Not Quite an Omelette Arnold Bennett

I was watching MasterChef: The Professionals the other night, when some of the competitors were tasked with making an omelette Arnold Bennett as a skills challenge. A flat omelette, topped with poached smoked haddock, parmesan and then slathered in hollandaise sauce, what’s not to like?

As a vegetarian, the omelette Arnold Bennet has a couple of obvious drawbacks, namely the smoked haddock and parmesan. Vegetarian hard cheese is easy, but what do you replace smoked haddock with? I didn’t think that smoked tofu would really fit the bill, especially not that Cauldron stuff you get in the supermarket. It just so happened that we had some spare Jerusalem artichokes in the fridge, so I decided to replace the smoked haddock with those and make one for my dinner one evening last week.

Poaching Jerusalem artichokes

There just happened to be some milk in the fridge too, so I slowly poached the Jerusalem artichokes in that until they were cooked. Rather than going all out with a six egg omelette and four egg yolk hollandaise, as Marcus Wareing appeared to on MasterChef when demonstrating the dish, I decided to go with half quantities. Which I’m rather glad I did, as this is one hell of a rich dish.

Making a hollandaise sauce

So once the artichokes were done, I whipped up a flat omelette, topped it with the artichokes, veggie hard cheese and then drowned the whole lot with a hollandaise sauce, before flashing it under the grill. It looked pretty good sitting in the frying pan, slightly less good when it had slopped out onto the plate though.

Making a flat omelette

It was as you’d expect, utterly delicious, but bordering on the unfinishable; I could feel my arteries furring up as I ate it. I did feel the need to sit down for a bit after polishing it all off, I’ve no idea how Arnold Bennett, or anyone else for that matter, managed to get anything done if they ate one that was twice the size, for breakfast.

Jerusalem artichokes and hard cheese on top...

The only disappointment was the Jerusalem artichokes, they were pretty anonymous. I can see why a smoked fish, like haddock, would be perfect in a dish like this, just providing a layer of lightly smoked flavour to counter all the richness. If I ever make one again, I’ll have to think of some way to treat the artichokes so they don’t get lost, or maybe some smoked tofu would do the job…

Ready to be flashed under the grill...

If you fancy making one yourself, then check out Felicity Cloake’s How to make the perfect omelette Arnold Bennett.

Ready to be devoured...

Roasted Ceps and Jerusalem Artichokes

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I love it when the first packs of jerusalem artichokes appear on the shelves, it means I can get out my copy of Raymond Blanc’s Blanc Vite and cook one of our favorite recipes. I’ve never seen ceps for sale, at least in the places I shop, so we always end up making this with shiitakes. I should really try harder and go to a farmers market or something, as I’m sure it would be better with the real thing.

It took me quite a few attempts before I felt confident enough to have the pan hot enough to sear the artichokes and mushrooms and give them the required colour. I’m always scared that they’ll catch on the pan and the whole thing will turn out to be a mess. All it takes is getting the pan hot enough to start with, then it’s all fine.

The only real problem with this dish, is the issue of what to serve with it, we’ve tried tatties and yams in the past. This time, it was just some tatties that had been put through the ricer and then mixed into some melted butter and warm milk. I’ve found that while yams can be really tasty with it, they can also set like concrete if you’re not careful. I wonder if a rosti or something like that would be best though, as it might give a bit of crunch to the plate.

Finally, I can never make this look like the photo in the book, there’s just too much shallot in the vinaigrette! It looks so appetising in the book and so lumpy on my plate, I need to work on that…