Bringing summer back with frittata!

Nothing brings summer feeling more than a hot, spicy frittata, being in short just a fancy Italian omelette. But this one is special, as you put it under a hot grill to achieve a crispy, golden, yummy cake-like dish. I fell in love with this one!

For a basic recipe I use 8 eggs, that  I keep in the room temperature so they mix easier; 1 big red bell pepper, 1 pepperoni chili pepper and 3-4 spring onions, though traditional onion or red onion will do just as fine. And of course the “meat base”, which usually is a pig belly “bacon”, without excessive fat, you want as much meat as possible (for alternate ideas including vegetarian version see later). Also, a nice addition will make 3-4 tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese or finely chopped 3-4 slices of Emmentaler or Gouda.

Before you start, I set my oven to 180 degrees (down + top) to make it warm before the last grilling phase.

In a large bowl I beaten eggs with a generous pinch of pepper, then added the cheese and mixed it through. It was my frittata base waiting for the “insides” ;)

Right after that I sliced bacon into bite-sized chunks, as well as the red bell pepper and spring onions (I kept them separate!). Chili needed to be finely chopped. 

On a large pan (choose one that you can bake in, e.g. all metal) I heated about 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil until almost smoking and I tossed my bacon. For about 8 minutes I let it get crispy and beautifully brown, giving out all the tasty juices. Right then I mixed in the chillies and red peppers and I kept them hot until got a little bit tender, but not brownish-dark. Then for about a minute the spring onions to let them sweat a bit and mix their fresh flavour with the rest. 

When I felt like the bacon and veggies were hot enough and tender, I poured the egg mixture over them and shook lightly the pan to let the eggs with cheese get everywhere.

I let my frittata fry on the pan for few minutes, checking the edged with spatula — when they started being golden-brown, I moved the whole pan into the oven and changed it to grill mode (or just “top”).

From time to time I peeked inside to see if my lovely frittata is already golden and looking like a little cake! :) I did this recipe already few times and I must admit it’s pretty resilient recipe — even when I kept the whole frittata about 15 minutes in the oven too long, it was still really really good. 

When ready, shake it onto a plate and serve immediately — for bonus points serve chilled white Chardonnay wine, semi-dry or dry. Your guests will go insane with the intense flavour! :) (hint: Chardonnay works pretty good with any salty recipe)

Alternative vegetarian version

I tried also the vegetarian version, where bacon was replaced with chili-flavoured tofu. It was pretty good, but be careful with slicing (keep the chunks pretty big) and don’t over-fry it or it will be hard like chips ;)

Which cheese should I choose?

Original recipe calls for Parmesan cheese mixed with eggs and a goat chesse sprinkled on top, but I think it resulted in a too tight, too dry “dough”. 

Much nicer I felt tasted frittata with finely chopped Gouda or Emmentaler — they both melted and because they don’t mix so easily like Parmesan, they made nice cheesy consistency. But you can try both options to choose your most favourite! :)

Pork stew a’la Provence

I can’t cook the French beef stew all the time, as it takes too long, so I came up with significantly faster recipe for pork — it’s pretty fast (takes about an hour to cook), easy as pie and allows for much variation and experimentation.

For this particular recipe you need to prepare upfront about 1kg of pork loin, 1 big can of tomatoes, 6-8 medium onions, 4-5 medium carrots, 200g of green beans (frozen are good), 3-4 medium shallots, 500ml of vegetable stock and spices for seasoning.

Before you start frying or cooking, prepare the pork. Clean all of the white-skin or tendon from the pork loin and save it for you pork stock (well, I usually just give it to my dog anyway :D). Slice the meat into 2 long pieced and then each piece into 15-20mm slices, making them the size of 1/4 of your palm. Sprinkle everything generously with much salt and pepper and let it sit in the bowl for about 15 minutes before frying.

Chop all of your vegetable: onions into 8 pieces, shallots into rings and carrots into chunks. Set them aside for time being and in a large pot sitting on a 5-level heat put your canned tomatoes and green beans and start warming it up.

In the meantime heat about 4 table spoons of oil until almost smoking (well, just very hot) and start frying your meat in batches. Do not overcrowd the pan. Fry the meat from both sides until nice brown and set aside into the pot with tomatoes and green beans.

When all meat is browned, turn off the heat and fry onions, shallots and carrots on the residue heat and the pork oil, until brown. Mix them with the pork-tomato-beans mixture, add enough vegetable stock to cover the meat in the pot and cook it on the 9-level heat until bubbling. Correct the seasoning with sweet pepper, hot pepper, salt and pepper. After that cook it on the 5-level heat under the lid for about 60 minutes. When finished let it cool down for about 10 minutes and mix thoroughly. You might want to add more pepper and salt if needed.

Serve your delicious pork stew with overcooked potatoes or baguette (any other bread will work too). Best served not too warm, as the liquids will separate and this kind of stew tastes the best when it’s dense.

Broccoli creamy soup with cream and herbs

It’s already autumn, and that means that days are becoming cold, moisty and dark. It’s the time of year, when I feel like I need food with stronger consistency and overwhelming aroma. So I found my old-old recipe for (almost any kind of vegetable) creamy soup and broccoli felt just like something I could like at the moment.

So I started by placing 500g pack of frozen broccoli, which are perfect as they are already split into pieces and it saves a lot of work, and about 1 liter of warm water in the medium pot. I added vegetable stock (for me it was 2 instant cubes) and a pack of cream cheese, which is the one that tastes like cheese, but has this plastic-like consistency that allows you to smear it over a slice of bread. 

I let the mixture sit for few minutes on the 9-level heat to unthaw, and when broccoli started to be soft I reduced it to 5-level heat to keep everything warm and let the cream cheese warm and melt. At this point the soup looked kinda strange, as nothing was actually creamy or soupy whatsoever, but be patient!

After about 20-30 minutes of slow cooking, broccoli should be really soft and cheese should melt completely in the vegetable stock. Now it’s time for the heavy-duty work — take out your hand mixer and blend everything nicely in the pot. It is possible, that the soup was reduced too much and looks little all-green and gooey, don’t panic!

Take the soup off the heat completely and fix the seasoning with salt, pepper, and fresh herbs (parsley and chives give a really nice detail and taste).

When you are going to serve your creamy soup, make sure to put a large spoon of cream inside — you may make a really nice twirl with the residue falling off the spoon, to make this soup not only yummy-good, but also looking awesome. Best served sprinkled with grated cheese and fresh bread rolls or at least a nice, crispy piece of grilled baguette!

PS: I made this one for my teammates for the “cooking @ work” day :) A perfect thing, as it just cooks itself! ;)