Thursday, April 17, 2014

Easter or Mother's Day Frittata

Making an frittata is a lot like making and open faced omelet. Making a frittata is not as difficult as it seams. The key is to beat a lot of air into your eggs so that when the frittata is cooked it will be fluffier and taller than an omelet. The difference is that making a frittata often involves starting it in a skillet and finishing it in the oven, although it can be done on the stove top as well. . Ideally you will need an oven proof non-stick skillet.
Six farm fresh eggs
Deciding on what fillings to use in your frittata is also important, since these will be added in with the uncooked eggs. When making an omelet optional ingredients are added to the partially cooked omelet and before folding it over. 
Beaten until really fluffy
Prepping all of your frittata ingredients (mise en place) is essential before starting your frittata. If the ingredients that you're adding to the uncooked eggs are cold, you're going to heat them up or saute them before starting your eggs. 
Green peppers chopped
I really like cooked onions with my eggs. So I think I dice them up as well.
Chopped onions
Grate some cheese
Maybe some Swiss cheese is needed
Saute some green peppers and onions
Do you like mushrooms?
Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of oil to the non-stick skillet and heat it over moderate heat until hot and shimmering. Pour in your sauteed ingredients into the hot skillet and heat
Last minute call, add chopped and drained tomatoes

Pour the egg mixture over the ingredients until well mixed. Lower the heat to medium and cook it over moderately low heat until the bottom side is golden brown and set. 
Waiting to set up
Sprinkle with half of the cheese
Oven Method: When the edges are set and the bottom is golden brown and firm place the pan into the broiler. When the top is set and golden sprinkle with the remaining cheese and return to the broiler. When the cheese is melted and turning golden brown remove the pan from the oven and let sit for a couple of minutes before cutting. Serve immediately.
Looks good doesn't it?
Stove top Method:  Invert a plate over the skillet and flip the frittata onto the plate. Add another tablespoon of oil to the skillet and slide the frittata back in, uncooked side down. Sprinkle the top with cheese and cover with a lid. Cook until the cheese is melted and completely set. Transfer to a plate and cut into wedges. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.
Where did I put that knife?

You can almost anything to your frittata. How about a breakfast sausage, Gouda, and brie cheese frittata?
I'm in the mood for sausage, gouda, and brie cheese
Ready to serve
© TMelle 2014

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Strata Overnight Breakfast Casserole

Several years ago I discovered overnight casseroles. What I didn't know was that they are sometimes called a strata. The concept of an overnight breakfast is brilliant. You assemble them the day or night before you need them and then refrigerate overnight. The next morning you place the strata into a preheated oven, set the timer and bake the strata for about an hour while you take a shower, get dressed, relax or read a newspaper. This is great when you have overnight guests or your family over for breakfast, or brunch.
Melt the butter and mix in brown sugar and corn syrup
One year for Mother's Day our families gathered at my mother's house to enjoy a brunch consisting of quiche and a strata. My sister made a speckled egg bake which was a big hit too. It was probably the easiest brunch we've ever served.
Make sure the brown sugar is dissolved

If you’re not a morning person, you’re going to love this recipe. Just put it together before going to bed. After assembling it, cover it with plastic wrap and put it into the refrigerator, clean your dirty dishes and go to bed.
Pour syrup mixture into a greased 9"x13 inch pan
In the morning when you get up preheat the oven to 350°F. Start your coffee and when the oven temperature reaches 350°F. remove the plastic wrap and place the strata into the oven. Take a long shower, enjoy a cup of coffee and in about 60 minutes your breakfast will be ready to serve. Here's how to make it.
Arrange apple slices on the syrup base
Overnight French Toast Strata 
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 tbsp. corn syrup
2 whole apples, thinly sliced

1 loaf Italian bread, sliced
6 whole eggs, beaten
1-1/2 cups milk
1 tsp. real vanilla extract

1 tsp cinnamon
as needed, cooking spray
Beat together eggs, milk, vanilla and cinnamon
Melt butter in a sauce pan. Once melted add the corn syrup and brown sugar and bring to a boil. Pour this mixture into a lightly greased 9”x13” casserole dish. Lay the apple slices over the syrup and then lay in the overlapping bread slices over the apples. Mix together the eggs, milk, vanilla, cinnamon, and pour over the bread slices. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight.

Arrange bread slices over apples
Pour egg mixture over the bread slices
Remove strata from refrigerator and allow to sit while preheating the oven to 350°F. Remove the plastic wrap and place the uncovered strata into the oven and bake for 50 - 60 minutes depending on the accuracy of your oven.
Strata baked and out of the oven

To check if the strata is fully cooked insert a knife in the center. When it comes out clean, the French toast strata is done. Cut and serve immediately. This strata is similar to a bread pudding, a lot like French toast, and if you put some chopped pecans on the top it may remind you of a taffy apple. This is just one of the many strata or overnight casserole recipes available. There are many others available on the internet. 
Serve the overnight French toast strata
Maybe you prefer a blueberry French toast strata
The breakfast bake possibilities are endless and limited only by your imagination. If you have an overnight casserole, strata, quiche, or frittata recipe and would like to share it, please attach it to the comments section below. If you have any suggestions about future posts for the summer. let me know that too.
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Next up pan-fried and oven baked frittata
Send in your favorite frittata recipe.  
© TMelle 2014

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Bacon, Bacon, Bacon!

Slab of bacon
Bacon, bacon, bacon! Who doesn’t like bacon? Some like it cooked easy, some like it cooked medium, and some like it extra crispy. In a modern home kitchen cooking bacon can and often is a challenge. Cooking bacon in a round pan is a lot like pushing a round peg through a square hole. The problem is that they just don’t make a bacon pan. 
Cut bacon to fit
When I was a much younger man I worked as a short order cook. The flat top grill was the perfect medium to cook bacon, eggs, hash browns, hamburgers  and anything else.  Place the bacon slices on the grill, place a cast iron bacon press on the bacon and cook side one. Remove the press, flip the bacon and cook side two. Drop your eggs into egg rings while side two of the bacon is cooking.
Cooking in egg rings

Move the bacon to the plate and add the cooked eggs. You can pick up a bacon press and egg ring set a Target™ for about $10.00. Pop a couple of slices of bread into the toaster and you’re ready to make your own bacon and egg breakfast sandwich.
You just can't get this at a fast food joint
Let’s face it cooking bacon on a stove top in a pan can be messy. Not to mention dangerous. How many times have you attempted to turn a piece of bacon over at the exact moment it decides to shoot off a bacon flare? That really hurts. Doesn’t it? My wife bought several stainless steel splatter shields for the different sized round pans that we use. While they do work great for containing most of the grease and splatter, cleaning them when you are finished should be done immediately before the grease cools. My wife uses a vegetable brush to clean the screen. These splatter shields are about $8-$10 depending on the size.
Bacon on cooling rack
One day while watching a show on television I learned about cooking bacon in the oven. My first though was that the oven would contain the splattering to a small area in the oven leaving a major oven cleaning to add to my things-to-do list. You have to understand that my oven is only two years old and is still in pristine condition. Would I allow it to be violated like that? I will place a sheet pan under a casserole just in case it bubbles over to avoid cleaning the oven later. I’d rather clean a sheet pan than clean the oven any day. I just had to try it. 
Do not preheat your oven! The first step is to line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil to make cleaning the pan easier. So far so good, I thought. The next step is to arrange the slices of bacon neatly on the aluminum foil. This beats putting long bacon slices into a small round pan. Next place the baking sheet on the center rack of the cold oven. Close oven door and turn the oven to  400°F. That’s it. You’ve got about 15-20 minutes to kill depending on how fast your oven reaches 400°F. You can also use a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and fitted with a cooling rack. Either way works. 
It's done
Don’t peek before 15 minutes is up. The anticipation was killing me. It's done when the bacon is golden brown and not too crisp. The exact time depends on how thick the bacon is, the accuracy of your oven temperature, and how crispy you like your bacon cooked. It seemed that when I checked the bacon after 15 minutes it was not done. It changes from almost done to perfectly cooked rapidly so keep your eye on it so it doesn't burn. 
Remove the pan from the oven. Immediately transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels to stop the cooking process and absorb the grease, aka. fat.  When the bacon fat has cooled and hardened, simply roll up the foil and discard. Or....pour the bacon grease from the foil lined sheet pan into a ramekin fitted with a strainer and discard the dirty foil. What you do with the bacon grease is up to you.We like using it to cook campfire eggs.
Spoon baste eggs with bacon grease
Now here’s the part I love and why I save the bacon fat. My dad, a WWII Army vet, taught me to make campfire eggs when I was a Boy Scout. When camping in the wild butter is not often not packed available so we relied on bacon grease instead. To make campfire eggs after frying the bacon cook the eggs in the bacon grease. He also taught me a very bad habit. When the bacon grease is hot he would tear off a piece of bread and dip it in the hot bacon grease before eating it. The cook's share is what it's called.
The cooks share

My day said it makes your hair shiny. When the egg is cooking, tilt the pan and spoon the hot grease over the top of the eggs. As the yolk turns white continue spooning until the egg is cooked to your liking.
Just how I like them
No flipping of the eggs is necessary. The bacon flavored campfire eggs is incredible and a welcome cooking method for people who are lactose intolerant.
Mirepoix Rack
Strained bacon can be stored in the refrigerator for months and used for a spinach salad, German potato salad, greasing a quiche or cornbread pan, pan frying fried potatoes, or left-over kartoffelklösse
Pan fried kartoffelklösse
(like that ever happens), sauteing a mirepoix (celery, onions, and carrots), or the holy trinity (onions, celery, and bell peppers). The uses are endless.     

© TMelle 2014