Saturday, November 12, 2011

Frittata For One Or Two

Frittata for One or Two

I like frittata. Frittata is an Italian omelet, according to Joy of Cooking (1997). I hope it is. I was glad to learn that pizza is an Italian pie, so maybe it is true. I give Joy of Cooking credit for telling me what frittata is. Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook didn’t bother. They just went ahead with telling us how to make it, whether we know what it is or not. What we have here are two ways to deal with life: learn what it is or just go ahead and live it.

Frittata has many good qualities. It is easy to make. It tastes good.  It requires no exotic ingredients unless you choose to use some. It is a good way to use up leftover meat and vegetables. Preparation takes little time, although it requires some vegetable chopping and cheese grating. There are two ways to make it: broiling or baking. Frittata is a good example of culinary flexibility. When we are cooking for one or two, we find that we can make a smaller version than the cookbooks offer.

On the other hand, if we don’t have an oven-proof skillet, we won’t be making frittata.

Here is commentary from Joy of Cooking, in its recipe for zucchini frittata, which is not the only frittata in the world. “Frittatas are cooked in a heavy skillet over low heat until they are firm—not runny like a French omelet—and they are left open-faced, not folded….we recommend popping it into the oven or under the broiler to cook the top side. Served in wedges, frittatas are delicious hot, warm, or at room temperature.”

My version of frittata is based on, but not identical to, the one in Better Homes & Gardens New Cookbook, 1989 paperback. It requires a medium size oven-proof skillet such as an old fashioned cast iron one.

3 eggs
About 1 cup chopped vegetables (I used celery, green pepper and onion today) (whatever you have in the refrigerator);
Meat (optional); I used one leftover bratwurst, cut in small pieces
1-2 tablespoons fat such as butter or bacon drippings (cholesterol isn’t an issue here)
About 1 cup grated cheddar cheese (I know, more cholesterol)

In an oven-proof skillet, saute the vegetables and meat in the fat over medium heat.
Beat the eggs and pour them into the skillet. Distribute the cheese over the top. Bake at 350 degrees about 15 minutes, or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.

That’s the easy way to do it. For cooks who like to do it with other cooking methods, Better Homes & Gardens New Cookbook gives directions (paraphrased):

1.        After putting the eggs into the skillet, over medium heat, cook it and run a spatula around the edge, lifting the mixture to let uncooked eggs flow underneath. Do this until the mixture is almost set and then put it under the broiler, 4 or 5 inches under the heat. Broil it until the top is just set, about 1 to 2 minutes.

2.       You can microwave it. I do not recommend doing this and have not tried it; I prefer real cooking. Cook the veggies in a pie plate in the microwave oven until they are tender. Pour the beaten eggs over the vegetables/meat mixture. Cook on high for 3 to 5 minutes, lifting cooked eggs every minute and letting uncooked portions flow underneath. Let stand for 5 minutes.

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