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Posts tagged ‘Quick Meal’

Frittata

It’s like a pizza but eggy! That’s how my five-year-old (as of yesterday five-year-old!) said to his teacher this morning when asked what his favorite food at his birthday party had been. I beg to differ on the likeness to pizza but it is one of my favorite dishes. I teach it regularly in vastly different incarnations but have never written about it here.

Frittata with kale, chili flakes and nutmeg

It’s a bit like pizza in that you can adapt it endlessly and it hails from the same country but that’s about it. There’s no yeast dough to make and let rise and there’s no floury mess to clean up. Don’t get me wrong, I love pizza but don’t find myself making it when I have a hungry crowd to feed and only 20 minutes in which to prepare something.

A frittata can be as simple as the one in one of my favorite scenes in one of my favorite movies — Big Night — as in just egg and salt. The eggs are lightly beaten, seasoned and then cooked in a skillet until firm. When I experienced them being in made in Italy they were usually flipped part way through, usually with the assistance of a little crust of bread that served as the heat absorbing extension of your hand when managing the flipping maneuver.  I’ve long since adopted the finishing-in-the-broiler method instead of flipping but if you’re lacking excitement in your cooking routines by all means, flip away! As a matter of fact my broiler quit working in class once a long time ago and I found myself needing to flip a 12-egg frittata in a huge cast iron skillet so if you’re lacking a broiler, you’ll get your practice in any case.

This weekend I made two frittate for my son’s birthday party: one with finely chopped, kale, onion, chili flakes and a bit of nutmeg and one with diced potatoes, sausage and fresh oregano. They really are the easiest, most portable and nourishing item to make for a party. They are delicious at room temperature and you don’t need a fork or even a plate. With the addition of meat and potatoes they are even heartier and they are the perfect foil for bits and pieces of vegetables that may be in the bottom of your crisper. Some of my favorites include lots of herbs either alone or in combination–parsley, basil, chives, thyme, tarragon, etc. And this time of year the hearty, leafy greens or leeks (with thyme and goat cheese) are my standby’s.

The birthday party frittate from this weekend: kale, chili flake and nutmeg, and sausage and potato.

Leftover wedges of a frittata make a wonderful sandwich filling paired with a little arugula, a few slices of onion, and a drizzle of olive oil. If you have leftover spaghetti or other pasta (sauced or unsauced) you can chop it up a bit and saute it briefly in a skillet and pour the egg over the pasta for a perfect second incarnation. So you get the point, if you have little time and a few eggs on hand, dinner is just a matter of minutes away.

Frittata with Greens

This is one of my quickest, go-to dinners for a busy day. The options are literally infinite as to what to include. In this version you can use a lot of greens and just have the egg hold it all together or you can use less greenery and have it be more eggy—it’s really up to your taste. This is wonderful the next day in sandwiches or as a snack. It’s just as good at room temperature as it is hot.

1 bunch greens (chard, kale, collards, etc.)
1 -2 tablespoons olive oil
6-8 eggs (or whatever you have on hand or want to use)
Dash of freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon chili flakes (or to taste)
1-2 ounces grated hard cheese or your choice or feta or goat cheese (optional)
Salt, pepper

Heat the oil in a heavy skillet or well-seasoned cast iron pan. Rinse the greens and remove any tough stems. If you’re using chard, remove the stem and chop finely and sauté for a few minutes before you add the greens. Cut the greens into thin ribbons (easier to handle that way and cook down more quickly). Add greens and a few pinches of salt to the pan and sauté over med-high heat until they’re tender. You may need to add a splash of water to keep them from burning and sticking. And the length of time will depend on the kind and variety of green. Most cook in about 10 minutes or less. Set your oven to broil.

Lightly whisk the eggs until they’re just broken up—no need to get them frothy or really well mixed. Add a few generous pinches of salt and several grinds of pepper, the chili flakes, and the nutmeg (if using). Pour eggs over the greens and tilt the pan to evenly distribute the eggs. Sprinkle the cheese over the top of the eggs, if using. Cover and cook on medium heat for a few minutes. When the eggs begin to set and the sides are getting firm take the pan off the heat and set under the broiler until the eggs are cooked and slightly puffed and golden. Let sit for a few minutes before cutting and serving. It will come out of the pan much more easily that way. Serve with a slice of bread and salad. Variations: Add bacon, sausage, leftover pasta, most any other veggie (sautéed leeks or onions, broccoli, potatoes, mushrooms, peppers, asparagus, spinach, diced carrot, zucchini . . .)

Happy Cooking and Eating!

P.S. I’ve posted some new classes, including another Eat Better Series later in the spring, a class on everyday savory and sweet baking, one on techniques and tricks and more!

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Cabbage, etc.

"Clean out the fridge" winter lunch

It’s taken me a year and a half to articulate what exactly it is I’m trying to do with my business–Cook With What You Have (through the classes I teach, this blog, etc.).  The name really speaks for itself and even the words I used to describe the business/approach/philosophy at the outset are more or less the same ones I would use now. But these words, these ideas, are really sinking in in a more profound way than they did when I started this (ad)venture. They are sinking in thanks to my students, my neighbors, my chef friends, strangers in the grocery store and at the farmers markets, . . . And yesterday’s lunch!

Two kinds of cabbage and chard . . .

Yesterday’s lunch was a result of various factors: 1) the previous day had seen two birthday parties (one with kids from Ellis’ school and one with family members) laden with treats of all kinds, but plenty of sweet ones. 2) yesterday was also Superbowl Sunday and I knew there would be lots of heavy foods, and 3) I needed to clean out my fridge to make room for the new haul from Sunday’s Hillsdale Farmers Market run.  I found 1/4 of green cabbage starting to brown around the edges, and 1/2 a red cabbage with similar signs and 1/2 a bunch of slightly wilty chard. After a rinse and a trim they looked much better (as do I:)!) and 10-15 minutes in the saute pan with a little olive oil and salt, they were damn near perfect.

So the above paragraph illustrates theme one of CWWYH (Cook With What You Have). Use what you’ve got. Now theme two (really en elaboration of theme one) would manifest itself as follows: If you like/have eggs on hand, scoot that cabbage over and fry a couple of eggs in the same pan. Serve them on top of the veggies sprinkled with good salt, drizzled with good olive oil and a few grinds of pepper. If you like/have bread on hand, toast a piece and dig in. If you like/have sausages in the freezer (like I do for just these occasions), slice one up and brown it and mix in.

Theme three might be considered the analytical part of the above story. Cooking can be fun, quick, delicious, cheap and not scary at all if you have things in your house you like, are not afraid to use salt and fat and taste the food as you’re preparing it. A little creativity can go a long way in making every day meals not so daunting.

And don’t get my wrong. I love cookbooks and recipes and food that’s a bit more involved than the above, but what we (collectively) seem to sometimes forget or not realize, is just how easy and fun and tasty food can be on the fly. And we get better and better at tossing things together like this if we have fresh produce on hand, experiment with ingredients we (our children, partners. . . .) like and are confident enough to look at a recipe and use it to our advantage rather than be enslaved by it.

Happy Cooking & Eating!

Katherine

P.S. Apropos fresh produce and local farmers (here in Oregon) there is a bill in the Oregon Legislature that will clarify and provide sound standards for on-farm production of items many of us love and rely on. Below is testimony by Anthony Boutard of Ayers Creek farm on the matter and an email for the committee administrator of House Bill 2336 in case you’d like to weigh in in support of this very well-crafted bill.

Committee Administrator, Liz Puskar:  liz.puskar@state.or.us

Testimony of Anthony Boutard in Support of HB 2336 Before The House Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources 2 February 2011

Chairs Jenson and Clem, members of the committee,
For the record, my name is Anthony Boutard. My wife and I own and manage Ayers Creek Farm in Gaston, Oregon. We are small family fruit, vegetable and grain farm. We sell to grocery stores, restaurants and directly to the public. I served as a member of the committee’s working group that put together HB 2336.

At the outset, I want to thank my representative, Matt Wingard, for chairing the working group. He kept us on task and working productively. I also appreciate the contribution made by the staff of the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) and the representatives of the Oregon Farmers’ Market Association (OFMA).

Over the last two decades, agriculture in Oregon has seen a marked increase in venues for selling agricultural products directly to the consumer. Farmers’ markets, community supported agriculture (CSA), and buying clubs have increased without a clear place in the regulatory structure. Historically, roadside stands selling produce, eggs and honey have been exempt from licensing, but these new venues stretch that definition. It is essential that the legislature provide statutory guidance on this issue, and I am grateful that the committee is doing so. As a farmer who sells directly to consumers, as well as processors and large retail stores, I believe this bill provides a balanced and sensible regulatory approach to direct marketing.

The bill identifies foods that, from a food safety perspective, are regarded as either non-hazardous, or minimally hazardous, and that can be safely produced by the farmer, and sold directly to the consumer without licenses or inspection. With the help of ODA staff, these definitions are also tightly drawn. Foods that pose a greater hazard, such sprouts, low-acid canned vegetables and fruits, and baked goods, are not included and must be processed in a licensed facility. It must be stressed that farmers’ market rules still prevail, regardless of licensing requirements. These organizations will still determine who can participate in the market, and what they can sell.

With its provisions regarding preserves and pickles, this bill provides room for innovation at the small farm level. New ideas invariably start at this level whether it is in some one’s kitchen or garage. Oregon’s craft brewing industry developed after laws prohibiting the brewing and selling of beer in the same establishment. Allowing farmers to try out new products at a small, manageable scale is an important step in fostering innovation. HB 2336 also includes a provision that allows the ODA to expand the list of foods that can be prepared at the farm, consistent with food safety. With the $20,000 annual limit on sales of these foods, the bill set up a clear threshold where the farmer must shift into a licensed facility.

I urge the committee to pass this bill with a “do pass” recommendation. The lack statutory clarity has festered too long and all of parties involved, the ODA, the farmers, and farms’ market organizations, need the guidance provided by this bill.

Thank you for the opportunity to testify in support of HB 2336.

Anthony Boutard
Ayers Creek Farm
Gaston, Oregon

Peanut Sauce

Rice with leftover peanut sauce and lots of cilantro.

I have at least five different blog posts started in my head. These last few spring-like days  here in Portland have been so energizing and glorious maybe that’s translated into increased brain activity. So I’d love to muse about all the birds I hear singing all of sudden every morning or the green garlic stalks that seem to have sped up their growth a bit or the late afternoon light or that wonderful springy, damp earth sort of smell. I’d also like to write about the talk I’m putting together to give at Slow Food Portland’s Annual Potluck this Sunday (there are still seats available and it is likely the best potluck in Portland and some of the most relevant content) I’d also like to write about several totally last-minute cook-with-what-you-have meals I’ve tossed together lately. So I think I’ll do the latter and focus on just one.

The other day I was in need of a quick hearty meal for our family. I had leftover black bean soup in the fridge so I cooked a pot of white rice (I was in a hurry and I love white rice but tend to cook brown rice more frequently these days) to make the soup stretch. As I was heating up the soup I realized that this was going to be just one-too-many bean meals in a row for my husband. I’ve been doing a lot of recipe testing with beans lately and as much as my dear husband likes most of them I know he doesn’t love them quite as a much as I do.

I rummaged through the fridge in search of some other quick inspiration for him and there was a little dish of leftover peanut sauce I had forgotten about. Then I remembered a blog post I had recently read by one of my favorite bloggers (David Lebovitz). Although primarily a baker he sometimes writes about savory foods and had posted a recipe for peanut sauce (that I have not tried) and talked about how he used to just dollop it on white rice for a quick meal on the go when he was still working in restaurants. So there it was: I had my hot rice, my little dish of peanut sauce and plenty of cilantro. So that’s what Brian got for lunch and he was very happy. I ate the bean soup AND a bowl of rice like his and had to agree that the latter was more fun! The hot rice loosened up the peanut sauce and brought out the flavors of lime and chili and the cilantro was cooling and lively. It hit the spot.

So, if you make the below recipe for peanut sauce you should plan to use three-quarters of it to toss with some spaghetti or rice noodles and some finely sliced raw veggies and save the remainder for the above dish!

I have come to love this particular peanut sauce that I came across on another food blog I follow–Skillet Chronicles–by Aleta Watson.

Thanks all you fellow bloggers for the constant inspiration!

Peanut Sauce

Peanut Sauce

–only slightly adapted from Skillet Chronicles

generous ½ cup smooth peanut butter

2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon grated ginger

4 garlic cloves, pressed or minced to a paste

3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

½-1 teaspoon chili flakes or hot chili sauce (to taste)

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

1 tablespoon  brown sugar

2 tablespoons hot water

Blend all the sauce ingredients together in a small bowl until smooth and set aside. Toss with cold noodles and veggies or serve with rice or use as a dip for steamed veggies or roasted meat. This sauce keeps very well in the fridge for a week, tightly covered (or your fridge will smell like garlic and peanut butter and sesame oil!)

Happy Cooking and Eating!