Thursday, June 24, 2010

Dressing Up the Egg: Mediterranean Frittata

Ahh, this is the time of year I love. The sun is shining, the days are long, the produce is plentiful - but it's sooooo hot! Especially in my sunbathed kitchen, after blasting the oven for 5 or 6 (who can remember?) straight hours in my quest for roasted chickpea snack perfection (this is my new little business venture, by the way). At least we have the ol' A/C unit whizzing and whirring away in the bedroom. Paying it a visit is like dipping the toes in ice water: it helps, but it's not as good as plunging right in. Anyway, I should have called it a day after my test kitchen adventures, but there was dinner to be had and special people to feed! Namely, Dan the Man and my friend Emily Case, who trudged from Brooklyn in this heat, a real trooper-lady. I made this festive frittata, inspired by a recipe (and lovely pictures) found on this sweet blog.

Mediterranean Frittata

(serves 10-12 as a nibble, 4-5 as a main dish)

7 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup ricotta
1/4 cup grated pecorino
salt and fresh ground pepper

2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 cup spinach, washed, chopped, and wilted
1/2 cup kalamata or other oily black olive, pitted and chopped
zest of 1 lemon
3 cups cooked penne (whole wheat optional)

1 tbl. olive oil
1 tbl. butter

Preheat the oven to 350. Beat the eggs with the milk, cheeses, and s+p. Mix in the remaining ingredients, except the fats.

Place a large cast iron skillet over medium-high and heat the olive oil and butter, swirling to coat the bottom and sides. Pour the egg mixture in and lower the heat to medium. Cook untouched until the bottom and sides of the egg are firmed up (you can test this by separating the egg from the side of the skillet with a rubber spatula).

Place the skillet in the preheated oven and continue to cook for about 20 minutes, until the top is just firm. Remove the skillet from the oven and invert the frittata onto a plate. Then invert again onto another plate, or onto a cutting board, and cut into slices.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Fast and furious salmon

I'm sure I'm not the only one who is feeling burdened by this new summer heat. Nor am I the only one enticed to spend all her free time in the wonderfully cool, AC-equipped bedroom rather than in her sweaty, humid kitchen. Still, I couldn't imagine forfeiting my time in the kitchen just over some oppressive heat. And besides, we can easily reduce the time we spend in the kitchen by making simple, healthful dishes that don't require hours of lengthy prep or long, slow simmering to create. Hence the following dish that I whipped up for lunch yesterday. One pan, minimal prep, muy bueno!

Salmon fillet with mushrooms and onions
(serves 2)

- 1 large salmon fillet, skinless
- salt, freshly ground pepper, and red chili flakes to taste

- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 large vidalia onion, chopped
- 1/2 lb. (about 1 cup) white mushrooms, cleaned, destemmed and sliced
- 3 dried red chiles, or 1 fresh red chile, destemmed
- 2 sprigs fresh oregano, thyme, marjoram, or za'atar (wild oregano - I used my windowsill plant), or 1 tsp. dried herb of choice
- 1 lemon

1. Rinse the salmon fillet and pat dry. Sprinkle generously with salt, pepper, and chili flakes, and set aside. Place oven rack on top shelf and turn on broiler.

2. Heat the butter and olive oil in a large oven-proof skillet over medium heat until melted. Add the onion and saute a few minutes, until they've softened a bit. Add the mushrooms and the whole chiles and continue cooking, lowering the heat to medium-low, until the mushrooms have released their liquid and the onions are transparent. Stir in the herb of your choosing.

3. Slice half of the lemon thinly and lay the slices on top of the salmon fillet. Raise the heat to high and clear a space in the skillet to slide the fillet in, making sure it makes contact with the skillet bottom.

4. Cook for about 4 minutes, or until the bottom and sides of the fillet are opaque. Remove the skillet from the stove and carefully place it on the top rack of the oven. Broil for about 5 to 10 minutes, depending on your desired temperature (I did 5 minutes for a perfect medium-rare).

5. When finished, carefully remove the skillet from the oven (beware, it will be very hot!) and squeeze the remaining half lemon all over. Discard the whole chiles and serve the salmon and vegetables alongside a simple arugula salad.