this but sometimes that is what’s needed.

A little “Drastic” in the kitchen on a Saturday morning could be a good thing.

Bye the way… Before I get to the omelette making I will be doing a 10 mile run…

Another perfect omelet update…

Today’s omelet experiment was interesting… There was a quarter cup of heavy cream left over from something Mrs. Invisible created earlier in the week so I added it to the pancake batter for the egg. Here is what I tried this week for the perfect omelet experiment:

1. Did not use the blender.

2. Use a quarter cup of heavy cream to make the pancake batter.

3. I let the batter sit for about 20 minutes.

4. I only used about a quarter cup of pancake batter with three medium eggs.

5. I threw the eggs in with the broccoli, onions, spinach instead of folding these in after flipping the omelet. I stirred the fillings in with the eggs in a hotter pan.

6. After flipping the omelet I folded it with the cheese.

How did it turn out? Better than last week. The less pancake batter and cooking the egg with the fillings (except cheese) made a difference.

I think I am getting close on this. Next week I will try it with milk instead of the heavy cream and a little less pancake batter.

P.S. I ran 7 miles hard this morning to earn this omelet.

Perfect omelet update…

My Saturday omelet got a little closer to perfect. Every week I learn a little bit more. This week I kept the pancake batter down to 1/2 cup with three eggs and the omelet was prtetty fluffy. I used the blender to try and inject some air but that was probably not needed. Next Saturday I will try this:

1. Wisk instead of blending.
2. Fry the filling (broccoli, spinach, onions) then cook it with the eggs.
3. Add the cheese last when the omelet is folded.

All this assumes that the pancake batter/egg ratio is good.

In the mean time I would like to thank the chickens for all the great eggs. Thank you chickens!

Is this the perfect Omelet? (not yet)

Saturday is Omelet day in my house. For a year now I have been trying to make the perfect omelet and I have not quiet hit the mark yet.

My reference point are the omelets from Lou Mitchell’s in Chicago. That’s a picture of a Lou Mitchell omelet shown here. They are fluffy beyond belief. I have not had an omelet like these anywhere else and I have traveled the world. While most omelets are rubbery and dense while a Lou Mitchell’s creation is airy and wonderful. I usually get mine with broccoli and cheddar cheese.

The problem is I live far away from Chicago so Lou’s omelets are only a fond memory. And the place I live does not have any restaurants that take breakfast seriously except International House of Pancakes. IHOP has great service and great pancakes but the omelets fall short of what I’m looking for.

To create my perfect Saturday morning omelet I start with spinach, broccoli, onions and mushrooms then the difficult part is getting the eggs right. I know know they use pancake batter in the egg mixture to get the fluff. The problem is finding the right combination. I have been keeping notes and I think I am getting pretty close.

Another part of the experiment is to whip the egg/pancake batter mixture in a blender. How long should it blend and at what speed.

Another set of variables is what type of liquid to use… Milk, water, heavy cream?

There are lots of variables but I have established the stuffing (what goes inside the omelet) so that won’t change which leaves me with the following to tweak:

1. Type of eggs. (I am using brown farm fresh eggs)
2. Level of heat under the pan.
3. Does the omelet go into the oven as a final step? (Have not tried this yet)
4. How much blending?
5. The egg/pancake batter ratio.

I know that once I get the right formula it will be repeatable. The problem is I only get to experiment with one omelet a week. And, oh yeah, I have to eat what ever pops out of the pan no matter how it looks or tastes. Last Saturday’s was more pancake than omelet.

By the way… I earn my Saturday omelet with an eight mile morning run.