Tag Archives: baked

Yard Sale Brunch: Personal Frittatas with Shrimp, Bacon, and Smoked Gouda

Shrimp & Bacon Frittatas

My wife Kathy and some of our friends had another yard sale today. As usual, once the tents and tables were up, I wanted to make a brunch treat to go along with their requisite mimosas. I had a shrimp and bacon frittata in mind based loosely on a pizza we’ve had at one of our favorite haunts in the Florida Keys. Trouble is, after picking up all of my ingredients last night I realized this morning that our oven is broken!

I was contemplating how to do a frittata on the grill when Kathy suggested I use the toaster oven and a muffin tin to make mini (personal) frittatas. What a novel idea! You don’t have to make yours in a muffin tin but they really were great for an outdoor brunch. They went perfectly with chilled fresh cantaloupe and the banana muffins someone else made…not to mention those mimosas!

I make frittatas often, sometimes even for dinner, and I always use this web article as a  guide: http://www.finecooking.com/articles/cyor/frittata.aspx. I know I’ve posted it before but really can’t recommend it enough…we have yet to be disappointed.

Shrimp and Bacon Frittatas with Smoked Gouda

24 – Medium Shrimp
8 – Large Eggs
6 slices – Thick Sliced Uncured Applewood Smoked Bacon, cooked (2 Slices Reserved)
1/2 Cup – Smoked Gouda Cheese, Grated
1/2 Cup – Heavy Cream
3 – Green Onions (about ¼ cup sliced)
1 Tbsp. – Unbleached All Purpose Flour
1 Tbsp. – Unsalted Butter, Melted
Kosher Salt
Freshly ground Pepper
Olive Oil Spray

Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees. To prep the shrimp, dissolve 2 Tbsp. kosher salt in 4 cups of water. Peel and devein the shrimp and soak them in the salty water for a few minutes while preparing the other ingredients. Place another pan of water on the stove and start bringing this to a boil.

Slice the green onions diagonally into roughly 1/8 to 1/4 inch slices then cut 4 slices of bacon in half first lengthwise, then into ½ inch pieces. Grate the cheese and place together in a bowl with the onions and bacon.

When the pan of water has come to a boil strain the shrimp, blanch them in the boiling water for one minute, then strain them again. Toss these in a bowl with the melted butter then, when cool enough to touch, cut each shrimp crossway into 2 -3 bite sized pieces.

Whisk the eggs in a separate bowl with the cream and the flour, adding fresh ground pepper to taste. Then gently fold in the cheese, onion, and bacon mixture. Lastly, gently fold in the shrimp and you are now ready to make your frittata!

If you are going to use a muffin tin, line each cup with paper muffin cups. Give each cup a good spray of olive oil then using a very large spoon distribute the egg mixture as evenly as possible into twelve cups. Place the muffin tin carefully in the oven (or toaster oven) and bake 20 minutes, checking often after 15 minutes to make sure the tops don’t get too brown. Allow these to cool a few minutes before serving.

Before serving slice the remaining bacon pieces on an angle and garnish each personal frittata with a piece poked into the top.

Alternative cooking method: Heat 1 Tbsp. of olive oil in a 10 inch non-stick pan over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, pour in the egg mixture evenly, reduce the heat to low and cover. Cook for 10 minutes until the eggs begin to set and finish in a 325 degree oven until set, 15 – 20 minutes.

Allow the pan to cool a little before carefully sliding the frittata onto a cutting board, cool a few more minutes, slice and…

Enjoy!

Fish 101 – Oven Baked Salmon with Lemon and White Wine

Photo by KathyHuntPhoto.com

Once upon a time I loved salmon; then 5 or 6 years ago my family passed around a particularly bad stomach virus. The night it nailed me, what do you think I had for dinner? Why salmon of course. After that night I swear I could hardly even look at cooked salmon without feeling a little lightheaded, let alone eat the stuff! As the years went by though I slowly regained my taste for cooked salmon; a little at first, sampling small bites here and there, then by preparing my childhood favorite, salmon cakes. Before long I was actually cooking and enjoying salmon again.

My wife came down with that nasty virus that same night and she too refused to touch cooked salmon for even longer than I did! In time, she came around and once again she too enjoys cooked salmon (especially that crispy skin). So what is the point of my story? Well I believe that salmon, more than any other fish, is an acquired taste. Like coffee, caviar, and even beer; salmon is one of those foods that, for many people, seems to be an acquired taste. My wife and I learning to love salmon all over again is a perfect example.

Think about how many people you know that love fish yet claim to hate salmon. Curiously, I also know those that would tell you that salmon is the only fish they will eat! Why? Because for whatever reason salmon is a fish they developed a taste for or for those that hate it; maybe they never ate enough salmon to learn to like it. Which brings me to my final point, that salmon is one of the healthiest and sustainable foods in the ocean…it is well worth giving it another chance!

If until now you’ve avoided salmon I encourage you to give it try. If you’re ready…here are a few ideas on how best to enjoy this wonderful fish.

What to choose…

When it comes to fish, I have been known to preach about freshness and with salmon, freshness is paramount! Why? Simply put, the fresher the salmon is, the sweeter and milder the flavor will be. If you’ve had unpleasant, strong tasting salmon it may be that it wasn’t the freshest. When buying fresh salmon look first for whole fish with bright (not cloudy) eyes, and skin that is so moist that it has a sparkle to it (never dry looking!).

The gills should be bright red or healthy pink (not dull or off-color) and if you poke the fish in the shoulder (I’m snickering at the mental image of poking a salmon in the shoulder but it works!) the flesh should spring back firmly rather than leaving a divot. Finally, there should be no “fishy” smell. A fresh fish should have little smell, perhaps only the pleasant scent of the mist from a breaking wave or an ocean breeze, if any smell at all.

Once you’ve found your perfectly bright, moist, firm, and nice smelling whole salmon, most fishmongers will be happy to fillet it for you. But, you’re not always going to be able to find whole salmon…the next best thing to whole salmon is fresh, skin-on, salmon fillets. Again, look for firm, moist (the skin helps retain some of that moisture) fillets with little or no smell at all. I often buy fresh salmon fillets at Costco and I have no qualms at all about opening one little corner of a sealed package to sniff the fish for freshness. If it smells fishy…don’t buy it!

What about frozen?

Salmon actually freezes quite well and I often buy frozen salmon when fresh fish is not available. Look for a package that states the salmon is ICQ or “Individually Quick Frozen”. (These fillets are usually flash frozen while still very fresh, sometimes even still on the boat.) It’s ok if the fish portions are individually wrapped…I actually prefer it since I’m usually cooking for only two.

Frozen salmon to avoid would be whole fillets that are packed loosely, fillet portions that are not individually wrapped and are all stuck together in one big frozen lump, or any fillets that have frost directly touching the flesh. If the only salmon fillets you can find fit any of the descriptions in this paragraph; now might be a good time to go with the canned salmon!

To thaw frozen fillets, move them from the freezer to the fridge the night before you plan to cook them. In a pinch, if you forget to thaw your fish ahead of time, you can also thaw them quickly by placing them in a cold heavy bottomed steel pan. Cast iron works very well for this but a good heavy stainless pan will work too. The metal of the pan draws the cold out of the frozen fish and will thaw frozen salmon portions completely in about ½ hour or less. (This is also a good trick for quick thawing frozen boneless chicken breast.)

OK, I’ve got my fish…now what?

Now that you have found your salmon, treat it with respect and do not overcook it! For the best flavor, cooking the fish properly is nearly as important as freshness. When overcooked, salmon dries out very quickly which ruins both the texture and the taste. It’s actually amazing to me how often restaurants serve dried out, overcooked salmon. It’s so rampant in fact that I would bet many of the people that do not like salmon have simply never had a piece that was perfectly cooked.

Salmon should be cooked just through to the center leaving just a trace of pink in the very middle. There is really no trick to it, just keep a close eye on the fish while it’s cooking and when you think the fish is almost ready, use a fork to test for doneness. When the fish is done the flesh will flake easily but still hold together towards the center. It’s important to note: If you wait to remove it from the heat, until the fish flakes all the way to the center, then it will likely end up overcooked. This is because residual heat will continue to cook the fish for a little while, even after you take it off the heat.

Again, baked salmon, like most fish, is done perfectly when you can flake it easily with a fork, but the flesh still holds together towards the center. Below is a rough guideline for baking your salmon. Remember, this is strictly a guideline so start checking your fish early…if you let it go too long it will overcook.

If baking at 400 degrees salmon fillets 3/4” to 1” thick should be done in 8 to 10 minutes, 1” to 1-1/2” thick, 10 to 12 minutes, and 1-1/2 to 2” thick, 12 to 15 minutes.

What else?

Quite often salmon fillets will have small pin bones running along part of the center line. These should be removed prior to cooking. To easily remove pin bones, drape the fillet skin side down, over an inverted bowl. This will arch the fillet so that the pin bones stand out making them easy to find and remove using just your fingers or a pair of kitchen tweezers. Needle nose pliers will even work in a pinch.

Are you ready?

This is a super easy recipe, so easy actually, that for just the two of us, I baked it in our toaster oven!

I sprinkled my fish with a little dried dill but you can use any herb you like. Fresh rosemary or parsley would also be good with salmon and even a little lemon zest would be nice…don’t be afraid to use your imagination. On the plate pictured, I served the baked salmon over a bed of fresh spinach sautéed with just a little olive oil and lemon juice. Along side is a white bean puree topped with a few green onion curls, lemon wedges, and a little creamy dill sauce. Dinner was on the table in about ½ hour and was elegant enough to serve to company.

Salmon is a versatile, healthy, and delicious fish that can be very easy to prepare. If it’s been a while since you’ve tried it…I hope you will give it another try! 

Oven Baked Salmon with Lemon and White Wine

2 to 4 – Salmon fillets, 3/4″ to 1 inch thick, in 4 – 6 oz portions
Olive oil
Lemon juice
White wine
Kosher salt & fresh ground black pepper
Dried dill (or your herb of choice)

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. Rinse and thoroughly dry your salmon portions by patting them with a paper towel. Cover a ½ or ¼ size baking sheet with aluminum foil and place your fish on the sheet with plenty of space in between. Drizzle the salmon evenly with roughly ½ tablespoon of the olive oil, turning it over a time or two just to coat. With the salmon skin side down, drizzle with roughly ½ tablespoon each of the lemon juice, then the wine.

Sprinkle the fish with a pinch of kosher salt and approx. ¼ tsp each of fresh ground black pepper, and dried dill. Place the fish in the pre-heated oven and bake 8 to 10 minutes, checking for doneness after 8 minutes. Remove the fish from the oven when the flesh flakes easily with a fork but still holds together slightly towards the center.

Serve immediately.

Enjoy!

Randy

Mission “Learn to like Tilapia” – Tzatziki Crusted Tilapia

Photo by KathyHuntPhoto.com

For some time now I have been wrinkling my nose at tilapia. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the sustainability factor of conscientiously farmed raised fish; I do! It’s the taste and the texture of most tilapia that turns me off. In my experience tilapia often has an unpleasant earthy (or muddy) taste and the texture can be mushy even when it’s perfectly fresh and flawlessly prepared. I don’t mean to be a food snob, really I don’t! But compared to all the fresh Atlantic seafood I have the opportunity to catch (well sometimes), or purchase here in South Florida, tilapia just seemed second rate.

Last night however, I decided to give tilapia another chance. Why? Because tilapia has taken over the market in leaps and bounds becoming one the most popular seafood products in the U.S. today. Everywhere I look, from restaurant menus, to grocery stores tilapia has become a recognized value and a very popular request. Hey, what was the old adage…If you can’t beat them, join them? So I picked up a package of fresh tilapia fillets and set out to prove myself wrong.

According to Cooks Illustrated the muddy taste in tilapia is caused by a naturally occurring compound called geosmin which is Greek for “earth smell”. (Go figure!) They said this compound is abundant in the blue-green algae found in the bottom of the man-made ponds that catfish and tilapia are raised in and that the flavor can be diffused by acids. They went on to recommend soaking in buttermilk for an hour before cooking which of course, I didn’t take the time to do.

My thinking in using this recipe was that the yogurt, garlic, and vinegar in the tzatziki would provide enough acid to overcome any unpleasant taste in the fish and indeed it did…somewhat. While the recipe is a keeper that I will definitely use again, I might opt for pre-soaking the tilapia in buttermilk next time (if I don’t use snapper, grouper, or mahi-mahi instead).

Hang on now…don’t fret! I haven’t given up on tilapia yet. After all, I still have 3 big fillets left from that package last night. I think I might try it with an acidic marinade, a Cuban mojo perhaps or some other citrus blend. I’ll keep you posted as mission “Learn to like Tilapia” continues!

Tzatziki Crusted Tilapia

2 to 4 – Tilapia fillets (preferably pre-soaked in buttermilk for one hour)
¾ Cup – Japanese Panko breadcrumbs
1 Tbsp – Olive Oil
Zest of one whole lemon
½ Tbsp – Large grind, fresh ground black pepper
Kosher Salt
Tzatziki Sauce (Recipe below)

Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees. Pat the fillets dry and place them on a lightly oiled, foil covered cookie sheet. Sprinkle the fillets with kosher salt and set them aside while you mix the crumb topping.

In a medium bowl combine the breadcrumbs, lemon zest, and pepper then drizzle in the olive oil while stirring. Continue stirring and fluffing the crumbs loosely until the oil, lemon, and pepper has been very well distributed, about 5 minutes.

Spread an approximately 1/8 inch thick layer of tzatziki evenly on top of each fish fillet then sprinkle the crumb mixture over the tzatziki to form an evenly thick coat. Bake for 10 minutes then broil for 1 minute to crisp and brown the topping. Carefully remove from the oven and plate the cooked fillets.

Serve with additional tzatziki and a lemon wedge on the side.

Tzatziki Sauce

2 Cups – Greek Yogurt, plain non-fat
1 small (or 1/2 large) – Cucumber, seeded and grated  (about 1/2 cup)
1 Clove – Garlic, grated fine
1 Tbsp – Red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp – Olive oil
1 good pinch – kosher salt

Grate the cucumber and place it on a paper towel or dish towel, sprinkle it with the kosher salt and let it sit while you prep the other ingredients. In a medium bowl stir together the garlic, vinegar, and olive oil then stir in the yogurt. Finally, gently squeeze any excess moisture out of the grated cucumber and stir into the yogurt mixture until well blended. Taste for seasoning and chill until ready to use.

Enjoy,

Randy

Menu – Restaurant Style Greek Roasted Game Hens with Fingerling Potatoes and Fennel Infused Cabbage

I was recently asked to post some of my easier recipes and this is definitely one of them. With 10 minutes of prep, you can put the game hens in the oven then sit down and relax for ½ an hour. Then, by the time you slice and cook the cabbage the hens should be coming out of the oven. Viola! Your plates will look like you worked very hard but you will still have enough energy left to enjoy the compliments.

I know some of you are a little intimidated by Game Hens but they are really just little chickens. To split them just set them, breast side up, on the cutting board and take a knife or kitchen shears and carefully cut, lengthwise, through the center of the top of the bird. Once the breast is cut through you can spread open the cavity a little, sort of like a book, then cut down either side of the backbone to remove it. That’s all there is to it! You should now have two even halves.

Here is a video in case you need a little more help:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kwyB_HDk8MM

You can cook these hens whole but for this recipe I think they cook through better, and present better, when cut in halves before cooking. If you are still hesitant, this recipe would work fine with a smaller chicken cut into quarters. I do recommend you give these little hens a try though; they are easy to work with, tender and delicious, and very impressive looking on the plate. (They will think you slaved for hours!)

Notes: For the cabbage, I like to let it cook without stirring for more than 5 minutes at a time. This allows the cabbage to brown a little and makes it taste almost like it was griddled on a restaurant flattop. Just be sure to shake the pan at least every 5 minutes to make sure it doesn’t get too brown.

Greek Roasted Game Hens with Fingerling Potatoes

2 – Rock Cornish Hens, split into 4 halves, rinsed and patted dry
Juice of 1 lemon
¼ Cup – Olive oil
¼ Cup – Fresh parsley, chopped
½ Tbsp – Dried oregano
1 Clove – Garlic, minced very fine
¼ Tsp each – Kosher salt & fresh ground black pepper
1/2 Lb – Fingerling potatoes, about 8 or 10 total, rinsed and dried
1 – Spring fresh rosemary

Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees. Combine the lemon juice, parsley, oregano, garlic, and salt & pepper in a medium sized mixing bowl. Whisk the olive oil slowly into the bowl until all of the oil is added then continue whisking until the liquid begins to thicken. Dredge each Cornish hen half in the liquid rubbing carefully with your hands to cover all sides. Place the hens in a 9” X 13” glass baking dish.

Dredge the potatoes in the remaining liquid and distribute them around and in-between the Cornish hens. Drizzle or sprinkle any remaining liquid or herbs over the hens and add sprinkle more of salt & pepper if desired. Place in the oven and bake 1 hour.

Carefully remove and allow to rest 15 minutes before serving with cabbage.

Fennel Infused Pan-Sauteed Cabbage

½ Head – Cabbage, halved lengthwise then sliced crosswise in ½” increments
1 – Small white onion, halved & sliced
1 Clove – Garlic, minced
½ Tbsp – Whole dried fennel seeds
Kosher salt & fresh ground black pepper to taste
Olive oil

In a large sauté pan over medium heat, warm 1 tablespoon of olive oil until shimmering hot. Saute the onions and garlic for about 1 minute before adding the remaining ingredients. Cook, stirring only occasionally, until cabbage is just tender through and through…about 20 minutes. Set aside until the hens are finished then serve the cabbage as a bed on the plate, with Cornish hens placed on top.

Enjoy,

Randy

Casserole of Chicken, Quinoa, & Brown Rice with Mushrooms

(or What to do with all that Chicken Stock – Part 1)

As a follow up to Singing The Praises Of Chicken Stock I wanted to post a series of recipes that use chicken stock (or broth) in various ways. At the risk of repeating myself, stock is a valuable ingredient in healthful cooking and a means of boosting the flavor in what otherwise might be a boring and uninteresting dish. My recipes will always call for stock because I like the flavor but you may certainly substitute broth if you like.

Second only to the chicken stock, the mushrooms create a lot of flavor in this recipe. To coax as much flavor as possible from them I start cooking the mushrooms in a hot, hot pan. Because of the high water content in mushrooms, they create a lot of liquid in the pan as they cook. With the pan very hot, this excess water cooks away quickly leaving the mushrooms to brown. On a lower temperature the mushroom would steam instead of browning…that’s not what I want in this recipe!

I know I have mentioned Seeds Of Change quinoa & whole grain brown rice in a previous post. I can’t recommend this product enough; if you come across it at Costco or otherwise please do give it a try. I use it here because it is convenient, healthy, and the spices blend perfectly with the other ingredients. Other starch suggestions for this recipe would be brown rice, couscous, or even orzo. Check for seasonings if you use a mix, I needed no additional salt with the quinoa.

This one is rich enough that the only side I served it with was a nice green salad and was plenty for two with leftovers.

Casserole of Chicken, Quinoa, & Brown Rice with Mushrooms

1 – Large Boneless Chicken Breast Half (about 12 oz.), halved lengthwise from the top and sliced very thin (as for a stir fry)
8 oz – Fresh Mushrooms, sliced
1 – Small Onion, chopped
2 – Celery branches, sliced (leaves add flavor…use them too!)
1 Clove – Garlic, minced
2 Sprigs – Fresh Thyme, left whole
2 Cups – Chicken Stock
2 Cups – Quinoa & Whole Grain Brown Rice, pre-cooked
2 Tbsp – Unbleached Flour
Olive Oil
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
About 1/4 Cup – Panko Breadcrumbs

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Add a tablespoon of olive oil to a large (12”) skillet over medium high heat. When the oil just begins to smoke, carefully add the mushrooms and cook them stirring constantly much as you would a stir fry. When the mushrooms begin to release their liquid slow down a little on the stirring but keep them spread out so the liquid will evaporate quickly.

As the mushrooms dry and begin to brown, stir in the onions, celery, garlic, thyme, and ½ teaspoon of fresh ground pepper. Lower the heat to medium and continue cooking and stirring until the onions soften. (Note: The mushrooms should be getting nice and brown by now. Don’t worry if some of the vegetables stick a little bit…they will loosen when you add the stock.)

When the onions become tender and translucent stir in the chicken, separating the slices and blending them carefully into the mixture. Continue cooking and stirring gently for another 5 minutes then Stir in one tablespoon of the flour until well mixed. Stir in the second tablespoon of flour and cook, stirring gently, for one minute more. Stir in one cup of stock and cook until some thickening begins. Stir in the other cup of stock and cook until bubbling and thickened.

Remove the thyme sprigs and discard, then stir in the quinoa and gently mix until thoroughly incorporated. Pour all into a 9X9 casserole, sprinkle just enough breadcrumbs to cover evenly on top. Bake 25 minutes, allow a few minutes to rest and enjoy!

Randy

Mock Carbonnade a La Flamande

Dear friends of ours stayed at our house for a few days this past week and as dear friends will do, they left a few beers behind. As I surveyed the fridge situation on Sunday morning I was already thinking of beef, maybe a pot roast or a stew, and when I spotted the bottles of Shiner Bock my mind was made up…Carbonnade a La Flamande! At the market I found a sale on beef chuck mock tenderloins and decided this would be a fun challenge.

Carbonnade a La Flamande is a rich Belgian stew of beef, caramelized onions, and beer usually with a sweet and sour flavor not unlike a good sauerbraten. The irony was that I was using Shiner Bock instead of a deeply flavored Belgian ale as the base in a stew of “mock” tenderloin steaks. So while this is NOT a true Carbonnade a La Flamande, it does borrow some of the great character from one of my favorite Belgian dishes.

If you are not familiar with beef chuck mock tenderloins they are simply steaks cut from the chuck eye roast. They produce a mostly round steak that looks something like a tenderloin steak. Chuck is still chuck though and tender they are not, hence the “Mock” part of the name. This cut is flavorful but best suited to slow braising or long tenderizing marinades.

Other notes: Brown the steaks in a pan if you prefer, I kind of like the broiler for larger pieces of meat. A mostly whole star anise should do the trick but be sure to remove any pieces that break off during the cooking. I served these with whole wheat wide egg noodles and blanched then sautéed snap beans with garlic. Oh, and if you want to use a real Belgian ale I recommend Chimay Blue …just be sure to have another one on hand to enjoy with your steak!

Mock Carbonnade a La Flamande

5 to 7 – Beef Mock Tenderloin Steaks (About 2 Lbs)
3 – Medium Onions, Sliced
1 Tbsp – Tomato Paste
12 Oz – Medium Bodied Beer
1 Cup – Chicken Stock
1 Tbsp – Beef Soup Base (I used Demi-Glace Gold )
1 Star – Star Anise
1 Large Sprig – Fresh Thyme
1 Large Sprig – Fresh Rosemary
1 Tbsp – Red Wine Vinegar
Olive Oil
Kosher Salt & Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Warm a tablespoon of olive oil in a heavy stew pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Stir in tomato paste, star anise, onions, and a ¼ teaspoon of fresh ground pepper. As the onions begin to sizzle lower the temperature to medium low and continue cooking stirring often. Meanwhile, line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and coat with a thin film of oil (I used a spritz of Olive Oil Cooking Spray). Use a paper towel to pat the steaks dry and arrange them evenly on the cookie sheet. Brush or drizzle each steak with olive oil and season well on both sides with kosher salt and pepper. Continue cooking and stirring the onions 15 minutes or so until they begin to turn a deep golden color then stir in the thyme and rosemary…keep cooking and stirring the onions while you brown the steaks.

Set the oven (broiler) rack 3” below the element or flame. Place the steaks on the rack and turn the broiler on high. (Note: If your broiler is electric leave the door slightly ajar; if your broiler is gas fueled close the door.) Broil the steaks 4-6 minutes watching them closely until a nice brown crust has formed, carefully turn and broil 4 minutes more or until nicely browned.  Remove the steaks and set aside to rest while prepping your braise.

Reduce the oven heat to 300. Remove the star anise from the onions and discard. Stir beer, soup base, and chicken stock into the onions and raise the heat to medium high. Stir occasionally until the liquid just begins to boil, place the steaks into the pot, cover firmly and bake for 2 hours. After two hours remove from heat, leave covered, and set aside to rest.

Wait at least 20 minutes to remove the steaks to a serving platter; place the pot back on the burner over medium high heat. As the liquid comes to a boil reduce the heat to medium, stir in the vinegar and allow the gravy to cook until your desired thickness is reached.

Spoon the gravy over your steaks, serve and enjoy!

Frittata with Spinach and Tomato

Frittatas are another very versatile and fast way to whip up a great dinner. This one calls for Spinach and Tomato but, like pizza, the ingredient list is limited only by your imagination. Some of our favorite combinations include tuna & scallions, diced ham & fontina with scallions, and asparagus, artichoke hearts, tomato, & onion. Fresh grated Parmesan cheese is a constant for me and I even sprinkle some over the top for an added flavor boost. Though I used Soy Milk in this recipe you can use skim milk, whole milk, or even half & half in yours. Get creative and have a little fun!

Frittata with Spinach and Tomato

1 package pre-washed fresh spinach, about 12 oz
2 medium leeks, white and light green parts only, halved lengthwise, rinsed well, patted dry, and sliced
1 large tomato, peeled, seeded, and diced large *See my note below
1 large tomato, peeled and sliced into 7 equal slices
2-3 med red bliss potatoes, sliced 1/8 to 1/4 inch-thick
8 large eggs
1/2 cup unsweetened soy milk
1 tbs whole wheat flour
1/4 cup part skim ricotta
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus about a tablespoon reserved
1 pinch fresh grated nutmeg
kosher salt
fresh ground pepper
2 tbs extra-virgin olive oil

Heat 1 tbs of the olive oil in a 10 inch non-stick pan over medium heat. When the oil is beginning to shimmer, add the leeks and about 1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper. Cook, stirring often, 2 to 3 minutes until the leeks are just transparent. Remove them to a bowl to cool. Using the same pan, raise the heat to med high and bring 1/4 cup of water to a boil. Dissolve about 1 tbs of kosher salt, then carefully add the spinach. Cook 2 to 3 minutes until spinach is wilted then pour into a colander to drain and cool. When the spinach is cool enough to handle, in a dishtowel, gently squeeze out excess water. Hold the spinach in the same bowl with the leeks until ready to use.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl beat the eggs with the soy milk. Gently fold in the flour and the nutmeg, then the spinach, leeks, diced tomatoes, ricotta, and most of the Parmesan cheese, reserving about 1 tbs. Warm the same pan over med heat with 1 tbs of olive oil. Meanwhile carefully distribute the potato slices evenly around the pan trying not to overlap. When the potatoes begin to sizzle, pour the egg mixture into the pan. Use a spoon to make sure the ingredients are evenly distributed. Lower your heat to low, cover the pan and cook for about 10 minutes or until the eggs have begun to set and pull away from the side of the pan.

Remove the cover and evenly distribute the tomato slices around the top, sprinkle with the reserved Parmesan then carefully place the pan in the oven. Bake uncovered for about 20 minutes or until the eggs in the top center appear to be completely set. Remove the pan from the oven and using a thin spatula carefully loosen the frittata from the pan all the way around the edges. When the frittata is freed from the pan, gently slip it out of the pan and onto a cutting board to rest. Rest 10 minutes, then slice into pie shaped pieces to serve.

* Note: Tomatoes are easy to peel if you blanch them in a little hot water for a minute or two. For this recipe, slice about a 1/2 inch “X” in the bottom of your tomatoes (opposite the stem end). Gently drop them into a pan of water heated to near boiling and simmer for two minutes or so until the tomato skin at the “X” begins to pull away. Now removes the tomatoes and cover them in cold water to stop the cooking.

Once the tomatoes have cooled the skin will be very easy to peel; I use the edge of a knife to grab it and gently peel it away.

To remove the seeds, cut the tomato in half cross ways (midway between the stem and the bottom) and gently squeeze the tomato to force out the seeds  using the tip of your knife to remove any stragglers.