On the Frittata Fence?

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I know how you feel! Frittatas were never my thing. In fact, until recently, I had never even made one at home. If you don’t believe me, you can read more about my egg adventures by clicking here. But that has all changed. I have broadened my horizons, and become a frittata lover. And not just because they taste so good. They also happen to be a perfect meal-on-the-cheap. And while their main gig is brunch, they can stand in for breakfast, lunch, or dinner! More…

I know how you feel!

Frittatas were never my thing. In fact, until recently, I had never even made one at home. If you don’t believe me, you can read more about my egg adventures by clicking here. But that has all changed. I have broadened my horizons, and become a frittata lover. And not just because they taste so good. They also happen to be a perfect meal-on-the-cheap. And while their main gig is brunch, they can stand in for breakfast, lunch, or dinner!

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Yes, the humble frittata is extremely versatile–even in what you pair with it. You see, frittatas are the Garanimals of the food world. For every five or six eggs in your frittata, you simply mix and match about one cup of fillings and a handful of grated cheese–all based on your taste and what’s available in the fridge. Leftovers and eggs make for a really inexpensive culinary adventure. Every time I think I have found my favorite, I am surprised by a new combination and gobble it up with the excitement of a 1-year-old eating cake for the first time. I am not normally a second helping type of girl–just ask my husbandbut I now break that rule for frittatas (and Indian food, if I am being completely truthful)!

My favorite combo had been smoked ham with sauteed leeks and smoked Gruyere. But then a  few days ago, I made warm bacon, fennel, and Brussels sprouts over tagliatelle pasta with chicken liver alfredo sauce, which had leftover braised fennel and Brussels sprouts. I knew immediately that these veggies would play well with pancetta and, of course, smoked Gruyere. As luck would have it, our girls egg production has increased with the longer days, so six eggs was a drop in the basket.

Putting this light supper together was a snap. I simply cracked and whisked the eggs, added the accouterments, poured into a buttered fry pan, cooked over low heat until slightly giggly, and then popped in the oven until set. In the off chance you would like a more formal recipe, here it is:

Pancetta, Fennel, & Brussels Sprouts Frittata

INGREDIENTS

  • 5 or 6 free range eggs (depending on the size provided by your egg source)
  • 113 grams (4oz) of pancetta, precooked and crumbled
  • 1/2 cup (by volume) braised fennel & Brussels sprouts
  • 1/2 cup(by volume) of grated smoked Gruyere
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • knob of butter

MISE EN PLACE

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Get leftover veg braise out to bring to room temp.
  3. Cook pancetta.
  4. Crack and whisk eggs.
  5. Grate cheese.
  6. Get out butter, and make sure salt and pepper are within reach.

STEP ONE
Heat 8″ non-stick fry pan over low to medium-low heat. Add butter. Once butter is melted, add veg to reheat.

STEP TWO
Add whisked eggs, most of the meat and cheese, salt, and pepper. Slowly cook the mixture; gently but constantly stirring, making sure to scrap sides of pan as you go. Continue to stir until slightly giggly.

STEP THREE
Once slightly giggly, pop in oven until just set; approximately 5 minutes, but really dependent on your oven and how well done you like your eggs. Do keep in mind that they will continue to cook from residual heat after being removed from the oven.

STEP FOUR
Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes. At that point, you can run a spatula around the side of the pan and slip the frittata on to a cutting board to cut/portion. To serve, sprinkle a bit of the leftover pancetta and grated cheese on top of each slice.

Cook’s Notes
The addition of crusty grilled bread would be a nice complement at breakfast, while the grilled bread and a green salad would be satisfying lunch or dinner. I would also recommend that you try cooking for slightly less time than you think is appropriate. When the eggs are cooked to perfection, they are creamy; without being runny. But if you take the frittata out of the oven too late, the texture will become rubbery and lack the rich, velvety texture that makes this meal stand out.

Makes 4 servings.

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The Good Egg

FullSizeRender_4 (2)I may not have left home with a full culinary arsenal, being the youngest of five girls, but I knew how to make a good cake, an array of cookies, a pot of steamed rice, and eggs. Scrambled eggs to be exact. Perfect scrambled eggs to be even more precise. I would actually consider myself a scrambled egg snob. I have so rarely liked scrambled eggs when dining out, I gave up ordering years ago. Once in a blue moon, I will be tempted and snatch a bite off of someone else’s plate, but am always disappointed. What seems to be such a simple task, seems to allude most short-order cooks. What gives? More…

I may not have left home with a full culinary arsenal, being the youngest of five girls, but I knew how to make a good cake, an array of cookies, a pot of steamed rice, and eggs. Scrambled eggs to be exact. Perfect scrambled eggs to be even more precise. I would actually consider myself a scrambled egg snob. I have so rarely liked scrambled eggs when dining out, I gave up ordering years ago. Once in a blue moon, I will be tempted and snatch a bite off of someone else’s plate, but am always disappointed. What seems to be such a simple task, seems to allude most short-order cooks. What gives?

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Well it turns out that there are several issues; and while many are not in the hands of the cook, one is. But I will get back to that in a bit. As strange as it may seem, I am going to show you how I create perfect scrambled eggs; and while a recipe for this morning glory may seem obvious, it really takes a deft hand and quality ingredients to get egg’cellent results.

So let’s begin…with your egg supplier. Mine happen to live in my backyard and as long as I treat them well, feed them a good diet of organic feed and veg scraps, and allow them to free range as often as possible, they supply me with fresh, creamy eggs that have beautifully orange yolks.

Our girls: Winifred, Jane Erye, Daphne, Samwise Gamgee and George.

Our girls: Winifred, Jane Erye, Daphne, Samwise Gamgee and George.

So once you have a lead on a good source for your eggs and are ready to begin, its a matter of respecting the ingredient at that point. Only allowing all that comes in contact with your eggs to be as good in quality–from the pan you use to the salt you season with.

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To start, heat your pan over low heat; this is one of the keys to creamy eggs. If you cook your eggs over high heat, the result will be rubbery eggs. So low and slow are your best bet for soft eggs, but also remember that the pan you use will also have an effect how your eggs turn out. A good-quality teflon pan is the best bet here; hands down. If your eggs stick to the pan, you will get an off texture and/or dry flaky eggs. I take this a bit farther by having a specific pan that is only used to make eggs to ensure the non-stick finish stays intact as long as possible. Once the pan is up to temp, add your butter. Personally, I use salted butter. I know that most would say to use unsalted butter so that you can control the sodium level, but by this point in my life, I know how much salt is in there and season my eggs with salt accordingly. I recommend Kerrygold butter, but any good quality grass-fed butter will do.

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As the butter is melting, I whisk the egg whites and yolks with a fork until completely incorporated with each other and one uniform consistency. Be sure to not over-whisk either or there will be too much air in your eggs which could result in less creamy eggs. Again, both are key to the final texture. Once the butter is melted and the eggs whisked, add a pinch of stellar sea salt, stir, and pour the egg mixture into the pan. Now walk over to the sink and rinse out the bowl. By the time you get back to the pan, the eggs are probably ready for you to start stirring.

Stir the eggs with a rubber spatula, incorporating the butter while moving the egg mixture around to cook. Be sure to scrap the sides as well as the bottom of the pan. Slowly, the eggs will coagulate and firm up. If it is happening quickly, the pan is at too high of a temperature. This is normally where the cook at your local greasy spoon fails; the eggs are cooked too quickly in an effort to get the meals out quickly. But we don’t have to hurry this process, just lower your heat and lift the pan to cool it down before ruining the eggs.  When you can scrap the bottom of the pan and the mixture does not come back together quickly, it is time to start thinking about flipping the eggs.

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Once you have flipped the eggs, in sections or all at once, it is time to start breaking up the eggs into smaller parts. At this point, I also turn the heat off and allow the eggs to cook via a more gentle residual heat. I then transfer to a plate, sprinkle with a bit of finishing salt, and freshly ground pepper. And on those days when I want to change it up a bit, I garnish with fresh tarragon or thyme, or dried fine herbs.

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The result is a velvety, buttery protein-packed breakfast (or lunch) that takes less than five minutes to cook, but satisfies your hunger for hours! And if you want to, you can build on your eggs and make a hearty “scramble”. In our house that normally means looking in the fridge for some yummie leftover tib bits such as smoked turkey and broccoli, sausage and spinach, or smoked salmon and dill. The combinations are really endless.

If you have any hearty “scramble” combinations that are tried and true, please share. I would love to give it a go!

Be Still My Heart

I thought I was a decent cook, but each unit in this cooking course makes me realize how little I actually knew–not in a bad way, more of an inspiring way. It makes me realize that there is so much out there–in terms of food–that I have yet to experience. I relish the opportunity! More…
I thought I was a decent cook, but each unit in this cooking course makes me realize how little I actually knew–not in a bad way, more of an inspiring way. It makes me realize that there is so much out there–in terms of food–that I have yet to experience. I relish the opportunity!

The frittata is a perfect example of this. One of the practice assignments in Unit Six involves making a ham and leek frittata. After my success with the omelet, I decided to give it a try in earnest. What do you suppose happened? You guessed it! I loved the final result. On a sidenote: With few exceptions, the Rouxbe recipes are spot-on and worth the effort. But back to the frittata, it took all of 20 minutes to make, and thinking aloud, if you added a nice green salad, you would have a satisfying supper that in no way brakes the bank.

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I was so excited to eat this frittata, that I forgot to take a picture BEFORE starting to eat it!

I have really tried to refrain from making any “egg” puns, but I am growing weak. The fact of the matter is that this unit was “egg”ceptionally insightful and has opened up a whole new protein source to “eggs”plore. Forgive me!

The Humble Egg

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I thought I had a love/hate relationship with eggs. I love scramble eggs; so much so that we have four chickens of our own. And I love using eggs in baking. But beyond that, I really have not taken to them, I might have even said that I hate them. I won’t eat eggs out at restaurants; they have always smelled and tasted to “eggy” BUT it turns out that the problem isn’t with the eggs, it is with the cook. More…
I thought I had a love/hate relationship with eggs. I love scramble eggs; so much so that we have four chickens of our own. And I love using eggs in baking. But beyond that, I really have not taken to them, I might have even said that I hate them. I won’t eat eggs out at restaurants; they have always smelled and tasted to “eggy” BUT it turns out that the problem isn’t with the eggs, it is with the cook.

Unit Six delves into the egg–from its anatomy, boiling, and scrambling to frying, basting and poaching. And then it delves deeper to show how to make an omelet, a frittata, and even how to steam eggs.While my claim to fame is making the best scrambled eggs, I never really thought about why they were so good. I just assumed that it was the generous amount of butter that I used. And since having fresh eggs from our own chickens, I assumed that they provided the creamier texture. While I do think that fresh eggs do offer a better final result, I also happen to take more care when making eggs my own chickens produce–simply out of respect. It’s hard not to when you see (and hear) the effort it takes to supply us with organic eggs. But one thing is for sure, the color of fresh eggs can not be beat as you can see from the final product of my poached egg assignment…

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I found the graded omelet assignment to be an eye-opener. It turns out that the real taste of an egg gently cooked to a creamy perfection, folded gently, and dressed with nothing but salt and pepper is nothing short of amazing.

Here’s how I did it. I started by heating my fry pan to medium low. While the pan was getting up to temp, I blended two eggs in a bowl until egg whites and yellow were fully incorporated. I then seasoned with a pinch of salt and pepper. I added a pat of butter to the pan and added the egg mixture once the butter had fully melted. At this point, I started stirring the eggs much like I would when scrambling eggs; making sure to break up any larger pieces. Very quickly, I started to stir more vigorously while shaking the pan to distribute any uncooked egg. Once the omelet was wet, but not runny, I turned off the heat, smoothed the surface, and let the omelet rest for about 30 seconds.

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Once the omelet had rested for that 30 seconds, using a spatula, I folded over one side over 1/3 of the way. I then made sure that the omelet was loose in the pan and took it to the plate. Using the spatula, I directed the omelet onto the plate while simultaneously folding over the omelet on it self. The result was that the under side of the middle 1/3 of the omelet was now the display side. I then repeated this process for the second omelet.

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To finish my dish, I went simple in order to understand the ingredient and technique fully, so I added some finishing salt, freshly ground pepper, and flat leaf parsley—nothing more. The interior of the omelet was creamy, not raw tasting, but rather slightly custard-like. I was surprised how the residual heat had helped to complete the cooking process so delicately. I now understand that my experience with omelets in the past had been less than stellar at restaurants because they had been cooked too long at too high of heat without care for the ingredient. I am now very excited to explore all the options for cooking omelets at home—from simply sprinkling with fine herbs to adding sautéed mushrooms and smoked Gouda.

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