Bacon and Parmesan Frittata

 

To all nervous novices out there: I think you’ll like this recipe.  I made a larger version for two friends for lunch and they both remarked upon how easy it was to make and how much flavor the final result packed in.

I’d like to tell you a little about said friends, because they represent in my mind the exact type of people I hope to convert into cooks.  These two work in finance and explained to me today that their favorite home-cooked meals come in boxes usually bearing the title “Lean Cuisine” or another similar variation.  Perfect, I thought, hopefully this easy recipe will convince them that cooking is not as hard as it seems!  Unless they were just trying to make me feel good (and that would be so sad), I think I succeeded.

I hear from a lot of my friends that they would like to learn to cook for their significant others.  I hope you will use these recipes as a starting point to get yourself familiar with cooking.  Since a great majority of these dishes can easily be doubled, you will have no problem impressing someone else with your newly acquired skills!

Frittatas are great because they are easy and almost fail-proof, and you can alter most recipes to cater to ingredients you have on hand or that you prefer.  In this case, you can substitute arugula (that has been sautéed and slightly wilted) or chopped cilantro for the parsley.  You can also change the cheese – don’t want to splurge on a large hunk of Parmigiano-Reggiano?  Opt instead for pecorino romano, gouda, swiss, or Gruyère.  Any hard cheese that can be grated will actually taste great – let’s be honest, cheese is just fantastic anytime, in any form.

You’ll need some time to cook the caramelized onions but I promise you it is will worth it – only when onions have been slowly cooked over low heat does their natural sweetness come out and shine.  They pair beautifully with the salty bacon and crisp parmesan cheese.  Caramelized onions are pretty low maintenance, just watch over them in the beginning or they may risk burning.

Bacon and Parmesan Frittata – serves 1
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small white onion, stems removed and thinly sliced
2 slices thick bacon, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon heavy cream or whole milk
1 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley
2-3 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
1.  Heat olive oil in a small ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat.  Add onion, sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, about 5 minutes.
2.  Reduce heat to medium-low and continue to cook until onions are caramelized and golden in color, about 30 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
3.  Meanwhile, cook bacon in a medium skillet over medium heat until crispy, about 10 minutes.  Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and dry off excess fat with paper towels.  Discard bacon fat.
4.  In a small bowl, beat eggs with heavy cream (or milk if using) and a pinch each of salt and pepper.  Turn heat under onions up to medium, and add egg mixture along with parsley and bacon bits.
5.  Cook for about 3-4 minutes, or until bottom is set.  Tilt the pan and push cooked egg towards center of skillet to let uncooked eggs run underneath.
6.  Sprinkle cheese evenly over frittata and finish cooking in the oven until center is just set, about 4-5 minutes.

Welcome to America Potato Salad

I have France to thank for many things, one of which is the start of this blog, whose title first bore the name “Cooking For One in Paris.”  Although I delighted in the flavors and offerings of Paris for over 2 years, from oozy cheeses to shared bottles of wine on the banks of the Seine, I returned to the states three months ago to establish a culinary career, something which proved to be near impossible as an American in Paris. Fortunately all is not lost, for what America lacks in terrines de foie gras and boudin noir, it more than makes up for in multicultural variety.  I am now living in New York, and I find myself acting like a kid in a candy store every time the subject of dinner comes up.  Will it be Italian, Thai, Vietnamese, German, French, or Brazilian tonight?  The possibilities are endless, and the quality of food is unrivaled.

All international food delights aside, I decided to kick off this blog with an American classic, albeit with a few twists.  In this potato salad you will find no mayonnaise or pickles, staples that are replaced instead by such actors as lemon juice, basil, cayenne pepper, and chives.  It is a straightforward, simple recipe, and my only suggestions/notes are twofold: firstly, Yukon gold potatoes worked well because they softened once boiled but still maintained their shape in the salad.  However, other varieties that would likely work well include red-skin potatoes, Yellow Fin potatoes, and white round potatoes.

Secondly, I converted that salad into a sandwich by placing it on a soft brioche bun, courtesy of Amy’s Bread, but this dish holds its integrity as a salad, and if I were to repeat this recipe I would probably omit the bun altogether (although I have nothing against the bun itself, which was delicious and properly fulfilled its brioche destiny).

For perfect hardboiled eggs, cover the eggs with water in a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Remove from heat, cover, and let sit for at least 12 minutes.

Welcome To America Potato Salad
2 small Yukon gold potatoes, size b or c
2 hardboiled eggs
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon shredded basil
juice from 1/2 a lemon
2 tablespoons chopped chives
1/8-teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 brioche bun (optional)
1. Wash potatoes.  Place in a pot and add water to cover; add 1 teaspoon salt.  Bring to a boil, cover, and cook until potatoes are easily pierced with a fork, about 20 minutes.
2. Remove potatoes from boiling water and place in a bowl of ice water (this stops them from cooking any further).
3. Peel eggs and cut into 1/2-inch pieces.  In a small bowl, toss eggs with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste; add basil and toss gently to combine.
4. Once cool enough to handle, cut potatoes into 1/2-inch pieces, add to bowl and toss with the other ingredients.  Add lemon juice, chives, and cayenne pepper.  Toss and season once more with salt, pepper, lemon juice and olive oil to taste.
5.  Serve as a salad or atop a brioche bun.

Herbed Asparagus Frittata with Seared Salmon and Feta

 

Another recipe to celebrate the warm weather season, highlighting the deep and plentiful flavor of green asparagus which has popped up on almost every bistrot menu around Paris.  This year more than ever I’m learning to embrace the seasons, which bring along with them the adventure of learning to cook with what nature gives you.  Asparagus is a great ingredient to experiment with because it can be eaten in so many forms, whether puréed in a soup, tossed in a spring salad, or incorporated with eggs as is done here.  If you are left with extra asparagus spears while making this recipe, I suggest tossing the rest of the asparagus with olive oil, salt and pepper, and roasting in a 220°C/400°F oven.  Once cooked you can top with slivers of parmesan and lemon juice, or balsamic vinegar.

The pairing of green asparagus and eggs is effortless and harmonious, and by tossing pan-seared salmon into the frittata you include enough protein and energy to make this meal for a healthy lunch or dinner.  Fresh herbs such as chives, cilantro, or parsley add brightness and a strong summer flavor.  If you decide to add a cheese such as feta, be prepared for a very particular tang with a slightly salty aftertaste.  Other cheeses that would work equally as well would be goat cheese, ricotta, or perhaps blue cheese for the strong-hearted.

I would definitely pair this frittata with a white wine with hints of spices, such as the Californian J Russian River Valley Pinot Gris.  For dessert, you could chop up two nectarines and slice a few ripe cherries, and toss them with 1 tablespoon honey, a drizzle of oil, and a handful of sliced fresh mint.  If you prefer to finish this frittata in the oven, instead of flipping it over and cooking the other side, place the (ovenproof) skillet under the broiler for 2-3 minutes, until set.

Herbed Asparagus Frittata with Seared Salmon and Feta – serves 1

1 salmon filet, about 6 ounces/185 grams
1 tablespoon olive oil plus 1 teaspoon olive oil, divided
1 pinch cayenne pepper
2 eggs plus 1 egg white
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley or cilantro
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
1 tablespoon heavy cream
2 tablespoons crumbled feta
3-4 stalks asparagus, woody stems removed, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 lemon

1. Wash and pat dry the salmon fillet. Rub all over with olive oil, then sprinkle with salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper.
2. Heat a small 8-inch/20-cm skillet over medium heat. Add salmon filet, and cook for about 2-3 minutes on all four sides until cooked through. Remove salmon from heat, and with a fork gently break the fish apart into small, bite-size pieces.
3. In a small bowl, combine the eggs, herbs, heavy cream, and a pinch each of salt and pepper (and cayenne pepper if you like things spicy). Whisk together with a fork. Add in the salmon bits and feta cheese, and combine gently.
4. Heat the teaspoon olive oil in the same skillet over medium heat. Add asparagus bits to the pan and cook until tender but still crunchy, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
5. Add the egg mixture to the pan; swirl the pan around to coat evenly. Let eggs cook over medium heat, occasionally tilting the pan to one side and pushing the eggs to the center of the pan to let the runny parts reach the bottom of the skillet.
6. Place a large plate over the skillet and invert the frittata onto the plate. Gently slide the frittata back onto the skillet to heat the runny side. Cook until frittata is set, about 2 minutes longer. Serve on same large plate and sprinkle with lemon juice.

>Scrambled Eggs with Fried Parsley, Spinach, and Scallions

>

I’ve been wanting to make this recipe for a long time, but for some reason I never managed to have fresh eggs, fresh herbs, and enough desire to follow through with it all at the same time.  Today being Sunday and my favorite day to go to the outdoor market on Boulevard Raspail, I decided to finally give it a go and put it together.  I would just like to mention briefly that today’s visit to the market was like one of those extreme challenges, and that it bore a strong resemblance to the tempestuous blizzard that Dorothy lived through in the beginning of the Wizard of Oz.

Fortunately the strong winds and cold weather led market vendors to be more generous with their samples: a taste of seafood bisque here, spit-roasted chicken there, leek & gruyere quiches and apples and oranges all around – there was plenty to go around to keep both vendors and buyers warm and happy.  Having come home with the necessary ingredients, I got to chopping right away because I was starving and needed to eat asap (I snacked on some sundried tomatoes from the Italian vendor to hold me over).

As far as eggs go, I would say this recipe isn’t in the fantastically easy category – however, I’ve come to understand that although cooking eggs may seem simple, there’s quite an art behind it and the mastery of patience, timing, and practice is almost essential (I’m not even close, but every egg dish gets me one step further!).  The fresh herbs are fantastic with eggs – once fried, the herbs become highly fragrant and their flavors are hightened, and they mix so well with fresh eggs and a touch of cream.   This should take you about 25 minutes to put together, chopping of herbs included.  So, give it a try, and I bet you’ll be making this a second time around as well!

Scrambled Eggs with Fried Parsley, Spinach, and Scallions – Serves 1

2 eggs
1 tbsp heavy cream (light cream or milk is of course welcome too)
1 scant tbsp vegetable or canola oil (you could probably use even less)
1 tbsp chopped fresh spinach
1 tbsp chopped fresh scallions/green onions (use just the light green part, discard the very green and very white sections near the stems and roots)
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley or coriander
optional: 1 knob of butter

1.  In a small bowl, beat the eggs, cream, and a pinch each of salt and pepper together with a fork.
2.  Heat oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat.
3.  Once hot, add the fresh herbs and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until herbs have slightly darkened in color and are highly fragrant, about 10 minutes.
4.  Optional: add butter, and stir to combine with the herbs.
5.  Reduce heat to low; add egg mixture, and stir gently to mix herbs evenly with eggs.  Continue stirring, using a gently pushing and sweeping motion (you essentially want to fold the eggs over each other in order to keep them as fluffy as possible), until just cooked through, about 5 minutes.

Serve with crusty bread – yum!

>Salmon-Egg Wrap w/ Parsley and Creme Fraiche

>


Salmon-Egg Wrap with Parsley and Creme Fraiche

Ok, I have to tell you honestly that I have been mentally working on this dish for the past two days. I knew I wanted to wrap the scrambled eggs in salmon to make this look more like a sandwich (based on my new-found obsession with sandwiches). The distinct flavor of eggs is brought out nicely with the parsley, and goes so well with the silky texture and salty ocean flavor of smoked salmon. Top with a dollop or two of creme fraiche, and the combination of flavors becomes fantastic.

You can usually find creme fraiche in the dairy section of your grocery store, but if it’s more convenient cream cheese or mascarpone would work well also.

In any case, it’s pretty quick to put together and definitely worth it for a satisfying brunch.

Scrambled Eggs w/ Parsley, Smoked Salmon, and Creme Fraiche  - serves 1
1 handful fresh parsley, chopped, plus extra sprigs for garnish
2 slices smoked salmon
2 eggs
1 tablespoon whole milk or cream
1 dollop of butter (I consider this to be slightly less than a tablespoon)
1 tablespoon creme fraiche

1. In a small bowl, combine the eggs, milk or cream, and a sprinkle each of salt and pepper. Beat together with a fork. On a plate, lay out one or two slices of smoked salmon.

2. Heat a small skillet over medium low heat, and add the butter. Once the butter is melted and hot, pour in the egg mixture. With a wooden spoon or spatula, gently fold the eggs over each other (don’t scramble – this takes all the air out of the eggs and deflates them). Once the eggs are about halfway ready (there should still be some parts that are very runny), toss in half of the chopped parsley, and fold the eggs over until all of the mixture has blended and there are no more very runny parts.

3. Place the egg mixture in the center of the salmon slices. Fold the salmon over to make a wrap. Top the folded salmon with two dollops of creme fraiche, and place the remaining parsley around the wrap.

I would advise having some bread handy to help you eat the last couple of bites.

Merci, bonne dégustation!

>Poached Egg and Prosciutto Open-Faced Sandwich

>

To put it out there as simply as possible, sandwiches in France are amazing.

I’ve developed a new appreciation for sandwiches in this beautiful city, where for 2 euros and 50 centimes you can buy a sandwich that will make your mouth water and your taste buds go wild. Every corner you turn you see fresh baguettes featuring anything from tuna and curried chicken to the French staple – ham, fromage, and a good slab of butter. Simply divine.

I get spoiled here, and I buy bread that is almost other-worldly, but in reality if you buy a fresh baguette from your local supermarket you’ll likely be eating something pretty tasty.

To make a sandwich like the one in the picture, slice open a piece of bread and rub olive on each side with a paper towel. Next place some basil leaves, lettuce leaves, a slice of prosciutto, and some grated emmental on each bread slice.

Boil water and 1 tablespoon vinegar in a saucepan, and bring to a simmer. For each egg (if you want two), crack them into a teacup or another small dish. Gently slide them into the simmering water, and move them slowly back and forth with a wooden spoon to make sure the whites envelope the yolk. Simmer for about 3 minutes, then with a slotted spoon lift them out of the water, and place them on each bread slice. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and enjoy. I devoured mine, I’m glad no one was here to witness it.

Of course you can change this however you like – use ham or bacon instead of prosciutto, and parmesan, gruyere, or cheddar instead of emmental. Same with the herbs and the oil, feel free to change up the basil to rosemary, thyme, or parsley, and use mayo or butter instead of olive oil.

Merci, et je vous souhaite une trés bonne soirée!

>Omelette with Wild Mushrooms, Shallot, and Emmental

>

Got to Paris this morning; the jetlag is finally hitting me so I’ll keep this as short as possible.

Overall, I am pretty happy with my apartment. My dreams of having a romantic Parisian apartment with a wrought-iron balcony were shattered when I learned I was living over a Sushi Express, but there’s a lot of positive to this place so I don’t mind. For example, the kitchen is pretty sweet.
And one thing I’ve noticed in France already is that eating is taken to another level here. For lunch I sat at a typical French brasserie with a friend from Lyon, and we sat there for three hours! And this apparently is how French people eat. Slowly, savoring not only the food but the moment as well. With all of the fresh ingredients available to them, I don’t blame them either!
There are a lot of utensils that I’ll need to pick up over the next couple of days, but since today was a long day I decided to make dinner pretty simple – an omelette with mushrooms, shallots, parsley, and emmental cheese. Super easy and delicious.

Using wild mushrooms adds an intense, deep, and smoky flavor to the omelette, which pairs beautifully with a lighter-flavored cheese like emmental. Fresh herbs plus the tanginess of shallots adds even more depth to the flavor.

Omelette with Wild Mushrooms, Shallot, and Emmental – serves 1
2 tablespoons butter
1 shallot, chopped
2 oz wild mushrooms, such as oyster, shiitake, or chanterelle mushrooms, ends cut off and sliced
1 large handful fresh parsley, chopped
2 eggs (or 3 if you want to make this dish a little heavier)
about 1 oz emmental cheese (you can eyeball this to make it more or less cheesy to your taste)

1. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a medium or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallot and mushrooms, and sautee until slightly browned, about 5 minutes
2. Remove shallot and mushrooms from heat, stir in about a teaspoon of parsley, and set aside
3. In a small bowl beat together the eggs with a pinch of salt and pepper
4. Melt remaining 1 tbsp. butter in a small skillet over medium heat, and once the butter is bubbling, add the eggs
5. Cook the eggs until done, sliding the sides of the eggs forward to let the runny parts reach the bottom of the pan (see below)

6. Add the cheese, then add almost all of the shallot and mushroom mixture (saving a tiny bit for garnish). Fold the omelette over, slide onto a plate, and sprinkle remaining mushroom mixture and parsley on top. Serve with some sliced French bread!
I’m thinking fish in a white wine sauce tomorrow…