dinner : my first frittata

Wednesday night is usually omelet night at our house, but I was really in the mood to step things up with a frittata.  I'd been wanting to do this for a while, but I've never been very keen on trying things that involve the oven, as it usually requires:
  1. Unloading all the pots and pans I usually store in the oven and piling them on the living room floor
  2. Making a roasting hot apartment even more roasting hot (I don't mind this so much, but the man complains)
  3. Losing sight of my food for more than a few minutes - I'm a bit of a kitchen control freak
At any rate, I put those concerns aside and got to the business of making this lovely frittata.  As far as instructions go, Alton Brown has never failed me, so I followed the method outlined here, and substituted the following fillings:

grated parmesan
baby kale and chopped tomatoes, sauteed
shredded mozzarella (added right before placing the pan under the broiler)

The result was a wonderful mix of textures - tender, fluffy, creamy, gooey, juicy and crunchy all at the same time!

While I probably won't be making this every week, I will most certainly be revisiting this recipe again, so that I can experiment with different fillings and ratios of whole egg to egg white.  It's so wonderful to be able to step out of my comfort zone and discover that a new twist on a weeknight staple isn't quite the daunting task I made it out to be.

However, shoving all those pots and pans back into the oven, that's another story!


dinner : pumpkin kale soup

I guess Mother Nature wasn't content to abuse us with mere chilly winds, so she is now dousing the city with relentless rain as well.   Time for more soup!

This one I kind of made up on the fly, using most of the ingredients I'd planned to put into tonight's dinner omelette.  It came together pretty quickly, even with aching, half-frozen hands:

I toasted a couple handfuls of pepitas in a heavy pot over medium high heat, then set them aside to cool.  To the same pot, I then added the following:

Olive oil
diced onion
diced pumpkin
diced carrot
chopped kale
canned black beans, rinsed and drained
diced chorizo
chicken stock/water in equal amounts
salt to taste

I would have added garlic and celery as well, but I was chilled to the bone and desperately needed a hot shower.  Near-hypothermia is a valid reason for cutting the cooking process short.

While the soup bubbled away for about 20 minutes, I grated a few ounces of cheddar (and took a hot shower, of course). 

I served up the finished soup with cheddar and pepitas for topping, and some cornbread for dipping.  What a wonderfully delicious way to chase the chills!


dinner : semi-sancoche

Fall has barely arrived in NYC and already winter has decided to poke an icy finger into the mix.  With abnormally chilly temps and blustery winds assaulting the city today, I decided to seek refuge in what is perhaps the most comforting of all the comfort foods I know, sancoche (pronounced sang koch)

However, I was rather reluctant to post this recipe, because if you were to ask 10 sancoche aficionados exactly how it's made, you'd get about 15 different answers.  It is essentially a preparation that varies widely, depending on what's at hand.  But in the interest of side-stepping anyone who might challenge the authenticity of my recipe (at least, the way I decided to prepare it today), I am going to describe this soup as semi-sancoche.

Most traditional versions include split-peas and quite a few starchy root vegetables (yams, eddoes and the like) which I have not included today, as I wanted to keep the meal somewhat light.  But even without all those yummy carbs, this made quite a hearty, satisfying dish.

So here is my list of ingredients.  I'm not a fan of measuring things, so these numbers are mostly approximations.  I just tossed everything in a big pot and simmered over medium-high heat, stirring every 15 minutes or so, until the chicken started falling off the bone. The one exception is the frozen corn, which I added in the last 10 minutes of the cooking process.

6 whole garlic cloves
1 medium onion, chopped
a few sprigs of thyme
8 leaves of shado beni (also called recao or culantro - you can use cilantro as a substitute)
8 stalks of celery, sliced
2 carrots, diced
1 chayote squash, diced
3 cups of diced calabaza (butternut squash works well too)
1 10-oz box of frozen corn kernels
6 whole skinless chicken thighs
2 cups of diced smoked ham
1 can lite coconut milk
1 32-oz carton of unsalted chicken stock
3-4 cups of water
salt, to taste
1 scotch bonnet pepper (optional)

Scotch bonnet instructions for normal people:
The scotch bonnet is usually placed into the soup whole, and you must be careful when stirring not to rupture it.  The pepper should be removed before serving.

Scotch bonnet instructions for pepper-heads:
Just mince it up and throw it in, seeds and all.

Enjoy, and stay warm!