The Soho Charcuterie Cookbook: Fabulous Food for Entertaining, by Francine Scherer and Madeline Poley (Morrow, 1983).

We hear that long ago, Soho was not the tourist-choked warren of Apple stores, brunch cafes and shoe stores that it is today. Apparently, much like, say, Red Hook five years ago, it was solely inhabited by individuals intrepid enough to do so. As we all know, unless there is something decent to eat, the rest of us won't go there. Soho Charcuterie brought that "something" to Soho in the mid-70's and was a significant factor in the gentrification of the area, bringing fantastic brunch (and fabulous brunch-lovers) south of Houston. And the rest, as they say, is Eggs-Benedict-and-mimosa-history.

Strawberry Omelet-Photo- Tampa Treasures 2004_10_food_strawberryomelet.JPGThe Soho Charcuterie closed (we think) in the late eighties, but maybe making something from The Soho Charcuterie Cookbook will take you back to the days when a good brunch was hard to find. With an entire chapter devoted to eggs, and another full of recipes for quiches, crepes, & blintzes, you might need to add that leaf to your table. Gothamist likes to eat brunch at any hour, but in addition to chapters full of the expected salads, sandwiches, & entrees, the book includes entire chapters on charcuterie, wine, appetizers, and party planning. The well-written recipes make creating complex flavors easy, making the cookbook a great resource for a creative home chef, and a fun read.

On the Recipe

Gothamist's omelet-making skills are fairly nonexistent--our attempts usually turn into "scrambles", but the Chevre and Straweberry Omelet recipe looked too good to keep to ourselves. The book's complete omelet recipe is included: good luck!

The Recipe

Chevre and Strawberry Omelet

1/3 cup sliced strawberries, sprinkled with 1/4 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice and 1/2 teaspoon sugar and sautéed for 30 seconds over high heat in 1 tablespoon sweet butter
1/4 cup softened chevre (goat) cheese mixed with 1 tablespoon sour cream
4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp sugar
1 teaspoon heavy cream
2 tablespoons Clarified Butter
1 teaspoon sweet butter, softened
7-inch seasoned omelet pan with sloping sides or nonstick pan

Preheat oven to 450°F. Break the eggs into a small mixing bowl and add the sugar and cream. With a large fork, beat the eggs vigorously for about 30 seconds, or until they are well mixed but not frothy.

Mix the sautéed strawberries with the chevre and place the mixture in the oven for 2-3 minutes.

Image-Paul Volker, http://members.tripod.com/wbfoto/,  2004_10_food_mouseomelet.JPGIn the omelet pan, over a medium-high flame, heat the clarified butter for 1 minute. Pour the egg mixture into the pan and, with the cooking fork, immediately begin to draw the cooked egg away from the sides of the pan into the center of the egg mass. (Try to keep the tines of the fork at a 45-degree angle to the bottom of the pan.) Slowly begin to agitate the pan backwards and forwards to prevent sticking. Now combine a vigorous back-and-forth shaking of the pan and rapid scrambling of the eggs. Do this until two thirds of the egg mass has formed a cohesive bond, which should take only about 30 seconds. Remove the pan from the heat and, with a final vigorous movement, shake the pan backwards and forwards again rapidly and simultaneously scramble until, in about 15 seconds, the edges of the omelet start to fold over, giving them a finished, rolled look all around. The center of the omelet should remain fairly loose and overall it should resemble a thick, moist pancake.

At this point quickly and evenly distribute the omelet filling over one half of the omelet. Now slide a pancake turner around the sides and under the bottom of the omelet so that it will come easily out of the pan. Slide the spatula under the unfilled side and, with one quick stroke, keeping the spatula in place, slide the omelet onto an ovenproof plate and fold it over. Place the omelet in the oven for approximately 45 seconds. After the omelet has come out of the oven, rub the surface with the softened butter.

Serves 2.