Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Master Recipe: Never-the-Same-Twice Vegetable Frittata

The Recipe: An easy-easy frittata, a protein-packed egg dish for breakfast or a light lunch or supper. Most frittatas contain little to no milk, here the eggs are mixed with lots of milk, this result is a soft and silky quiche-like custard that envelops the vegetables and pockets of warm cheese. This is one you'll make again and again!

The Conversation: I just "knew" I should love both frittatas and Donna Hay. But it took this special frittata recipe to make it happen.

Never-the-Same-Twice Frittata, a Master Recipe ♥ KitchenParade.com. Silky custard + fresh or leftover veggies + pockets of warm cheese. Low Carb. Low Cal. High Protein. WW4.
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First Thing. By all rights, I should have long loved a frittata. Pronounced [free-TAH-tah], it's an Italian egg dish, endlessly variable. Think open-faced omelette or crustless quiche. Heaven knows, a frittata should be my kinda food.

But until now, I found frittatas too dense, too tough, too, I dunno – call it too eggy?

Second Thing. By all rights, I should have long loved Donna Hay too. With a magazine, cookbooks, television, branded products and more, Donna Hay is Australia's Martha Stewart. Foodwise, think fast, fresh and simple but stylish food. Heaven knows, Donna Hay's recipes should be right up my alley.

But until now, her recipes just didn't grab me.

But never say never and never give up. I like to sit with a cookbook – old, new, it doesn't seem to matter – to really study it, to absorb it, to consume it, to "get" it, to learn it. I thumb through page by page, all-the-while talking to myself. "Hmm, how would this work?" "Where in heck do you buy lemongrass?" "Oh wow, I love this idea!"

A year ago, I walked through Donna Hay's Fresh and Light. I paged and paged. At first, nothing appealed. At first, nothing synched with my fridge and my tastebuds.

And then, and then and THEN! I stopped hard at "Basic Frittata" – instantly recognizing that this recipe was different, r-e-a-l-l-y different, from other frittata recipes. It called for milk, not just a tablespoon or two but a whole cup and a half. I began to imagine a tender, delicate frittata. That minute? I moved to the kitchen.

And so this is how I've made frittatas ever since, never the same twice except for the signature texture, a soft and silky quiche-like custard that envelops vegetables and bits of cheese and quivers on the plate but still holds together.

MEMORABLE FRITTATAS So after nearly a dozen frittatas in the last year, all were excellent but some versions remain especially memorable.
ASPARAGUS FRITTATA (pictured) Great for spring, for this frittata, I sautéed thin (not fat) asparagus spears but left the tips uncooked, this made for nice texture contrast.
LEFTOVER SALAD FRITTATA Call me surprised that salad left over from the night before works so well in morning frittata, even if it's got fruit in it! If the leftover salad is "dressed," you can even skip the tablespoon of oil for sautéeing!
SPINACH FRITTATA Instead of cheese, use a little Winter Pesto that's made with spinach or cut piles of fresh spinach into ribbons before sautéing and top with grated cotija.
SALMON FRITTATA Use up bits of smoked salmon in your frittata, either hot-smoked or gravlax. Dreamy good!

ALANNA's TIPS I've had good luck with 2% milk too. But do know that the frittata is extra-delicate and doesn't really come out of the pan in nice wedges. And coconut milk? It works too! All that said, my personal preference is whole milk. Cottage cheese is such a great source of protein and it melts right into the frittata, you don't even know it's there. (That's a good thing for people with cottage cheese texture issues.) If you're using fresh vegetables, make sure they're cooked as much as you want them to be, they won't really cook anymore, even in the broiler. It helps to use soft vegetables like tomatoes or zucchini or to make the vegetable pieces really small, as if for a breakfast hash. I especially like to use slices of fresh cheese – goat cheese or fresh mozzarella – for pockets of warm, melty cheese. If there's just one dieter in the household, it's easy enough leave just one or two wedges cheese-free. During the last ten minutes, there's plenty of time to refresh the coffee, grab the newspaper from the front step, fry a little bread or make toast, cut up some fruit.

MASTER RECIPE:
NEVER-THE-SAME-TWICE FRITTATA

Real Food. Vegetarian. Low Cal. Low Carb. Weight Watchers Friendly. Gluten Free.
Hands-on time: 20 minutes
Time to table: 20
Serves 4
    EGG MIXTURE
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 tablespoon good mustard
  • 1-1/2 cups (350g) whole milk
  • 1/2 cup (112g) low-fat cottage cheese, optional
  • Salt & pepper to taste (don't skip, don't skimp!)
    VEGETABLES
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or clarified butter
  • 2 cups (or less, to taste) vegetables, either leftover cooked vegetables ~OR~ fresh chopped vegetables
  • Fresh herbs, optional
  • Salt & pepper to taste, if needed
  • Egg Mixture
  • 1/2 cup (45g) grated cheese or 4 slices cheese

Turn on the broiler, place a rack right below the broiler.

EGG MIXTURE In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs, whites and mustard until completely mixed. If using, whisk in the cottage cheese. A quarter cup at a time at first, whisk in the milk. Set the Egg Mixture aside while the vegetables cook.

VEGETABLES Heat a non-stick or well-seasoned skillet on medium high, add oil and let heat until shimmery. Stir in the vegetables. If they're already cooked, just warm them through, they won't likely need any additional seasoning. If they're not yet cooked, sauté until done, be sure to season while cooking.

START ON THE STOVETOP Reduce heat to medium low, this is really important, otherwise the eggs will cook too fast and turn tough. Gently pour the Egg Mixture over the vegetables, then sprinkle the cheese on top or nestle cheese slices into the vegetables. Without stirring, let the frittata cook for 3 minutes, the edges will just be starting to round off and set a bit, a few lava-like bubbles are fine but do keep the temperature low.

FINISH UNDER THE BROILER Carefully move the skillet under the broiler and broil for 5 minutes or until the outer areas are set but the center is still a little big jiggly.

LET REST Remove from broiler and let rest for 5 minutes.

Cut the frittata into wedges and serve.

Frittata wedges refrigerate well for two or three days, they're even quite good cold!

NUTRITION INFORMATION
1) Just the frittata itself, excluding the oil and vegetables which will vary from one frittata to the next, Per Serving: 179 Calories; 10g Tot Fat; 5g Sat Fat; 231mg Cholesterol; 345mg Sodium; 5g Carb; 0g Fiber; 5g Sugar; 13g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS POINTS WW Old Points 4 & WW Points Plus 4.
2) Including 2 cups mixed vegetables, just for a quick estimate, Per Serving: 219 Calories; 14g Tot Fat; 6g Sat Fat; 231mg Cholesterol; 354mg Sodium; 7g Carb; 1g Fiber; 6g Sugar; 14g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS POINTS WW Old Points 5 & WW Points Plus 5.
3) Including 2 cups mixed vegetables + cottage cheese, Per Serving: 237 Calories; 14g Tot Fat; 6g Sat Fat; 232mg Cholesterol; 466mg Sodium; 7g Carb; 1g Fiber; 7g Sugar; 18g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS POINTS WW Old Points 6 & WW Points Plus 6.
Adapted from Fresh and Light by Donna Hay. DISCLOSURE Many thanks to Tracy Diamond and Harper Collins for a complimentary copy of Fresh and Light. My Disclosure Promise I watch the used-book prices on Amazon and have learned that when the going used price for a cookbook stays close to its retail price, it means people are hanging onto their copies. Time will tell, but right now the used and new prices for Fresh and Light are neck 'n' neck. A year ago, I went crazy for Donna Hay's Basic Frittata but now I've marked another couple of dozen recipes that really appeal. I sense that this is a summer-y book, some times timing is everything.

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite egg recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via recipes@kitchen-parade.com. How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. Follow Kitchen Parade on Facebook!

A Delicate, Soft & Silky Quiche-Like Custard


Never-the-Same-Twice Frittata, a new Master Recipe mixing a soft and silky quiche-like custard with fresh or leftover vegetables and pockets of warm cheese ~ Low-carb, low-cal, high-protein, Weight Watchers Points Plus 4 to 6 ~ KitchenParade.com

Do you see that custard?! It's so soft and delicate! That's thanks to the large proportion of milk in this frittata recipe, very unusual.


More Egg Recipes for Feeding One or a Crowd

(hover for a description, click a photo for a recipe)
Easy Creamy Scrambled Eggs for a Crowd Homemade Egg McMuffin Cooked in the Microwave Shakshuka (Eggs Nested in Summer Vegetables)
Asparagus Whole Wheat Bread Pudding Easy Make-Ahead Breakfast Casserole Asparagus Custard Tart
~ more egg recipes ~
from Kitchen Parade


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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Greek Baked Beans (Gigantes Plaki)

The Recipe: Dried beans cooked Greek-style until creamy with tomatoes and warm spices, a fresh, healthy alternative to American-style sugar-heavy baked beans for parties, potlucks and okay sure, even for dinner. :-) They're real food, low-cal, Weight Watchers friendly, gluten free and not just vegan, Vegan Done Real.

The Conversation: How and why to cook dried beans in the oven instead of on the stove. It's super easy and there's no more boiling over a pot of beans!

Greek Baked Beans (Gigantes Plaki) ♥ KitchenParade.com, healthy beans cooked until creamy with tomatoes, warm spices in the oven. Vegan. GlutenFree. WW3.


COMPLIMENTS!
"... end result was wonderful ... now filed in our gold recipes." ~ Paula


So, people, dried beans. Who cooks them on the stovetop? Me, I did too!

But almost every time, yikes, I would get distracted and the stove would be too hot and the beans would spill over. WHAT A MESS! You turn the heat down and carry on, of course but oh that stove is a total mess, really hard to scrub clean!

Once, even, I didn't clean the stove for a couple of days. We had a condo on the Florida Gulf Coast for a few days and somehow, surprise-surprise, beach-walking and shrimp-cooking and key-lime-pie-tasting outranked cleaning a messy stove. Yikes. WHAT A STINKY MESS!

So I experimented with cooking dried beans in the oven instead of on top of the stove. What an easy, no-mess, no-fuss solution!

You still pre-soak the beans, this hydrates the beans, makes them sweet and tender. Then it's time to actually cook them. First, bring the beans to a boil on the stovetop. This gets the water and the beans and the pot hot-hot-hot and shortens the cooking time in the oven. Then the pot goes into the oven and the beans cook away, no spilling over!

For even cooking, I do find it's helpful to stir the beans on occasion while they're in the oven. Otherwise the beans on top cook less than the beans on the bottom.

So far, I've cooked dried chickpeas, dried black beans and dried giant lima beans (several times) in the oven. All worked perfectly! It's a good system, cooking dried beans in the oven!

GREEK BAKED BEANS, don't they just sound so good?! The ultra-creamy bean and tomato combination is magnificent. And even though there's no cheese in Greek Baked Beans (unless you sprinkle a little feta on top, like I love to, just to finish), you'll swear they're full of cheese. But they're not!

ALANNA's TIPS Truth be told, there are particular dried beans called "gigantes" from Greece, gigantes means "giant"! If you like, order the real (albeit pricey) thing from Amazon.com. I've only used dried "large lima beans" which themselves may be difficult to find. But yes, look for bags of beans that read "large lima beans," that's the actual bean name. Substitutes: Look for cannellini beans, that's another white bean that gets creamy. Great Northern beans and Navy beans are also white beans but don't get as creamy when cooked. During tomato season, I'd consider substituting ripe summer tomatoes for the canned tomatoes. On occasion, I've added red bell pepper to the onion-carrot-celery mixture, it adds just a touch more color, nice! I've also been tempted, once the dish comes out of the oven fully cooked, to stir in some tender leaves of spinach just before adding the feta. Wouldn't that be pretty?! If you happen to have an old bottle of ouzo, the licorice liqueur from Greece (believe it or not, I do, it gets used a tablespoon at a time for biscotti every couple of years so will last a lifetime or more), join me in trying this version of Gigantes Plaki. Wikipedia says here that in Greece, Gigantes Plaki is cold-weather food. That's so funny because to me, Greek Baked Beans are totally summery!

GREEK BAKED BEANS (GIGANTES PLAKI)

Hands-on time: 35 minutes
Time to table: 11 hours
Makes 8 cups, easily halved
    BEANS
  • 1 pound (454g) dried large lima beans
  • 1 tablespoon table salt (no skipping, no skimping!
    TOMATO MIXTURE
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced small
  • 1 carrot, peeled and diced small
  • 1 rib celery, diced small
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • Sprinkle cayenne
  • 28 ounces (800g) canned diced tomatoes
  • Salt & pepper to taste
    TO FINISH
  • Feta cheese (about 1 ounce/30g), crumbled
  • Fresh oregano, a few leaves

BEANS - SOAK OVERNIGHT Rinse the beans in a colander to remove any dust and grit, then place in a bowl that allows for the beans to almost double in size. Cover with water plus three or four inches more. Soak the beans overnight, at least 8 hours. In the morning, if any beans are sticking out of the water (and thus haven't soaked up liquid), discard them. Drain the beans, then rinse under running water.

BEANS - START ON STOVE, COOK IN OVEN Set oven to 250F/120C. In a large, heavy pot, cover the beans plus an inch or two of water. Stir in the salt, no forgetting! On the stovetop, bring the beans to a boil and boil hard for 2 minutes. Cover and transfer to the oven. As the beans cook in the oven, stir them occasionally. Cook until the beans are soft and fully cooked but not breaking apart into mush, that's 60 to 90 minutes. Be sure they're fully cooked, then drain the beans.

TOMATO MIXTURE In a large skillet, heat oil until shimmery. Add the onion, carrot and celery as they're prepped, sautée just until beginning to turn color. Stir in garlic and cook for 1 minute. Stir in tomato paste and spices, let cook for 1 - 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and cook just until hot. Season with salt and pepper.

COMBINE & BAKE Set oven to 350F/175C. Stir the drained beans into the Tomato Mixture. Transfer to an oven-safe shallow casserole dish. Bake uncovered for 1 hour until the beans are bubbly, the mixture has thickened and the edges are beginning to caramelize.

TO FINISH Sprinkle with feta cheese, if you like, put back into the oven to melt a bit. Sprinkle with oregano.

SERVE Serve hot from the oven as a side dish. Greek Baked Beans are also excellent warm and at room temperature so are especially good for a buffet or a potluck. They also make an excellent appetizer, just supply slices of baguette for schmearing.

NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Half Cup: 86 Calories; 1g Tot Fat; 0g Sat Fat; 1mg Cholesterol; 518mg Sodium; 22g Carb; 11g Fiber; 4g Sugar; 6g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS POINTS WW Old Points 1 & WW Points Plus 3. CALORIE COUNTERS 100-calorie serving = 9 tablespoons (4g protein).
I first learned about Greek Baked Beans from my dear friend Pille from Estonia, here's her recipe more than two years ago and have been making them ever since!

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via recipes@kitchen-parade.com. How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. Follow Kitchen Parade on Facebook!

Cooking Beans In the Oven: What Do You Think?


Greek Baked Beans (Gigantes Plaki), healthy Greek-Style beans cooked until creamy with tomatoes and warm spices. Here, a new technique, cooking the beans in the oven instead of on the stove. ~ Vegan, Gluten-Free and Weight Watchers PointsPlus 3 ~ KitchenParade.com

So are you intrigued about the idea of cooking beans in the oven instead of on the stove? It's sure working for me!


More Bean Recipes for Summer

(hover for a description, click a photo for a recipe)
Quinoa & Black Bean Salad Mexican Pizza (Oaxaca Tlayuda) Calico Beans

Imagining the Mediterranean: More Greek Inspiration!

(hover for a description, click a photo for a recipe)
Chicken Greek Salad Greek Pasta Salad Tourlou Tourlou (Greek Baked Vegetables)
~ more Greek recipes ~
from Kitchen Parade

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