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Cheese Omelets

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

Ijeh is a perfect hors d’oeuvre or luncheon dish. More eggs or some egg whites can be added to stretch the dish to feed more. Everybody loves ijeh!

“In 1945, San Nahem, a fellow S/Y, was a pitcher who had made it to major league baseball. He was being interview on the radio and was briefly asked about his Syrian-Jewish background. At the end of the interview, he was asked, ‘why don’t you wish your radio public in Syrian (Arabic) a Merry Christmas?’ Although Sam did grow up in the Syrian community, he didn’t know much about the language spoken by his relatives, much less how to say something to do with Christmas in Arabic. After a short pause he smiled and yelled out, ‘Ijeb b’jibneh!’ which meant ‘cheese omelet!’ All the friends, family, and community who had been listening fell over themselves in hysteria. Sam may not have known how to speak a word in Arabic, but he did know what was most important—the Syrian food!”–JOE BIJOU

Serves4 to 5 (1 to 1½ dozen omelets)

Cooking Methodpan-frying

CostInexpensive

Easy

Total Timeunder 15 minutes

Make Ahead RecipeYes

Kid FriendlyYes

OccasionBuffet, Cocktail Party, Family Get-together

Recipe Coursehors d'oeuvre, snack

Dietary Considerationhalal, kosher, peanut free, soy free, vegetarian

Five Ingredients or LessYes

Mealbrunch, lunch

Moodstressed

Taste and Texturecheesy, chewy, crisp, salty, savory, spiced

Type of Dishcanape/crostini

Ingredients

  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped yellow onions
  • 1 cup coarsely grated Parmesan cheese
  • Several grindings of black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg (optional)
  • 4 to 7 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • One 12-ounce package (6 per package) pita bread or homemade pita bread, warmed in the toaster oven and cut into quarters

Instructions

  1. Place all the ijeh ingredients in a medium-size bowl and mix well.

  2. Heat 4 tablespoons of the vegetable oil in a large skillet over high heat for 30 to 45 seconds, reduce the heat to medium, and drop 1 tablespoon of the cheese mixture at a time into the hot oil. Fry 3 to 4 portions at a time. Watch the skillet carefully, as the ijeh fry rapidly. When the edges of the patties start to brown and curl, turn and fry until both sides are puffy and golden, about 1 minute. Remove immediately to a plate covered with paper towels to drain. Repeat with the remaining cheese mixture. Add more oil to the skillet during frying if necessary. (Any type of ijeh may be prepared in advance and set aside at this point. To reheat, place on a baking sheet or ovenproof plate, cover with aluminum foil, and place in a preheated 350°F oven until sizzling. Ijeh may also be fried, frozen, and then reheated while still frozen in the same manner.)

  3. Have hot quarters of pita ready. Place the ijeh in the pockets and serve immediately.

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