Broccoli, Mushroom, Onion and Cheddar Frittata

Just out of the ovenWith the new year comes the resolutions, and one of them is always to try and “lean up” a bit after normal eating goes by the wayside in the total decadence of the holidays.

I am one who always has, and always will, fight the good fight with my waistline. We hike every weekend that the weather will allow this time of year, and that’s not only a fun way to get exercise and destress after the work week, but also a healthy and happy penance to other weekend pursuits! Still, one cannot lose weight by exercise alone…and there’s the rub.

It won’t come as a shock to you that I love to eat and won’t be giving up that pleasure any time soon. But there are ways to eat what you want and not gain, or even better, actually lose some weight.

Enter the frittata. What’s not to love about a frittata? You can make one in a snap and you can use up leftovers in your fridge to do it. Frittatas can be made out of most anything as long as it goes with eggs. Frittata is my go-to dish for those nights where I don’t have a lot of time in the kitchen and I want something good, filling and comforting to eat.

My approach to frittata has changed over the years and if you’ve followed this blog for a while, you’ve several versions posted. I began on one end of the spectrum with lots of egg and cheese, with only a few other ingredients added in. Then after reading some of Mark Bittman’s approaches to getting more vegetable and less animal into one’s diet, I switched to the other extreme, which was almost all vegetable and very little egg. Tasty and messy, but not quite as satisfying and “frittata-like” as where I’m landing now. Since eggs have been vindicated and are back in the “good for you” department, this frittata is filled with eggs. And vegetables. And just enough cheese to taste and enjoy. I think it’s perfect. I hope you will, too.

First I roast the broccoli and the mushrooms with no oil, just adding a bit of salt and pepper for seasoning. This results in concentrating the flavor of the vegetables and bringing out a nuttiness in the broccoli which only roasting can do. Then, I use a tablespoon of olive oil in my cast iron skillet to lightly caramelize the onion before adding the roasted broccoli and mushrooms to the party. Eggs are whisked in a bowl with salt, pepper and a goodly dash of freshly grated nutmeg. The nutmeg is really key here because it does two really wonderful things to the frittata. It brings out the natural sweetness of the eggs and the parmesan cheese, and boosts the flavor of the veggies. Lastly, I whisk in equal amounts of full fat shredded extra sharp cheddar and freshly grated parmigiano reggiano cheeses into the eggs, but only just enough for the taste…1/2 cup combined for the whole dish. Pour the egg mixture over the veggies, pop the skillet into the oven for about 12 minutes and you’ve got a healthy, filling dinner entree with very little fat, but lots of protein and veggies. It’s pure gold. Or at least it looks like that in these night time shots!

Another thing to love about frittata? Leftovers, if you have any, keep well in the fridge for up to 3 days. Love.

Happy New Year to you all and I hope yours has started off well. Here’s to your good health…and resolutions!

*****

Below is a little taste of an all too short hiking trip we took for our anniversary in November after Thanksgiving. This is the truly spectacular Falls Creek Falls State Park in the Cumberland Plateau area of Tennessee. A gorgeous, 35,000 acre park with trails, a lake, boating, zipline, fishing, cabins and an inn with a small restaurant, horseback riding and more. Since this was off season and winter, it was rainy and only the trails and accommodations were open, along with the restaurant, but it was still so beautiful and I can imagine it would be any time of year. We will go back for sure!

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Broccoli, Mushroom, Onion and Cheddar Frittata
Serves 6

Two heads of broccoli crowns, washed and cut into small florets (about 4-5 cups)
8 oz. button mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
1 large onion, peeled and diced
1 Tablespoon of good quality olive oil
10 large eggs
1/4 cup shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese (I use Cabot)
1/4 very finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
1/4 generous teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
more salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil, then make an aluminum foil tray with sides to go into half of the sheet. Place the broccoli florets on the covered sheet and the mushrooms inside the tray. Season the broccoli and the mushrooms with the 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper, dividing evenly. Place the sheet with tray into the oven and roast for approximately 15 minutes, stirring each side once halfway through, until the mushrooms are tender and the broccoli is cooked through and just starting to brown a little bit. Remove from the oven and set aside.

Crack the eggs into a medium-sized bowl and whisk to combine. Whisk in the nutmeg, a pinch of salt and some freshly ground pepper. Add the two cheeses and whisk to combine.

Heat the oil over medium heat in a 10 inch cast iron skillet. Add the onions and cook for about 4-5 minutes, until they are translucent and just starting to caramelize a little bit. Add the roasted broccoli and the mushrooms and toss together, warming for about 2 more minutes. Pour the egg mixture evenly over the veggies, lifting the veggies gently to allow the egg to run underneath. Place the skillet into the 400 degree oven and cook for about 12 minutes, until the top is just barely set in the middle and firm on the edges. Remove from the heat and allow to sit for about 4 minutes. Cut into six wedges and serve.

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Happenings, Fresh Corn Frittata and Some Potent Cherries

Cornfrittataslice1Work has continued to be brisk for me this summer…a very good thing. I don’t have as much time in the kitchen as I would normally, and when I’m in there, I’m not really experimenting on creating anything new. But I have been trying some new recipes…new to me, at least, from various sources. Here’s one of my favorites, especially since we’re in corn season—a fresh corn frittata.

This is such a brilliant idea from the June edition of Cooking Light magazine…and I wish I had thought of it! I can’t tell you how pleased this dish made me. This frittata utilizes a slightly better technique than I have used in the past, resulting in a perfect looking and perfectly textured slice of goodness. The fresh corn paired with egg, cheese, shallot and herby, fresh Italian parsley, just sings. It’s also very easy to make! We enjoyed this dish with the Fruited Farro Salad from my last post, also inspired by this particular jam-packed issue of the magazine. Don’t miss out on trying this frittata while corn is in season, you won’t be sorry! You can find the recipe at the end of this post.

In addition to this lovely frittata, I want to share another recipe that I’m so excited about. It’s for Bourbon Cherries from Greg and Katherine over at Rufus’ Food and Spirits Guide. (Click on the titles to see for yourself.) This year we’ve had an amazing amount of cherries at a decent price in our markets…the first time I can remember this, so it must have been a very good year for them. I saw this recipe on their blog and happened to already have a huge bag of cherries in the fridge, waiting to be dispatched…et voilà! I followed their recipe exactly except for the fact that I have a cherry pitter, so I left mine whole instead of halving them. I’m so excited about these potent babies, that I’m going to make another batch. We have particularly enjoyed the cherries and the liqueur mixed with rye and a couple of drops of bitters for a delicious spin on a Manhattan. My mind is reeling at the possibility of the new cocktails and quick breads or cakes that I could make with these cherries, and the liqueur they produce. Thanks Greg and Katherine, we’re all smiles over here!

We've polished off half of these so I'm making some more tonight!

We’ve polished off half of these so I’m making some more tonight!

We’re still having fun hiking this summer on our mission to do a new hike once a week, and these hikes almost always involve walking in woods and forests. It’s a fact that walking in the woods lifts spirits and makes you feel good, but did you know that it can lower blood pressure and pulse rate, decrease fatigue and tension, increase the number of anticancer proteins and encourage the growth and activity of disease fighting white blood cells? I have read that in Japan, this has developed into a new form of therapy and preventative medicine called shirin-yoku, or “forest bathing,” which involves taking a relaxing stroll among the trees, breathing it all in. Who knew? We love it and I think you will, too, if you give it a try.

There are some books and websites available that have been our inspiration for these hikes and you can check them out for yourself by clicking on these three links—Atlanta’s Best Hiking Trails, Top Ten within 40 miles of Atlanta, 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles of Atlanta, and the book Hiking Atlanta’s Hidden Forests-Intown and Out. So far, we’ve hiked 7 of the Top 10 trails and in the last few weeks, all of them beautiful and quite diverse. What we’ve found is that each place even has trails within the trails, so some of these we’ll be returning to and will hike at a later date. We’ve been at this since June 8, and I’m a little late in sharing due to delayed posting, so today I’ll highlight of a couple of them with you to get caught up.

Following are the Top 2 out of the Top Ten Atlanta Trails that we’ve hiked so far, along with links to more details about the trails. I would encourage you to read the links before visiting, as there is much more information about the areas and the history that I can detail here without making this post even longer than it already is. I hope you enjoy hiking along with us for a spell!

#1 Sweetwater Creek State ParkWe could certainly see why this one was ranked number 1 out of the Atlanta trails. It’s about a 30 minute drive west of Atlanta and the scenery is stunning, spanning over 2500 acres of creekside landscape. A wooded trail follows the stream to the ruins of the New Manchester Manufacturing Company, a textile mill burned during the Civil War. Sweetwater Creek provides a North Georgia outdoor adventure – without the drive. We trekked a 5.1 mile loop next to the creek, which involves some elevation changes and a small amount of the trail is over rock. Once you reach the end of the creek trail, you turn into forest for the next couple of miles, then come out into flat pasture land to make your way back to the trail head at the LEED Platinum Visitor’s Center, which is well worth taking a few minutes to tour. As another hiker recommended, we stayed to the left on our hike, walking next to the creek and meandering back to the main trail. The trails are easy to see, but the blazes are not well marked. Staying to the left along the creek makes it easy not to get lost and it’s very pretty, too.

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#2 Arabia Mountain Trails: To say that you’d never guess this exposed granite field landscape was in Georgia, much less half an hour from Midtown Atlanta, is an understatement. This barren, moon-like and almost surreal landscape is quite otherworldly. On our first trip, we chose to hike the Mile Rock Trail (but I like to call it Moon Rock Trail) over a mile long and stone cairn-marked granite face to Lake Arabia, then headed back through the forest trail leading to the bike trail, and out from there. It was early afternoon and 98 degrees the first day we went, so we kept our hike to about 4 miles and did not go up the mountain. Our second trip was this weekend. This time we did hike to Arabia Mountain and the summit, which commands a beautiful view of the surrounding area. From the summit you can see that there is another forest trail at the base of the mountain which will take you to Arabia Lake (yes, there are two lakes apparently with similar names.) Both granite trails feature many interesting ecosystems unique to the area, the granite itself is very beautiful with molten patterns. When we hiked this past weekend, we’d just had torrential rains the night before, so there were small ponds in the granite, teeming with life. I can just imagine how magnificent these ecosystems must be in Spring, and we’ll have to check that out. The are also some 30 miles or more of connected bike trails through this general area, known as the Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area, and we’ll be back there with our bikes in the Fall.

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Extreme panoramic view from the summit of Arabia Mountain.

Extreme panoramic view from the summit of Arabia Mountain.

Lastly, I’d like to thank everyone for their very kind comments about my header. While it does look quite tropical—and that’s what I was going for, being Summer—you might be interested to know that it is actually an un-retouched image of a cardinal flower in bloom in my front yard…next to a pine tree! Pretty cool, eh?

This is the most perfect looking frittata I've made to date!

This is the most perfect looking frittata I’ve made to date!

Corn Frittata with Pecorino-Romano Cheese (but I used Parmesan instead!)
Ever so slightly adapted from Cooking Light
Makes 4 servings

1 teaspoon olive oil
2 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels and their milk* (about 3 ears)
1/2 cup diced shallots
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 cup 1% low-fat milk
6 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup Parmigiano-reggiano cheese, grated
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Heat a medium oven proof skillet over medium high heat, I use my 10 inch cast iron skillet. Add the oil to the pan and swirl to coat. Add the corn and the shallots to the pan and cook 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in 1/4 teaspoon of the salt, 14/ teaspoon of the pepper and the smoked paprika. Place the corn mixture into a small bowl and set aside to cool for 5 minutes. Wipe our your skillet with a paper towel, and set aside for a moment.

Place the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, milk and eggs in a bowl and whisk to combine. Add the corn mixture to the egg mixture and stir to combine. Preheat the broiler to high.

Return the skillet to medium heat and add butter to the pan. Swirl until the butter melts. Add the egg mixture to the pan. Cook 1 minute without stirring. Gently slide the pan back and forth to keep eggs from sticking. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook 4 minutes longer or until eggs are set and golden on the bottom. Sprinkle cheese evenly over eggs. Broil 1 minute or until eggs are are just set on top and the cheese browns. Remove from the oven, slice into four pieces and serve with parsley sprinkled over and a little more paprika for garnish, if desired.

*After you have used the sharp side of your knife to cut fresh corn off the cob, use the flat side to scrape down the cob and get the sweet corn “milk” liquid to add to the kernels and cook as outlined. Very tasty.

 

Garden Tour Number 1, a Frittata and Some Mighty Tasty Green Beans

What an interesting Spring we have had thus far! It’s wafted from extremely cold to Summertime and back to Spring again, with periods of intense rain to take us out of our long draught conditions. By Tuesday it’s supposed to be 89 degrees here…what??? Today is another classic example of our recent pattern of rainy and stormy weekends. But after losing so much of my flowers to draught over these past few years, I will take the rain, thank you very much. It’s actually wonderful to see the rivers and lakes full once again.

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I’d promised you a garden tour and, in going through my images, I realized I actually have enough for 2-3 separate tours, so today’s will be an organized garden tour that I enjoyed taking with my mom a few weeks ago in my home town of Florence, Alabama. This one was sponsored by the local Master Gardener’s Association, and featured many types of gardens in the area including private walled gardens, country shade and forested gardens, river view gardens and city gardens. The day was overcast and cool, but it was still a wonderful tour, so put on your walking shoes and take a peek at the slideshow. This is my first attempt at the slideshow feature, and it’s not quite what I had in mind, but you can see the images…so we’ll just roll with it!

Frittata2

And what better dish to enjoy after a garden tour than a frittata? I say this because they are so quick to put together, great for breakfast, lunch or dinner and you can make one from ingredients you have on hand, both leftovers and fresh items from the garden! While I have shown you frittatas before (see here), this particular one was inspired by a recent post from Chicago John of the Bartolini Kitchens, where he shows you step by step how to make wonderful frittate. You can click the link and see his method and I know you’ll enjoy his blog as well. He’s a master of all things Italian in the cooking world and a true inspiration!

One of the things that struck me about John’s frittata-making was that he used a cast iron skillet to make them, which is a brilliant idea. Since one of my Christmas presents last year just happened to be a Lodge 10″ cast iron skillet—something I’d wanted forever—this seemed like a perfect thing to make in it. And as is so often the case for me, I had things to use up in the fridge, and that’s how this ham, potato, onion and tomato frittata came into being.

We enjoyed this with some roasted green beans. If you haven’t tried roasting green beans, your really missing something super easy and very special. Since we’ll soon be harvesting fresh green beans around here, the method below is perfect for a quick and delicious preparation.

When I say these are simple...I mean it!

When I say these are simple…I mean it!

I hope you all had a lovely weekend. Next post I’ll be back with more flowers, including some from my own garden and my mom’s, more food, as well as some ideas for the upcoming Memorial Day holiday weekend and the grilling season in general. Meanwhile, I hope you all have a great week.

Ham, Potato, Onion and Tomato Frittata
Serves 6

1 large sweet onion such as Vidalia or red, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
5 small Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1/2 inch chunks
1 1/2 Tablespoons olive oil and 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
7 ounces ham, cubed
1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
7 large eggs
12 fresh basil leaves coarsely chopped
3/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, finely grated
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Melt the butter and heat the oil together in a 10-inch cast iron or non-stick oven proof skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and saute for about 3 minutes, until they begin to soften and turn transparent. Add in the potatoes and cook, stirring frequently, until they become tender, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle the veggies with a pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Add in the ham and cook another 3 minutes, allowing it to brown and warm through. Add in the tomatoes and cook, stirring frequently, about 5 more minutes until the tomatoes soften.

While the tomatoes are softening in the skillet, crack your eggs into a medium-sized bowl and whisk to combine well. Add the basil and Parmigiano Reggiano, a good pinch of kosher salt and some freshly ground black pepper. Stir to combine. When the tomatoes are soft, pour the egg mixture evenly over the veggie and ham mixture in the skillet. Using your spoon, insert the end down towards the bottom of the pan in a few spots to allow the egg mixture to get through the veggies. Turn the heat to medium low and cook for about 5 minutes, until the eggs begin to set. Take off the stove and place the pan into the 350 degree oven and allow the eggs to cook through until the top of the frittata is set (no jiggling or visible liquid left) and very lightly golden browned on top, about 5 minutes. Remove from the oven. Allow it to sit about 5 minutes, then cut into 6 pieces and serve. Frittata can be served at room temperature or refrigerated and reheated in the microwave.

Roasted Green Beans
Serves about 4

1 lb. fresh green beans, rinsed well and trim both ends lightly
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, or to taste

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and place the trimmed green beans on it. Drizzle the olive oil over the beans, then salt and pepper and toss to coat. Place the beans in the oven and roast for 8 minutes. Shake the pan and stir the beans, then roast another 6 minutes or until the beans are tender and have begun to just brown. Remove from the oven and serve.