Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Why and How to Make Fabulous Frittatas?

If you don't cook or cook only a little, the word "frittata" can be intimidating. You may think you need a degree in culinary arts and fancy equipment in order to do it. This isn't true. A few eggs, leftovers, a skillet and fork are all you need for this dish, and you probably have these on hand.
What is a frittata?
It is an Italian-style omelet. Instead of folding the egg over, as you do with an ordinary omelet, it is flat. Once you've mastered the basic recipe you can make it your oww, and serve it for breakfast, lunch or dinner. I've served a warm artichoke and onion version as an appetizer.
In fact, I've made more frittatas than I can count, and have good reasons for making them. You may benefit from these reasons. Reason one: You get quick results. After you've gotten home you can have a meal on the table in about 25 minutes. Usually the dish is made in a skillet, but I use a pie plate and bake it like a quiche.
Reason two: It's a great way to use leftovers. Got leftover veggies in the fridge? Toss them in the frittata. Got leftover potatoes? Toss them in, too. Cookbook author Mark Bittman adds pre-cooked spaghetti, fettuccine, and other long pastas to his recipes. Bittman also adds cooked grains: wheat berries, quinoa, bulgar, faro, and buckwheat.
Reason three: Cooking experts and beginners can make this dish. You just need to be able to beat eggs with a fork or whisk, measure a few ingredients, and pour them into a skillet. Your version of this Italian classic may include meat, chicken, fish, vegetables, and orzo. How do you make a frittata?
1. Decide on the pan you will use. Options include a non-stick skillet, a well-seasoned cast iron skillet, pie pan, or indvidual tart pans. Nancy Silverton and Carolynn Carreno describe the egg dish in their article, "A Fresh Take on the Frittata," published in the "Los Angeles Times." The two ordered the dish at a London, England restaurant and when it came, they were astonished. Instead of a wedge, the dish was "a whole, round thing that covered the entire plate."
2. Use room temperature eggs. I don't know why, but room temperature eggs whip better and combine better with other ingredients.
3. Coat your pan with baking spray beforehand. I even do this with my cast iron skillet, to ensure the egg mixture won't stick. As the Easy Italian Cooking website notes in its article, "How to Make Frittatas," stainless steel pans work, but cast ion works better.
4. Omit pasta and potatoes if you are watching your carbs. Once the egg mixture and add-ins are combined, transfer the mixture to the pan, and turn down the heat. Cook for 10-15 minutes until the sides start to brown and the center is set.
5. Make the cheese decision. You may, or may not, have added cheese to your egg mixture. If you want to top the omelet with shredded cheese and broil it, make sure the pan will withstand high heat. Most will not, but cast iron will. Broil for about three minutes, just until the cheese starts to melt.
6. Find a basic recipe and follow it. For a complete meal, add a salad or fresh fruit and crusty bread. A glass of wine might be nice as well. Simple as it is, this is an elegant meal for anyone.

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