FRITTATA

If you know how to make a frittata, you’ll never go hungry.

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They are incredibly simple and quick to make, and you can serve one for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  Best of all, the only ingredient necessary for a frittata is half-a-dozen eggs; the rest can be whatever you happen to have hanging around in your fridge or pantry.

With a frittata you can serve a crowd, or you can just serve your family of three and save the leftovers for a easily re-heatable morning protein hit.  This is why we tend to make one about once a week in my house, usually on weekends as part of a leisurely brunch, along with some toasted English muffins, jam, & good butter.

Frittatas are so easy to make that I almost feel silly posting a “recipe” for one—think of this more as a set of guidelines or a procedure.  In addition to the combination pictured here, our family also recommends the following ingredient mixes, though honestly, you really should just feel free to throw in whatever you want.

•    mushroom, sausage, bell pepper, feta
•    greens, onion, sliced potato, gruyere
•    bacon, asparagus, cheddar
•    zucchini, tomato, basil & flat-leaf parsley

Unlike a quiche, where you want egg and crust to shine and therefore use a light hand when making a filling, I like to think of a frittata as lots of vegetables bound together with some egg: cheap, filling, and healthy.

KALE, CHEVRE, & TOMATO FRITTATA

kale, tomato, & chevre frittata | Blue Jean Gourmet

ingredients:

1 small-to-medium bunch lacinato kale, stems removed & roughly chopped
(~3-4 cups, depending on how much kale you want in your frittata)

3 green onions, sliced into rounds

1-2 small garlic cloves, thinly sliced

generous handful of cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

generous handful chevre
(Shiv is obsessed with the local good stuff from Blue Heron Farm, which we pick up at the market weekly; I used the garlic-peppercorn here)

6-8 farm eggs, whisked with ~1/4 cup milk
(farm eggs tend to vary in size, so 6 large will do, but sometimes I need an extra one or two to fill the pan)

salt & pepper

fresh herbs, if you like

olive oil

Heat a generous swirl of olive oil in a 12-inch cast iron skillet, over medium-low heat.  Add the green onions & garlic and sauté until fragrant.  Turn the heat up to medium and add the kale in batches, covering with a lid to encourage the kale to wilt.  Continue to stir and cook until all of the kale has been cooked through.

Add the tomatoes and stir, allowing them to heat through for a few minutes.  Add salt and pepper and stir again.  Drizzle in a bit more olive oil, or toss in a pat of butter if you like.

Pour in the egg mixture, scraping the bottom of the pan with a rubber spatula to lift up the vegetables and allow the egg to coat the bottom.  Cook over medium-low heat until the bottom and sides have set, and the top is beginning to, about 4-5 minutes.

Sprinkle cheese on top of the frittata and transfer the skillet to the oven, set to “broil.”  Cook for another 3-4 minutes, or until the top of the frittata is lightly browned.  Remove from the oven, cool, and cut into wedges.

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INTRODUCING SHIV

I’ve been away longer than I like to be, but I have a really, really good reason.

Please allow me to introduce Shiv Carroll Mehra, born Tuesday, July 17th at 7:06 p.m., weighing in at 7 lb 6 oz (so symmetrical!), and measuring 19 inches in length.  Full head of curly, dark hair, home with us since Thursday, and the absolute love of our lives.

We are having so much fun learning our little man and figuring out this new, awesome version of our family.  We have been blessed by so much in the last few days: the generosity and courage of his birth mother, the love and support of so many friends and loved ones, and the fact that Shiv is healthy and is ours.

This day marks the sixth anniversary of my father’s death.  Though I wish with all of my heart that he were here to be a grandfather to Shiv, I am grateful for the symmetry of these milestone events.  As Jill so rightly quoted, “The old has passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

SCRAMBLED EGGS WITH CURRY LEAVES & MUSTARD SEEDS

This is my new go-to breakfast: flavorful, protein packed, great with a tortilla or other bread vehicle of choice.  You can spice these up by adding some minced jalapeno or Serrano (or hotter pepper), or switch green onion in for the yellow, etc. etc.  Potential substitutions abound, just make sure you get the pan nice and hot to start, or the mustard seeds won’t “pop” and will taste bitter.  For this reason, use canola or peanut oil, clarified butter (ghee), or other fat with a high smoke point to start off, then slip in some regular butter later for flavor if you like!

Many of you will recognize the flavors here as being similar to the potato “stuffing” that comes inside a masala dosa.  Now that I think of it, when I’m feeling a bit more ambitious, these would go great with some Indian-spiced home fries…

ingredients:

2 eggs

2 T whole milk

¼ cup diced yellow onion

4-6 curry leaves, sliced into a chiffonade

3-4 cherry tomatoes, quartered

½ tsp. mustard seeds

canola oil

butter

salt

In a non-stick skillet, heat 2-3 tablespoons of oil over medium-high until it begins to shimmer.  Toss in the mustard seeds and immediately turn the heat down to medium-low.  The seeds will splutter and pop—this is a good sign!  Give them just a few seconds and then add the onion and curry leaves.  Shake the skillet to avoid browning.

Beat the eggs and milk together.  Add salt to taste.  Once the onion is translucent, turn the heat down to low and add the egg-milk mixture.  Using a spatula, begin to gently stir the eggs in a figure eight pattern, gently turning and folding until fully cooked.  Toward the end of the cooking time, add the tomatoes so they soften a bit.

Enjoy!

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SHAKSHUKA

Going to see a counselor was one of the best things I’ve ever done.


The first time, it was just weeks after my father had died.  I was back in Tucson, completing my second and final year of graduate school, and at the gentle urging of several friends, I rode my bike over to Student Health Services and half eagerly, half gingerly sat through an intake appointment which led to a handful of meetings with the kind and straightforward Deborah.

Even though it made complete sense for me to see a counselor at that time and even to attend a small, student-run grief support group, which I eventually did, I was a little abashed about it at first.  Grateful as I am to have been raised in an atmosphere of “You can do anything you set your mind to!,” there are ways in which I find this messaging of independence to be programmed so deep that it actually gets in my way.  I do it to myself, of course—”I can do it!”—or, I should be able to do it alone.

With death, it was easier for me to be talked out of such insistence, to consider it an exception to my rule of stubbornness, to concede that it might make sense to consult a third-party who could help guide me through starkly unfamiliar territory.  And, as it turned out, having Deborah to suggest ways of coping, assure me that what I was going through was normal, listen to me pour out the thoughts & emotions I was sure my friends were tired of hearing all allowed me to keep my sanity and move through grief with much sturdier footing than I would have had alone.

But I never would have thought that I’d be back in a counselor’s office, as I have been in the last few months.  This time, nothing happened—nothing went wrong, no one died, no crisis was precipitated—but I found myself with some questions, some issues that were cropping up in my relationships (both with myself and with other people), some conversations that it made sense to have with a neutral third party, not to mention one who helps people comb over their lives for a living.

If I squint and tilt my head, I can remember a time when I would have been embarrassed to share this—there’s still so much stigma associated with counseling/therapy/psychiatry in this culture of ours.  But the truth is that any chagrin I might feel has been completely supplanted by how freaking wonderful it has been to see a counselor for the last few months.

At any point in our lives, we are living from the hip; we’ve never done this before, whatever this may be.  We’ve never been here, and nobody sent a road map.  Feel free to stop and ask for directions.

SHAKSHUKA
adapted from Smitten Kitchen, who adapted from Saveur

What is shakshuka?  An Israeli dish consisting of eggs poached in a spicy tomato sauce laced with feta and fresh parsley.  When you cook it, you leave your yolks runny so that when you break them open, the cheddar-y centers will spill out into the dish’s base, making an unctuous, lick-the-bowl mixture.

I have no idea how to pronounce “shakshuka” correctly, but that hasn’t stopped me from becoming obsessed with it.  What I do know is that a) it’s so freaking delicious and b) it’s a great and inexpensive way to feed a small crowd brunch or to feed your family a homey, ready-in-twenty-minutes dinner on a cold winter night.  Make it, my friends, you won’t regret it.

The original recipe calls for serving pita bread with your shakshuka, but I like toasted slices of ciabatta much better.

ingredients:

1 yellow onion, diced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 jalapeños, minced (remove seeds if you’re nervous about the heat)
1 28 oz. can diced, fire-roasted tomatoes
2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. cumin
½ cup feta cheese, crumbled
¼ cup flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
eggs (I’ve fit as many as 10 in one skillet, but 6-8 also works)
salt
olive oil
bread

Heat a generous amount of olive oil in a large, deep skillet.  Saute the onion and peppers over medium heat until the onion is translucent.  Add the garlic and spices and cook a few minutes more.

Toss in the canned tomatoes, then run a little (no more than a half-cup or so) water back into the can and pour it into the skillet.  Add salt to taste.  Simmer the sauce until it thickens up, 10-12 minutes.  Once it has pulled together a bit, crack the eggs over the sauce and cover the skillet.

After 5-6 minutes, your eggs should be cooked with still-runny centers.  Sprinkle the shakshuka with the feta and parsley and serve, scooping the saucy eggs into bowls and tucking some bread in alongside, for sopping up the goodness.

CHILAQUILES

Say it with me…chee-lah-KEE-lehs.

Being a book worm, English teacher, & general language nerd means I have a pretty decent vocabulary.  But there have been times—many an embarrassing time, in fact—when I have run across a word that I know the meaning of but have NO idea how to say aloud.  Like at a restaurant, for example.

I hate feeling like an ignorant dweeb when I want to order a dish but don’t know how to pronounce it.  Luckily, I find that a gentle shrug and point at the menu generally results in help from a good waiter or waitress.

Once I learned how to say “chilaquiles,” I was all over ‘em.  This simple and satisfying Mexican dish is a easy to make for a crowd on weekend , and it also makes an excellent breakfast-for-dinner.  You don’t have to top your chilaquiles off with a farm egg fried in bacon fat, but I did.

CHILAQUILES

This chilaquiles recipe is of my own making, and may or may not pass an authenticity test, but it’s damn tasty.


ingredients:

corn tortillas
red or green salsa

Cut tortillas into strips or wedges.  Heat a little vegetable oil in a cast iron skillet until very hot, almost smoking.  Add enough tortilla pieces to cover the bottom of the pan and cook on both sides until crisp.  If working in batches, keep cooked pieces warm in a low oven.  Set cooked tortilla strips aside while frying the rest of the rest in batches.

Once you’ve worked through all of your tortillas, return them all to the skillet over low heat and pour in salsa so it nearly covers the tortilla strips.  Simmer for a minute or two, then serve with as many extras as you see fit.

extras:

beans of your choice—black, pinto, refried
chopped bacon, chorizo, or veggie crumbles
queso fresco or other cheese
diced onions
cilantro
fried egg

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FATHER’S DAY BRUNCH: EGGS BENEDICT & BLOODY MARYS

dad

There’s a self-consciousness that comes with grief, the consciousness that the people around you:

a) have never experienced anything like what you’re going through,

b) are utterly at a loss for what to do to comfort/support you,

c) wish you would just “get better” already,

d) are terrified by the thought of death and hate you reminding them that their loved ones will die.

Sometimes I feel like “that girl who talks about her dead father all the time.”

In the filing cabinet of my brain and heart, food and my father are inextricably linked. One of the great ironies of it all is that losing my father, an unabashed epicure, sent me straight into the kitchen, where I got really good at cooking all kinds of things I wish I could make for him now.

For example, Eggs Benedict and an excellently spiced Bloody Mary—robust, made with love, fit for a king. It’s the brunch I’d make for my dad if I could.

Pray tell, what are you feeding your father (or husband, partner, uncle, grandpa, etc) on Sunday? Are you cooking at home or taking him out? Does your family have a Father’s Day culinary tradition? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Wishing all Dads a very happy Father’s Day, with lots of love from BJG.

EGGS BENEDICT (BLUE JEAN GOURMET STYLE)

EB--decorated, close-up

There are lots of variations on theme of EB; this is just how I happen to like mine.  I really don’t think you can go wrong if you stick to the basic premise of  layering toothsome pork product & gooey egg on top of crusty bread and slathering the whole thing in hollandaise.

A word about hollandaise.  It’s really not as fussy as everyone makes it out to be–at least, it has not been a culinary-pain-in-the-butt for me.  I’ve heard tell that you can make hollandaise in a blender, and if you have done so with success and think it’s way easier than my method, please do share.  I’ve made mine several times the old-fashioned way with great success, so if you’ve been afraid to try the stuff, I urge you to give it a whirl.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

spinach (either a package of frozen, chopped or a big bunch of fresh)

English muffins (traditional) or another bread product

Canadian bacon (substitute thick-cut ham or many slices of thin-cut ham)

poached eggs*

eggs, butter, water, fresh lemon juice (for the hollandaise)

salt & pepper, hot sauce (optional)

TO MAKE HOLLANDAISE:

2 egg yolks

juice from 1/2 a lemon

6 T butter, cut into cubes

salt & pepper

Combine the egg yolks with lemon juice in a small saucepan.  Whisk to combine over low heat; the yolks should thicken quickly.  Toss in the butter cubes and continue whisking until the butter has melted.

hollandaise step 2

hollandaise step 3

hollandaise fin

The mixture will become a bit lighter in color, which is a good indication that you’ve got things well-emulsified.  Add salt & pepper to taste.

TO ASSEMBLE:

The trickiest part about making this breakfast is the timing.  You basically want to save the hollandaise for last, because it does best when served very soon after it’s made–it’s a little bit diva like that (na-na-na-a-diva-is-a-female-version…okay, yeah I’m going to have that song in my head now.)

My plan of action is usually this:

1) cook spinach, season with salt & pepper, set aside

2) brown Canadian bacon in a skillet, keep warm in a low oven

3) toast English muffins, add to the low oven

4) poach eggs* & turn out into a paper-towel-lined platter in, you guessed it!, a low oven

5) make hollandaise

6) stack ’em: English muffin half on bottom, top with Canadian bacon, then spinach, then a poached egg.  repeat.  pour on the Hollandaise with a generous hand!

* The internet is full of wisdom for how best to poach one’s eggs; I’ve done them the old-fashioned way, in a pot of vinegar-spiked water and I’ve done them the lazy way, in an egg poacher.  However you get your eggs poached is fine by me!

BEST BLOODY MARY MIX

bloody mary

ingredients:

1 large bottle spicy-hot V8

Juice of 2 limes

2 T. white vinegar

2 T. prepared horseradish

2 T. Worcestershire sauce

1 T. garlic powder

1 tsp. celery salt

1 tsp. Tabasco sauce

A generous glug of any of the following
olive juice, pickle juice, or juice from pickled jalapeños

Plenty of freshly-ground pepper

garnish: celery, spicy green olives, limes, celery salt

Combine all ingredients and store in a pitcher in the refrigerator. When you’re ready for drinks, first “salt” the rim of your glasses.  Rub the lip of each glass with a lime wedge; then, turn the glass upside down and onto a plate-full of celery salt.  Twist the glass to form a rim.

To mix a drink, combine 3 parts mix to 1 part vodka or gin over ice.  Garnish with a tall stalk of celery and a toothpick speared with an olive & lime wedge.

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