Archive for April, 2014

Farmer’s Frittata

farmers frittata

Today marks the public debut of my roommate Liz’s cast iron skillet. Now, don’t be deceived; the skillet is not a recent addition to our home. Instead, it’s been hiding under our coffee table, collecting dust and cat hair since Christmas.

That’s a long time to keep something so valuable in a dormant state and out of use. But alas, we have another skillet (see: Swiss Chard Mélange & Turkey Quinoa Burgers) that is much more manageable in size and is, ahem, already seasoned.

This skillet has almost gotten its break a couple times. Once, at a party, I saw someone pull it out from under the table to admire its cast iron-y charm. Unfortunately, this wasn’t a dinner party, so he put it back and chugged his beer. I think we may have used it at least once, when washing the other one seemed more daunting than our present state of hunger could handle.

The celebration of Jesus’ resurrection seemed to be the perfect occasion to officially introduce the skillet to our kitchen. We invited some friends over to make brunch, sip mimosas, and make use of our porch. Liz suggested Farmer’s Breakfast, which, she says, was a staple when she was growing up. (No, Liz does not come from a farm family. Her mother is a diplomat and her father builds military bases.)

skillet breakfast

I took her lead, and the result was marvelous. Potatoes in eggs?! I am a changed woman. I’ll level with you – the veggie selection was more spontaneous than planned, as we used whatever was in the fridge. You can add just about any greens, reds, or what-have-yous to the skillet, just don’t forget the potatoes.

farmers breakfast

I understand that Farmer’s Breakfast is usually more of a scramble, but baking and serving it in slices made it easy for a crowd.

baked egg recipe

Alas. Our dear cast iron skillet has reclaimed its rightful place under the coffee table, where it will likely remain until the next time we feed a substantial group, or, at least until a curious drunk discovers it at another party.

the pantry raid

Ingredients (serves 6-8)

  • 10 eggs
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Olive oil
  • 10 small red potatoes, thinly sliced
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • ½ green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1. Preheat oven to 375oF.
2. Whisk eggs and milk together. Set aside.
3. In a large oven safe skillet, heat butter and some olive oil.
4. Add potatoes, onions, paprika, garlic salt, salt, and pepper and sauté until browned and a little crispy.
5. Sprinkle remaining vegetables and half the cheese on top.
6. Pour eggs over everything, distributing evenly.
7. Sprinkle the rest of the cheese and grind a bit of black pepper over the top.
8. Bake for 20 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes and serve warm.

Chocolate Affection Banana Cake

chocolate affection banana bread

Thanks to my boyfriend Netflix, I recently caught up on the latest season of Mad Men. As an aspiring ad (wo)man, and more specifically, copywriter, people say, “So you want to be like Peggy, right?” when I tell them what my dreams are made of. “Kind of,” I tell them. Luckily, it’s no longer the 1960’s and a woman’s desire to become a copywriter isn’t so much of a pipe dream. Still, the Creative department of most ad agencies does resemble the Mad Men gender bias. I was once told that if I really wanted to be a copywriter, I’d better be prepared to have the only ovaries in the room. Well, I’m ready for the challenge, so change my last name to Olson and give me a typewriter.

What does this have to do with banana cake, you ask? Here goes: In the finale of season 6 of Mad Men, Don Draper, everyone’s favorite antihero, presents a pitch to Hershey’s. He starts, “Everyone in this room has their own story to tell. It could be rations in the heat of the battle or at the movies during a first date, but most of them are from childhood.” Now, the only rations I’ve ever faced were parent-imposed and I’m more of a Raisinetts-at-the-movies type of girl, but Don was right about the childhood bit.

My story is about baking with my Grandma, one of my most favorite people in the world. I mean, she really is the greatest. She’s given me everything, and we’re not just talking about extra whipped cream on my pumpkin pie. She is one of the most loving people I know, and as much as her life is busy and stressful, when she picks up the phone to talk to me, everything else disappears.

I was lucky enough to live with this remarkable woman for a few years of my life and we got to spend a lot of time together. The times not spent at the mall giggling over Cinnabons were often spent in the kitchen. Today, she says that I teach her about cooking, but I wouldn’t be the cook I am now without her guidance. She taught me everything from toasting a bagel to making roast beef, but there was one department where I was the boss. Chocolate cake.

On the back of the Hershey’s Cocoa Powder box is a recipe for chocolate cake. It’s easy enough, but so so good. The inside of the cake is always moist, and the top is perfectly sticky, like a thin coat of frosting.  I’ll never forget Sunday afternoons spent baking with Hershey’s while Grandma looked on affectionately. (I’ll also never forget the less-than-affectionate pleas to get me to clean up after myself that came after.)

During Don Draper’s pitch, he said, “Hershey’s is the currency of affection.” When I tasted this Chocolate Banana Cake, it brought me back to my Grandma’s kitchen. The top of the cake had that nice sticky texture and the inside was just so rich. It wasn’t Hershey’s or chocolate or banana that I tasted. It was love.

The next day, I called to tell Grandma about a job interview. “Of course it went well,” she said. “How could anybody not love you?” I laughed, “Well you’re my grandma. You have to love me.” “I don’t have to,” she said, “but I do.”

smitten kitchen banana bread

pantry raid

This recipe was originally posted on Smitten Kitchen and has been slightly adapted.

Ingredients (makes 1 loaf)

  • 2 very ripe bananas
  • ½ cup salted butter, melted
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup flour
  • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • 8 ounces bittersweet baking chocolate, chopped

1. Preheat oven to 350oF.
2. Mash bananas in a large bowl. Whisk in melted butter, brown sugar, egg, and vanilla.
3. Place baking soda, salt, cinnamon, flour, and cocoa powder in a sifter or fine-mesh strainer and sift over wet ingredients.
4. Stir together until just combined.
5. Fold in chocolate chunks.
6. Pour into a greased 9X5-inch loaf pan and spread evenly.
7. Bake 55-65 minutes, until a toothpick comes out relatively clean.
8. Serve warm or at room temperature.

chocolate banana bread recipe

Puritan & Co. with the Boston Brunchers

Why is brunch so good? Is it because of the squishy, oily potatoes? The acceptability of drinking booze at 11a.m.? Or maybe, it’s just trendy. Yes, yes, and yes. But the real reason that brunch is so good, at least in my opinion, is because:

1. It usually comes after a few too many sugary, headache inducing, grown up beverages.

2. Cooking anything when your head is throbbing “Loony Tunes” style is hardly enjoyable.

“Brunch” means that amazing, greasy, heaps of food are placed before me and all I have to do is say “extra bacon, please.”

But you probably saw this coming. It’s pretty rare that I post brunch-worthy recipes, aside from my grandma’s Fluffy Apple Pancake. See, when Sunday morning rolls around, I hardly want to whip up something blog-worthy. Peanut butter toast is delicious, but more of a Monday-Friday kinda meal. 11a.m. on a Sunday deserves much, much better.

Enter, the Boston Brunchers, a group of Boston-based bloggers who get together every so often for brunch. The restaurants that host us love us because it means lots of meaty media coverage for them. And we love it because we get to chat about girly things and take pictures of our food with no one to judge us but our Instagram followers (who are secretly jealous, anyway).

brunch1

Oh, and if there’s one thing better than brunch, it’s free brunch. Our hosts treat us to delicious food that we’re more than happy to write about.

It was a cloudy Sunday morning when I arrived at Puritan & Co. in Cambridge’s Inman Square. The restaurant was huge and flooded with natural light. A table in the center of it all displayed heaps of fresh, drool-worthy pastries, which I would later eat…literally all of. We’re talking Dulce de Leche & Coconut Danishes, Preserved Lemon Corn Muffins, Ham & Cheese Pinwheels, and that’s not even the half of it. You’d be hard put to find a restaurant that does everything right, but if these pastries were foreshadowing the rest of the afternoon, I was in luck.

puritan & co pastries

We sat in a paisley-patterned enclave under hipster Edison bulbs and mulled over what to order. Once we decided, and our main courses arrived, everyone whipped out there phones and cameras. Once the photo opp was over, the Brunchers fell silent, as we took our taste buds to their happy place.

I ordered the Wagu Steak & Eggs, because when else would I ever eat steak and eggs? Right then and right there, that’s when. The steak was so tender and juicy, with a perfect amount of char on the outside. As for the eggs, I’ve never seen yolks so orange in my life, and that’s coming from a girl who buys the fancy stuff at the super market. It was served with the staple brunch side – greasy (but not toooo greasy) potatoes. I was in heaven.

wagu steak and eggs

We sat there, leisurely sipping mimosas and coffee, chatting about blogging and exchanging restaurant recommendations. Eventually, the chef came over and we all turned into a bunch of giggly schoolgirls. “The eggs were perfectly cooked!” “This is the best corned beef hash I’ve ever tasted!” “Well, I work the egg station,” he laughed.

corned beef hash

All in all, it was an unforgettable experience. It’s really such a treat when restaurants put so much care into each and every thing they make, especially during brunch, which Anthony Bourdain claims is when chefs toss all the old food they couldn’t use into some eggs and slap on a hefty price tag. In other words, I can’t wait to join the Boston Brunchers again.

And no, there is no recipe here. As I said earlier, brunch is almost always better when someone brings it to you. If it’s truly just a recipe you want, I urge you re-visit the Fluffy Apple Pancake. 

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