Friday, March 11, 2011

A Muffin And A Crumble Walked Into A Party

I was invited to a party, I was told there would be chili, I volunteered corn bread, I also made dessert.

Elka and Eric threw their second annual pre-PAX shindig last night, and though I am skipping PAX this year I am always up for a party. They provided chili and rice and baked pasta and salad and strawberries and cocktails, so the least I could do was bring a thing or two.

I think I've mentioned that I don't really bake from scratch so much, but I am a big fan of "hacking" mixes (my favorite being pretzels and caramel on top of brownies. Good stuff.). I took Bob's Red Mill cornbread mix and added a generous cup of shredded smoked cheddar and a small can of roasted green chilis and it was really tasty, I mean really. The mix was almost five bucks at the grocery store, but it makes 20 good sized muffins so I feel that it's worth it. Plus, it's all natural and Bob's is employee-owned, so you can feel good about supporting a stand up company.

I also made McIntosh Maple Crumble With Candied Bacon. I did it a little differently - I chopped up the candied bacon and mixed it in with the apples. If you like bacon, I highly recommend trying it candied sometime. I will also warn you that I used maple syrup and the result is really sweet, so if you're looking to tone that down I would use maple liqueur instead. We ate the crumble with Burnt Sugar & Butter ice cream. Incredible.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Eggs For Dinner

The other night, in the midst of my funk, I asked my Twitter friends/followers what they have been cooking lately. The number one answer was curry, followed by various stews, and one frittata. Yesterday morning when I woke up, all I wanted was frittata. Our fridge was barren save for the door full of condiments and some moldy ricotta cheese (I was gone for a week, don't judge) so I hit the store and then made frittata for dinner.

Frittata is like a crustless quiche. It cooks faster, is less delicate, and is a great way to use up leftover bits of veggies and meat you may have kicking around. I pulled the prosciutto and artichokes out of my freezer, and added things that I thought would taste good with those. Big hit with the family - the kids didn't realize they were eating artichoke hearts and Jeffrey said, "This frittata is frincredible." A high compliment.

I served with fresh multigrain bread, and mixed greens tossed in olive oil, lemon vinegar, sea salt, and cracked pepper.

Weeknight Frittata

6 eggs
1/3 c half and half or heavy cream
2 c chopped cooked vegetables and meat (or not meat, whatever) - I used swiss chard, artichoke hearts, prosciutto, and grape tomatoes
1 tsp thyme (or any herb that will go with your ingredients)
1/2 small onion, diced
1 tsp minced garlic
1/2 c shredded or crumbled cheese
1 T butter
olive oil (about 2T)

Preheat the oven to 400°. You'll want to use a skillet, such as cast iron, that can transfer from stove top to oven. Beat the eggs and cream together. Salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Heat the skillet to medium high, and saute' the onions and garlic in the olive oil. Add the rest of your veggies and lower the heat to medium, the same temperature you would normally use to cook eggs.

"...but I always burn my eggs!" you say. Here is what I learned about eggs; you need your pan to be the right temperature, and you need to cook them in butter. You know how eggs always stick to the pan? Right. Your pan is either too high or too low, and you're probably using oil or pan spray. (Obviously the exception is non-stick pans, but I don't use those because I'm a snob.) If you are using a gas range, you want the flame to be just touching the bottom of your pan. If you are using an electric range, it's going to take a little trial and error since they wildly vary. On mine, the setting is "6". Start there and tweak as necessary. Anyway, back to the recipe.

Add the butter to the filling and toss to melt. Pour the egg mixture evenly over the filling. Sprinkle with cheese. Now you're going to let it set. That means don't touch it for a couple minutes, but watch for bubbles in the center and for it to start firming up the sides of the pan. Transfer to oven, let bake for 10 - 15 minutes. The center will feel firm to the touch, when done. Let sit for 5 minutes before slicing.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


I have been so uninspired in the kitchen. As happy as I am that comfort food is no longer a secret shame, I am actually getting tired of macaroni & cheese and short ribs. Every restaurant I go to, every magazine I pick up, every website I visit is prominently featuring heavy, rich, meaty and cheesy dishes. Not that there's anything wrong with it - but that's in my wheelhouse already. There's no challenge in it for me.

This is also an icky time of year, food-wise. It's impossible to get decent vegetables, since they're all shipped from California and taste like cardboard. (Except winter squash, but one can only eat so much of that.) I'm yearning for all this snow to melt, to see the grass turn green, for the farmer's markets to open. I'm actually looking forward to the April mud.

It took me hours to plan our next week of meals, but I think I managed to incorporate enough different flavors to keep it interesting. Hopefully the family will agree and I won't be chucking five pounds of leftovers come Sunday. The lesson here is to always freeze extras right away. They say that they'll eat them, but they never do......