Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Jemima's Savoury Picnic Omelette

Beatrix Potter Week continues today with a recipe, along with a closer look at the woman who created the world's most famous lagomorph: Peter Rabbit. 

When Beatrix Potter was sixty years old, her books were international bestsellers. An American magazine invited her to write a short biography for her many fans, and Beatrix described herself as an artist/farmer/lawyer's wife who lived in the Lake District. In a private note to the editor, she added:
"I don't think anybody requires to know more about me." 
Eighty nine years later, her fans would beg to differ.

Beatrix's private life has been gleaned through letters, interviews, and her body of work. We know that she was a sickly, lonely, creative child. She grew up in London and summered in the country with her family. Her mother was loving but overbearing. 
On Beatrix's thirtieth birthday, she was still living at home, suffering through her mother's matchmaking. Beatrix was having none of it. She wanted to draw, write, and tend to her animals, real and imaginary. 

One summer her family leased a house in the hilly, northern Lake Country. The garden overlooked the water, which was always changing and provided endless inspiration to Beatrix. She was smitten with everything, from the moors to wild mushrooms.
The holiday ended, and Beatrix's parents herded her back to London, where she began to sell illustrated cards.

A decade later, professional success and an unbearable sorrow would dovetail into the perfect storm, bringing her back to the Lake District. She bought Hill Top Farm and orchestrated the renovation from afar, as her mother deemed it "unseemly" for a woman to live alone. However, she turned Beatrix loose now and then, allowing her famous daughter to visit her "country home."

Once, Beatrix arrived at Hill Top and discovered that the contractor had created a huge, hideous front lawn. (Possibly he'd assumed that a city slicker like Miss Potter would want to play croquet.)
It would cost a small fortune to correct the error, so Beatrix planted potatoes. 
Speaking of potatoes . . . I made a potato-leek omelette and
scorched it a bit. Still, it was delicious. How can you go wrong when a recipe calls for sauteed potatoes, onions, peas, leeks, peppers--and six large eggs?

The preface to the recipe* is utterly charming:
"In The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck, gullible Jemima is delighted when the silver-tongued, foxy gentleman, Beatrix's favourite villain, invites the duck to a private dinner party.

 'Not even the mention of sage and onions made her suspicious.' She really believes 'the gentleman with sandy whiskers wants her to fetch herbs from the farm garden to make a savoury omelette." 

The author of Beatrix Potter Country Cooking, Sara Paston-Williams, added her notes to the recipe:
"This particular savoury omelette is delicious for a picnic. If you are eating it as part of a meal, the quantity will serve 6; for a main dish, count on 3 servings."

What You Need:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large potato, peeled and diced (I parboiled the potato to reduce cooking time)
1 small leek, finely chopped
6 tablespoons cooked green peas, fresh or frozen
1 large red bell pepper, deseeded and finely chopped
6 tablespoons (1/2 cup) chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
6 large eggs
Salt and freshly milled black pepper
Over a medium flame, heat the oil. Add the potato and cook for about 10 minutes or until browned. Add the onions and sautee. Add the leek and pepper. Cook 6 to 8 minutes. Add the peas.
In another bowl, beat the eggs and season with salt and pepper. Add parsley and cheese. Pour the mixture over the potato-leek-onion dice. Cook over a medium flame for about 5 minutes. Stir at least twice to distribute the egg mixture. Do not burn the omelette (as I did). Remove the pan from the flame and run under the broiler. Cook until the eggs puff up and turn golden. Serve warm. If you're taking the omelette to a picnic, wrap and refrigerate.

springtime magic--recipes, tablescaping, and more.  You're invited to follow our adventures during Beatrix Potter Week on Pinterest.

You can find Monday's recipe for Cucumber-Strawberry Salad HERE.

Recommended Reading:
Beatrix Potter: At Home in the Lake District by Susan Denyer
Beatrix Potter's Country Cooking by Sara Paston-Williams
Beatrix Potter's Gardening Life by Marta McDowell

I'm participating in the following parties:
Wow Us Wednesdays
Tablescape Thursday
Seasonal Sundays

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  1. I love Ms Puddleduck!! I also love picnic's and omelette/quiche/frittata's! I recently posted about playdate picnic's and a BLT Fritta's as being the perfect snack! xx

  2. Oh your picnic omelette looks delicious, especially served with adorable bunny plates, s&p's and a bunny vase! Once again, I love your Beatrix quote! Such a feast for the eyes with all your cookbook photos shared with herbs, veggies and even a chick! Thanks for the taste of Jemima, I'm looking forward to more delicious fun tomorrow :)

  3. What a thoroughly delightful post! Have always loved Beatrix Potter! Thanks for sharing: from her unique background story to your fabulous recipe and photos

  4. Your artfully displayed photos are delightful and love the quote too. I am hungry for an omelette now and want to look up what moss roses are.

  5. i am so loving all that you shared, i certainly read many beatrix books and know the things you are sharing, but i forget that others may not, and i thank you for bringing so much text to life. i just take the easy way out and play visually, but i love reading what you and mary have been sharing round the table! i hope you did get to see the movie about her yesterday, i saw it when it first came out and thought it was wonderful.

    your potato segue was adorable! there were so many recipes to enjoy i am happy miss puddle-duck made it to front and center! all your photos are so fresh and clean, i can just imagine the joy you had playing with food, props and books, my kinda fun!

    wild over your bunny dishes too...

    i don't ever want this week to end, to wake up each day to your magic is DELIGHTFUL!

  6. I absolutely love this post. Me and my little guy are huge huge fans of Peter Rabbit. We absolutely adore him and I am going to share this post with the little one, so he can read all the wonderful things you have written about Beatrix Potter.

    The omelette looks delicious and three cheers to Jemima Puddle duck.

  7. Potato leak omelette sounds delicious. Will pass this along to my chef. '-) This omelette and the strawberry and cucumber salad are going to make the menu for my next girls' luncheon I host. Visual delights!
    Michael Lee, your styling is fabulous. I want to savor every image. I'm off to pin, pin, pin.
    Thanks for sharing all this joyful fun! ~ Sarah

  8. I must request the cookbook from the library. Your picnic omelette and the bunny plates are calling my name.

  9. ahhh, the intrigue by the wily Mr. Fox! Seducing silly Mrs Puddle Duck with his herbal promises! I LOVE the eggs on the book!

  10. Love it! Enjoying all things Beatrix Potter.

  11. What a beautiful omelette for Jemima...and love the verse from B. Potter about her garden...Gorgeous photos!!!

  12. What a charming post! Your omelet looks delicious to me (and, you're right, how can you go wrong with those ingredients?), and the display is lovely, as always. You amaze me with your accessories, a seemingly endless supply to complement every book, recipe, or tale that you have to tell. I'm going to look for this cookbook if for no other reason than just to steep in some good Beatrix Potter. There was a film about Beatrix Potter (I think Rene Zellweger played the lead). I don't know how accurate it was, but I took my mother and her friend to see it about five years ago and we found it charming.

    Are you a Susan Branch fan? I'm reading her latest book about her trip to England. It's called A Fine Romance, and it is great fun to read and browse. You Novel Bakers may enjoy this one.

    1. 'A Fine Romance' just arrived. I thought of the NB immediately, but there's a note about not reproducing the images or text, so we'd need permission to do the book justice. Can't wait to start the book. It's my first Susan Branch. Madonna told me about Miss Potter--I absolutely loved it. Have you read BP's Gardening Life? It's beautifully written.