Summer Frittata

Well, it happened. I moved. I moved and I threw wedding parties and I rode my (used-but-new, totally awesome) bike and I tried to go to bed on time (and failed). I moved, and I’m tired. I’m anticipating some sort of settling in moment that hasn’t quite happened yet, and I’m still peering out windows wondering when my roommate will come home (how strange to live alone again). I get home from work and the night is entirely my own, and my mind races with the lack of evening structure. Where are my friends, steps or blocks away, texting or calling or just being known in the skyline in the distance? Where is my dog, bothering me and napping on my couch? What is demanded of me here, in this completely new city, not at all far from where I once lived, but entirely unknown just the same? Where is the bike path, the best place to run, the most convenient grocery store? I come home, and I enjoy the HBO and Internet access I made sure to install promptly, and then I forget that I can do whatever I want. I guess I do, in that I stay still, and try to create calm. But then I don’t, in that I lost the bursting-but-fleeting productivity that inspired me to unpack my apartment and now just sit among the final boxes on a mattress on the floor. I feel decidedly unsettled, I’d counter.

So in attempt to control my time, I post again. A recipe I ate ages ago, back in my old kitchen. I suppose soon enough a recipe will come here from the new one (I actually already have one to be shared), but, for now: the remaining moments of my Chicago (genuinely Chicago) summer. I made this frittata for an easy night of cooking, and also as a means to eat more vegetables. I eat breakfast incredibly early, at a time at which most people don’t have an appetite. But it’s now or never, and sweets become heavy and unappetizing when eaten day after day (breakfast sweets, that is). So I intended to create a savory recipe I could reheat and eat quickly, which, when lacking the flour to create a quiche crust, becomes a frittata. (Strange side: my new apartment lacks a microwave, and I’ve missed it thrice already). This frittata wrangles up the varying summer produce with a delicious eggy binder, and it tastes fresh and savory and warm all at once. I included a recent Trader Joe’s find: mediterranean feta. It’s feta cheese, but better, including a few herbs and spices that complement well the flavors of this recipe. Obviously, a plain feta or even goat cheese would pair well here also, but if you find this ingredient, it’s worth including.

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Summer Frittata

Serves 4

1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1 bunch broccoli, cut into small florets

1/2 zucchini, sliced into quarter rounds

9 large (farm-fresh!?) eggs

1/4 cup milk, anything but skim (cream if you’re fancy)

1/3 cup mediterranean feta cheese, crumbled

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the broccoli florets and zucchini, and sauté the vegetables until lightly browning, about 5-8 minutes. Once browned, distribute evenly through the bottom of the pan.

Whisk together the eggs and milk. Pour the egg mixture over the vegetables and stir lightly to evenly distribute everything.  Sprinkle the feta cheese evenly over the egg liquid. Cook the eggs in the pan, still over medium to medium-low heat, until the bottom is just setting and the edges just begin to appear firm. This time can vary, but should take about 5-10 minutes.

Place the pan into the oven and cook until the frittata is completely cooked through, which can be recognized by gently shaking the pan and noting no movement of the eggs, about 12-15 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven, cool slightly, and enjoy.

This can easily serve a crowd, or can alternatively offer leftovers for a week. Whichever you please. Maybe you’re busy.

 

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Caramelized Onion, Sun-dried Tomato, and Goat Cheese Quiche

Quiche. Oh my god, quiche. I love quiche. It is astoundingly underrated. For instance, when you go to brunch, what do you have swimming in your head, what options are you fanning through mentally? Omelet, egg scramble, french toast, pancakes, eggs benedict, fresh juice, eggs-in-a-basket, biscuits and gravy… the classics. But as you frustratingly toy between deciding sweet or savory (eventually just going for the huge breakfast platter that combines both), quiche is just sitting there on the side, being absurdly perfect, waiting for you to remember. Quiche isn’t offered at every restaurant or brunch place. It’s a little bit “fancy,” and it may only be available at your delicious-yet-kind-of-hipster/trendy neighborhood haunt. (I can think specifically of my favorite brunch place in the city- Birchwood Kitchen- with their quiches sitting poised atop a glass cabinet of salads and baked goods). So it’s fair that it’s not a regular go-to when you’re sitting down for brunch on a Sunday morning at 11am. But I am here to fight for it. Fight for its representation. Because, guys, it’s basically PIE filled with EGGS. With fillings that are delightful and usually perfectly fresh and almost always healthy yet delicious.

So you can’t get it out all the time, or maybe you still insist that you can’t make french toast at home (eh hem, you can), but there’s no reason not to delight in the wonder that is quiche when the craving hits. (It’s actually hitting you right now, you just don’t remember). There is a crust to quiche, and I personally am annoyed when Pinterest links and Internet sites quote recipes for “crustless quiches,” because those totally already exist, everyone; they’re called frittatas, and they are too delicious, in their own way. But making a crust can scare people away, moreso than even French toast or pancakes from scratch. If you have 5 minutes, a rolling pin, and butter and flour, you can make pie crust. It’s even easier in a food processor, but absolutely not necessary. If you were to be making an actual fancy pie, I’m certain there would be more crust rules. But you’re making a brunch item. This just needs to taste good.

Now, the second part of quiche that has people worried is the filling. What should you put inside there!? Eggs, obviously, but the additional components and flavor combinations are endless. It’s at least as expansive as the variety afforded to omelets, but with the benefit of not compromising the tedious and delicate cooking process of preparing an omelet. I like things to be relatively simple, in the interest of highlighting genuine flavors, and am a huge sucker for caramelized onions all the time. The beauty of these ingredients (which are listed below) is that they are available and delicious at any time of the year. If it’s summer and you would prefer to highlight the bounty of summer vegetables then available, by all means do so. But this quiche is a good staple and a good place to start.

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Caramelized Onion, Sun-dried Tomato, and Goat Cheese Quiche

Serves 6

Crust

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (or a 50/50 ratio of all-purpose and whole wheat)
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 8 tbsp./ 1 stick/ 1/4 lb. of unsalted butter, cold and diced
  • 3-6 tbsp. ice water, reserved

Filling

  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, sliced thinly
  • 2/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • Salt & pepper to season, to taste
  • 5 eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk, anything but skim
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 oz. (about 1/4 cup) goat cheese, crumbled

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare a 9-inch pie pan by coating it thinly with butter and set aside.

Begin by preparing the filling. In a medium sauté pan, over medium heat, add 1 tbsp. olive oil and the sliced yellow onions. Cook until lightly browning and softened, about 15 minutes. Add the chopped sun-dried tomatoes, mix, and heat through. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

To make the crust, mix the flour(s) and salt together in a medium mixing bowl. Add the cold and diced butter, and, using your fingertips, mix the butter into the flour. The butter should gradually breakdown to pea-sized pieces, and the whole mixture will look almost sandy with small clumps. Then, slowly add the ice water, starting with 3 tbsp. then adding by 1/2-1 tbsp. as needed. Mix the water into the flour mixture with your hands until evenly distributed. You should continue to add water until you have a shaggy dough that forms the shape of your first when you squeeze it and just stays together in a small ball. Pour the dough out onto a floured surface or counter (there should be some dry scraggly bits) and mold into a flat disc. Use a rolling pin to roll out the dough into a circle about 2-3 inches wider in diameter than the pie pan. The dough will likely break a bit as you roll it out, but just push the broken pieces back together. The easiest way to transfer the dough to the pie pan is to roll it onto the rolling pin and then unroll it over the pan. Press the crust dough into the pan, consolidating the dough at the edges to form an even, slightly thickened ridge elevated about 1/2 an inch above the edge of the pan. Your dough will likely be an uneven circle, so just transfer pieces as needed to more “thin” areas. From here, you can flute the edges of the dough if you want, or just leave it as is. To flute the crust, indent the crust from the outside with the pointer finger of your right hand against the counter-pressure of your thumb and pointer finger of your left hand, making a triangle of dough, essentially. Go around the entire crust that way. It won’t look perfect. That’s fine.

Once the dough is complete, add your vegetables. Ideally, you should have about 2 cups of vegetables in your quiche with a standard pie pan (if your pan is deeper, you may want to amp up the veggies by another cup or so). Whisk together the eggs, milk, and 1/2 tsp. of salt and pour over the veggies. Scoot the veggies around some if needed so everything is evenly distributed. Top the filling with goat cheese, sprinkling it evenly over the quiche.

Place the quiche in the oven and bake for 40-50 minutes, until the center is set (the eggs shouldn’t wiggle or jiggle in the pan, but rather look quite firm and fluffy). Remove the quiche to cool slightly, for about 10 minutes, and serve.

 

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Delicious, buttery pie crust, with creamy eggs and the burst of sweet then savory then cheesy flavor. Make a quiche next time. Please.

Chia Seed French Toast with Blood Orange Strawberry Syrup

So this was not my birthday breakfast (see this post), but this was a delicious breakfast from last weekend. Yes, I made French toast again. I wanted to experiment with healthifying French toast a little bit. Not too much; it still needs to be creamy yet crusted and delicious. But I figured the basics of French toast- egg, bread, milk- didn’t need to necessarily combine into an overly indulgent dish. In fact, it takes to these additional healthy ingredients and toppings very well, and I actually found this preparation more filling and satisfying. The blood orange strawberry syrup draws on this lingering-winter, almost-spring produce I’m noticing now, combining the acidic, thick-skinned winter fruits with the delicately sweet spring flora. They’re a match made in heaven; the perfect sweetly tangy topping to the more heavy toast below. I used chia seeds to amp up the nutritional profile, as chia seeds are a great source of omega-3 fats and other minerals. I also wanted to see if they’d add a bit of a crunch to the toast (spoiler: not too much, really). Regardless, this French toast was phenomenal, with way less added sugar than the typical preparation topped with maple syrup, and more nutritious as well. (But if you want something more indulgently custardy and traditional, use this recipe).

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Chia Seed French Toast with Blood Orange Strawberry Syrup

Serves 1

2 thick slices (about 1 inch) of country bread, preferably multi-grain or whole wheat

2 eggs

1/4 cup milk

1 tsp. honey

1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

1 tbsp. chia seeds

Blood Orange Strawberry Syrup, to serve:

  • 1 cup hulled and halved strawberries
  • 1 tsp. blood orange zest
  • 2 tbsp. blood orange juice, freshly squeezed (feel free to eat the remaining fruit)
  • 1/4 cup sugar

Start by preparing the blood orange strawberry syrup. Mix the syrup ingredients together in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Allow the mixture to come to a simmer, then reduce heat to medium low. Allow the syrup to simmer until the strawberries are broken down and it has reduced to about half the initial volume, about 15 minutes. The syrup will be thick with small strawberry chunks, but still pourable. Set aside to cool slightly.

Whisk together the egg, milk, honey, and vanilla extract. Pour the egg mixture into a shallow pan (I use a pyrex baking dish) and toss the chia seeds throughout the mixture. Soak the bread in the eggs, making sure to evenly distribute the chia seeds through the batter on the toast. Allow to soak for 2 minutes, then flip to soak the other side.

Heat a griddle to 350 and lightly grease with butter. Add the French toast and cook for 4-5 minutes. Flip then cook the opposite side for another 4-5 minutes.

Plate the French toast and top with the blood orange strawberry syrup.

 

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Enjoy for a filling yet healthier weekend breakfast.

 

Greens, Eggs, and Pan

This may be my favorite savory breakfast, save the more indulgent rare quiches and restaurant-finds, and it’s one of my go-to “I don’t have anything for dinner” meals. I can’t count the number of times I topped toast and greens with eggs and called it dinner while in graduate school, starving mid-study session and short on the patience required to prepare a more “substantial” meal. But what’s odd is now I find myself craving it, kind of in the way breakfast for dinner or cereal nights are sometimes preferable to mindfully prepared dinners. And, beyond that, with the right bread, and the right greens, these ingredients genuinely blend perfectly together, the yolk coating the somewhat bitter greens and enhancing the buttered, yeasty bread below. So you’ll need to excuse my Dr. Seuss pun (it was too easy), as this is not some distasteful dish to run away from, but rather a delicious escape from time-intensive meals. And for anyone wondering, pan means bread in Spanish, and it was the only way to make this rhyme work.

I know some are wary of a runny yolk, but I have to insist you give it a try. I owe my own experience to my best friend and former roommate, who introduced me to the bread-in-drippy-yolk combo, which absolutely blew my mind.* There are eggs, scrambled or otherwise, on a whole spectrum of deliciousness. But an egg over easy, yolk loose and sauce-like, is just second to none. But, if you’re a first-timer, over medium may be a safe place to start. You’ll get a little runny yolk action, but mostly have a pretty firm egg. Just… don’t go straight for the scramble. So many lost eggs out there.

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Toasted Bread and Greens with Eggs Over-Easy

Serves 1

2 slices good bread (I used half of a demi-baguette, but sourdough or a seedy wheat would also be excellent)

1 tbsp. butter, divided

2 cups arugula or other green (spinach or a delicate spring mix work nicely)

2 large brown eggs (organic, free range preferably)

In a small sauté pan, melt 2 tsp. butter over medium heat in the shape of your bread slices. Place the bread flat-side down onto the pan, pressing firmly to coat the bread with melted butter. Heat the bread until toasted and just browning in butter, then remove from heat. Alternatively, if your bread is fresh and soft and perfect, just spread 1 tsp. softened butter on each slice.

Top the bread, toasted or otherwise, with the greens.

In the previously used sauté pan, melt the final teaspoon of butter over medium-low heat. Crack the eggs side by side into the pan, making sure to keep the yolk intact. Cook the eggs until the bottom of the egg-whites are set, about 2-3 minutes, then cover with a lid. Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes, until whites are fully set but the yolk is still runny (it should move loosely when you go to move the eggs with a spatula). If a more set yolk is desired, cook for a few more minutes covered, until the thin layer of whites surrounding the yolk are more opaque, and the egg is less mobile.

Gently, with a spatula, top the greens and toast with the eggs. Use a fork to break the yolk and allow to run all over. Eat with a fork or with your hands, whichever is more feasible and more messy. It’s more enjoyable that way.

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Finish the meal with a beautiful blood orange on the side. Dinner and dessert now complete. You are free to go about your scheduled evening activities.

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In tribute of the classic, buttered bagel dipped into 2 over easy yolks, whites scooped up with the bagel in hand. Also, this is a good example of a more “over-medium” egg.

French Toast (Breakfast for Dinner)

I’ve already spotlighted pancakes as a perfect breakfast-for-dinner meal. I stand by those humble ‘jacks as the most iconic and cravable dinner substitute. And, to be honest, I made this french toast for brunch one Saturday. But, I thoroughly support the indulgence of creamy, custard-laden egg bread, fried until crisped and doused in maple syrup. I support it at breakfast, brunch, lunch, and, today, dinner. French toast at your favorite diner-style brunch place (or even classy and/or organic brunch restaurant) seems to be almost unachievable in a weeknight kitchen. The exterior crunch, the fluffy middle, the perfect ability to soak up maple syrup… it all seems lost when you yourself dip your bread in eggs and flop it into a sauté pan. But I’ve dabbled in French toast enough now to make a bold statement: it can be done in your own kitchen and on your own time. It does involve a bit of a splurge on one uncommon ingredient- egg bread- but from there it’s really the usual suspects that transform bread into an indulgent almost-dessert (but it’s not; it’s breakfast. it’s fine). Please, please, please so much try this at home.

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French Toast

Serves 4-6

1 loaf egg bread (or Challah or Brioche bread), sliced into 1 inch slices

6 large eggs

1 1/2 cups whole milk

1 tbsp. honey

1 tsp. vanilla extract

2 tbsp. salted butter, to cook

Heat a griddle to 375 degrees Fahrenheit, or heat a large sauté pan over medium heat.

In a bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, honey, and vanilla extract. Pour the custard mixture into a wide dish. Soak 2-4 slices of bread at a time, allowing to rest in the custard for 2 minutes per side.

Butter the griddle or sauté pan and add slices of coated bread. Cook for 3-4 minutes then flip; the custard should be browning and crisping in places. Allow to cook another 3-4 minutes on the alternate side. Plate to serve, best with toppings of butter, a sprinkling of powdered sugar, and a heavy pour of maple syrup. If serving later, keep the French toast warm by placing between towels on a baking sheet in a 200 degree oven.

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Pour syrup on top, watch the butter run all over the French toast, think about sleeping in maple syrup, lift fork, and dive in.