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.

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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

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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!

Low-Carb Experiment #1: Tofu Bok Choy Hot Salad

Is there anything good about carbs? Results from a recent study suggest that a low-carb diet may be better for your heart than a low-fat diet. I guess you need them at times for quick energy…but last time I checked, my work tends to be about sitting at a desk, and less about running after animals or other more athletic pursuits. So, I’m eating fewer carbs.

One of my favorite preparations of tofu, yudofu,  is nearly zero preparation at all: slice a tofu cake into large-ish pieces; simmer in some water* to soften; serve with rice and garnishes of katsuobushi, sliced green onions, and soy sauce. That’s it! I love the simple, beany flavor of the tofu that is inexplicably sturdy enough to stand up to these aggressive garnishes. Hint: make sure you really like the tofu you are using, because you definitely be tasting it. This is not a matter of hiding or camouflaging it!

That spirit of simplicity made me think of eating tofu with gingery bok choy. Mainly because I bought a ton of baby bok choy and tofu in the fridge. I’m going to call this a hot salad.

Hot Tofu and Bok Choy Salad**


Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb of baby bok choy, sliced into halves; (about $.85, since it was $1.69/ lb at ye olde Ranch 99 Market);
  • 1/2 cake of tofu, torn into large pieces; (about $.45 at $.89 for 1 cake);
  • 1/2 cubic inch of ginger sliced into matchsticks (pennies, $1.59/lb);
  • soy sauce (pennies); and
  • vegetable oil.

(total cost per serving: .45 + .85 + miscellaneous pennies for soy sauce and ginger = 1.30 + X = under $1.50 per serving.)

The baby bok choy cook very quickly. Wash them. Halve them. Heat up a skillet. Slice the ginger into small, matchstick-like pieces. Once the skillet is medium hot, throw 1 teaspoon of veggie oil in the middle of the skillet. Spread the oil by lifting and angling the pan (or just smearing the oil with a bit of paper towel). Throw the sliced ginger into it. (I always love the smell of frying ginger!) Let the ginger cook for about 2 minutes, flipping it with a spatula a few times. This will infuse the oil with the fabulousness of the ginger. Throw the baby bok choy into the skillet. It will wilt immediately. Cover the skillet with a lid, and turn off the heat. You are basically steaming the veggies.

Next, open a package of medium-firm tofu. Tear the tofu with your hands, into large-ish pieces. I just like the way the torn tofu looks for this dish…you can of course cut it into cubes. Put the tofu on a plate and…microwave it! Yes, I said, microwave it – it’s already cooked, so it’s now just a matter of heating it up. This prep is the ultimate in laziness! Depending on the strength of your microwave, this might be for 1 minute to 90 seconds. Ladle the bok choy, with whatever gingery-liquids that developed in the skillet, onto the tofu. Drizzle generous amounts of soy sauce. Done.

When I ate this, I felt strangely satisfied. It’s very plain, but for me, tofu is a comfort food. Can’t get much simpler than this!

* I guess some use dashi – but I’m accustomed simmering it in plain old water.

** If there is such a thing as a roast beef salad, I think I can name this a salad too. The word “salad” is rooted in the use of salt to flavor veggies.

Chicken for 77 Cents per Pound…nostalgia and inspiration!

chicken and kimchee lettuce cup

Chicken at Safeway this week is 77 cents per pound – seems like Safeway changes the chicken price to this level from time to time. I remembered that long, long, LONG ago, I bought a whole chicken and froze it. I figured that I should use it…nearly a year later?

chicken price sticker

So I defrosted it overnight, and then brined it. Didn’t follow a recipe for the brine – just threw everything (for just a few hours, with salt, sugar, and apple cider) into a large stockpot, stuck it in the fridge for about 4 hours. I figured the apple cider vinegar would help liven up the taste if the chicken had fallen victim to freezer burn.

Someone had given me many bags of veggies, including a wealth of root veggies: fingerling and purple potatoes, as well as carrots. I decided that they would form a bed for a roast chicken. While the chicken marinated, I soaked the root veggies which were a tad dried out.

potatoes

carrots

bed of root veggies

After quickly rubbing it with some chilic powder I got for $1.00 at the dollar store, I put the 4 lb chicken on a bed of root veggies into the 450 degree oven. About 75 minutes later, it was all quite roasted. The feedback on the chicken? No one knew it was previously frozen!!! I could have roasted a (previously frozen) woolly mammoth if I brined it first!!! Brining is truly magical.

roasted chicken on a bed of root veggies

Roasted chicken was part of one day’s meal (yesterday’s). And what about the second day of roasted chicken? Why not make lettuce cups? That’s right, slather that chicken with kim chee and roll it up in some lettuce. And call it a day. So so easy.

chicken and kim chee lettuce cups

I can see doing something similar with cold, drained, firm tofu. Hm…maybe I’ll have to try that.

Thanks for still reading my blog, despite my inattention! Here’s a totally gratuitous photo of some California goodness.

sunset

Holiday-Friendly Recipes + Umeshu-kan (Japanese vegan jello shot)

Cream Puff

Just thought I’d round up some holiday-friendly recipes before the Thanksgiving whirlwind (recipes from this blog and tasty-looking recipes from other bloggers).

Note – The holidays are probably not the time you want to experiment with recipes you haven’t mastered, but it can be nice to try out new things!

make ahead dishes, for the day or two before

oven multi-tasking

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Umeshu-kan

Umeshu-kan mise en place

Umeshu-kan

I have read about people using umeshu (Japanese plum wine) to make kanten desserts. It went on sale the other week, so I pounced on it! It’s been many, many, many years since I’ve had umeshu. I quite forgot that it is VERY potent, like any other fruit-based liquer.

I made a very small amount of umeshu-kan, just enough to test. I’ve never had a Jello Shot, but I think it’s similar…except that it’s fancy and delicious!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup boiling water;
  • 1/2 cup of umeshu;
  • 1″ x 2″ rectangle of agar-agar if using the sheet form (least expensive form of agar-agar).

I poured out all of the boiling water into a large mug, then returned 1/4 cup to the saucepot. I threw in the agar-agar, making sure it really melted all the way. Then I added the umeshu, let it heat up, and put it in a mold. I let it set in the fridge for about 1.5 hr. It was ready for eating. So I and my taste testers sample it. It was SO good. But I could not have very much of it because of the potency (made with distilled liquor!). Very good with a big cup of black tea.

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Container Gardening Update

My two first broccoli rapa (container-grown). They were delish!

in the container

Enjoy your Thanksgiving!

The Foodie Handbook Book Reading (with Queen Pim)

My friend said we should go to a book reading, since it was by a food blogger.  I actually didn’t know who Pim Techamuanvivit was but I thought it sounded fun. So off we went!

We chose our seats and thumbed through her book for a while, trading laughs and funny quotes from her book, “The Foodie Handbook: The (Almost) Definitive Guide to Gastronomy.”  Reading the book was a good time.  Her storytelling is effortless. It seemed like the book’s mission is to deflate some of the stuffiness associated with foodie-ism.  OK, so I didn’t buy a copy but my enjoyment was genuine.* I could totally understand why Pim is a star.

About ten minutes before the reading, a bookstore employee announced that three of the bookstore’s employees kindly prepared recipes from the book: roasted vegetables with dates; alfajores; and bread soup. The small crowd lined up. All of the food was so, so delicious. I loved the soup especially.

She read a few excerpts from the book and spent a generous amount of time answering our questions. At one point, she was telling us about visiting a farmer’s market in New York with a famous French chef (I can’t remember his name)  to buy some snap peas. He apparently picked each pea pod individually and was pleased with his purchase. Until he visited another stall, with slightly better peas. Which prompted him to try to return the first set. Ah, not high maintenance at all!

Anyways, she charmed everybody. I think my friend was a little smitten with her.  He kept saying, “Oh, that was really cute! You can take me to these food things if they are cute!”

*In an attempt to save money and cut down on clutter, I try not to buy books anymore. My tendency now is to check books out from the library. If I pine away for a book for a LONG time, then I might consider buying. Sort of like dating the book instead of marrying it right away.

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I’ve put three post-like things about food/money (including most of the “show me the money, part i: finding low-cost recipes” post on their own page “show me the money” instead of publishing three posts.

fyi, I think I’m the last person to learn of Cake Wrecks, but, if not – check it out!

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.