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Creating Egg Dishes - Omelets, Frittatas, Quiches, and Stratas

What’s the Difference Between Them?

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Updated May 01, 2013

Creating Egg Dishes - Omelets, Frittatas, Quiches, and Stratas
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Egg dishes have a lot in common, and many cultures have developed egg dishes. Because eggs don’t have a strong taste, they are all useful for conveying other combinations of flavors. In addition, their unique protein composition, which starts out fluid, but with heat rapidly develops a structure that supports other ingredients, is very useful in creating many different kinds of dishes. The standard egg dishes –- among them quiche, omelet, frittata, and strata -– all have differences that you can use to your advantage, depending upon what your needs are for any given meal.

Omelets

Omelets are perhaps the best known egg dishes in North America. Beaten eggs are mixed with a little liquid (no more than 1 Tablespoon per egg, and often less), and cooked until set, then folded around a filling. They are usually eaten immediately after cooking.

Tip: Make sure the filling is warm before putting it into the omelet.

For a step-by-step illustration of making a simple omelet, check out this Illustrated Omelet Guide by Fiona Haynes, About’s Guide to Low Fat Cooking.

Frittatas

Lesser known in the United States, this is an Italian version of an omelet. Because of the way it is cooked, I think it is more versatile, as it can be easily eaten later, and even frozen. Several portions are usually cooked at once, in only marginally more time than it takes to cook an omelet. There are several techniques, but I favor a quick one that starts on the stove and finishes in a few minutes under the broiler. Note that while “saucy” fillings can work well in omelets, you would usually want to avoid putting sauces in a frittata.

Tip: Small cubes of cheese in a frittata will melt during cooking and create yummy little cheese pockets.

How to Cook a Frittata
Recipe: Pizza Frittata

Quiches

A quiche is essentially a baked custard (savory rather than sweet) in a pie shell –- although you can certainly make one without the crust, as I always do. It usually includes cheese, as well as other ingredients. Since it is a custard, it is more delicate in consistency than a frittata. This is because it is made with more liquid than eggs, traditionally 2 to 3 eggs per cup of liquid (traditionally cream, but this is less usual these days), although you see recipes with more eggs.

Tip: The trick with quiche is how to preserve the delicate texture. This is achieved by removing it from the oven while it is still a bit uncooked in the center; it will continue to cook when removed from the heat. Overcooked quiche has a “tough,” cracked texture around the outside.

How to Make a Crustless Quiche
Recipe: Smoked Salmon, Leek, and Mushroom Quiche (Crustless)

Stratas

Stratas are egg, cheese, and bread casseroles that puff up when baking. When I was younger, I heard these casseroles called all kinds of different things, but in recent years I tend to hear the Italian name for it, which is strata. They are usually not a low-carb dish, although you can make them with low carb bread. I have found that substituting 1 and 1/2 cups of almond meal for the bread can sometimes work: as in this Bacon and Egg Casserole. A strata has the same ratio of liquid to eggs as a quiche, although traditionally milk is used, not cream. You can put anything into it you would put into a quiche or frittata.

Egg Casseroles

I don’t know what else to call this genre of egg dishes. Again, they are usually some combination of egg and cheese, but either with flour added to the milk, or with a more solid dairy product such as sour cream or yogurt. They are heartier than a quiche, probably leaning more towards a strata in texture. Examples are my Denver Casserole, or Chiles Rellenos Casserole.
Egg Dishes from Other About Guides
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  6. Creating Egg Dishes - Omelets, Frittatas, Quiches, and Stratas

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