Muffin Tin Frittatas

I think that so far, I’ve been lucky that having a baby around the house hasn’t affected my finding time to cook too much. Sure some things have changed: we don’t eat dinner until 8:30 at night so I can still make food from scratch but start after she goes to bed; I certainly don’t blog about my efforts as often; and dinner plans with friends have now become brunches, squeezed in between her morning and mid-day naps.

I also fully anticipate that this will likely change once she’s more mobile and I can’t just plop her down in a Bumbo chair or exersaucer and entertain her by explaining what I’m doing as I cook. I’ll have to find fast but tasty ways to still cook from scratch if I can. These mini frittatas should fit the bill. Quick assembly, hands off co0king in the oven, lovely colors, easily portable to friends’ houses, and delicious warm or at room temperature. Plus it has a frou frou sounding name to keep the foodie in me happy if I have to eat on the run, chasing down the little tornado of destruction that my backwards crawling daughter is on the verge of becoming.

I also like how versatile these are– you can load them up with whatever ingredients you want. When I made these for a potluck brunch with friends, I made one batch with cheddar, bacon, and chives and another batch with smoked salmon, cream cheese, fresh dill, and diced red onion. These cooked beautifully. They puffed up, got crispy on the outside and yet were tender on the inside. Perfect for brunch with or without little kiddos running around, and although lately our brunches have been with little babies and toddlers, that doesn’t stop us from pairing these with mimosas and dousing them with Sriracha. Parenthood doesn’t have to change everything, you know.

  • 8 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • cooking spray
  • filling ingredients of your choice. Examples: 4 ounces cooked, crumbled bacon, 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese and 2 tablespoons fresh chopped chives. Also pictured here, 4 ounces crumbled smoked salmon, 3 ounces cream cheese, 2 tablespoons fresh chopped dill, and 1/4 cup finely diced red onion.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Take a muffin tin and lightly coat with cooking spray. Beat together eggs, milk, salt and pepper until well combined. Add filling ingredients* then pour into muffin tin, filling about 3/4 full. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the eggs have just set and are a little quivery when you gently shake the muffin tin. Remove from oven and let cook for about 5 minutes. Using an offset spatula, gently loosen the frittatas from the muffin tins and set on a serving platter. Sprinkle with any additional chives or other fresh herbs, depending on what ingredients you used (cilantro for a southwestern theme would be good, parsley for an Italian theme, you get it.) Serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes 9 frittatas.

*If doing bacon, cheddar and chives, add 3/4 cup of cheese to the eggs and reserve the last 1/4 cup to sprinkle on top of the frittatas in the last few minutes of baking so that there’s a gooey cheese layer on top.

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Rainbow Chard & Pea Carbonara

Spaghetti carbonara has been eluding me. In the past, things would go wrong: not enough egg to create a silky sauce; too high heat so the pancetta burned; wrong kind of cheese so that the whole dish tasted funky.

Anyone who reads this blog on a regular basis should know that when I find something to be culinarily challenging, I’ll keep returning to it until I’m satisfied. Plus, who wouldn’t want to master spaghetti carbonara– eggs, cheese, bacon, so delicious not to mention that it’s a super fast meal to throw together when pressed for time.

The other challenge to spaghetti carbonara for me? Trying to find a way to make myself feel a little better about eating it. In this case, I had rainbow chard and shell peas from the CSA. I thought that the bright burst of green vegetables would not only make this a dish as pretty to look at as it is to eat, but that it’d be a great way to punch up the nutritional value of this meal. It turned this pasta dish into a one pot meal since the fresh vegetables mixed in meant that I could skip out on making a side salad… or at least so I convinced myself.

With three eggs, 4 slices of bacon, some garlic that sizzled in the bacon fat, and 6 oz of ground up Parmesan cheese, I achieved the right balance for a silky sauce and the chard and peas brightened up the flavors. Fast, seemingly healthy, filling, yet light– perfecto!

  • 3/4 lb spaghetti, cooked according to package directions, reserving 1 cup of pasta cooking water
  • 4 slices thick cut bacon, diced
  • olive oil
  • 3 eggs beaten
  • 6 oz Parmesan cheese, ground in a food processor
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 1/2 bunch rainbow chard, chopped
  • 1/2 pound shell peas
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

Boil water, salt it, and cook pasta according to package directions. While pasta cooks, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add bacon and cook until crisp then remove to a paper towel lined plate with a slotted spoon. While bacon cooks, beat eggs in a large mixing bowl and grind cheese in a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add cheese to the eggs along with 1 teaspoon salt and 3/4 teaspoon black pepper. Mix until combined. Add garlic to the bacon fat and cook for 30 seconds or until aromatic. Add the rainbow chard and peas and cook until chard is wilted and peas are bright green. When spaghetti is cooked to al dente, drain, reserving 1 cup of pasta water. Quickly toss spaghetti in egg and cheese mixture, tossing to coat each noodle in the sauce. Add pasta water as needed to achieve sauce consistency. Mix in cooked vegetables. Plate and serve immediately, topping with parsley and more cheese as desired.

CSA Count: 4

Rainbow chard, shell peas, garlic, parsley

Five Spice Turnips

Turnips! (Just trying to psyche myself up here.) Er… Yum! Turnips! (Uh yeah, no. Let’s try again.) Woo-hoo!!! Turnips!

Really, does anyone get excited about turnips? When I saw these on the CSA packing list, fear struck– as much as I may love the CSA for introducing me to new produce and chances to experiment with cooking them, turnips just sound so unappealing. I searched around for ideas on how to cook turnips and came up with the usual ideas, that is, roast them or mash them. Meh. Then I went back to our CSA’s website to see what they might have to offer as far as recipe ideas and found a suggestion from Nigel Slater: saute the turnips in butter, add sherry, and fresh dill. Well, okay then. I could buy it that anything cooked in butter and booze has got to taste pretty darn good.

So I used that as a jumping off point. Why not add a third delicious “B”: bacon. I diced some bacon, cooked it in the pan until crisp, then removed most of the rendered fat from the pan. I then added some butter, and to add yet another “B” to this recipe, I browned the butter first. That way those peppery, earthy turnips would be coated in toasty, nutty, and sweet butter. Instead of sherry, I added a splash of Marsala wine along with a sprinkle of Chinese five spice powder. Sauteing alongside the turnips were some thin slices of sweet onion, chopped garlic scapes, the turnip greens and some rapini. I let the whole mix simmer until the turnip slices were firm yet translucent, before sprinkling back on the crispy bacon. John and I hesitantly took a bite– holy crap! These turnips were delicious! The five spice added a whiff of something exotic, pulling out the sweet yet spicy flavors of the Italian wine. The mustardy turnip greens and bitter rapini counter-balanced that sweetness and the bacon gave an underlying note of smoke not to mention a much needed contrast in texture to the softened vegetables. So let’s try that turnip psyche-up again, this time knowing that browned butter, bacon, and booze is involved: HURRAY!!!!! TURNIPS!!!!

  • 3 strips hickory smoked bacon, diced
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 bunch Tokyo Cross turnips, tops removed and chopped, turnips halved lengthwise, then sliced into 1/4 inch thick half moons
  • 3 garlic scapes, chopped
  • 1 small sweet onion, thinly sliced into half moons
  • 2 tablespoons dry Marsala wine
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Chinese five spice powder
  • 1 bunch rapini, chopped

Add diced bacon to a medium-sized skillet and cook over medium heat until crisp, about 10-12 minutes. Remove bacon pieces to paper towel lined plate and discard all but 1 tablespoon of the rendered fat. Add the butter and cook until browned, stirring often (foam will subside, and butter will turn nutty brown color and smell heavenly), about 5-6 minutes. Add the turnips, garlic scapes, and sweet onion. Cook until onion is soft, about 5 minutes then add the wine, brown sugar, five spice powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Continue cooking until turnips are shiny yet still firm and slightly brown around the edgest, about 18-20 minutes. Add the reserved, chopped turnip greens and chopped rapini, continuing to cook until greens have wilted, about another 5-7 minutes. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle on bacon and serve immediately.

CSA Count: 4

Tokyo Cross turnips (greens included), garlic scapes, sweet onion, rapini

Roasted Mushroom & Artichoke Sourdough Pizza

For my birthday this year, my sister-in-law Sharon gave me the gift of bacteria: sourdough starter that is. As someone who dabbles in bread baking every now and then, I found sourdough to be daunting. I feared accidentally killing someone if I made my own starter with bacteria that had gone lethally awry. So some sourdough starter was a great gift for me, breaking down the one irrational obstacle that kept me from baking some of the tastiest kinds of bread.

I’ve since used the starter to make a white sourdough loaf (which I probably messed up as the dough was super wet, over inflated, and not very sour in flavor), sourdough pancakes (super success!), and my favorite of the sourdough recipes so far: sourdough pizza crust. Taking a mere 4 hours from mix to final proof, with an almost focaccia like crispness, and that wonderful sourdough flavor… I may never go back to regular pizza crust again.

Instead, I find myself playing around with pizza toppings worthy of this delicious crust. Here, I roasted a variety of mushrooms with some garlic, rosemary, and olive oil until crisply caramelized at the edges. These were then spread out over my crust which was topped with tomato sauce and a mix of mozzarella and provolone cheese. For a bit of acidic taste, I added quartered artichoke hearts and for a hint of smoke– bacon. Luckily, my sourdough hasn’t been lethal, but I could definitely die a happy camper with this pizza.

Note: No sourdough starter? You could still make this on regular pizza crust, whether you make it from scratch, pop it out from a tube, or get it from an Italian bakery or your favorite pizzeria. Use a damp paper towel to wipe off mushrooms rather than rinsing them in water which will just make them soggy. Want to keep this vegetarian? Skip the bacon as the roasted mushrooms and artichokes are a pretty tasty combo on their own.

  • One recipe sourdough pizza crust
  • 3 slices thick cut bacon, diced
  • 4 oz shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and cut into halves or thirds, depending on how big the caps are
  • 8 oz crimini mushrooms, stemmed and cut into 1/4 inch thick slices
  • 1/2 oz dried porcini mushrooms, reconstituted
  • 4-6 medium garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • 2-3 rosemary sprigs, leaves removed and chopped
  • olive oil
  • 14 oz can artichoke heart halves, drained, rinsed, and cut in half so you have quarters
  • 2 cups pizza sauce
  • 3 cups shredded mozzarella and provolone cheese
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, torn

Heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat then add bacon. Cook until crisp then remove from skillet with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate to drain. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. On a foil lined baking sheet, combine the shiitake, crimini, and porcini mushrooms with the garlic, rosemary, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and about 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 a teaspoon of black pepper. Roast on the top shelf of your oven for 15-20 minutes or until mushrooms are crispy and brown around the edges. Remove from oven and set aside.

Prebake crust, brushed with olive oil for 8-10 minutes. Spread pizza sauce evenly over crust then top with cheese. Sprinkle mushrooms, artichoke heart quarters, and bacon pieces evenly over the cheese then return to oven and bake for another 10-12 minutes or until cheese is melted and browned slightly. Top with basil before slicing and serving.

Makes 1 full size baking sheet pizza or two 12-inch round pizzas.

Pesto & Peppered Bacon Breakfast Sandwich

I know that I’ve posted breakfast ideas for pancakes or chocolatey oatmeal in the past, but that might give a false impression. When it comes to breakfast, I usually tend toward the savory rather than the sweet. It might be an attempt to balance the breakfasts of chocolate donuts and orange juice that my father would secretly feed me when he’d drive me to kindergarten. It might be my love for bacon and cheese. It might be the thrill of repurposing leftovers from a week’s worth of dinners to create something entirely new and delicious.

This breakfast sandwich is definitely an example of tasty re-purposing. I woke up on a Saturday confronted with a loaf of beautiful bread that I had asked John to pick up when I panicked about having to stretch a meal to feed 5 when my parents and uncle showed up unexpectedly for dinner. Turns out we didn’t need an extra loaf of bread but this chewy, whole wheat artisan bread was too beautiful to waste. With a freezer well stocked with pesto thanks to our CSA bulk share I knew I had the basics for a delicious breakfast sandwich.

To tell the truth, I’m a little surprised that this is the first breakfast sandwich idea that I’m posting here. Breakfast sandwiches are consumed on a nearly weekly basis in our household. I’m always striving to make one that competes with my favorite restaurant one– grilled sourdough with bacon, eggs, arugula, and tomato aioli. That might be an impossible task though if only because that sandwich can come with sweet potato fries instead of hash browns. Sweet potato fries for breakfast aside, I made this sandwich with softly scrambled eggs, crispy peppered bacon, a handful of arugula and slices of that hearty bread, toasted on the griddle with layers of sweet basil pesto and melted, sharp provolone cheese.  A breakfast sandwich so good, you don’t need to have sweet potato fries. You can still want sweet potato fries, mind you, but you don’t need them to be satisfied with this sandwich.

For two sandwiches:

  • 4 strips peppered bacon
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 medium garlic clove, smashed
  • 4 slices hearty, crusty bread of your choice
  • 1/4 cup pesto
  • 4 slices sharp provolone cheese
  • canola oil
  • 4 large eggs, beaten
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup baby arugula, washed and dried

Cook bacon over medium low heat until crisp and cooked through. Drain on paper towel lined plate and set aside.

Preheat a griddle or large skillet over medium heat. Place butter and garlic clove in a microwave safe bowl. Cover the bowl with a plate and cook in the microwave for 1 minute on 40 % power or until melted, being careful as the butter can splatter. Brush one side of each of the slices of bread then spread the other side with pesto and a slice of cheese. Toast on the griddle or in the skillet until the cheese is melted and the buttered side is golden brown, about 5-6 minutes on medium low heat. While bread toasts, heat about 1 tablespoon of canola oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Beat the eggs with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add the eggs to the pan and gently stir until eggs reach your desired degree of doneness.

To assemble sandwich: Place one slice of the grilled bread on a plate then add half of the eggs. Top with half of the arugula and the bacon then top with another piece of grilled bread.

CSA Count (It’s been awhile, but it’s off-season): 1

Basil

Poached Egg & Bacon Salad

As I write this, it is bright and sunny outside. Sadly, I’m listening to NPR talk about nuclear radiation exposure but the sun light, instead of the days of grey and rain that were predicted for this week, is making me happy. So to keep up the good, positive feelings, I’m thinking about other things that make me happy: lazy Sunday visits to the farmer’s market, my dog sitting by my side, resting his head on my lap, this salad…

This is my all time favorite salad. French in origin, Lyon, I suppose if you want to be exact, it’s one I turn to again and again for dinners since it’s hearty, combining proteins and salad greens all in one dish. It’s great for cold winter and early spring nights when you need something comforting but long for the bright colors of summer. It traditionally calls for the soft creams and greens of frisee, but I love the versatility of this salad, using whatever greens you have on hand. In this instance, I used some mache, or lamb’s lettuce, found at the farmer’s market one Sunday afternoon in West Seattle.

Mache is a tender but oh so pretty salad green. It makes me think of fields of clover and its taste to me is a blend of floral and bitter notes. I decided to keep playing on the springness of this salad by using green onions instead of the traditional shallot slices. With some bright red teardrop grape tomatoes on hand, I halved them and sprinkled them raw on this salad instead of sauteeing them with mushrooms in the rendered bacon fat like I would with a more wintery version of this salad. A quick dressing of mustard, lemon juice, and red wine vinegar, was made and drizzled on top of the vegetables before topping each plate with crumbles of bacon and two poached eggs, yolks still heavenly runny.

Think salad can’t make you happy? I instantly feel better just looking at this salad. Think how much better it feels to dig in, breaking that yolk and letting it softly enfold each tender lettuce green.

Note: Normally I top this salad with homemade garlicky croutons, but I thought that the toasted bread cubes might clash with how delicate the mache was in this salad. No worries– I just served some crusty garlic bread on the side. This makes two entree-sized salads.

  • 1 large bunch mache, stems trimmed of root ends if still attached, lightly washed and spun dry
  • 4 strips thick cut bacon, cut into 1/4 inch wide lardons
  • olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • splash red wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper
  • pinch of dried thyme
  • 3-4 green onions, sliced into rounds
  • 1/2 pint grape tomatoes, halved
  • 4 eggs
  • splash white wine vinegar

Add about 2 teaspoons of olive oil to a medium skillet. Coat the pan with the oil then add the bacon lardons. Cook over medium heat until bacon is crisp. Remove bacon to a paper towel lined plate to drain.

Whisk together lemon juice, honey, mustard, red wine vinegar, thyme, about 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Slowly drizzle in olive oil while whisking until dressing emulsifies, about 4-5 tablespoons. Plate the mache and sprinkle green onions and tomato halves on top. Drizzle with most of the dressing.

Crack the eggs carefully, one in each of 4 small bowls. Fill a large skillet about 3/4 of the way and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Add about 2 teaspoons of salt and a splash of white wine vinegar. Turn off the heat, and carefully, but quickly add the eggs to the hot water, spacing them apart so that the whites of each egg can congeal around their own yolks. Place a tight fitting lid on the skillet and set timer for just shy of three minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove eggs, in order of how you set them, and carefully place eggs, drained of excess cooking water on salad greens, two per plate. Sprinkle bacon on top and drizzle with a little more dressing before serving.

Fish Chowder

As I was unpacking my purchases from a local produce stand yesterday, I realized that if there’s one thing I tend to overstock in our house, it’s potatoes. Our kitchen table, home to bowls of neatly organized fruit, citrus, and onions (as well as the mail and appliances I’m too lazy to put away) was also littered with several bags each containing 2-3 greening potatoes. Oops.

I admit it’s because each week I buy more potatoes than I need to compensate for the ones leftover from the previous week that I see are turning that unfortunately shade of green instead of creamy yellow. So I suppose I should either get better at estimating how many potatoes I actually will need or start making more things that use more potatoes.

More things that use potatoes… well, chowder certainly comes to mind. I made this one with chunks of beautiful wild salmon and Pacific halibut– firm fleshed fish that could retain texture after poaching in a broth that combined clam juice and chicken stock and had thickened from the starches of boiled potatoes. Also adding flavor to the soup was a base of celery, onion, and garlic cooked in some rendered bacon fat and butter. Using half and half and the bright flavors of fresh dill helped to lighten this chowder a bit rather than making it a pot of thick and heavy wallpaper paste. Finally, a garnish of crispy bacon pieces added salt and subtle smoke as well as pleasant crunch to all that softness. Have a pantry full of potatoes? Then add them to a soup pot and warm up with a bowl of fish chowder.

Note: Use any firm fleshed fish that looks good in the store that day, but being a good, Seattleite, I of course say that with the caveat of it being sustainably harvested. If you have some available, feel free to substitute fish stock for the combination of chicken stock and clam broth.

  • 4 ounces thick cut bacon, diced
  • olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 medium yellow onions, diced (about 1.5 cups)
  • 3 medium celery stalks, diced
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 1 teaspoon)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme or savory or a mix of both
  • 1 large fresh bay leaf or 2 small dried ones
  • 4 large Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into about 1/2 inch dice
  • 14 oz clam broth
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 3 pounds mix of wild salmon and Pacific halibut, bones removed and cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 to 1.5 cups half and half
  • salt and pepper
  • 1-2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped

Add diced bacon and about 1 teaspoon olive oil to the bottom of a Dutch oven or large soup pot. Cook over medium heat until bacon is crisp. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate to drain. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of fat in the pot. Add the butter and melt over medium heat. When foam subsides, add the onions, celery, and garlic and cook until vegetables have softened but not browned, about 8-10 minutes.

Add the thyme and/or savory, bay leaf, and the potatoes. Pour in clam broth and chicken stock then bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a gentle boil and let cook for 7-10 minutes or until potatoes are soft but retain their shapes. Smash some of the potatoes until soup base achieves the level of thickness you desire. Reduce heat so that soup simmers then add the fish. Poach until fish is cooked through, about 10-12 minutes. Stir in half and half and add 1/2 tablespoon of chopped dill. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Ladle into bowls, garnished with reserved bacon and additional dill.

Garden Count: 3

Thyme, savory, bay leaf