Hey, what’s this player doing here?! Click it to hear the author narrate this blog post.
You’ve probably seen a number of posts here that involve eggs. That is because I cook with a lot of fresh eggs. Super fresh and super local. I get them direct from my backyard chickens’ butts. My bathrobe pockets frequently contain Burt’s Bees shimmer chapstick, a kleenex or two, and an egg. And maybe a handful of tomatoes depending on the time of year.
This time of year I roam the garden with a pair of kitchen scissors so I can cut down my Swiss chard and any herbs that may require a trim. (Herbs like to be trimmed so I’m doing them a solid by packing my shears around the microfarm). Which leads us to today’s blog post, making a frittata with fresh ingredients.
You’ve read about the versatility of the frittata in an earlier post. If not, then you have time to do that now. Go ahead, I’ll wait.*
The frittata pictured up top of this post is finished with purple basil and chives. The base ingredients are eggs and Swiss chard. I start there with goodies I’ve gathered from the land I’m paying mortgage on. Then I build using stuff I have on hand. I usually have a variety of veggies and cheeses around. And of course my pantry includes Maldon sea salt flakes (add it to your specialty grocery list now). If you look closely you’ll see crystals nestled among the herbs topping the frittata. Those are yummy, yummy salt flakes.
The frittata also gets a swish of butter across the top once it’s out of the oven, before it’s cut. Just a little dab of organic butter adds to the yumminess factor. In “Julia’s Kitchen Wisdom,” Julia Child spears a lump of butter and brushes it over an omelet. Butter, in a word, is delicious.
Growing up in a family that always ate dinner meant always having stuff around to prepare dinner. Stuff that didn’t always get used up or eaten. Sometimes we’d have what my dad called a “refrigerator dinner.” Going out of town? Let’s eat what’s in the refrigerator. Don’t really need to go to the store? Let’s use up what’s in the refrigerator. Basically your meal is bound by whatever perishables you’ve got on hand. Enhancing with pantry items is allowed, but you’ve got to use whatever is in the refrigerator that you’d otherwise have to toss. You cannot go to the store!
The other night I didn’t want to go to the store. Let’s see what’s in the refrigerator: zucchini golden squash from my garden, chicken sausage–use it or freeze it, and rounding out our challenge down in the crisper, a bright bunch of sorrel I’d cut and washed earlier in the week.
Sundays are great. Wake up late. Drink coffee. Play with your chickens. Watch some of the LA Marathon on TV from the comfort of your air-conditioned home. Spend the day doing whatever you want. Maybe you’re hungry? Take an inventory of supplies, listen to some music in the kitchen, and 2-3 hours later you have lunch. Why not? This time of year there is that whole extra hour of light in the evening.
The actual day we spring forward is, for the record, my least favorite day of the year. I hate getting swindled out of that hour. (On the contrary, the day we fall back is my FAVORITE day of the year! I planned my wedding around it.) So, I don’t take extra time to make a leisurely lunch on that particular Sunday, since I’m instead resetting all of my clocks and meditating on my Waste Land-length rant about the loss of that hour.
I made lunch today, when I’d just about gotten over it.
My basil went a little nuts while I was on vacation. Shrouded in the unruly tomato brush it grew unsupervised for 10 days. (Tomatoes and basil make good garden companion plants.) The basil became so tall I only harvested the top half of the stalks. Herbs, I should mention, like to be cut. If you see flowers growing on your basil give the plant a nice trim. If you’re not ready to use your basil right away you can just pinch off the tops and get rid of those pretty flowers. Do this so that your herb will continue producing.
Fresh basil is a delightful addition to green salads, eggs, tomato dishes, and sauces. It has many practical applications. My favorite? Pesto. Mmm. Basil pesto is an easily prepared, uncooked sauce with many decadent applications. Love eggs? Scramble them with a little basil pesto. Top a nice fillet of wild caught salmon with pesto. Dollop pesto over a baked potato, stir it into some brown rice, or toss it with fettuccini. Continue reading Please pass the pesto→
What do you do when your garden has blessed you with pounds and pounds…and pounds of tomatoes, more than you can possibly eat? Gazpacho is one answer. Or you can share. But let’s start with gazpacho so you don’t have to. Well, not yet anyway. Not until garden production gets so out of control you dream you are a tomato and you’re going bad.
There are as many ways to make gazpacho as there are varieties of tomatoes. My Garden Fresh Gazpacho recipe calls for fresh, in season tomatoes. I don’t like commercial tomato juice and I find it an unnecessary addition under ideal tomato circumstances. Can’t grow ‘em? Can you make it to a farmers’ market? During the summer I hope you are surrounded by tomatoes.
My gazpacho is on the mild side. I prefer a balance of spice and flavor and avoid palette-crushing volumes of peppers, onions and garlic. I want to taste my damn tomatoes. If you prefer things a little closer to hellfire, then by all means, increase your favorite ingredients. Be sure to have a tall, icy, alcoholic beverage on hand to quench your hot self.
I peel and seed my tomatoes. This is the most labor-intensive part of gazpacho preparation. It sounds psychotically difficult, but it isn’t. Wear an apron.
My Garden Fresh Gazpacho recipe yields 4 servings. It’s a great starter or side dish to your grilled shrimp or fish. Serve it topped with fresh cilantro, avocado, and a turn of the sea salt grinder. If you’re serving this to others (you know, sharing) set out the hot sauce and your lucky guests can customize their experience. Some like it hot.
If tomatoes are in season you may want to opt for fresh over canned in recipes. And if you love tomatoes this is a great excuse to spend quality time with them. Wear an apron to protect your pretty dress from flying tomato chunks. If this is the first time you’re doing this your kitchen may end up looking like something out of the last scenes of Django Unchained. (Don’t know what I’m talking about? Go on YouTube and search for Django Unchanged shootout. WARNING: this is super duper violent so grab a stiff drink and your blanky.)