POTATO BASIL FRITTATA

We recently had some family come stay with us and I was at a loss when it came with to dinner plans.  One of the folks were vegetarian so I had to think of a dish that would please everyone.  You would think this would come easy to me since I've been a vegetarian before.  I've probably spent 3 years on and off in my life not eating meat.  So why couldn't I think of one dish?!

After falling asleep watching the Food Network on a lazy afternoon, I woke up to the dulcet sounds of The Barefoot Contessa.  I don't remember what she was even making but Ina's face jostled my memory.  I'll make her famous potato basil frittata!

This dish is a real crowd pleaser.  I've made it for brunch, lunch and dinner.  It has tender potatoes, flavorful gruyere cheese and a brightness from the fresh basil.  Served with a green salad, it is a great make ahead meal.

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  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided

  • 2 cups of peeled and 1/2 inch diced boiling potatoes (about 4)

  • 8 extra large eggs

  • 15 ounces of ricotta cheese

  • 3/4 pounds of gruyere cheese, grated

  • 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 3/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves

  • 1/3 cup flour

  • 3/4 teaspoon of baking powder

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Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a 10 inch ovenproof omelet pan over medium to low heat.  Add potatoes and fry them until cooked through, turning often, about 10-15 minutes.  Melt the remaining 5 tablespoons of butter in a small dish in the microwave.

STEP 1

STEP 1

STEP 2

STEP 2

This is how to chop basil without bruising it. It's called a chiffonade. Stack your leaves, roll like a cigar, and cut into thin ribbons.

TA DA!

TA DA!

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Meanwhile, whisk the eggs, then stir in the ricotta, gruyere, melted butter, salt, pepper, and basil.  Sprinkle on the flour and baking powder and stir into the egg mixture.

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Pour the egg mixture over the potatoes and place the pan in the center of the oven.

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Bake the frittata until it is browned and puffed, 50 minutes to 1 hour. It will be rounded and firm in the middle and a knife inserted in the frittata should come out clean. Serve hot.

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Served with some greens, this makes a great evening meal and the leftovers are excellent for breakfast too!

BUILDING A CHEESE PLATE

Awards season is upon us and I love a good awards show!  Every year we try to see all the movies nominated and let's be honest, I'm there for the dresses.  I love seeing what Jennifer Lawrence is going to blurt out or if Taylor swift will be heckled.  You get to judge people's fashion choices from the comforts of your own home!  It's essentially the ultimate mean girl's show.

So when the ladies come over I like to put out a good cheese plate.  Everyone loves cheese.  It's essentially a no brainer.  With a little bit of panache, you can set out a really beautiful and impressive spread. 

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I like to pick at least three cheeses.   A blue cheese of sorts, a hard cheese, and a soft cheese.  That way, there's something for everyone!  I ALWAYS include fruit on my cheese plate.  There needs to be a tart/sweet accompaniment or you'll feel like you're drowning in cheese (though that sounds like an okay way to go).

I added quince paste to my plate.  It is a delicious combination with a salty, creamy cheese.  You can otherwise use honey, apple butter, or a preserved fruit of sorts (try candied kumquats!).   Smoked almonds would also be a wonderful choice.  You can't really go wrong.  Cheese is nectar to the gods or at least to us fatties of the world.

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Throw in some dips, chips, some pretty cookies and a bottle of wine and you've got yourself a serious spread!

THE PERFECT SOFT BOILED EGG

So there's something about this breakfast ritual that makes my day.  I love that you have to slow and sit down to eat and this.  I love that it needs it's own special cup to hold it just right.  Also, one of the greatest, simplest joys in life is to break into a beautiful egg yolk.  It is my very own food porn. Maybe it's my mom's fault for constantly serving me sunny side up eggs with soy sauce and loads of pepper with crusty french bread. I always find myself chasing around the last buttery bits of yolk with a piece of toast.  

This method is just a little more civilized.  A perfect soft boiled egg has tender, just cooked whites, and a runny yolk.  You should be able to cut the top off, and pierce the yolk with spoon.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper as you go, dip in your toast soldiers and scoop it right out the shell morsel by morsel.

Step 1:

  • Boil your water in a small saucepan, you want enough water to just cover however many eggs you want to boil. You want the bubble to softly roll.

Step 2:

  • Very carefully lower your eggs in the water with a slotted spoon.  Be gentle! Lower it down all the way to the bottom and then try to roll it off your spoon.  Otherwise your egg will crack and you'll end up with a hard boiled egg with water in it. Set timer for 5 1/2 minutes.

Step 3:

  • Remove pot from heat and run cold water in the pot until the water is cool enough to touch.  Dry your eggs.

Step 4:

  • Place in egg cups.  Tap the edge of a sharp knife on the side and simply cut the top off.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Make some toast soldiers to dip and you're on your way to eat a perfect soft boiled egg!

ROSEMARY PORK CHOPS + LEMONY PURPLE POTATOES

Believe it or not, this delicious meal takes under 30 minutes to make.  Be sure to get a lovely bone in pork chop, I'd say about an inch thick and fresh rosemary. You'll be amazed at how complex these simple flavors taste. 

Give purple potatoes a chance and if you haven't yet.  They are firmer and waxier like a red potato and have a much earthier and deeper flavor.  Plus, when you put lemon on them, they turn pink! It's like a party on a plate.

Serves 4

For pork chops:

  • 4 bone in pork chops
  • 4 tsp of olive oil
  • 4 tsp of smoked paprika 
  • 4 tsp of kosher salt
  • 2 tsp of ground pepper
  • 1/2 of a large lemon
  • 2 tb of fresh rosemary, chopped

For purple potatoes:

  • about 8 small purple potatoes
  • 1 small shallot, sliced thinly
  • 2 garlic gloves, chopped
  • 2 tb of olive oil
  • 1/2 of large lemon (use the other half from the chops!)
  • salt
  • pepper

Began by placing the potatoes in a large saucepan, fill it with cold water until it just covers the potatoes.  Bring to a boil and let boil under fork tender (poke it with a fork, if it goes in without too much fuss, it's done!)

Drain the potatoes, let cool until you can handle them without burning your fingers and peel the skins off.  It should be easy now since we boiled them!

Put them in a bowl and roughly match them up.  I like them chunky so can really taste the potato flavor. Don't they look fun?  They always reminds me of amethyst geodes.

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In the saucepan you just used to boil them, heat up 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Saute the shallot and the garlic until the shallots barely become translucent.  Pour the potatoes back into the pot with the shallot/garlic concoction and mash up with salt and pepper.

Squeeze the lemon half over them and stir to combine, watch the magical color transformation!

Now for those chops!  Preheat your broiler.

Drizzle both sides of the pork chops with a little bit of olive oil and season with salt, pepper, and paprika.  Give both sides a squeeze of lemon and sprinkle with the chopped rosemary.  If you can, let it hang out at room temperature for ten minutes.  

Broil in a roasting pan for 12 minutes, turn it over once at the 6 minute interval.  Let rest for at least 5 minutes.  Plate up and enjoy on a chilly night, these two pair excellently together!

SPAGHETTI WITH MINI TURKEY MEATBALLS

I fear the reason I'll never be skinny is pasta.  I love cooking it, eating it, looking at pictures of it.  The great thing about pasta is that it can easily be made healthier, and this recipe is a testament to that.  It's loaded with fresh ingredients and it's absolutely delicious. You can easily substitute gluten free pasta/bread for those who are intolerant, omit the butter in the tomato sauce, trade out beef for turkey, etc.  

For meatballs

From Giada De Laurentis

Ingredients:

  • 1 small onion, grated
  • 3 garlic cloves
  •  1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup of dried bread crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons of ketchup
  • 1/4 cup of chopped Italian parsley
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan
  • 1/4 cup grated pecorino romano
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground black pepper
  • 1 pound of turkey meat
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 26 ounces of Simple Tomato Sauce, recipe follows, or store-bought marinara

Directions:

  1. Add the onion, garlic, egg, bread crumbs, ketchup, parsley, Parmesan, Pecorino, salt and pepper to a large bowl and blend.
  2. Shape the turkey mixture into 1 1/4-inch-diameter meatballs. I used an ice cream scoop. Place on a large plate or baking sheet.
  3. Heat the oil in a heavy large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the meatballs and saute until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. Turn off heat. Transfer the meatballs to a plate. Pour off any excess oil.
  4. Add the marinara sauce, about 2 1/2 cups. Reserve half a cup of sauce. Return all the meatballs to the pan. Turn the heat to medium-low and simmer until the sauce thickens slightly and the flavors blend, 15 to 20 minutes. 
  5. Boil water for pasta and cook according to manufacturer's instructions.  
  6. Toss the spaghetti with the reserved marina sauce, spoon meatballs on top to serve and garnish with basil and parmesan.

For Simple Tomato sauce

  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 (32-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
  • 4 to 6 basil leaves
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, optional

Directions:

In a large casserole pot, heat oil over medium high heat.

Add onion and garlic and saute until soft and translucent, about 2 minutes.  

Add celery and carrots and season with salt and pepper. Saute until all the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. 

Add tomatoes, basil, and bay leaves and simmer covered on low heat for 1 hour or until thick.

Remove bay leaves and check for seasoning. If sauce still tastes acidic, add unsalted butter, 1 tablespoon at a time to round out the flavors.

Add half the tomato sauce into the bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth. Continue with remaining tomato sauce.

If not using all the sauce, allow it to cool completely and pour 1 to 2 cup portions into freezer plastic bags. This will freeze up to 6 months.