Breakfast Frittata

Shrimp frittata with peppers, onion, zuccini, chevre and fried baked potatoes on top

If you’ve never had a frittata, I’m going to recommend you try one. They’re very easy to make and delightfully flexible. I go through periods where I want seafood, other times when my preference is for breakfast-y stuff.

Today my frittata had sausage, bacon, Danish Havarti, chevre, zucchini, onion and asparagus. Oh, and hash browns on top though next time I might try potatoes O’Brien instead. The pictured frittata has rounds of baked potato

Frittatas aren’t fast food, but they are quality food and can be as simple or complicated as you choose with everything you need in a single dish.

To make a frittata, prepare the filling. For delicate seafood you can choose to lightly precook or not as you choose. If you don’t precook the seafood, make sure you bake it long enough to completely cook it and expect the result to be a little moister than using precooked seafood (drain it before you put it on the plate).

Prepare your meat. If you’re using anything except seafood, precook. If I’m having both sausage and bacon I will cut them up reasonably small and cook them in the same pan until done. Saute the vegetables in butter until tender. I cut my zuccini in small (smaller than 1/4″) cubes, fine-dice the onions and cut the asparagus in small rounds (1/8″ cuts). If you find you like bigger pieces of vegetables, you have the freedom to make it your style. I’ve used peppers (I didn’t today because I’m out), broccoli, cauliflower, carrots (not the best), red and green peppers and mushrooms (not today, I’m out).

If you’re making a single serving frittata, use one or two eggs. Beat them a bit and add your cheese and sauteed meat and veges. Pour the mixture into a small (6″) frying pan that’s been heated and buttered. If you’re adding hash brown, sprinkle the cooked hash browns over the top. Pop it in your over (or toaster over) at between 325 and 350. How done you would like it is totally up to you. You can cook it just until the egg is set or you can cook it until it’s brown on top. Instead of hashbrowns you can add cheese. Or tomato. Or . . . This is a dish that never has to be the same twice and it’s easily delicious.

I think I’d better go shopping. I’m out of a lot of things . . .

Seafood Bouillabaisse Redeux

Months ago I made seafood bouillabaisse a la Julia Childs.  The leftovers were frozen in two-person sized lots for later use.  I’ve managed to put them to very good use.  I’m making seafood chowder using the frozen stock.

This one is really easy, but it does require some basic cooking skills.  Other than making sure the seafood is ready to add, the rest of the work is chop as you go.

In a sauce pan on medium heat, melt 2 tbsp butter.  Chopped three slices of bacon and add it to the pan.  While that’s cooking, dice a quarter of a large onion.  Before adding it to the sauce pan, stir the pan’s contents.  Layer the onion over the top and do not stir it in.

Chop 1/4 each of a red and a green bell pepper.  Before adding these to the sauce pan, stir the pan’s contents.  Layer the peppers over the top and do not stir them in.

Grate two well washed medium carrots, skin on (remove both ends).  Before adding the grated carrots to the sauce pan, stir the contents.  Layer the carrot over the top and do not stir.

Grate two smallish well washed yukon gold potatoes, skin on.  Knife off any bits whose look you don’t like before grating.  Before adding the grated potato to the sauce pan, stir the contents.  Layer the potato over the top and do not stir.

If you have frozen bouillabaisse, plonk the frozen lump down on top the grated potatoes and put a cover on the pan.  Turn the heat down just a little and keep an eye on the liquid level in the pan as the bouillabaisse melts.  You’ll want to pull the still frozen lump out when the liquid level reaches the right height (visible but not covering all the contents.  Stuff the remaining frozen lump in its container and stick it back in the freezer for your next foray into seafood chowder.  If you don’t have frozen bouillabaisse to add, use Kitchen Basic unsalted seafood stock.

This is the point where you will need to add tomatoes if you’re going to.  Adding tomatoes is completely optional.  You don’t want a lot of tomato, just enough to brighten the flavor.  Two smallish tomatoes or one large tomato should be adequate.  Remove the skin and chop.  Stir into the contents of the sauce pan.

It shouldn’t take very long for the potatoes and tomatoes to cook.  You’ll need to add your seafood shortly. Once you add the seafood, stir it as little as possible.  The more you stir the more you’ll break up the seafood.

Here’s the scoop on choosing seafood for this recipe.  You can add almost anything.  I bought a 16 ounce package of mixed seafood on sale ($1.99) at the market a couple weeks ago.  It had squid, cod, octopus, shell-less clams and muscles as well as some fake crab (which I chose not to use).  Half the mix, with the judicious addition of a dozen shrimp and a dozen small bay scallops, made an awesome batch of seafood chowder.

You can use salmon.  You wouldn’t think to use salmon in a chowder but it’s truly excellent.  Whatever fish you use, make sure you debone it.  You can use whole clams and mussels (well washed) as part of the mix.  I usually have  frozen tilapia on hand.  I cut the fillets across into 1″ strips and add with shrimp and scallops.  Whatever you decide to use, use a variety and add enough to make it a hearty seafood stew.

Here’s the bit on adding the seafood to the recipe.  Once all the veges are cooked through, you want to stir in the thawed and/or fresh seafood.  Turn off the heat, cover it and let it sit for about 20 minutes.  The residual heat will cook the seafood through without overcooking it.  Overcooked octopus is like chewing on rubber.  Correctly cooked octopus is delicious.  Some seafood loses it’s texture when overcooked, becoming mushy.

At the end of the 20 minutes, stir in up to two cups of milk.  I used almond milk, but whole or 2% milk works great as well.  Fold the milk in very gently and only add as much as you think you want.  Adding cold milk stops the cooking process to ensure the seafood isn’t overcooked.  Be careful stirring.  You don’t want to break up the pieces of fish.

This seafood chowder recipe, depending on how much seafood you add, will give five or six people a nice sized bowl.