Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Eggs for Dinner

My mother believes I'm the only person on earth who reads cookbooks before bed.  But I know this isn't true.  I know for a fact that several of my friends read cookbooks like novels.  (Laura, I'm specifically thinking of you, here.) Last night I was particularly enthralled by Marion Cunningham's  The Breakfast Book, originally published in 1987 and which I bought used off Amazon.  This book is filled with all sorts of things you'd never think to have for breakfast, but which sound amazing.  I'm particularly anxious to try the Pumpkin Mush, which sounds scary until you realize it's pumpkin puree, ginger and cornmeal all cooked up into something nutritious and filling.  I plan to add a little pumpkin pie spice to it, but that is for another day.  I'll let you know how it turns out.

So, it's Wednesday, I haven't been to the grocery again for a long time and I'm down to about 8 eggs, a shriveled half onion, kale (also shriveled), some boursin, some Parmesan, and Marion Cunningham has me thinking frittata.  I like frittatas better than omelets because they are less labor intensive, and you can throw pretty much anything into them and they'll still taste good.  I've made them with meatballs and tomatoes, green beans and a can of artichoke hearts, last night's left over baked potato (sliced), garlic and cheddar.  Left over penne pasta is especially yummy and gives the dish a nice chew.  It's good to have some cheese to bind it all together, but not entirely necessary.  I've made it without.  And I've used weird cheese, like goat, or ricotta or even cottage...  Of course I was the girl whose favorite sandwich in college was grilled baloney, yellow mustard and cottage cheese.  I know, it's a bit Elvis, but it was what I could afford at the time, and it was good

Anyway, I think eggs make a great dinner, and a frittata makes them kind of special.  Plus you don't have to clean more than one pan at the end of the night, which for me, is a major bonus.  

The only downside to a frittata or an omelette, or even a pile of scrambled eggs, however, is that you really need at least six eggs (eight to ten is better) to feed a family of four this way.  Sometimes I go to the fridge and it is bare as a bachelor's.  Inside are four sad looking eggs, and maybe a rind of Parm.  When that is the case, I boil some pasta (angel hair is particularly good),  throw in some frozen peas right before the pasta is done,  drain, then sprinkle with some olive oil.  While the pasta is cooking, fry one egg per person.  I like to heat the pan, swirl with olive oil and fry the eggs over easy, but sunny side up is good too.  After plating up the pasta, I'll slip an egg on top of each serving.  At this point you can sprinkle some sea salt and pepper on top of the whole shebang, and no one would argue if you grated some parmesan over it all either.  The yolk breaks all over the pasta and everything is just creamy and warm and incredibly satisfying. 

And if there are only two eggs --  or God forbid, one -- well, the girls like noodles and peas on its own and Smith and I plop the egg on a double serving of pasta, and fight over who gets more. 

To Make a Frittata: (NOTE: you need a pan that can withstand the heat of the broiler -- I use a cheap, but nicely seasoned Lodge cast iron skillet, but anything that is heat proof will work)

  1. Preheat your broiler to low.  (If you don't have a broiler, I'll tell you what to do later.)Preheat your pan too, over medium flame. 
  2. Roughly chop whatever onions you have lying about (old onions are fine, leeks are good, green onions, shallots, who cares)and then swirl about a tablspoon of olive or canola oil into the pan and toss in the onions.  Sautee until translucent.
  3. Dice and toss in whatever else you have -- redpeppers, say, or kale, like I have right now.  Maybe you have some bacon, or a little chicken left over from another meal.  If you have garlic throw that in.  If you have frozen peas (I always seem to have frozen peas) throw those in.  Cherry tomatoes -- whatever.  It's all good. Stir that around for a bit.
  4. Crack your eggs into a bowl -- use as many eggs as you have. Six is really the minimum you can get away with.  Tonight I have eight. Beat those eggs quickly with a fork or a whisk or a good old fashioned egg beater.  If you have some cheese whisk 2/3rds of that in too, then dump it all into the pan, right on top of everything there.  Stir a minute, to distribute all the goodies, turn your heat to medium low, and let it cook until the edges start to look set.
  5. Sprinkle the top of your frittata with Parmesan or your remaining 1/3rd of cheese (or both) and stick it in the broiler. DO NOT MOVE FROM THE OVEN.  I constantly believe I have several minutes to do something else (thumb a catalog, feed the dogs, web-surf) and then I burn the top.  Keep an eye on the frittata. Do not leave the frittata.  Respect the Frittata. When its top is all slightly brown from the cheese, and the whole thing looks fairly set, take it out and let it sit a minute.  Then, serve it up!  Everyone loves a frittata.

OH -- if you don't have a broiler, cook it a little longer, then flip it onto a clean plate (put the plate over the skillet, flip it, remove skillet, voila, frittata on plate) then slide the uncooked side back into the skillet and cook a minute or two more.  Sprinkle the left over cheese onto the new top. 


  1. I love reading cookbooks. My husband will tell you, I buy them compulsively, and I like to lie around on the couch with a cup of coffee and read them for hours. Which is funny, since I don't really like to cook, or only under circumstances that don't happen very often: lots of time, the presence of good friends, music and wine flowing, etc. etc. But there is something so, so satisfying about reading recipes.

  2. I love, love, love this blog. You've succeeded in giving me goosebumps and I think I might be drooling at the same time. The comfort of food, so universal, balances beautifully with images from your home life. I can't wait to read more!

  3. Hey Kath,
    Your resourcfulness never fails to impress, and provides needed inspiration to my natural response to mope about the lack of ingredients in the pantry or fridge to prepare what I "had in mind". And, you know I read cook books, too.
    Another option with the eggs is to just toss the hot pasta directly into the raw scrambled eggs. A little cream or half and half adds to the texture. I got this idea from a pasta carbonara recipe that was most likely from Everyday Foods. And as we know, a little bacon makes most things tast better, but is really not necessary. The heat from the pasta actually cooks the eggs and it makes this really creamy sauce on the pasta, which my whole family loves! I just scramble the eggs in a big serving bowl, and scoop the pasta right from the boiling water into the eggs and stir. Add some of the pasta water to adjust the consistancy. If you want cheese, just add it grated to the scrambled eggs. Also, any sauteed veggies can go in. I've also used thawed frozen veggies, canned crab meat, ect. Love you!

  4. LMAO you are definitely not the only person who reads cookbooks before bed! Cheers! LOL


What are you having for dinner tonight?