I am so excited to share with you the cooking adventures of Saturday September 26th, 2009!
I had the pleasure of traveling with some of the lovely ladies in my hall to the local farmers’ market to pick up ingredients and cook a feast! I would like to start out this post by thanking Amelia, Desirae, Kirby, Mary and Rosa for their participation in helping me write this blog (whether they took photos for it, helped cook the dish, had hints on cooking, or just made a whole darn apple pie)!
I would like to take another moment to talk about the BEAUTY of Farmers’ Markets. Basically, I love going to them. I think they are a wonderful resource for cooks and non-cooks alike! Who doesn’t want to bite into a delicious locally grown piece o’ fruit, or make a salad with the best fresh and organic lettuce around? We have a lot of farmers’ markets in California, I have seen them up and down this state, and I’m sure that other states have them, but maybe they aren’t as prevalent or abundant, but don’t hold me to this! I can’t do the research from every state from Alaska to Connecticut, but it’s really easy to find out if there is a farmers’ market near you. Just do a google search. When I first moved to Northern California, I looked up all of the farmers’ markets around, just so I knew what days and times I could get fresh local produce.
One problem I have with farmers’ markets is the price tag. Boy can you go away spending a LOT of money, but if you’re lucky, many times farmers will give you deals on their delicious goods, and you get what you pay for. Before spending all your money on the first bunch of asparagus you see, look around at the other farms selling asparagus, maybe they have a better price, or even a better deal. I once (didn’t do this) and spent nearly $10 on two bunches of asparagus, when I could have gotten away with half of what I paid. I was really angry after that, but the asparagus was SO DELICIOUS I can’t even begin to tell you.
Now for the adventure…
We were given a budget, which we stayed in, and a couple of ideas, which we expanded on. Part of our hall wanted to make an apple pie, luckily this FM was located next to a Trader Joe’s (which I’m going to start calling TJ’s since it’s shorter, and easier for me), which sells frozen pie crusts that are really easy to work with. We bought some apples (green are the best for pies, I think) and that was that for the market purchases. Some markets have farms that sell sugar and spices, but most do not, and I very rarely find any that do.
The other part of our hall wanted to just have brunch. My RA had a bundle of great ideas, and we had some restrictions, no meat, no tomatoes, etc. But I must confess to my idea to make a frittata. They are so simple and wonderful, and this one was exceptionally good (probably because of the ingredients, the helping hands, and the love that went into it).
Dorm Frittata, with Potatoes
Frittatas are simply crustless-quiches. They are like an omelette, but are baked in the oven instead of flipped in a frying pan. Let me tell you, this is the thing that makes them EASY, have you ever tried flipping an omelette? Ingredients I used are in bold.
Eggs: depending on how big your frying pan is, and how many people you are serving determines the amount of eggs you use. If you are using a tiny frying pan and a ton of vegetables, then you may only need 3 eggs, but if you are using a massive frying pan, you’ll need enough to cover the vegetables and feed the masses!
Vegetables: this section of ingredients is up in the air, you can use any, and I mean any vegetables you like in a frittata, you can use Bok Choy, you can use Mushrooms, you can even use artichokes if you so please (but maybe just the hearts and stems, and not the leaves. We used Spinach, Bell Pepper and Zucchini. You can also put tomatoes in a frittata, but as I said before… restrictions.
Other Vegetables: Unless you have a picky family, you should use at least one onion and a couple of cloves of garlic.
Carbs: The great thing about a frittata, is that you have everything in one dish. It’s kind of like a pizza, you have the crust (bread) the cheese (protein) and the tomatoes and other vegetable toppings (veggies). It’s a whole meal! So in order (for me) to make a frittata a frittata, I add a layer of carbs. I used potatoes for this recipe, but I also have another recipe with angel hair pasta, which I will blog about another time.
Extra ingredients: Salt and Pepper, and a dash or two of milk for the eggs. You’ll also need water, and maybe a little sugar. Olive oil, Canola oil or Butter will do just fine when cooking the vegetables, but you might need a spray can version of something so your frittata doesn’t stick to the pan. Another ingredient that can be added is cheese. Whatever suits your fancy. I used Monterey Jack because that’s what I had. Grate it or slice it for sprinkling on top!
Start out by bringing a pot of water with your potatoes and a little salt to a boil. You need to cook the potatoes first! You can leave the skins on (unless they are potatoes for baking), and just boil them until you can easily stick a fork into them. You can do this the night before, or use leftover, plain potatoes. You are going to be slicing the potatoes into coins, so long and wide potatoes are best, but any potato will do as long as they aren’t tiny.
Once the potatoes are done, drain them and set them aside to cool. Again, you don’t need to take off the skins, once you start cutting them, the skins will either fall off, or be hanging on by a thread, so if you want to remove them, it will be easier for you later in the game. Don’t burn your hands peeling potatoes.
Second step, fry the minced garlic cloves and wilt the spinach. I love the flavors of garlic and spinach together, which is why, with the help of my hall-mates, decided to do it this way. My friend Mary actually did most of the cooking of the vegetables, so I must give the credit to her. She started by heating the frying pan with a bit of olive oil, and then threw in the garlic. She tossed it around so it turned a bit golden and then added the handful of (washed) spinach we had, with about 2-3 tablespoons of water. The water helps the spinach wilt, and keeps it from burning.
Once the spinach was done, she removed it from the pan and caramelized the onions. Generally I just do the following: Add sliced onions to very hot pan. Grind some pepper over them (about 3 twists per onion). Sprinkle a little sugar over them (about 1 tsp. per onion). Stir well and watch to make sure the sugar doesn’t burn (keep stirring). Once the onions start to wilt, add the olive oil. But there are many ways to do this step.
Once the onions are caramelized and set aside, you just need to chop up the remaining vegetables, peppers and zucchini, and cook them over a medium heat until they are soft. You do not want to put raw vegetables in this dish, unless you are using tomatoes (which are technically a fruit). Once this step is done you are ready to build your frittata!
Make sure you have sprayed the pan or rubbed it down with either olive oil, canola oil or butter.
Layer #1: Potatoes. I cut my potatoes into coins and then lay them out in the bottom of the pan. You can do two layers of potatoes, but I choose to do one. This step looks like this:
Layer #2: Vegetables. You can get creative with this, but I just threw them on gently over the potatoes. I did the onions and zucchini and peppers first, and then a gentle layer of the spinach. This step looks like this:
Layer #3: Eggs. Beat up the eggs with a bit of milk and a pinch of salt and pepper, as if you were going to scramble them. Put the pan with the layered veggies on the stove on a med-high heat, and once the pan starts heating, pour the egg mixture evenly over the vegetables. Once the eggs that have sunk beneath the potatoes have started to cook and maybe bubble around the sides, put the entire pan into the oven, at around 350º and bake for 15-20 minutes, keeping an eye on the frittata to make sure it doesn’t burn. You can sprinkle cheese on the top at any time if you wish.
Once the frittata comes out of the oven it should look like this:
And when it’s cut:
Delicious. Frittatas are great, and don’t get me started on a leftover rant.
Love and Happy Spatulas,