Category Archives: flexitarian

Sunday Gathering Frittata

frittata extreme closeup

frittata extreme closeup

Artichoke and Broccoli Frittata*

I made this dish for a Sunday afternoon gathering – and people seemed to like it! Oh, and someone made mention of my blog there so I thought it might be nice to update it in case anyone takes a look….kinda like housecleaning and setting out fresh flowers before company arrives!

Ingredients: (warning: these measurements are very, very approximate – I am guesstimating them after the fact)

  1. 5 or 6 jumbo eggs;
  2. 1 whoppingly large yellow onion;
  3. 3 cloves of garlic; (I used 3, and I think it was not enough…might want to beef it up to like 5 or 6 cloves!)
  4. 1 cup of marinated artichoke hearts, and a few tablespoons of the marinade;
  5. 1 enormous Russet potato (weighs around 1 pound);
  6. 2 cups of broccoli;
  7. 1 cup of Vintage White Tillamook cheddar (any cheese will do, this just happens to be a favorite of mine and I believe it is good value for the expense);
  8. cooking oil;
  9. roasted almonds (optional – but adds a nice crunch and sweetness); and
  10. saltiness – I put a few dashes of soy sauce and some sea salt (likely about 1/4 teaspoon).

Instructions:

1) Prep

  • Garlic and Onions: Remove the skins (I used a big heavy rock on the garlic) and chop broadly, discarding the hard ends. Then sweat the onion and garlic. Of course, when I say “discard” I mean, toss into a compost bin if you’ve got one.**
  • Broccoli: While you are letting the onions sweat, it’s a good time to tackle washing and slicing the broccoli florets into halves or quarters even. I chopped off the longer stems because they just add extra bulk.
  • Artichokes: Slice the marinated artichokes. I bought mine in halves and quarters so I ended up slicing each piece no more than twice at the most.
  • Potato: Wash the potato, and remove any sprouts. You might know, but I will gently remind – the sprouting “eyes” are poisonous! Slip it into a bowl with 1/2 cup of water. Microwave for 6 or 7 minutes.
  • Slice the cheese into 1/2″ cubes (or smaller).
  • If the almonds are salted, rinse them in a little water. Drain, then crush with the big rock.

2) Assembly

  • Beat the 5 eggs in their own mixing bowl.
  • While the potato is still piping hot, peel off the skin and chop it broadly. Toss it into a bowl with the reserved artichoke marinade.
  • Set aside enough cheese and crushed almonds to set on top. Toss everything else into the bowl with the hot potato mix.
  • Pour the eggs into the potato mixture. The mixture should now be totally coated with egg and definitely shiny. If it looks too dry, crack and beat another egg and toss that in too.

3) Cooking

  • Heat up a large skillet (mine is 10″ in diameter) to medium-low. Once the pan has heated up, pour in a little olive oil and smear with a bit of paper towel, coating the entirety of the inside.
  • Pour in the mixture.
  • Cover with a lid, and turn the heat down to low – err on the side of lower rather than higher heat. Let this cook for a good 30 minutes. Set the lid at an angle to let water escape.
  • Get the oven to 250 Fahrenheit.
  • Remove lid.
  • Broil the frittata for 15~20 minutes, until the mixture is fully cooked. Turn off the oven. Garnish the frittata with the reserved cheese and crushed almonds, and allow the cheese to melt for a few minutes in the residual heat.
  • Sit back, and await accolades :-)!

I served directly from the skillet, but I suppose you could plate it up in wedges. For this event, people served themselves. If you are serving directly after cooking, the cast-iron skillet retains heat for a good while.

***********************

Cost Breakdown

The costs of the almonds and garlic are missing from the below, just FYI.

Ingredient price # type unit price: units used costs
Jumbo Eggland eggs $2.99 12 egg 0.25 6 $1.50
Russet Potato $0.89 1 oz 0.89 1 $0.89
Yellow Onion $1.49 1 oz 1.49 1 $1.49
Cheddar Cheese $8.99 32 oz 0.28 8 $2.25
Marinated Artichokes $9.99 32.5 oz 0.31 8 $2.46
Broccoli $4.00 48 oz 0.08 16 $1.33
Recipe costs: $9.91
servings (appetizer sized) 15
cost per serving: $0.66

***********************

Shopping Notes

The broccoli, Tillamook cheese, and marinated artichokes were from Costco. Be warned that the jar for the artichokes is extremely difficult to open! Also, the jar says 65 oz, but I think that includes all the liquids so I’m guessing that the usable portion is about half that. The eggs were from Safeway.

* Was this truly a frittata? I didn’t actually fry it. One can argue that this is a riff on a tortilla de patates, due the inclusion of the potato and onion.
** My county waste management service gives everyone an organic waste bin (as large as a garbage can!) and it really really cuts down on trash.

frittata on the counter

frittata on the counter

Photo credits: I’m using these photos by kind permission of the hostess’s husband.

P.S. Was googling about one of my great loves, canned fish, and landed on these awesome Japanese Sardine Rice recipes from Miss Baby Sunshine and Tomo – and I knew I had to give the linky love!

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Extremely Easy Salmon Salad with Sweet Potatoes

I’m kinda like a cat. I love fish. When I was a vegetarian for a few years, I resisted burgers, hot dogs, steaks and even pork chops without any trouble.  But fish? I remember pining away for albacore sashimi, when everyone else in my family enjoyed platters of it, on gorgeous beds of freshly-picked chiso.

I’m not a vegetarian now, so, I don’t have to resist eating fish. Sigh of relief! Recently, one of my friends gave me a can of wild Alaskan salmon. And I have been roasting sweet potatoes in the toaster oven like there is no tomorrow. Naturally, these must come together in a salad.

Salmon Salad  with Sweet Potatoes

  • 1/4  cup of canned salmon; (1/4 of $2.69* = = $.67);
  • 1/2 of a roasted** sweet potato, sliced broadly (half of a 2/3 lb potato x $1.99/lb = = $.66);
  • dab of mayo;
  • dab of grainy mustard;
  • greens/herbs to garnish.

Probably no-salt canned chickpeas would be a great addition to this salad. For visual interest, I added a stem of yu choy, chiffonade-d, fresh from the farmer’s market. By the way, Trader Joe’s canned salmon is great. Bay Beauty (a.k.a., Ocean Beauty) brand, which I used in this recipe, is decent quality.*** FYI, I googled around and found that warm potato/salmon salad is pretty common. So, feel free to change out the sweet potatoes for plain ones. I happen to love it cold, straight out of the fridge.

P.S. It’s a really lovely mix of sweet and savory. Kinda reminds me of Japanese food!

Also – I would love to try making a bean pie, but I want a recipe that someone can recommend personally. If you have one, please share!

*I think that is the cost of the Trader Joe’s wild Alaskan salmon. There are definitely cheaper brands.

**I usually roast a few sweet potatoes at 450 F for 1 hour in the toaster oven.

*** These opinions are not the result of fees/gifts.

Shiitake Stuffing for a Minnesota Holiday Potluck

Zojirushi

Once upon a time, I attended a potluck, with a savory bread pudding in tow. It was much, much loved. And my hopes of eating the leftovers were not to be – it was entirely demolished! I was so proud of myself because I thought I had completely invented the recipe, and it was the first time I made it (not something I recommend when cooking for others – my backup plan was to buy something if it didn’t turn out). But now I realize – the dish reminds me a little bit of the chawanmushi my grandmother would make. Everything “new” is actually old.

Shiitake Stuffing

Ingredients: (I don’t remember the exact measurements…these are very approximate)

  • 1/2 loaf of decent quality San Francisco style sweet Italian bread – the kind with sesame seeds on the crust;
  • 2 cups of dried shiitakes;
  • 3 medium yellow onions or 2 large yellow onions;
  • soy sauce;
  • 3 eggs;
  • 1 24 oz can of chicken stock;
  • milk? (I can’t remember if I used milk or not…*)
  • dashes of white wine;
  • dashes of ngouc mam;
  • dash of sugar;
  • cooking oil/butter.

1. Soaking

The mushrooms were the stars of this show. I soaked them in warm water for a few hours before I cooked. Usually, I soak them in a deep, narrow container with a small dish that fits inside the container mouth to keep the mushrooms submerged nicely.

2. Chopping

The onions and mushrooms needed chopping/slicing. Each went into their own bowls, waiting their turn. I wanted to show off the beautiful shape of the shiitake, so, I sliced them (sans stem of course) from the top to the gills in 1/8″ wide pieces.

3. Bread Frying

This was the longest part – frying 8-10 pieces of bread on each side, to get some slight browning.** After frying, I chopped each slice into four strips. I think I chose against cubes, in the hopes that the pudding would be more textural.

4. Sweating the veggies + deglazing

To a hot, hot skillet, I added the onions, then the mushrooms. They sweated for a good few minutes, without burning. Then, I poured the chicken stock to deglaze and quickly scraped all the veggie fond from the bottom of the skillet. Now, I can’t quite remember how much white wine, soy sauce, ngouc mam, and sugar I added, but, they went into the mix during the deglazing. Everything simmered and smelled amazing as it all reduced a little bit.

5. Cooling the mushroom mix/Preheating oven

I knew I would need to add egg to make the stuffing, and did not want scrambled eggs, so, I let the mixture cool down a bit. Very important! I think I separated the liquids and stored them in the fridge or freezer for a little bit. This is probably when I preheated the oven (likely to 400).

6. Egg mixture

I beat the three eggs and incorporated the cooled liquids (and possibly the milk, if I used it!). The egg mixture was not watery in consistency – when I was mixing, likely with some chopsticks, the mixture was a little bit resistant/elastic.

7. Baking

I think the glass baking dish was 9″ x 13″ or so. Well, I buttered it. Then, loosely arranged the bread and the mushroom mix. Then poured the egg mixture, which almost covered the bread/mushroom mix. A few pieces stuck up here and there, for textural interest. Into the oven it all went, for about 1 hour at (probably) 350 Fahrenheit.

8. Costs

Most of the ingredients were pretty cheap, but the shiitakes usually aren’t.  The shiitakes came from a package I got from Costco, a really great deal – I think it was like 1/2 lb for $10.00 or so. Probably used less than 2 dollars’ worth or so. The quantity of onions might be 2 dollars. The bread expense…hm…maybe 2 dollars? Half a loaf, for four dollars or less (two dollars’ worth). Three eggs…roughly 50 cents – 75 cents, depending on how fancy the eggs were. That’s seven dollars so far, not counting the dashes of this and that. Using store-bought chicken stock brings up the cost to ten dollars. It serves more than ten, so, it’s probably less than a dollar per serving.

How did it taste? Oh, I remember it well! First, the nearly custard-like bread/egg foundation is rich and savory. Then a bite of the shiitakes makes the brain so very happy. Shiitakes are pure umami to me.***

*I usually use milk when making stuffing…so…I probably used it for this recipe…

**I don’t remember why I fried the bread, it’s been such a long time since I’ve made any kind of stuffing/pudding , but I’m pretty sure I’ve always done that for bread stuffings.

***Science journalist Robert Krulwich has a charming 8 minute story about Kikunae Ikeda and Escoffier discovering umami contemporaneously. One as a chemist, the other as a chef.

Canned Fish is a Superstar II: Spinach & Sprats Fried Rice

Comfort is the ultimate expression of love. Or perhaps laziness? Maybe that is why I adore fried rice. Comfy and lovely. So easy, so cheap, so good! So tolerant of whatever you might happen to have around the fridge. Or in the case of canned fish, whatever is in your pantry.

Part II in a series of posts about the wonders of canned fish.

I usually like to use smoked pork products – like sausage or bacon (or even…gasp…SPAM! one of my secret loves). Smoked pork is my nod to the char siu traditionally found in fried rice . But this time, in the interest of advancing the culinary arts, I thought I’d try some smoked sprats. This brand, unlike the Riga canned sprats, have no tartness or sour sparkle to them. Instead, they have an unadulterated smoky sprat flavor. Whoa Nelly! That is some real fish. I wondered how the smokiness and fishiness would hold up in a fried rice dish. And would spinach’s earthiness do combat with the fish? Only one way to find out!

Spinach and Sprats Fried Rice

  • 2 cups of leftover rice, still chilled from refrigeration (used white Homai rice from the beloved Costco for $9.00/25 lbs);
  • 2 loose cups of fresh spinach, chopped (I’m sure frozen would work fine too, if you squeezed out the excess water);
  • 2 jumbo eggs;
  • 1 cup of chopped onion (about two smallish yellow ones);
  • cheese as garnish (Kraft Parmesan worked nicely for me);
  • salt; and
  • copious amounts of black pepper.

My fried rice is pretty informal. In an ideal world, maybe you scramble the eggs first, then add them back to the rice mixture. That’s probably what I should have done, but the results were fine without that step. Heat up the cast iron skillet, to almost smoking hot. Lower to medium high. Add the vegetable oil. Throw in the onions. Then add the rice and use the spatula furiously – folding, folding, folding. Beat the eggs, then throw them in. Scramble wildly. Loosely chop the sprats. Throw them in. Fold in the spinach. Sprinkle salt generously, after tasting. Load up the rice with as much black pepper as you can stand. Garnish with cheese. Yes, I know this is not traditional. Serve with a flourish. Wait for adulation – it will arrive! I received compliments, just a warning!

Spinach Frittata. Egg in a Nest. Oven Fried Red Potatoes. Miscellaneous Breakfast Joy

When I made a spinach frittata recently, I let someone, who shall remain nameless, have a “bite.” Somehow, upon my return to the pan, hoping to enjoy the last two tablespoons, the rest of it had disappeared! The explanation: “well, it was so good…” Oh, a little flattery gets you everywhere. Who says crime doesn’t pay!

Spinach (and Bean Salad) Frittata:

  • 2 eggs;
  • 2 egg whites;
  • 2 whopping cups of organic spinach from Costco;*
  • 4 tablespoons of bean salad, drained;**
  • 4 tablespoons of Kraft Parmesan grated cheese; and
  • black pepper, to taste.

Feeds one very very hungry person (me). Plus one interloper. OK, so, I sliced the spinach leaves into a loose chiffonade. While the cast iron skillet heated up to a nice medium high, I beat the eggs together with the spinach, bean salad, cheese, and black pepper. Threw some vegetable oil on there. Then I put it all in the skillet. And then tried to flip it, in parts. That was pretty much it. Probably took me all of 4 or 5 minutes of prep. Might have taken 10 minutes to cook. The bean salad adds sweetness, a nice chewiness, and a great tang that stands up to the spinach nicely.

Egg in the Nest

Also made Egg in the Nest recently, with the help of this lid:

Began like so:

Ended like so:

Now you know when I say you might want to avoid using raisin bread to make Egg in the Nest…well, I lived through the hardship of over-carmelization – so you can learn from my pain…

Red Potato Oven Fries

You buy a sack of potatoes. You have the very best intentions. But how quickly can any human get through a 5lb bag (especially if rice = = primary starch)? The potatoes looked wilted and lame after waiting around with nothing to do for too darn long. I resuscitated them overnight with a dash of vinegar. Vinegar prevents the potatoes from browning. I don’t have the “before.” Just know and trust that the potatoes were less than photogenic.

After:

The next day, I drained and dried them, slathered them in olive oil and a pre-packaged Italian-style herb mix before baking them at 375F for about 1/2 hr. Easy as pie. Freezes and microwaves beautifully. Lovely to have for breakfast, especially with eggs and some fine coffee.

After roasting, then freezing:

*Links you to a 2004 industry article regarding the synergy between Costco’s membership base and the organic agriculture market.

**Since the first time I made it, I find myself making it every few weeks. This last rendition boasted some canned corn.

Subversive Peanut Butter Cinnamon Chickpea Fudge (under $.03 per serving)

Sssssh. I have a secret. Dessert can be nutritious. And, in the old countries, it frequently is. Recipes for yōkan, burfi, and halva routinely use beans, sesame seeds, and even carrots to establish foundations for sweets. They are dense dessert formats, just like fudge.

And what if such a dessert were to be made of chickpeas? Well, one cup of these yields more than 20% of your Recommended Daily Value of folate, vitamins B6, C, and zinc. That means these beans might be good for you. Let me say right now, I don’t know much in the way of desserts.* This was a total experiment. But I really liked how it worked out. And you won’t even have to trick anyone into eating their veggies for this sweet. (I frown upon that sort of trickery!!!)

Peanut Butter Chickpea Fudge

  • 4 cups of hot, cooked chickpeas** (about 1.5 cup of dry chickpeas, about $.60 worth);
  • 1/2 cup of granulated sugar (less than $.10);
  • 5 tablespoons of unadulterated creamy peanut butter (about $.50 worth);
  • 3 tablespoons of cinnamon ($.20? unknown***);
  • water; and
  • cookie sheet.

Basically, I just pureed the chickpeas with a little bit of water immediately after cooking them to make a paste with the peanut butter. I realize now that it would have been much easier to add the sugar/cinnamon/coffee first to water, then the peanut butter, and then adding that to the chickpeas. It should end up being thicker than peanut butter – very thick – and just wet enough to incorporate everything into the chickpea puree. The amount of water will vary with the moisture left in the chickpeas after draining of course.

Grease a cookie sheet, and spread the mixture with a spatula. I actually put them on a piece of waxed paper laid inside the cookie sheet, and this was fine…but it would have worked better if I had greased it first – later I had to absolutely pry them off that paper. I put them in an oven that I preheated to 425, for about 1/2 hour. Makes about 50 approximately 3/4″ x 2″ pieces (covers 1 cookie sheet fully) for less than $.03 a piece (as in, makes $1.40 divided by 50 = $.028).

Let these cool before eating. They will taste sweeter. The pizza wheel was very handy for cutting these, by the way. The peanut butter and cinnamon stand up and shout, which is just what I like. It freezes like a champ. I absolutely adored having this with my lunch the other day. They are a little bit moist, and very crumbly. (Update: likely a more experienced baker would add some sort of binder, like cornstarch, to render less breakable. But not me!) It’s perfect to have with a cup of strong tea, after popping a frozen one in the microwave for 15-20 seconds.

* Hm, I know how to make apple pie, pumpkin pie, flan, cranberry fruit salad, and tropical fruit salad from scratch…and now this! Cake mixes doesn’t count!

** Canned chickpeas will add saltiness.

***You can get a big bottle of cinnamon powder for $1.00 at some dollar stores, according to one of my friends who bought a lot of her spices that way.

Chana Masala (less than $0.50 per serving)

Everytime I go to the supermarket, I see MDH’s Chana Masala powder mix. Now, I’ve used it before…but not for its intended purpose. I see the happy picture on the box and I wonder if chickpeas can really be that glamorous? I bought the box and decided to take the plunge.

After watching the culinary superawesomeness of Ms. Manjula, in her Youtube contribution, I felt a teensy bit more knowledgeable about preparing the dish. Manjula cooks hers with ginger, and by golly, so will I! Her recipe calls for fresh chiles, which I did not have around.

Chole, a.k.a., Chana Masala

  • 1 lb dried chickpeas, which expands to at least 2lb after soaking overnight (about $.80 – I got a 2 kg bag for under $3.00);
  • 1 can of whole tomatoes, which I then chopped (guessing: about $1.50 – fresh is better, and that’s what Manjula did, but, the available tomatoes looked kinda waxy and were still superexpensive);
  • 1 extremely large onion, almost 1lb (guessing: $1.00 worth);
  • 1.5 cubic inches of ginger (guessing: $.50 worth);
  • 1/5 of the package of MDH chana masala powder – about 2 tablespoons (about $.35);
  • cooking oil (pennies);
  • salt* (I threw in three generous dashes of fish sauce); an
  • pressure cooker.

“Cavalier” is the word I would use to describe how I cooked this. I put the burner under the pressure cooker on medium high, and threw the MDH in when the oil was nearly smoking. Fortunately, I had chopped everything in advance, so in the onion, tomato and ginger went, surely preventing a small kitchen fire. And then the cooked chickpeas. Since I had undercooked the chickpeas the first time around, it took me a while to pressure everything together…probably about 25 minutes in aggregate – pressured it, for 15 minutes, checked it, and then pressured it some more.

You might see the burn marks on one of the chickpeas in the top picture. I would recommend just simmering it (in a regular pan) for 40 minutes like the package recommends – might need a little more water than just the canned tomatoes I used here. I like it just really chunky and with very firm chickpeas. Indira of Mahanandi makes a puree of some of the chickpeas to thicken it a bit. Maybe next time, I’ll try it that way. But I am definitely making this again. So good, and so easy!

Smells absolutely great when you are cooking it. Tastes even better the next day – very microwave-friendly. And is a fabulous lunch, even when cold. Likely makes at least 10 servings (yields almost 4 lbs) for less than $4.50 – less than $.45 per serving.

#8 in a series of my posts about recipes yielding meals for under $1.00 per serving:

  1. Madras Chicken Curry in the Tundra for less than $1.00: even better than it sounds;
  2. approximately Sailu’s adraki kebabs – less than $0.50 per serving;
  3. maximally lazy and frugal version of feijoada (under $0.25 per serving) // Year of the Boar post #2;
  4. antioxidant red cabbage and sweet potato curry – about $1.00 per serving;
  5. When the stars make you drool just like Pasta Fazool, that’s Amore…(about $.50 per serving); and
  6. Three Bean Salad: antidote to winter, super convenient and less than $1.00 per serving!

P.S. There is such a thing as Indian Chinese food, as in, Chinese food interpreted by Indian nationals. Me adding fish sauce, well, I just like it, but I suppose I can get away with calling it some kind of “fusion” technique!

P.P.S. I put the chole on a little plate because I adore being able to see the chickpeas themselves and because I liked the plate. In reality, I prefer eat more than 1.5 tablespoons of food at a time.

* If you leave out the fish sauce, of course, it will be vegan.