Monthly Archives: June 2009

Fridge Frittata

First off – go see Food, Inc. I’ve read the books, I volunteer at the Ferry Building, I shop at Farmer’s Markets whenever I can.  But this movie, even for the most food-enlightened, is a huge wake up call.  We truly are what we eat and our food industry is the cornerstone of our community’s and our world’s health, social, and environmental issues.

So I have to say, after I left the movie, I was glad to know that my fridge was full of locally produced, seasonal ingredients – all of which needed to be eaten right away if I was going to keep them from ending up in my compost bin. And yes, that was probably the most typical Northern Californian sentence I have ever written – sorry I’m not sorry.

My refrigerator had the following items to work with:

chard (grown from my own potted garden)

heirloom tomatoes (from my monthly Farm Fresh To You delivery- thank you Capay Farms)

potatoes

eggplant

half of a red onion (woopsies…a few weeks old)

one slice of Heidi’s Hens no-salt turkey breast

and two eggs

What do you get when you combine all of those ingredients?

A delicious, oven-baked dinner frittata! Here’s how:

1. Set oven to 360 degrees.

2. Heat oil in a pan.  When hot add diced red onion and cook until translucent.  I was low on olive oil and added a few dashes of champagne vinegar to help deglaze the pan and add some extra moisture to cook the onions. When softened and clearer in color, transfer onions to a bowl.

3. Slice one small eggplant into half-inch disks and wrap in paper towels.  Find something heavy – I used a cutting board and a potted plant on top – to squish the water out of the eggplants.  Most people sprinkle eggplants with salt to get out the extra moisture but this is my sodium-safe trick. It will allow you to brown the little nuggets more easily.

3. Add more oil to pan and reheat.  When hot, add diced potatoes and eggplant and sauté until brown (because they are small, this should take about 5-10 min).  I added a little curry powder and red wine towards the end to add some extra flavor. When cooked, take out potatoes and eggplant and put in bowl with onions.

4. Add oil to pan again and reheat. Take off stems of chard (keeping them on is also completely OK – they will soften in the oven – just dice more finely to help cooking process) and chop the chard into bite sized bits. Throw into hot pan for 3 min or so. I added some no-sodium mustard and a few dashes of balsamic vinegar towards the end.

5. In an oven safe dish, coat bottom with oil or salt-free (sweet) butter and add the onion, eggplant, potato mixture.

6. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs. I added some white pepper, cumin, and a little water and red wine.

7. Pour egg mixture over onion, eggplant, potato-ness.

8. Cover the top of onion, eggplant, potato, and now egg-ness with your softened chard – building a top layer.

9. Slice one heirloom tomato into 1/4 inch or smaller rounds.

10. Put tomato rounds on top of the chard and sprinkle some black pepper on top.

11. Bake in oven for 30 min (or until all egg is cooked).

12. Put under broiler on high for 2-3 minutes to crisp the chard and tomatoes.

13. Invite friends over to marvel your ingenious fridge-spiration…or eat it all yourself. This recipe will feed 2-4 and although the picture is a bit hideous, it is really delicious and works with any veggie combination!

And the next day…I used the leftover eggplant to make EGGPLANT CHILI!  Sounds weird but seriously good.

I cubed the eggplant – mimicking chunks of meat – and used all my other standard chili ingredients: tomatoes, black beans, peppers, cumin, cayenne pepper, a pinch of oregano, and paprika. After little it simmer for an hour, I topped it off with some arugula and avacado and even used some really old Matzoh crackers for dipping.  It tasted chili-tastic and was full of good, healthy things.

This seemed a little bit daring but I am glad I tried it and was successful in heroically saving the food in my fridge from going unused and transfered it safely to my belly.  All in a day’s work.

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Beefcakes

Just a quick warning – the beginning of this story is sodium-heavy – but, I promise that the ending holds a savory surprise.

For the Boy’s birthday, I decided to dive into a baking adventure and make MEAT CUPCAKES – inspired by my friend Gina’s meat cookies and Mei’s salmon cupcakes.  So, at five a.m., I rolled out of bed to begin creating two delicious bite-sized tins of celebratory meat muffins: a bacon, beer, & chive cupcake with blue cheese “frosting” and a fig and prosciutto cupcake with goat cheese “frosting.” I did not intend on making these sodium-girl friendly, but I soon realized that I had stumbled upon a new flavor-saving discovery.

As I was kneading and measuring and sprinkling and whisking, I was enjoying the delicious aroma’s of the bacon sizzling in my cast-iron griddle (okay, it was a teflon pan, but I think the image is nice). I found myself thinking, wouldn’t it be nice to have just one slice of bacon? But by definition, bacon is a long strip of meat from the back, side, or belly of a pig that has has been cured, smoked, and brined to perfection – which also translates to mean “high in sodium.” I’ve considered making my own bacon – i.e. buying strips of pure pork from the butcher – but somehow, I just didn’t think it would taste the same.  But my, how did I misjudge the situation.

Out of curiosity, or maybe torture, I flipped the package of bacon over to the list of ingredients. And low and behold the angels did sing – 75mg of sodium per serving / 2 slices of bacon. Whaaat? Did I read that correctly? Yes, 75mg of sodium per serving! To put this in a more palatable context – two slices of pork heaven equals one egg. A completely safe and kidney-friendly amount if you are craving a bacon fix.  Clearly, this is not an every-day diet item (for people with or without kidney problems). But if that pasta needs an extra hint of something naughty and crunchy or that piece of halibut could use a nice pork belt, then you have found the ingredient.

So, what kind of magical bacon product had I come upon? Turns out, Whole Foods’s 365 brand makes uncured bacon with a very low amount of sodium.  There are even internet rumors that they make a uncured turkey bacon with 0mg sodium – but I will need to do more detective work to verify.

To make the bacon flavor rival that of its cured / brined / smoked siblings, I sprinkled smoked paprika and a little cumin on the suckers before throwing them into the frying pan.  None of my blind tasters had any idea that their bacon cupcakes lacked its most recognizable ingredient.  On that point – smoked paprika is a wonderful substitution for adding a richer, “cured” flavor to any of your meat dishes.  You can also buy liquid smoke or hickory flavoring to add a grilled taste without the grill – but there does seem to be some concern with the safety of using liquid smoke, so use sparingly and maybe stick to the smoked paprika for now!

And now another close up of the beauties and the official beef cake recipes, with sodium-free substitutions:

Cupcake base

Mix the following dry ingredients:

– 2 cups of flour

– 2 teaspoons of baking powder

– 1/4 teaspoon salt

– 1/4 cup brown sugar

Add Wet Ingredients:

1 cup softened/melted butter

4 eggs beaten

I halved the above cupcake base into two separate bowls and then added the following ingredients:

Bacon, Beer, Chive Cupcake

1/2 cup of pale ale

Cut chives

1 whole package of bacon

– fried in pan with cumin, smoked paprika, and ancho chile poweder

– when cooled, crumbled and thrown into the oven for some extra crisp


Prosciutto and Fig

one package of prosciutto

one jar of fig jam

Baking

line mini muffin tin (should make around 30) and fill 3/4 of each tin with batter

bake at 375 for 25 min

let cool at room temp for 30 min

Frosting

For the bacon beef cake:

– mix mild blue cheese with some creme fraiche and spoon into a ziplock bag

– cut tip of edge and pipe onto cupcake

– sprinkle bacon and chive bits

For the prosciutto beef cake:

– mix goat cheese (herbed or plain) with some creme fraiche and spoon into a ziplock bag

– cut tip of edge and pipe onto cupcake

– cut bits of dried fig and make rosettes with prosciutto slices

For a sodium free version:


– Use the uncured bacon

– substitute Mascarpone for the cheese and add more herbs to increase flavor

– still working on a no-sodium prosciutto…but that may just have to be a fig cupcake…

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