- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 6, 2005

Late summer brings plenty of overnight company to our house. Friends traveling from northern New England or

from Cape Cod find our little western Massachusetts town a perfect place to stop en route home from vacation.

One such traveler has been arriving regularly for several years as she returns to Philadelphia from an island off the coast of Maine.

She is, I might add, one of our most thoughtful guests. She arrives with lobsters for the evening meal and often throws in some other treats from Maine.

This year, she unpacked a smoked trout pate, as well as a pound of fresh Maine crabmeat. I served the pate as an appetizer and plunged the lobsters into a large pot to steam for supper — but the crab I guarded for brunch the next day.

I adore making breakfast or brunch for out-of-town guests because it’s a chance to indulge in waffles or pancakes or a glorious egg dish and to forgo the boring but good-for-you cereals we eat most mornings.

The minute I saw the crab, I thought of using it in an omelet. When I woke the next day, my mind was teeming with how I could pair it. A box of grape tomatoes was on my kitchen counter, and some creamy goat cheese and a bunch of basil were in the fridge. All of these would complement the shellfish beautifully.

Making omelets for company might sound like a daunting job, but it is actually a simple process that requires just a few minutes. The secret is to have everything organized.

First I prepared the filling, combining the crabmeat with quartered tomatoes and bits of cheese. Then I chopped the basil.

Next I whisked the eggs with some diced butter (to add creaminess) and seasoned them with salt and pepper. I also set four dinner plates on the counter near the stove.

Then I was ready to make the omelets. I melted a pat of butter in a nonstick skillet, and when it was hot, I ladled some of the egg mixture into the pan and used a fork to swirl the mixture until it set, only a matter of seconds.

Finally, I spooned some filling and chopped basil into the center and folded the omelet into thirds as I slid it onto a plate.

As each omelet was prepared, I served it right away. I continued, making three more omelets in less than 6 minutes.

My instincts proved wise. The omelets, which were accompanied by a mixed green salad and a warm loaf of crusty French peasant bread, turned out to be the hit of our late-morning brunch.

This same menu, I realized, could easily be served as a light supper for overnight guests.

The omelets are rich and satisfying and, when paired with a salad and bread, could make an easy and delectable evening meal.

Crab, tomato and goat cheese omelets

16 grape tomatoes

1/4 pound fresh lump crabmeat

½ cup (3½ to 4 ounces) creamy goat cheese, broken into small pieces

12 large eggs

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided

4 tablespoons chopped basil

4 teaspoons chopped basil, plus 4 basil sprigs for garnish

Have ready 4 dinner plates. Set butter and salt and pepper near stove.

Quarter tomatoes lengthwise and reserve 8 wedges for garnish. Place remaining tomatoes, crabmeat and goat cheese in a medium bowl and gently mix to combine. Set aside.

Place eggs in another medium bowl and season with ½ teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Whisk well to blend. Cut 1 tablespoon butter into small dice and whisk it into the eggs.

In a 10-inch skillet (preferably nonstick) set over medium heat, heat 1 tablespoon butter until hot but not smoking.

Add 1/4 of the egg mixture and swirl to cover bottom of pan. With a fork, gently and quickly work your way around the pan stirring eggs with a circular motion until set but still moist, only a few seconds.

Spoon 1/4 of crab and tomato mixture in a 2-inch strip across the center of the eggs, sprinkle the filling with 1 tablespoon chopped basil, and season it with a pinch of salt and pepper.

Run a metal spatula around the sides and under the omelet to loosen it. Starting at end of pan near handle, use the metal spatula to flip 1/3 of the omelet over the filling. Lift pan from heat and, holding it at a sharp angle, slide omelet onto a dinner plate and gently flip it over so that omelet is folded into thirds.

Sprinkle omelet with 1 teaspoon chopped basil and garnish with a sprig of basil and a couple of tomato wedges. Serve immediately. Prepare three more omelets in the same manner. Makes four servings.

TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES

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