Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Weekend Entertaining Staple

My boyfriend works different hours than the rest of us. He works a 4-midnight shift. He does greet me on Thursday and Friday nights when I get home from my 9-5, but sadly on the weekends, he leaves me to my own devices at 2 pm to get to work on time.

A schedule like this has turned our place into the Brunch place. Now, I love to cook and entertain, but not until we moved in together and away from the majority of our friends did I have any need to do anything more than french toast for the masses on a Saturday or Sunday morning. Now people come to our home and the first thing I hand them is coffee, not wine like I have been used to.

My friend Wikipedia says "brunch (or bruncheon - I think I like that more) is a late morning or early afternoon meal, typically between 10:00 am and 2:00 pm, that combines foods usually eaten for breakfast and lunch. The meal usually involves standard breakfast foods such as eggs, sausages, bacon, ham, fruits, pastries, pancakes, and the like. However, it can include almost any other type of food served throughout the day. Buffets may have quiche, large roasts of meat or poultry, cold seafood like shrimp and smoked fish, salads, soups, vegetable dishes, many types of breadstuffs and desserts of all sorts."

Basically, anything goes. To me, though, I thing the best way to mix lunch and breakfast is to use egg and something lunch-y. This was when the frittata made it's way into my "Staple" cookbook.

Basic Frittata Recipe

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 clove of garlic
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup diced cooked Meat **
1/2 cup diced fully cooked Vegetable **

1/2 cup potatoes (cubed and cooked)
2 eggs plus 2 egg whites
1 teaspoon milk
2 teaspoons water

2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
Herbs to taste **
Salt & Pepper to taste
1/2 cup melty Cheese **

Preheat oven to 350°F

Heat olive oil in a large oven-safe skillet. Add garlic and red pepper flakes to flavor the oil a bit. Place meats, vegetables and potatoes in oil to reheat. Do not overcook. You want them warmed again with maybe a slight crust.

In a bowl, wisk eggs, egg whites, milk, water, salt, pepper, Parmesan cheese and herbs. Pour entire contents over the meats, vegetables and potatoes. Let cook slightly in the pan, moving thing around a bit to distribute everything evenly in the eggs as they cook. Once the eggs thicken slightly, but are not fully cooked, sprinkle over the melty cheese.

Put full pan in oven. Cook 15-20 minutes, or until center is no longer runny and edges have browned slightly. Frittata can be served hot or cooled close to room temperature.

Serves 4 with a nice salad - 2 for a weekend treat.

** When choosing what to add to your frittata, the world is at your feet! This recipe is just an outline. The potatoes and red pepper flakes are part of the base, giving the frittata some girth and a little bit of taste. As for the rest, add what cheeses you like, vegetables you enjoy and meats that turn you on. If you don’t want one or the other, don’t add them. The omissions will not change the cooking time. Any herb you like, fresh or dried, is also a simple and flavorful addition. If you only like salt and pepper, only use salt and pepper.

Some meat, vegetable and cheese suggestions:
Smoked Ham (cubed), onions and Swiss cheese
Italian Sausage (cubed), Mozzarella and Italian Herb Mix
Sun dried tomato, basil and feta

With the versatility of this recipe, you can see how it became a staple in my book. My favorite way to present this (and only way I do anymore) is to use my cast iron skillet. I have three different sizes (perfect for 4-10 people). The frittata comes out a beautiful cheese yellow/orange with brown edges. The only way to describe it is rustic! A simple salad of baby greens, or something spicier like watercress and a light vinaigrette is the best touch. I've also had fresh green beans tossed in olive oil and lemon as an accompaniment.

I think that for the first meal of the day, a homey comfort food is perfect to welcome friends. The eggs, though they sound heavy, come out nice and light and the perfect first meal of the day!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Non-Food Foodie?

Wikipedia defines foodie as "an informal term for a particular class of aficionado of food and drink." It continues by saying "Foodies differ from gourmets in that gourmets are epicures of refined taste who may or may not be professionals in the food industry, whereas foodies are amateurs who simply love food for consumption, study, preparation, and news."

I think of Foodie as someone who sits around a table with skinny friends talking about escargot and the 1998 (insert high end - aka expensive - wine) with wine glass in hand and pinkie in the air. Don't get me wrong, I envy those people their knowledge and pinkie-ness (and skinny-ness), but it's not how I see me.

So, what is a Non-Foodie Foodie? It's some one who fits the published definition of a food obsessed amateur who's a size 16, New York wine drinking, lavender cookie and rosemary bread making, Weight Watchers failure, thirty-something event planner who can be seen at the 21 Club one night and Pizza Hut the next (OK, 21 is expensive and Pizza Hut is cheap - you do the math).

I consider myself a step or two higher in the kitchen than the average home cook, but still compete at the amateur level. I think those that have eaten my food would agree plus I have a few blue ribbons under my belt and a few food articles in the portfolio.

So, why am I here? As any good student, I want to continue to grow and learn. Plus, why not? As I continue my culinary journey through life, I can talk about my favorite chefs, great recipes, and share my thoughts on food and restaurants. It also allows me to hear what others have to say and learn from what they know. Going back to the definition from Wikipedia, I want to learn everything about food!

Snowman Pancakes - Simple and Fun!

photo: Non-Foodie Foodie Over the summer we traveled the Ohio River Valley visiting family. One of our stops was to visit my Aunt Cathy...