Snowy Dinner – Cauliflower, Bacon & Parmesan Frittata

It’s been snowing all day in Milwaukee, so it seemed silly to make a trip to the grocery store for the final ingredients for the Cauliflower Soup we’ve been meaning to try. But, it also meant coming up with a dinner from random stuff in our refrigerator. The cauliflower was still there, and we had some eggs. Time for a frittata.

Based on our on-hand ingredients, I adjusted the recipe I found on MyRecipes.com. The key substitutions: turkey bacon for the bacon (beware, you won’t get much fat to cook the rest of the frittata in this way) and fat-free milk for the light cream.

It was a surprisingly tasty dinner. The cauliflower was nice and soft, more chewy than crunchy, and a slice of homemade bread made a fine side item.

Cauliflour, Bacon and Parmesan Frittata

Adapted from Food & Wine (via myRecipes.com)

Serves: 2

Ingredients

2.5 oz turkey bacon
5 large eggs
1/4 cup fat-free milk
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
pinch freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 small head cauliflower, chopped into small pieces
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 cloves garlic, minced

Instructions

  1. Cook bacon in a 10- or 12-inch ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat, until cooked. Remove from pan and place on paper towels to cool. Pour off any grease in the pan (with turkey bacon, there may not be any grease to pour off, normal bacon would definitely be fattier)
  2. In a medium bowl, stir the eggs, milk, Parmesan, parsley and pepper with a whisk. Add the cooled bacon.
  3. In the same skillet, heat the oil and butter over medium high heat.
  4. Add the cauliflower and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10-12 minutes, until cauliflower is golden and softened.
  5. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute longer.
  6. Spread the cauliflower evenly across the pan and pour the egg mixture over the top. Tilt the pan to spread the egg mixture to all sides.
  7. Reduce heat to low. Cover and cook for 10-12 minutes, until bottom of frittata is golden brown and top is almost set.
  8. Heat broiler. Broil the frittata 6 inches from the heat, if possible, until eggs are set and beginning to brown, about 3 minutes.
  9. Lift up the edge of the frittata with a spatula and slide onto a plate. Cut into wedges and serve immediately.

Three Loaves

I’m new to the whole breadmaking thing, but near as I can tell, the last couple years have featured a big uptick in the market for books about making “artisan” bread at home.

What is “artisan bread?”

Artisan bread is exactly what its name suggests: bread that is crafted, rather than mass produced. Baked in small batches rather than on a vast assembly line, artisan bread differs from prepackaged supermarket loaves in a number of ways. Special attention to ingredients, process, and a return to the fundamentals of the age-old bread-making tradition set artisan bread apart from soft, preservative-laden commercial breads.

(from wisegeek.com)

Anyway, my exposure started with a gift from my now sister-in-law’s boyfriend and discussions with my now father-in-law. That was back around Christmastime 2008. We had this little wedding thing in the Spring that replaced a lot of kitchen time with planning time, then it was summer and who wants to heat up a kitchen in summer? In late 2009, I made an attempt to build a sourdough starter from the recipe in The Bread Baker’s Apprentice. Likely more to my lack of skill than anything else, it failed, never rising. I didn’t know if it was the cool temperature in the house, or what it was, but I just couldn’t get that dough to rise at room temperature. The frustrating thing at that point was just how much flour had been pumped into that starter.

Discouraged, I gave up on the artisan bread idea for a bit and then noticed bread books popping up on my sister’s birthday wishlists. A few birthday gifts later, along with some newer artisan book browsing at the in-laws over Thanksgiving and I was motivated to try again. The big change? It looks like the thought process around making artisan breads at home has evolved quite a bit during the last 2-3 years.

In books alone, I’ve been exposed to:

Equipped with a simpler recipe, I was re-energized to make some homemade loaves. As one final preparation step, I bought a 6-qt Camwear Food Storage container to hold the dough in the refrigerator. Then it was time to whip up some dough, which was crazy simple. Some yeast, some hot water, a little salt, and some flour. That’s it. And it looked like this:

No way was that going to result in multiple loaves said the cynic who failed to make a sourdough starter. However, after two hours of rise time and a night in the refrigerator, it looked like this (which is actually a little bit down from its peak height while on the counter):

Goodness. Now I understand the “don’t store dough in a mason jar because it could explode” warning.

It was then time to bake the first loaf. I went with the Boule style to start, since it seemed pretty easy. Make a ball and plop it down on a corn mealed pizza peel. Which, thanks to my brother-in-law, I have the top-rated (by Cooks Illustrated) and fairly magical Super Peel (picture below, holding said Boule dough).

A hot oven filled with some quick broiler pan steam and 40 minutes or so of baking time later, and the finished product came out looking like this:

That really does look like “real” bread, doesn’t it? I was so excited by the result, and the awesome house-filling smell that I ignored the advice to let it completely cool and cut off two warm pieces, one for me, and one for my still-in-bed wife. It was really really delicious (although still a little moist in the middle due to that whole cooling-advice-ignoring thing). That loaf was gone in two days.

Next up, I made the batard shape:

It was also quite tasty. My goals going forward? A more uniform width and some more attractive cuts across the top. That one also got eaten quickly, so with the final amount of dough in the refrigerator, I decided to try the sandwich loaf version:

It’s not as big as one would really want for sandwiches, and again, but it did introduce me to the different requirements of using a bread pan. I ate some of this this morning.

With the emptied container, I took the book’s assurances that not cleaning it is a good idea (helping the sourdough-ish process along) and made a whole new batch in the same container. That’s in the refrigerator now awaiting some baking time. What loaves will come out of that one? I’m thinking another boule if we’re just eating it for a meal or two, a couple of baguette shaped loaves if we serve lasagna for our friends next week, and/or some fresh pizza dough.

If you’ve been intrigued by this artisan concept like I was, but you’ve been skeptical (really? 5 minutes a day?), I can assure you that this is one of the simplest things I’ve ever baked. Honestly, it might even be easier than a packaged brownie mix. My suggested starting point is the Hertzberg/Francois book: Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking

Link Soup – 1/5/2010

A collection of links from some blogs that I will probably steal post ideas from:

  • The Kitchn – This is a bit of a mega-blog, covering cooking as well as kitchen design. I’ll be ripping off their “What recipes do you want to try this month?” post soon.
  • Cheap Healthy Good – This blog focuses on eating healthy, and well, without overpaying. If I’m really dedicated, this site will have a schedule as strict as theirs.
  • The Pioneer Woman – Her writing style is entertaining (but being a man, I likely won’t be copying it too closely) and her food looks delicious.
  • The Bitten Word – I really like their idea to put their food magazine subscriptions to use. Between our subscriptions to Cooking Light and Cooks Illustrated and our collection of cookbooks, this idea will be put to use here too.
  • Simply Recipes – A blog that started as a food diary and has grown to a site containing hundreds of recipes. I highly doubt this will follow suit.
  • Serious Eats – Another blog that aims to be all things food, with a little more content about dining out it seems.
  • Bitten – Mark Bittman (author of “How to Cook Everything”) has a blog at the NY Times.
  • Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day – I got this book as a birthday present from my youngest sister and have made three loaves of bread in the last week.
  • The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Dining Blog – My source for restaurant openings and closings in Milwaukee.
  • Cooks Illustrated – Kelley introduced me to Cooks Illustrated. Now I’m hooked on their detailed kitchen product reviews and recipe research. Our wedding registry would’ve looked a lot different without Cooks Illustrated.
  • MyRecipes – All of the recipes from Cooking Light (and six other food magazines) are here. It’s my go to site for quick weeknight dinners.
  • Evernote – This is not a food blog, but it is far and away my favorite tool for capturing recipes for use later, creating shopping lists that I can sync directly to my iPhone and will likely play a role in planning out this here blog.

The Beginning

Welcome to The Kitchen Post. Over the last year or so, Kelley and I have come to the realization that we are turning into “foodies.” Now, we’ve got a long long way to go before we are true food snobs, but based on the gadgetry in our kitchen, we are most definitely headed in that direction.

My cooking skill is basically being good at following directions. Give me a recipe and I’ll follow it. I might make a small change here and there (typically, that means saving myself some heartburn and dropping or reducing the onion content), but I’m nowhere near being able to perform a Quickfire Challenge on Top Chef. That said, I’m also willing to step out of my comfort zone and try a new recipe — even if it’s for an event we’re hosting. I think it’s that last point that has led people to suggest this whole blog thing.

So, here it is. There are like three or four of you who asked for it, so there better be three or four readers of this site soon.

For now, this blog is going to basically be a diary of sorts about what is going on in the Post kitchen. Assuming we remember to take some photos, you might even get to see what we’re cooking. We also enjoy a number of food blogs, so expect to see a link dump here and there. There will definitely be links to recipes, and if we tweak something enough to make it not feel like plagiarism, you may even see a full recipe. If I can talk her into it, you might even see an occasional post from Kelley.

Welcome to The Kitchen Post. Come back often.