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.

Spring Pasta with Zucchini Ribbons

 

“To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.” ~Oscar Wilde

 

I won’t go into the details of why cooking for yourself is a great way to dive into this so-called romance as Mr. Wilde puts it, but I thought this quote might inspire you as it did me.  I also would like to apologize for not having written any recipes for exactly two months.  When it comes to this blog, consistency is clearly is not my strong suit.

I am going to keep it fairly short today, and just give you the run-down with this pasta, a healthy dish that comes together nicely and showcases the prime vegetables of the season.  While I like cooking year round, cooking in springtime is a special treat because I am finally able to cook with fresh produce that is full of fragrance, flavor and texture.  The silky zucchini complements perfectly the crunch of the asparagus and peas, and fresh basil adds the final touch to remind you that better weather really is on its way!

Of course this springtime bliss is only relevant to those living in seasonal areas in the northern hemisphere, but hopefully you will all enjoy making this pasta no matter where you call home.  As with pretty much any recipe on this blog, feel free to change it up as you see fit: replace the peas with fava beans, use fresh mint or cilantro instead of basil, and you may even want to omit the bacon, in which case you would need to use olive oil to cook the zucchini and asparagus. 

One last note: if you have leftover zucchini and asparagus, why don’t you dice or slice everything and cook it in the next few days in a frittata?

Happy spring to every one, may your next meal be absolutely delicious, wherever and whatever you find yourself eating.  And please give feedback/comments/new recipe ideas!  The more the merrier!

Spring Pasta- Serves 1
 
1 zucchini, ends cut off, peeled
1/4-cup lardons, or two slices bacon, cut into small dice
2 ounces papardelle pasta, or any other pasta you want to use (you’re making this for yourself, so go nuts!)
1/2-cup fresh or frozen peas (if using frozen, make sure to thaw them)
3 stalks asparagus, trimmed, sliced thinly on the diagonal
1 garlic clove, minced
1 lemon
4 basil leaves, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon freshly grated parmesan, or more as desired
good-quality olive oil (optional)
 
1. Bring a small pot of salted water to a boil.
2.  Using your vegetable peeler, cut the zucchini vertically into pasta-like ribbons.

3.  In a small or medium saute pan, cook the lardons or bacon bits over medium heat, until well browned, about 4-5 minutes.  Once cooked through, remove from heat, leaving the fat in the pan.
4.  Once water is boiling, add pasta and peas and cook pasta to package instructions. 
5.  Return the saute pan to heat and cook garlic in the remaining bacon fat until browned, about 30 seconds.  Add the zucchini ribbons and saute until slightly softened, 2 minutes.  Add the asparagus and cook until asparagus pieces are just slightly tender, 2-3 minutes.
6.  Once pasta is ready, drain in a colander along with the peas.  Add pasta, peas, and bacon bits to the skillet containing the asparagus and zucchini, and toss to combine.  Add lemon juice as desired, probably 1-2 tablespoons. Season generously with freshly ground pepper.
7.  Remove from heat and toss in the basil.  Sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan and drizzle with good-quality olive oil if desired.
 
Booooon appetito!

>Bacon-Wrapped Shrimp over Parmesan Polenta

>

Ingredients: Bacon, shrimp, polenta, parmesan

The second recipe in the 5-ingredient series features baked shrimp wrapped ceremoniously in thin strips of bacon, served over fluffy polenta. As I headed to the Marché Raspail this morning to buy my shrimp, I couldn’t help but smile at all of the men and women picking over vegetables, meat, fruit, nuts, and bread before them.  The food market is almost like a theater, and the customers certainly know how to play their part: ”no, I don’t want that comte cheese in the back - how dare you assume? Give me this piece in the front.”  “Tell me about this lamb – how shall I cook it? What sides will I make with it?  Oh forget it I don’t want it anymore, what about this duck here?”  I provided my seafood vendor with an easy request: “5 crevettes s’il vous plaît, les plus grandes que vous avez.”  I won’t lie, I still get excited every time I successfully order an item from the market.  So he handed me five shiny shrimp, and I walked away victorious from the lively bustle of inquisitive and hungry patrons.
I like this dish because it packs a lot of punch for so few ingredients.  Shrimp is also quite good for you, with high doses of protein and omega-3 fatty acids.  Unfortunately, shrimp also comes with a hearty amount of cholesterol, so those with high-cholesterol levels should use caution when eating crustaceans such as shrimp and lobster. I mixed some parmesan into the polenta to add a sharp flavor, but it would hold up nicely if eaten plain with just a healthy dose of salt.  I believe any other kind of cheese, maybe chedder, gruyere, goat cheese, or feta, would also go nicely in this dish.

Bacon-Wrapped Shrimp over Parmesan Polenta – serves 1
5 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
4-5 strips uncooked bacon
1/4-cup instant polenta
1 1/2 tablespoons grated parm
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
1.  Wash and dry the shrimp.  Cut the bacon into two strips lengthwise and wrap around the shrimp.  Hold the bacon in place by piercing a toothpick through each shrimp. 
2.  Place shrimp on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake until bacon is crisp, about 20 minutes
3.  Meanwhile, cook the polenta:  place 1 cup of water in a small saucepan with 1 teaspoon salt and bring to a boil. 
4.  Gradually whisk in polenta, and simmer over medium-low heat until very thick, about 10 minutes.
5.  Stir parmesan into polenta until combined; season to taste with salt and pepper. 
6.  Place polenta on a platem remove toothpicks from shrimp, and serve over polenta.
Tomorrow: bruschetta with goat cheese and balsamic vinaigrette (still with 5 ingredients or less) – does this appeal to you? Would you rather me try to make something else?  Let me know!  Post a comment or email me: ashley.fahr@cookingforoneinparis.com

>Butter Lettuce w/ Lardons and Poached Eggs

> I have wanted to try and make this salad for so long, because I love all of the individal ingredients (bacon, butter lettuce, poached eggs, and red & white vinegar) and I knew that their combination would be very satisfying to my tastes. And can I say that not only is this salad very delicious, with a combination of salt and crispy from the lardons and rich and silky from the egg yolk, but it is also one of the easiest things I have made so far. To do everything, from washing the lettuce to preparing the dressing, I needed 30 minutes in the kitchen. It’s so easy, and fills a craving when you want something rich and complex in taste!

So, I’ll keep this post short, and just say that this wonderful salad can be eaten as a light lunch (with some bread, bien sûr!), or as an appetizer for dinner. Although, I guess I shouldn’t put any restrictions on this, because you should really eat this salad whenever you feel like it.

Also, one last note – I know it’s not always easy to get fresh produce, but I find that it can make a huge difference with eggs; ce n’est pas grave, but if you can, please try to get your hands on eggs from a farmer’s market or a local producer – they’ve practically just popped out of the chicken!

To make this salad, you will need a small head of lettuce (I used butter lettuce, however this salad traditionally calls for frisée). Additionally, you’ll need two bacon strips, white wine vinegar, a small shallot, and red wine vinegar.

Firstly, wash up your lettuce and arrange it however you like on a plate, either cut up into smaller pieces or left whole. Chop up the shallot and set it aside. Next cut up your bacon into little lardons (which usually are about 1/4-inch wide and 1/2-inch long), and cook in a skillet on medium heat until golden and crispy, about 5 minutes. Remove them from heat.

Next, fill a small skillet with warm water (you’ll be putting the poached eggs in here to keep them warm while you finish the rest of the recipe). Fill a small saucepan halfway with water, and add 1 1/2 tablespoons white wine vinegar – swish it around with a wooden spoon once or twice to blend, and bring to a simmer. Now, this part can be tricky if you’ve never poached eggs before, but don’t fret because it’s super simple. Crack each egg into a teacup or a small shallow dish. Once the water and vinegar start to simmer, bring each teacup right above the waters surface and gently slip in the eggs. With your wooden spoon, lightly move the eggs back and forth for a couple of seconds, in order to make sure the whites stick to the yolk. Simmer for 2-3 minutes, then place in the skillet of warm water.

Reheat the bacon on medium heat, then add the chopped shallot. Cook for about one minute, then add 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar. Cook for 5 seconds (if you cook longer the vinegar will develop a nasty bitter taste), then pour over your lettuce. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste, then top with the two poached eggs.

Bon appétit mes chéris!!