Monday, April 23, 2007

The Brick Layer's Omelet

Recently, Mr CC's Aunt Kay sent an article that had been clipped from the March 10, 1963 Bonanza Magazine within the San Francisco Sunday Chronicle, Western Dining section. The article, part of which is shown above, was written by Jane Benet with a photo by early Bay Area photographer, Roy Flamm, and features a recipe from Ralph Johnson, my late father-in-law, painter, sculptor and art professor at UC Davis from 1957 to 1988. The recipe is a re-print from the Artists' & Writers' Cookbook published in 1961.

As I've said before, Ralph was a great cook and dear friend and I was fortunate to share many an evening with him; my kitchen or his.

The story goes that when he was a young man, Ralph had a job as a hod carrier, working for a Danish bricklayer. His boss gave him the recipe which he then dubbed the Brick Layer's Omelet.

Mr CC is the chef of note here, claiming proprietary descendancy. He shopped for the ingredients and made the dish. I took the photographs and ate what was put on my plate. This is an old fashioned dish using simple ingredients. It was tasty but, more to the point, it was truly poignant.

Before I go any further, I simply must tell you about these eggs. Oh my god, they are so beautiful, their yolks so orange, their whites so perky and clear. They must have come from very happy hens.

Well, yes, as it turns out, they are very happy hens from our very own, local Wild Chick Farm. Pasture-raised, organically fed, they live about 12 miles from my kitchen. These particular eggs are from Araucana hens and may be purchased on Saturday mornings at the Arcata Farmers Market.

Brick Layer's Omelet
As re-printed in the SF Sunday Chronicle, March 10, 1963

3 strips bacon
4 eggs
1/4 cup flour
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon baking powder
salt and freshly ground pepper
1/3 cup chopped olives (we used black)
1/3 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/3 cup monterey jack cheese cut into cubes

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
Fry the bacon in a 9-inch skillet until tender-crisp.
Remove from skillet and drain on paper towels. Leave bacon fat in the skillet.
Place the rest of the ingredients into a large bowl and mix together with a fork until the eggs and flour are combined.
Pour contents into the skillet and crumble the bacon over the top.
Bake in the 350-degree oven until the omelet is golden and puffy, about 30 minutes.
Cool slightly and cut into wedges to serve.
As Ralph said, "A little jelly is sometimes good with it."

Copyright © 2005-2007, Christine Cooks. All rights reserved


  1. I will definitely try this one! We have 9 hens and 1 rooster, so I am averaging 7-9 eggs daily, and tho I give many away, I still have plenty for our family. Two of my hens are Aracaunas, so I get the lovely blue eggs, plus brown eggs from my Isa Browns. (tho, I think they are beginning to molt, so my egg production will be drastically reduced in a very short time)

  2. I don't know about jelly(I'm one of those people not crazy about sweet and savory together), but the omelet looks incredible.. and a great story too!

  3. What a wonderful omelet and wonderful post! I like sweet with savory because it is so unexpected.

  4. A beautiful post Christine! I really enjoy reading it. The omelet looks great, too.

  5. It looks really delicious, it's the first omelette I have seen with flour in it. I did notice when I stopped with my cousin just outside of Orlando that there only appeared to be white eggs in the supermarket so it was nice to hear farmgirl cyn saying that she had a mixture of coloured eggs. It's not very often you find such white eggs here in England and the yolks look really yellow. My brother keeps chicken and the pretty ones he has are lavender pekins and they lay very pale blue eggs. I love the story Christine.

  6. Good Golly ... what a wonderful memory and then to have somebody who loves you cook it for you!! Wow. And yes those eggs really are that much different and so much worth it. I didn't have those but I've had some local ones that I would describe the same way.
    Lovely omlet and fabulous story!!

  7. Does that ever look good!
    Kind of a cross between a Yorkshire Pudding and an omelet (with the flour and milk).
    I'll make this!

  8. Hi Cyn,
    I used to raise chickens when I lived in a place where there weren't racoons and foxes. Maybe again some day...

    Hello Deborah,
    Thanks for visiting. I checked out your very nice blog. Sorry I haven't left a comment yet but I will.

    I'm with you. Ralph was such a whimsical guy and if he said jelly was good with an omelet sometimes, I'd believe him.

    Thank you Ahn. Nice to see you here!

    Thank you too, Anne. Do the eggs look white on your computer? They are a beautiful shade of blue. I was afraid to enhance the photo in photoshop, it was so beautiful. Maybe I should have.
    The flour added to the omelet really takes it out of the omelet realm and puts it more in the souffle or crustless quiche arena, or, as katie says, Yorkshire pudding. I didn't want to mess with the recipe or the story so I left that little aside out.

    Hiya Tanna. Love your comments! :))

    When you make it, post it. I'd love to see what you come up with.

  9. That is so cool that your eggs come from right down the road! They were very pretty. The omelet looks good too.

  10. Chistine they do look blue and strangely enough I have just been reading my Country Living Magazine and it says any hens with white ear lobes lay white eggs and Araucanas lay beautiful eau-de-nil ones while most to the other lay tinted eggs....never really thought about it before. Life is a never ending learning curve.

  11. well, if it is one thing I like, that's a happy chicken! You lucked out this day to have found such good eggs....the color sounds delicious! One thing the French (and most Europeans) do is to leave the eggs unrefrigerated, just hanging around in the kitchen.... oh, in a beautiful basket...they know they are fresh and they know they came from... just down the street....oh so civil! I have returned just today...thanks for inquiring...I have missed you, too!

  12. Thanks very much, Glenna!

    Welcome home Jann! So nice to "hear" your voice. Want you to know that these blue beauties never got close to a fridge. And thanks for reminding me that I have an egg basket!
    I'll be visiting your kitchen soon. Can't wait to read/see about your travels Down Under.

  13. Hmm...I love a good omlette - very underrated. I love your step-by-step photos too, Christine!

  14. I would love to raise chickens. Of course, I would turn them into pets. :):) Those eggs look magnifcent

  15. I used to raise them in my back yard in Davis, Sher! As long as you don't have more than 6 hens and no roosters... You go!
    We do stay up late, don't we? :)


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