Saturday, November 13, 2010

What's in your fridge?

Cooking a great meal doesn't need to always start at the grocery store or farmer's market.  On those days when you stare into the fridge thinking, "there is nothing to eat in this house," think again.  If you cook and eat the things you love all the time, there will always be a little bit of that love left over.  And the other day, I made such a meal.

It started off as a regular day but then my Mom offered to take the kids to Steve's for dinner and so it was just Len and I, a rare mid-week treat.  I considered going out but then the bliss of being home alone (yes, really alone!  Without kids or nanny or husband!  How often does that happen?!) without obligation to anyone sparked a voice in me that said, "Hey!  Guess what?  You get to cook and eat what YOU want tonight!"  This inspired me to whip up one my fancy, yummy and unique creations that ticks off my family because I am not always as inspired when cooking for them.  Especially when the fridge is (almost) bare.  But just like in Stone Soup (a very wonderful children's book), a wonderful meal emerged when I didn't think it was possible.

The following is my recipe for the Leftovers from the Fridge Frittata.  Feel free to change the ingredients depending on your leftovers. And if you are worried about which foods go together, don't.  If it works for you & you like it, it works.

I used:
1 lonely uncooked sweet Italian sausage, casing removed.
1/2 bunch of spinach leftover from homemade ravioli (see my tastebook page)
1 scallion, finely chopped (I always try to have these in the fridge)
4 (very sad) mini potatoes
4 eggs (or two per person)
handful of shredded cheddar cheese
couple shakes of herbs de provence
a bit of butter and a little bit more than a bit of oil
I usually also include s & p but for this particular recipe, there was enough seasoning in the cheese and sausage that I didn't need more

Preheat the oven to 350.

1.  Cook the potatoes until fork-tender.  That mean when you stick a fork in the potato, it feels soft but not mushy.  You can either boil them or steam them or do them in a Microwave Potato Bag.

2.  While the potatoes are cooking, brown the sausage in a small-ish oven safe frying pan, breaking up the meat into small bits. You're smart.  I am sure you can figure out which pan would be best for a four egg frittata. I don't add any oil or butter at this point because I think there is enough fat in the sausage.  But you can add a few drops of canola or olive oil, if you want. When the sausage is just about done, throw in the spinach and mix around until just wilted.  Pour contents of pan onto a plate.  This whole process should take about 3-5 minutes.
The cooked sausage and spinach anxiously waiting to hook up with the potatoes and eggs.  The berries are slowly simmering nearby.

3.  Take the now-cooked potatoes and cut them into bite-sized chunks.  Careful!  They're hot! Put a dab of butter and and equal amount of oil in a pan over medium heat (the butter adds flavour and the oil keeps the butter from burning).  Add the potatoes and let them get a little brown and crispy-about 3-5 min, stirring a couple times along the way.  While this is happening, cut up the scallion into tiny pieces & add to the eggs that you will be cracking into a bowl.  Using a fork or a whisk, mix it all up until the yolks are broken and beginning to incorporate into the whites.  I like having little pockets of straight yolk in the finished frittata as it provides a little punch of eggy richness when you are least expecting it. This same thinking applies to scrambled eggs.

4.  By this time, the potatoes should be brown.  Add a little more oil to the pan and spread it all around to ensure the egg will not stick.  Add the sausage and spinach back into the pan and mix it all about so that the ingredients are evenly distributed around the pan.

5.  Pour the eggs on and shake the pan around slightly so that the eggs are evenly distributed.  After letting it cook for a couple minutes over low-medium (too much higher and you risk the bottom becoming too brown before the top is cooked.) sprinkle the shredded cheese all over.  I used cheddar, but almost anything will work.  It doesn't even have to be shredded; crumbled goat cheese and fresh ricotta would both be delicious.

6.  Put the pan in the oven until the eggs are just set and the cheese is melted...keep an eye on it at this point, it could take anywhere from 2-5 minutes depending on the mood of your eggs and oven.

7.  Remove, let rest for a minute...about the amount of time it takes to holler for your husband to come down for dinner (he came home sometime during the cooking process) and have him pour you a cocktail (remember? I said the kiddies were out).  Enjoy!
One sad and lonely frittata slice.  His brothers were gobbled up by a giant who proclaimed, "good frittata, babe."

At the same time you are cooking the meal, you can be making a little warm berry sauce to pour over that last sad slice of cheesecake, angle food cake, brownie, etc...  This one is soo easy that there really isn't a recipe.

Take all and any leftover berries (or other cookable fruit, such as apples, mangoes, peaches, etc...) and put in a small sauce pan.  For every cup of fruit, add 1/4 cup of water and two individual packages of sugar (about at tbsp total) that you have leftover from when you got that takeout coffee carafe from Starbucks last week when your dad came for brunch...or is that just me?  Let it all simmer over a very low heat while you are cooking, stirring it once in a while.  Turn off and let cool.  Pour the warm sauce over dessert and voila!

Unfortunately, the eater was faster than the photographer and this was the only shot I could get. 

After a meal like this, anyone would truly declare you a leftovers rockstar...I know I feel like one!

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