Leo Bruce and Rupert Croft-Cooke on Omelettes

From Chapter 11 of Death of Cold by Leo Bruce (London, 1956), p. 83:

Now [says Greta, daughter of the murdered Mayor of Oldhaven, to Carolus Deene, when he visits her and her husband, Jack Fyrth], I’m going to make you an omelette tonight [. . .].  I’m not sorry to cook for us at night.  I rather fancy myself at omelettes.”
A discussion then broke out on the making of omelettes.  Strange, thought Carolus, that in England, where cooking is so mediocre, there should be so much talk about it.  He was as bad as they were, and argued hotly about that spoonful of water which should or should not be added and the shape of the pan to be used.
“Come and see how it’s done” challenged Greta.  “If you can find room to stand.”
They left Jack in his armchair and went into the small kitchen, which, Carolus noticed, served as bathroom as well, the bath having a hinged lid that formed Greta’s table.
“It’s all terribly pokey,” she said she beat her eggs with a fork, spurning an egg-whisk[.]


From Chapter 7, “Eggs”, of Cooking for Pleasure by Rupert Croft-Cooke (London and Glasgow, 1963), pp. 58–60:

Omelette.  There is a great deal of mystique and hu-ha about this simple thing and it is an unhappy but undeniable fact that whereas any French cook, or any French woman who would not even claim to be a cook, can make it well, very few British people can.  They learn tricks and gimmicks and think the answer is a few drops of water in the mixture, or the way it is beaten, or the fat used, but still fail to produce that elementary but excellent thing, a plain omelette.
This comes nearly always from the fact that they use the wrong pan. A thin all-purpose frying pan simply will not make a good omelette.  You need a heavy iron or copper one with low sides.  (I have seen them used with no sides at all in France.)  It must be kept for omelettes (or pancakes or similar things) and not used for anything else.  It should never be scoured or cleaned with soda but when it is new seasoned by cooking a little oil in it, allowing this to get cold and re-heating.  It should be thoroughly cleaned with absorbent paper and kept clean without hot water.  This is not just superstition.  The omelette will not stick to such a pan or burn or need large quantities of fat.  Do not use a very large pan, and unless you are a skilled omelette-maker do not make too large and omelette.  A pan eight inches across is ideal and will enable you to make omelettes small enough for individuals or large enough for two.
Now as to the actual mixture.  The salt should be mixed in, but not the pepper, which, if it is coarsely ground, will sink and remain in the bottom of the mixing bowl.  It can be sprinkled over the omelette in the pan.  A little water, no more than a dessert spoonful to an egg certainly helps to pick the centre of the omelette soft and avoid fluffiness, but the French rarely use it and it is not “an age-old secret” which will solve all your omelette problems.  Never add milk; it toughens an omelette and gives it nothing.  And this is the time when not to use cream.  The mixture should be well stirred with a fork until white and yolk are one, but not really beaten.  Never use an egg-whisk.  If you are adding flavouring which is part of the omelette (like chopped herbs) stir it in now, but before pouring the mixture into the pan give it another good stir because the herbs stick to the sides of the bowl.
Before actually cooking the omelette have a hot plate ready for it.  It can be spoilt by standing on a cold one.  Also have hot and ready any filling you are going to use, mushroom, diced ham, flaked cheese or what have you, in little heaps, each of which is the white quantity for one omelette.  This is wise because you’ll need them in a hurry at the right moment.
Meanwhile your heavy pan has been warming up over a ring.  Put in your lump of butter* (the best, no, the only cooking fat for the delicately flavoured omelette). It should sizzle madly and turn a delicate honey brown.  The pan must be really hot when you pour in your mixture, but as soon as it is in lower the heat. If the butter is not hot enough at first it will mix with the egg and the whole thing become a greasy mess, but it should not afterwards cook too fast.
When your mixture is in and your heat lowered, keep the pan in motion with one hand while you lightly stir the mixture about with the other.  It is all a matter of seconds, for when your mixture has a dryish sticky look on the upper side and is more or less evenly spaced and cooked, it is done.  Fold it over carefully but fast and remove it at once from the pan on to the waiting plate.  It should be light but not of a soufflé texture (a soufflé omelette is another and a lesser thing), very slightly brown on the outside and soft in the middle.  Like the ones you get as soon as you cross the Channel in fact.
There are countless fillings, most of which are kept hot to be laid on the omelette before you fold it.  The tendency of British cooks is to stir things like ham, grated cheese, even sliced mushrooms into the mixture but in most but in most cases except fines herbs it is better laid hot on the omelette before this is folded over.  Chicken liver, ham, cheese, crab, asparagus chips, kidney, and shrimp omelettes are all fairly familiar, but two very good ones are soft roe omelette, which is pleasant because the roe’s consistency suits the omelette, and salmon, for which cooked salmon is finely flaked and well heated before it goes in.

*  Again, a measuring problem.  How can I indicate not too fancifully how much butter?  For an omelette of two or three eggs a fairly piled egg-spoon of it, or the volume of a pigeons egg, rather less than a walnut—the amount you find best!