Tuesday, June 16, 2009
The 200 Mile Brunch
I am so excited, I just might burst. I need to relieve the pressure. May I boast for just a moment? I promise to keep it short. This weekend I had my friend Gloria over for a simple birthday brunch. It was a gorgeous, sunny Sunday morning, a welcome break from the gloomy, depressing, if not apocalyptic weather of the past two weeks here in New York. I'd been looking for a reason to make a delicious frittata from my brand new cookbook, and this was clearly it. I normally don't eat breakfast or bother to cook lunch on the weekends, so this was the perfect occasion to bust out the dish. Before I even started with the eggs I popped some country style biscuits into the oven, perfuming the entire apartment with buttery goodness, and made some fresh iced tea oozing with lemon juice and garnished with paper thin lemon slices.
But it's not the iced tea, or the biscuits, or even the frittata itself that have me giddy. It's what went into the frittata. Every single element with one exception was local and organic, something that I've been trying very hard to make the norm in my house for quite some time. The eggs were local and free-range, the spring onion and green garlic that flavored the beans were from my CSA, and the thyme came right from my little urban garden, making the long trip from my living room windowsill to my kitchen, not 20 feet away. The beans are my only downfall. They are organic, but I imagine not local, since I have yet to see white beans at any farmers market (except the occasional French flageolet bean--used in cassoulet--that costs about 18 bucks a pound). But I am proud of myself nonetheless, especially when I realized that I hadn't gone supermarket shopping in about 8 months. Sure, I stop in for a random specialty ingredient every now and then, and pantry staples like oils and such, but otherwise I lived primarily off of the farmers market when cooking at home. It's a small step for mankind, but a massive leap for my diet and the quality of my food.
But enough about me, lets get back to the delicious food at hand. This is a stove-top frittata, so no need to bust out the oven-safe pots and pans. It's on the thin side, but very tender and with added crunch from crispy beans. They're cooked first on their own with spring onion, garlic and thyme (all things not included in the original recipe) in a few drops of olive oil. They're allowed to crisp and brown as the oil is absorbed and the pan dries up, all before adding the egg. The inside remains soft while a light and crispy crust forms on the outside, giving the beans more flavor and excellent texture. After pulling them aside to rest on a plate, all you have to do is start the eggs in a non-stick skillet as if starting an omelet. Once the eggs are almost entirely cooked through on the bottom and edges, add the beans and cook until the eggs are fully done (the recipe suggests leaving them runny, but I don't really like that for this preparation). Here's the recipe with my changes, which also reduces the quantity so it's one large frittata (about 10 inches in diameter) instead of the 4 smaller ones in the book. It's more than enough for one person, but could also be split for two with a side of home fries or a salad.
Crispy White Bean Frittata
adapted from Made in Spain: Spanish Dishes for the American Kitchen
1 cup cooked white beans like cannellini, or half of 1 15 oz can of white beans, drained
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 spring onion, thinly sliced
1 small head of green garlic, minced, or 1 clove regular garlic, minced
1/4 tsp thyme, coarsely chopped
extra virgin olive oil
freshly cracked pepper
1. Heat 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil in a non-stick skillet. Add spring onions and garlic (reserve a few for garnish), cooking for one minute until fragrant (do not brown). Add beans, salt and pepper, and cook, stirring infrequently so they get a chance to brown on both sides. Once browned, remove beans to a plate and set aside.
2. Add more oil to the pan (just enough to keep the frittata loose) and the eggs. Season with salt and pepper and swirl the pan so the eggs are spread in a thin, even layer. Once they're cooked through on the bottom, add the beans. Keep swirling the pan occasionally to keep frittata from sticking, and remove to a plate once the eggs are cooked. Garnish with remaining spring onions and enjoy!