Monday, January 31, 2011

Bacon and Cheddar Frittata, or What to Eat When the Cupboards Are Bare

Let's face it.  January is a tough month.  Endlessly dark and cold, it's a bit of a let down after all of the holiday hoopla.  And the bills.  Oh the bills.  The come in, usually on a day you wish you'd stayed in bed anyway.  I was pretty good on not over doing it this year.  Gifts were bought on budget, grocery bill kept in check.  But then I saw the boots.  I was among the masses on boxing day, looking for a great deal on boots.  And I hit the black boot jackpot:  sexy, comfortable, and warm.  Toss in the fact that they were 50% off and it was a done deal. I was on  tough budget for January!  Well so be it. Finding a great pair of boots is akin to having a pair of jeans that makes your  butt look fabulous, a good lip gloss and a great hair cut. These are things a girl does not want to do without.  Especially in January. 

With the end of the month approaching, and the cupboards a wee bit bare, I made frittata.  As long as you have a few eggs, you have dinner.  I love frittata with leftover cooked potatoes and ham, and any sort of cheese. Old cheddar or Gruyere are terrific. The possibilities are endless: potato and leek; ham and zucchini; sausage and mushroom.  I especially love tossing on chopped tomatoes at the last minute, but this day all I had was leftover spaghetti, some cooked bacon and cheddar. And it was fabulous.  Make yourself a good cup of coffee, and before you know it, January will be over.  

Bacon and Cheddar Frittata

1 tbsp. olive oil or butter
1 small white onion, chopped
1 cup cooked spaghetti or linguine or cooked potato
coarse salt and pepper
4 strips of cooked bacon, or a bit of ham or sausage, chopped
4 eggs lightly beaten
1/2 cup old cheddar cheese, grated
diced tomatoes (optional)

Preheat oven to broil. 
In an oven proof skillet heat oil over medium high heat.  Add the onions and saute a few minutes.  Toss in the spaghetti, stir in salt and pepper.  Cook a minute or two.  Add your chopped bacon, stir around.  Pour in your egg mixture, and cook as you would scrambled eggs or omelet, stirring gently, and pulling the eggs away from the sides of the pan.  Once it is almost set, top with your grated cheese, and tomatoes if you are using. Put the pan under the broiler and keep an eye on it - 3 minutes is usually enough, or until the cheese is golden.  Carefully take it out of the oven and let it sit for a minute.  Cut the fritatta into wedges. Serves 2-3.  Perfect for breakfast, lunch or dinner!  ( Recipe adapted from "Everyday Food".)

Monday, January 24, 2011

Comfort Me With Gingerbread Waffles and Caramelized Pears

Welcome to my very first blog entry! 
While I am a professionally trained chef, cooking in various kitchens for the past 12 years, I won't be writing about work.  Instead this will be ramblings and musings about food ~ what I like to eat and cook and grow when I am at home in my little green kitchen.   My garden is a huge inspiration to me, and though currently snow covered, it is never far from my mind!
   Living in Saskatoon, the winters are long, and ever so cold.  Right now January is calling out for comfort.  "Comfort me with waffles!" it is saying.  And so I do. I adore breakfast, especially on long lazy weekend mornings.  Growing up, my Mom made the best Sunday brunches.  We would stumble down the stairs, bleary eyed, but perk up at her pancakes and bacon and hash browns. But my Mom's  waffles are the stuff of legend, and still one of my favourites at her house.  Wanting to treat her,  I initially made these waffles for my Mom and I on a snowy morning in December, and they were delicious!  However, I had gathered all of the dry ingredients together, but alas was completely out of ground ginger!  Must have used it up in my gingerbread cookie dough.  Silly me.

  With a full jar of ginger, I set out to make these again.  And perfect timing too because I had a few ripe pears in the fridge, waiting to be used up.  The pear, to me, is the perfect fruit. I love the shape and the scent and the sweetness.  In fact, if I were to ever get a tattoo, it would be that of a pear, somewhere. Pears are what I remember eating as a kid, while riding with my mom in the grain truck, as my dad was combining the wheat that harvest.  Pears are what a really cute boy I used to work with many years ago would bring me, as a token of his fondness.  Things didn't work out with the boy, (in my case they seldom do!) but my fondness for pears lives on.  Funny thing how one sniff takes you back to when you were 5 or 25.

Gingerbread Waffles with Caramelized Pears

2 Cups all purpose flour
1 Cup whole wheat flour
1/2 Cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
11/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
11/2 tsp each ground cinnamon and ginger
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves
4 Eggs
1 Cup cold coffee
1/2 Cup melted butter
1 Cup buttermilk

Makes about 8-10 waffles

Preheat your waffle iron.  Be sure to lightly oil it.  In a large mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients.  In a separate mixing bowl, beat the eggs, then whip in the rest of the wet ingredients.  Fold the wet ingredients into the dry, being sure not too over mix or your batter will not be so supple!  If the batter seems too thick, go ahead and fold in a bit more buttermilk.  And be sure to use buttermilk.  Not yogurt or regular milk.  Buttermilk makes all batters really tender, and not heavy like yogurt.  Let your batter sit for 15 minutes while you prep your pears.

Slice 4 medium, ripe, pears, of any variety.  You can peel them if you like, but I typically don't.  Who doesn't need more fiber?!!!  Melt about 3 tablespoons of butter in a frying pan.  Once nice and bubbly, toss in your pears, and gently stir around.  Sprinkle about 3 tablespoons of brown sugar over the pears, and give a nice gentle stir, over medium high heat.  You want them to be soft and golden, but not soggy. 5 minutes should do it.  Your batter is ready to be made into waffles by now.  Preheat your oven to about 200 degrees, to keep some waffles warm while you finish cooking the rest.  Or serve them immediately. Up to you.  Top with the caramelized pears, and more maple syrup (the real stuff, please) if you like.  And butter!  For the people who really want to impress, add a dollop of whipped cream.  Now that is a breakfast!

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