Wednesday, May 13, 2009

No Frills Frittata

I think brunch foods have to be some of my favorites, because you can get away with eating them at any point in the day. The first time my mom made a frittata for dinner I thought she was nuts ("We're having eggs for dinner?"). When I realized that you could put whatever you wanted in it... well then it was a whole different ball game.

This is a go-to Sunday morning dish for me. As long as you have a few eggs and a vegetable, you're good to go. Taking after my dad, I've been known to throw in the leftovers from the previous nights dinner, but let's not get carried away.

That's exactly how I came to make the one this morning: I have eggs. I don't want fried eggs (again). I have leftover veggies and cheese from Fajita night. Kielbasa? FRITTATA!

Here we go.

No Frills Frittata
6 Eggs
1/4 cup Milk
1 tblsp Coarse Mustard (Like Gray Poupon)
1 tblsp Dried Basil
1 cup Sharp Cheddar Cheese (shredded)

2 tblsp Butter
3 Red Bliss Potatoes (sliced thin)
1 small container Baby Portobello Mushrooms (sliced thin)
1 Bell Pepper (red or yellow, sliced thin)
1/2 Red Onion (yep, sliced thin)

3 Plum Tomatos (sliced... thin)
1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese (grated)

Pre-heat the oven to 350*F.

1) In a large skillet, melt 2 tblsp of butter over medium-low heat.

2) Once the butter is melted, add the onion and peppers. Saute them (slowly) until the peppers are soft and the onions are translucent. Add the mushrooms and saute them until they are reduced.

3) Add the potatoes and turn the heat up to medium. Let the potatoes cook, stirring occasionally to let them brown. Cook them until they are al dente (if you don't want mushy taters. If you like them mushy, cook them until they are soft). Remove from heat.

4) In a medium bowl, mix together eggs, milk, mustard, basil, and cheddar cheese. Whisk until fluffy (like you were making scrambled eggs).

OKAY. So normally you would saute your veggies, etc. in an oven-safe pan (like a le creuset or cast iron pan), and then transfer the pan directly into the oven. If you don't have a pan like that (I don't), you can prep your filling, mix it with the egg, and then put it in a greased pie pan.

5) At this point either a) add the egg to your oven-safe pan and stir slightly to incorporate. Or, b) add the sauteed veggies to your egg mixture and stir to incorporate. Then transfer the contents of the bowl to a greased pie pan.

6) Lay sliced tomatoes around the top of the frittata. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese.

7) Cook on the middle rack of an oven for 20 minutes at 350*f. Increase the temperature to 400*f and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Once the cheese begins to brown, remove from the oven and let cool.


Thursday, May 7, 2009

Can You Dig This Jam (Cookie)?

I've always had a soft spot for thumbprint cookies (or any excuse for eating jam). A while back I discovered that Ina Garten has the best dough recipe. I've made a few small alterations to make it do what I wanted to in the oven. Because the dough is so easy, I always thought it was kind of a cop-out to just put some Smuckers in those suckers. I'm a sophisticate, right?

So I've developed a really phenomenal Mixed Berry Jam (if I do say so myself) to liven up this cookie party. It uses four different kinds of berries, fresh OJ, and Ruby Port for a complex sweetness that will make your mouth water.

Jim Says: "Those cookies are really good, I ate one last night."
(I've literally caught him munching on them all day).
I may have had one with my coffee this morning for breakfast.
They are ridiculously irresistible.

So first, prepare the jam.

Port-Berry Jam
1 cup Ruby Port
1/2 cup Raspberries
1/2 cup Blackberries
1/2 cup Blueberries
1/2 cup Strawberries (quartered)
1/2 cup Sugar
2 tblsp Apricot Jam

1) In a small sauce pan over medium-high heat, combine the port, sugar, berries, and jam.

2) Bring to a boil, reduce to medium-low heat.

3) Simmer/reduce, stirring frequently. Cook until the jam becomes syrupy. Remember that it will thicken when it cools, a candy thermometer should read 225 degrees Fahrenheit.

4) Transfer to a small bowl and cool in the fridge.

Trick: To get my jam to cool faster, I filled a larger bowl with ice-water and set the small bowl with my jam inside it. I whisked the jam to help the heat escape. It was cool enough to work with within 10 minutes!

Thumbprint Cookies
2 sticks Butter
1 cup Sugar
1 Egg Yolk
3 cups Flour
1 tsp Salt
1/4 cup Port-Berry Jam
1 Egg (whipped) + 1 tblsp Water for Egg Wash

1) With an electric mixer, cream the butter, sugar, and egg yolk.

2) Gradually sift in Flour and Salt, mixing on low.

3) Once the dough is thoroughly combined, place it on a floured surface and roll in to a disk. Wrap in wax paper and cool in the fridge until ready to use, a minimum of 30 minutes.

after it cools...

4) Break off pieces dough and roll them in to 1-inch balls. Place the dough-balls on to a cookie sheet.

5) Take your 1/4 tsp measuring spoon, and use the back of the spoon to make an imprint in to each cookie.

6) Brush each cookie with the egg wash.

7) Fill the indentations with 1/4 tsp of jam each.

8) Bake at 350*F for 20-25 minutes!

VOILA! These are some good cookies! The dough is buttery and subtle, and then you get punched with this great jam. You can use jarred jam, but I'd encourage you to try the above recipe at least once, it's easier than it sounds (and I could eat it with a spoon)! Plus, it always sounds good when you slip into a conversation that you made your own jam!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Spin-Art Rangoons

I don't think that I'm alone when I say that I could probably live off of spinach-artichoke dip. It never ceases to amaze me that the two foods that freaked me out the most in my childhood now comprise one of my favorite appetizers.

Now I've made spinach-artichoke dip many a time, always with the same end result: A delicious treat that is never cute to eat. A natural-born slob, it usually ends up falling off the chip and in to my lap. I love having meaty chunks of artichoke in my dip, but alas this makes smoothe dipping a near impossibility.

Last time I was in the food store, a solution came to me like a vision. Wanton wraps. These "rangoons" of sort are the perfect way to serve this great dip. The wrap gets golden and crispy, the dip gets hot and melty, and your lap stays clean. This treat also steps up your hors d'oeuvre repertoire. Lastly but definitely not least(ly?), they very simple to make.

They look pretty, taste great, and don't require a fork. What more could you want?

Spinach Artichoke Rangoons

1 bag Baby Spinach, chopped
1 can Artichoke Hearts (in water), chopped
2 tblsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 cloves Garlic, minced
1 cup Ricotta Cheese
1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
1 cup Cream Cheese
1 package Wanton Wrappers (can be found in the organic/vegetarian section)
1 small bowl of Water
1/4 cup Canola or Vegetable Oil (for frying)

1) In a large skillet, over medium heat: heat olive oil and minced garlic until the garlic becomes fragrant and begins to crisp.

2) Add spinach and saute. The spinach will reduce (a lot). After it wilts, add the artichoke hearts. Cook until they are soft.

3) Transfer spinach and artichokes to a medium bowl. Add ricotta, Parmesan, and cream cheese. Mix thoroughly, let cool to room temperature.

Now for the fun part.

4) Take one wanton and lay it flat on your surface. With the water, wet the edges of the wanton.

5) Spoon a tablespoon of the dip in to the center of the wanton.

6) Lay a second wanton over the dip and seal the edges.

Repeat these steps until all of your rangoons are prepped.

7) Heat oil in a medium frying pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot enough (I test by spritzing water in it and seeing if it spits), add the rangoons. Fry until golden brown on each side, let drain on a paper towel.

(My apologies for the photo quality. This was a very spontaneous project and I only had my phone on hand)

These little treats are so warm , cheesy, creamy, and crispy; a textural experience for your mouth. They are so flavorful and the filling goes a long way. I'm sure I'll be busting these out at parties for years to come!