Monday, September 26, 2016

Ham and Cheese Frittata

I originally wanted to call this Denver Frittata. Partly to amuse myself and partly because, finding myself with extra of the ingredients needed to make a classic denver omelet, I instead planned a frittata. A denver omelet is popular with restaurant goers (and therefore a common menu item at diners) because its simple, straightforward combination of ham, green peppers and cheese (often cheddar) plays very well together. Sauteed peppers offer a sweet and vaguely sour counterpoint to the fatty, salty and sweet crisped ham while cheddar offers a slight tangy, rich sharpness in the background.

Why a frittata? Well, to be honest I thought I knew what a frittata was for many years and as I learned from my friend Lisa, the blogger at Italian Kiwi, I was wrong. I’d been applying that term to any crustless egg pie, baked or fried. The problem is that frittata literally means “fried”. Not only is it fried, it is also composed of an aerated egg batter which has been vigorously whipped. The resulting fluffy egg pie seems so simple, yet is difficult to master. So I decided to make a frittata partly to practice my technique. As to the other part of my motivation? Fried fluffy savory egg pies are delicious.

Denver Frittata

Makes 1 (8 in) pie

4 jumbo eggs
1 ounce sharp cheddar, finely grated
1 ounce ham, diced
1/2 large green bell pepper, diced
1/4 cup neutral oil (divided)
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste

1. Whisk eggs together with the cheese and season with salt & pepper.
2. In a medium sized skillet or heavy bottomed saucepan (cast iron is best) , heat 3 Tablespoons oil. Over medium heat, saute the ham and peppers until peppers are soft and the ham has been seared all over (6 minutes).
3. While the peppers and ham saute, whip the eggs quickly and with great force. You will notice bubbles begin to form, then the egg batter will start to increase in volume.
4. Distribute the ham and peppers evenly across the bottom of the skillet and pour egg batter over them. Fry for five minutes and leave the frittata alone. No flipping or stirring necessary. If you’re worried it will burn, make sure you check for smoke or a burnt smell frequently and adjust heat as needed.
5. Slide a plate over your pan and carefully invert the pan onto the plate. Thump gently to loosen the frittata. It should come off mostly or all in one piece.
6. Return pan to the heat and add the remaining 1 Tablespoon oil. Slide the frittata back into the pan and allow it to finish cooking for 3 minutes.
Transfer to a paper towel lined plate and serve.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Roasted Spice and Vanilla Applesauce

A lot of the recipes I write these days are inspired by my son Henry. He’s almost a year old now and well into solids. Although it takes a bit of extra work there is nothing more satisfying than feeding your child homemade fruit sauce. And this version is by far the best applesauce I have ever had. Roasting helps to gently caramelize the apples and brings the spices satisfyingly to the fore. It is a lot of work, but you can easily make a double or triple batch as this applesauce can be canned, bottled or frozen. It will also keep in the refrigerator in a tightly covered container for up to 10 days.

Roasted Spice and Vanilla Applesauce

Makes approx 2 cups

4 gala apples, cored and quartered
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 Tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
A touch of salt

1. Preheat oven to 375F. Toss apples with vanilla, then lay them in a single layer on a greased baking sheet. Sprinkle apples with sugar and all of the spices, then just a touch of salt.
2. Bake for 35 minutes, or until apples are falling apart.
3. When they are cool enough to handle, peel skins away and discard. Pulse fruit in the blender with 2 ounces of water, until smooth.
Serve warm or store, covered, in the refrigerator.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Leftover Shakshuka with Potatoes

Shakshuka. Say it with me Shak (Shahk). Shuka (Shookah). What is it? A fabulously flavorful, spicy, easy egg dish from Israel that can be eaten for breakfast, lunch *or* dinner. Eggs are poached in a zesty tomato and vegetable sauce and it is usually served with warm, fresh pita or crusty bread. I’ve known I wanted to try it since I first heard of it on Cutthroat kitchen. The camera closeup was of a cast iron pan filled with a chunky red sauce and dotted with perfectly poached eggs; I was intrigued.
After cooking a friend’s excellent recipe for Croatian Chicken Paprikash I was left with a lot of the wonderful sauce (through no fault of the recipe; I just fudged the amount of chicken to use since I like to use a different cut in my stews than her recipe recommends). I couldn’t bear to throw out so much excellent, savory flavor so I decided to add just a few ingredients and turn it into Shakshuka. I added potatoes to my Paprikash and they were full of flavor; a great starch for the Shakshuka. If you make Chicken Paprikash on Friday you can plan on incorporating the leftover sauce into a Shakshuka on Saturday morning for an easy, delicious breakfast. If you like egg dishes and savory breakfast, I highly recommend trying Shakshuka.


Serves 3

1 quart leftover sauce from Chicken Paprikash*
2 (15 ounce) cans chopped tomatoes
6 eggs
2 teaspoons cumin
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste

Chopped Italian Parsley
Feta Cheese

1. In a broad saucepan combine Paprikash sauce, cumin and chopped tomatoes. Bring to a lazy boil over medium heat and cook for 10 - 15 minutes, to thicken sauce.
2. Crack eggs in one by one, up to five around the edges of the pan and one in the center. Cover, reduce heat to low and cook for 2 - 3 minutes for poached eggs and up to 10 minutes for hard boiled eggs.
Serve garnished with generous helpings of minced parsley and feta cheese.

*I like to add potatoes to my chicken paprikash. 2 large russet potatoes, scrubbed and chopped into roughly 1” pieces; they go into the stew when the liquid does.