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Brunch for Dinner
May 24th, 2006

Molly at Orangette posted a piece recently debating the merits of brunch. Jim is definitely pro-brunch, he says he'd be happy to drift from brunch to brunch all day as long as there was some magic involved that let you eat eggs and bacon and drink mimosas for hours without getting full or sick. I tend to side with Molly on this one. I have to eat within an hour of getting up or I get cranky and tired, so then brunch is really just an early lunch where I feel like I'm eating too much food. But brunch foods for dinner, that's something both Jim and I can get behind.

Last night we had Zucchini and Cheddar Fritattas, adorable little egg dishes cooked in a muffin pan, along with some purchased Potato Dill bread and roasted cauliflower. Asparagus would have been more in keeping with the brunch theme but we ate ours up the night before. The recipe comes from The Family Kitchen by Debra Ponzek, a book I really like for its invocation of the kitchen as the center of the house, with kids and parents getting involved and having fun preparing meals together, whether a steamy pot of soup on a cold winter day or grilled corn and teriyaki salmon outside in the middle of summer. These fritattas are the first thing I've actually cooked out of the book, and they turned out really well.

The little muffin shaped fritattas are super cute and have an intense savory taste. It's hard to pick out the individual flavors of the zuchinni, shallots, cheese, and thyme, they blend so well together. The shallots predominate though, which is all to the good in my opinion. My only criticism would be that I thought they were a touch too salty, so in the recipe that follows I took the amount of salt called for down to half a teaspoon from the original three quarters. You could certainly adapt this recipe to suit your tastes; other combinations suggested by the author include Gruyere, spinach, and ham. The fritattas are also just the right size to perch on top of an English muffin or square of toast along with a nice slice of ham. Hollondaise sauce seems a little too rich to go with these savory bites, but maybe a light yogurt, lemon, and thyme combination would work. But as is, the fritattas are fabulous and easy to whip up for a midweek dinnertime brunch.


Individual Zucchini and Cheddar Frittatas
makes 12 frittatas

oil spray
2 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 medium zuccini or 2 small ones, shredded on the large holes of a box grater
2 shallots, diced
1/2 tsp salt, divided
Freshly ground pepper
7 large eggs
2/3 cup half-and-half
1/2 cup shredded white Cheddar cheese
1/2 tsp chopped fresh thyme leaves


Preheat oven to 375°F and spray a 12 muffin pan with cooking spray.

Shred the zucchini and chop the shallots. Saute them in 2 tbsp of the oil over medium-high heat until wilted, about 4 minutes. Drain off any liquid and season with 1/4 tsp of salt and pepper to taste. Divide the vegetable mixture evenly among the muffin tins.

Grate the cheese. Beat the eggs in a bowl and stir in the cheese, half-and-half, and thyme. Add the remaining salt and a few grinds of pepper. Pour the egg mixture into the muffin tins.

Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes, until just set. Run a table knife around the edges of the tins to loosen the fritattas and serve.

-adapted from The Family Kitchen, Debra Ponzek
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Comments

Hooray!! A low-carb recipe!!! I will try this soon.

-posted by Mom on May 24th, 2006
This recipe sounds wonderful. Thanks for the tip on the book - can't wait to check it out!

-posted by Catherine on May 26th, 2006
I am going to make this tomorrow, but with yellow cheddar because I can't get the white here.

-posted by meredith on May 28th, 2006
All the years of working both front and back of the house of high end restarants has made impressing my husband with culinary treats tricky. The following recipe did the trick. I got it, and other good recipes, from May's issue of "cooking light". ...Don't tell him the sauce didn't have heavy cream in it.


Pasta with Beans and Greens

8 ounces uncooked cavatappi
2 cups cut green beans
1 Tablespoon butter
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups 1% milk (I used skim)
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoom black pepper
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 garlic cloves, crushed
3 cups coarsely chopped spinach
3 cups coarsely chooped kale
1/3 cup chopped mint


1. Cook pasta according to directions omitting salt and fat. Add the beans halfway through cooking time. Drain well.

2. Melt butter in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Add flour, stirring with a wisk. Gradually add milk; cook until slightly thick and bubbly (about 8 minutes), stirring constantly with a wisk. Add parmesan, salt, black pepper, red pepper, and garlic, stirring until the cheese melts. Keep warm.

3. Combine pasta mixture, spinach, kale, and mint in a large bowl. Stir in milk mixture, tossing gently to coat. Serve immediately.

Serves 6
calories 328
fat 9 g
protein 18.4 g
carb 44.4 g
fiber 3.9 g
chol 23 mg
iron 3.4 mg
sodium 607 mg
calc 462 mg

The milk sauce took me more like 15 mintues to cook down. This might be because I used skim instead of 1%. My patience paid off and I ended up with a thick creamy sauce.


-posted by stephanie on May 28th, 2006
I thought that people would want to try this recipe, it's such a cute idea, and one I hadn't run across before. I can't wait to hear how you all like it, and what substitutions you make.

Steph that sounds delicious, once I looked up cavatappi and figured out it's a corkscrewy elbow macaroni. I'm often looking for ways to use up spinach and kale so I'll definitely try it out. Cooking Light is sometimes hit or miss with me, but I have to say I loved their most recent issue (June I guess). It's got me all excited to try to make crepes for the first time

-posted by kymm on May 30th, 2006
I made the frittatas this weekend for brunch with some friends. I substituted fresh basil for the thyme because I have basil growing in my herb garden, but no thyme. It worked and everyone liked them a lot.

I couldn't decide between the frittatas and another muffin cup egg recipe that I got from the Oregonian, so I made both. You might want to try this sometime. It's very tasty.

Ham Crisps with Baked Eggs and Mushrooms
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 pounds finely chopped mushrooms (4 1/2 cups)
1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh tarragon leaves
12 thin slices deli ham (with no holes)
12 eggs
Slices fresh tomatoes and tarragon sprigs for garnish

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly oil 12 muffin cups and set aside.

Melt butter in skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and shallots, cook about 10 minutes until the mushrooms are tender and any liquid evaporates. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper to taste. (One of our guests is allergic to pepper, so I left it out, and it tasted fine. Also, go light on the salt - the ham provides enough, I think.) Stir in sour cream and tarragon.

Arrange the ham in the muffin cups (they will stick up and hang over the edges). Divide the mushroom mixture among the cups and crack one egg into each. Bake until whites are cooked but yolks are somewhat runny or to desired doneness, 20 to 30 mintues. Remove from oven and let rest five minutes. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Lift the eggs onto a serving plate and garnish with tomatoe slices and tarragon sprigs (or fresh parsley, which is what I did).

I cooked mine about 25 minutes, which was a little longer than I had planned (I was drinking a mimosa, what can I say). And I also set the oven at 365 'cause these little guys were sharing space with the frittatas, which needed at 375 degree oven - I split the difference. So the egg yolks were more done than I would have liked, but they still tasted great and looked adorable.

-posted by Mom on Jul 10th, 2006
© 2006, Kimberly Cooperrider | kymmco@excite.com