Easy Like Sunday Morning: My Favorite Frittata

Caramelized Onion, Mushroom, Brussels Sprout Frittata vertical

So, I’m in a book club. But as any good book club going individual will tell you, these gatherings are really 90% focused on eating and boozing, 10% focused on actual literary discussion. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love to read and I’m really glad I have friends who share my delight in devouring and analyzing a good book. But I’m under no illusion about our priorities here.

This frittata was my contribution – I knew we’d have plenty of festive Sunday Funday drinks plus some indulgent brunch sliders, banana bread, pie, etc. so I figured I’d even things out with some eggs and vegetables. This frittata has absolutely nothing bad for you in it, and besides caramelizing the onions, the whole thing takes about 10 minutes to throw together and another 10 minutes to bake.

Enjoy!

Caramelized Onion, Mushroom, & Brussels Sprouts Frittata

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CSA Cooking: Sweet Potato Rainbow Hash

Rainbow Breakfast Hash

Big news! We finally made the leap into signing up for our own CSA box! This is something my bf Rob has wanted to do for awhile, and the rest of the roommates and I quickly got on board.

The natural choice was Johnson’s Backyard Garden, an Austin favorite. If you’re not familiar with CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), here’s an explanation from JBG:

Community Supported Agriculture is much different than going to the local grocery and buying your vegetables. It is a direct partnership between you the consumer, and our farm. CSA members pay in advance for a share of the upcoming harvest and are ensured access to truly nourishing food, food that is grown locally, organically and is delivered when most nutritious and fresh. What’s more, the shareholder cultivates a relationship with their farmer, the land, and with other shareholders. CSA is an opportunity to use your money to support valuable causes: responsible land stewardship, a vibrant local food economy, a healthy community, and the success of local farmers.

Can’t argue with that. Especially considering the amount of vegetables I eat on a weekly basis. We’re getting a medium box every two weeks, plus a half-dozen farm fresh eggs. Our first box, which was delivered last Tuesday, held delights such as sweet potatoes, rainbow carrots (absolutely gorgeous!), kale, spinach, parsley, and even daikon. The fun thing about getting a CSA box is it’s kind of like being on Chopped, except for instead of crazy ingredients it’s a bunch of super fresh, organic produce. You still have to figure out ways to cook it at its peak before it starts going bad, though!

CSA box rainbow carrots

Last Saturday morning I wanted to use up some of our beautiful vegetables and, obviously, try out some of those eggs in our morning meal. I decided to go the hash route. I’ve never put carrots in a hash before, but their crisp sweetness was great with the sweet potatoes. I added some leftover chopped organic chicken breast to bulk up the protein, plus some leftover red  and green onion (not from JBG, but duh, gotta have some onion). The result? A gorgeous rainbow of colors, flavors, and texture. Adding a runny-yolked egg was really just gilding the lily.

Sweet Potato + Carrot Rainbow Hash

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Southern BBQ Brisket Hash

Southern BBQ Brisket Hash

I’m a big fan of breakfast for dinner. Well, actually, I don’t really like pancakes or scrambled eggs or anything for dinner…. let me rephrase. I’m a big fan of adding a fried egg on top of whatever I’m having for dinner. That’s more accurate. (I think by this point, most of the culinary world can all agree that a runny egg yolk makes anything better, any time of day.) Anyway, even though this recipe is pretty dang breakfast-y, I like it for dinner because it’s hearty and balanced.

Take your run-of-the-mill hash – potatoes, onions, shredded beef – and give it a southern twist. We’re talking a hash made of sweet potatoes, collard greens, caramelized Texas sweet onions, and smoked brisket, topped with a fried egg and drizzled with BBQ sauce and Louisana hot sauce. Giddy up.

Southern BBQ Brisket Hash

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Croque Madame Breakfast Hot Dogs

So, I have to run something by you guys. Apparently, in Texas, hot dogs are classified as a breakfast food. Usually in the form of pigs in a blanket. Don’t get me wrong, they’re also welcome at tailgates and evening barbecues, but if you want to start the morning with a dog, it’s all good down here. What is this?! Have y’all heard of this? I really thought I was being tricked at first.

CroqueMadameHotDog

I first heard of this phenomenon from my boyfriend, Rob, a born-and-bred Austinite who wanted me to make lil’ smokies for brunch one morning. I thought he was just being a funky meat-loving dude, but turns out he was onto something, because a few weeks later, someone brought a pastry box into work and told everyone to help themselves to breakfast. I assumed it was a box of doughnuts, so imagine my surprise… pigs in a blanket! So the stories were true! Rob explained (after a respectable amount of “I-told-you-so” banter) that Czech kolaches are quite popular in Central Texas. I still had my doubts (and had actually never heard of kolaches before moving here) but the Internet confirmed his story. Kolaches started in eastern Europe as a sweet, fruit-filled pastry, but over here they’re more likely to be stuffed with sausage and/or cheese (Wikipedia calls savory types klobasnek, but they’re all called kolaches here.)

Okay! Now you know how I learned to stop worrying and love the morning hot dog. It didn’t take much effort to accept it– in fact, I wanted to embrace it wholeheartedly and really kick up the breakfast aspect. One of my favorite, most indulgent brunch dishes is also bread stuffed with meat and cheese: the croque madame. Why not combine Czech with French to make the ultimate cheesy, meaty masterpiece? Thus, my monstrous hot dog creation was born. Kolache expert (and fellow croque madame lover) Rob gave it an A+, so I figure I must be onto something.

Croque Madame Breakfast Hot Dog

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Spicy Bibimbap Oatmeal

Sick of the same old breakfast? Bland old cereal and fruit not doing it for you anymore? Well, today I’m here to spice up your morning routine… literally. Presenting your new favorite way to start the way: bibimbap oatmeal!

The idea for this glorious creation came together last week when I was trying out a new condiment, Gochujang, or Korean Hot Pepper Paste, from CJ Foods. I love anything spicy and/or Asian, so I was curious to see how this product stacked up to beloved old standbys like Sriracha. I gave myself a little taste test and determined that the Gochujang has a bit of a slower, more controlled savory burn that builds up after you eat it, while Sriracha is a bit more of a bright, immediate in-your-face kind of spice. Both are fantastic—and in my opinion, crucial—condiments for any home chef.

Anyway! I was thinking, hmm, what creative new dish can I make with my new chili paste? Then it dawned on me… the spicy oatmeal I read about and pinned from HuffPo last week! If it’s good with Sriracha, I bet it’s even better with Gochujang and Sriracha! And that’s how my Bibimbap Oatmeal was brought into this world. I added some complexity to my dish by combining quinoa and oatmeal, but you could easily make it only with oatmeal or only with quinoa. I made my first version with just the grains, seasonings, and egg, but in true bibimbap fashion I encourage you to mix in sautéed seasonal vegetables and/or some thin-sliced meat. Either way, make sure you have that runny yolk on top, because that makes all the difference.

Spicy Bibimbap Oatmeal

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Don’t Mess With the Classics!

I’m not Italian but I love Italian food. It’s satisfying, hearty and soothing…and it’s relatively simple to make. Some dishes are so simple in fact, that what separates a fantastic dish from a great dish is the quality of the ingredients more so than the cooking techniques. Take the classic Italian dish spaghetti carbonara; it’s spaghetti, pancetta (or guanciale), pecorino romano cheese, pepper and eggs. That’s it! The only real variation is whether or not you going to add garlic (which I always do). The best version of this dish is the one made with fresh pasta instead of boxed, and guanciale instead of pancetta. Guanciale is a cured pork cheek which carries a ton of great-tasting fat and, if it’s available to you, is a better choice than pancetta—although not by much. When I have a great piece of guanciale I don’t use any olive oil. I’ll do a slow, low-heat sauté of the meat, which will render its delicious fat without requiring the aid of the oil. Now that’s classic!

But if you look up this recipe on many of the food and cooking websites, you’ll get some whacky variations that totally destroy this dish. And most of them come from American cooks that try to ‘improve’ this classic by making it ‘healthier.’ Substituting wheat pasta, egg whites and ground turkey sausage may make it lower in fat content, but where do you think the taste comes from? And according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average life expectancy for us health-conscious Americans is 78.2 years. For native Italians? 81.7 years! Those wine-swilling, chain-smoking Italians would never THINK to use turkey sausage in this dish so why should you? You ever hear Mario Batali talk about his cholesterol level? Get real! If eating this classic is shaving a few years off my life, so be it! Just stop calling your turkey-and-wheat-pasta versions carbonara, ‘cause they’re NOT!

Katt’s Classic Spaghetti Carbonara

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The Endless Road Trip — San Diego’s Top 10 Eats: 7. Pork, It’s What’s for Breakfast

Part of me really has a hard time looking at someone straight in the eye after they tell me they don’t eat bacon and not laugh….”

This is what my friend told me he added to his online dating profile after meeting too many women who didn’t eat meat. I don’t know what’s worse; the fact that these women exist or that he kept meeting them. Regardless, I found a place he should probably take women on dates.

I walked into Imig’s Kitchen and Bar in the Lafayette Hotel & Swim Club expecting run-of-the-mill breakfast that you so often get in a hotel restaurant, even if it was in San Diego. I was pretty tired and haphazardly ordered the braised pork and applewood smoked bacon hash (above), which the menu told me contained the hash, plus poached eggs, chile de arbol, and hollandaise on a crispy corn tortilla. My lovely dining companion, BS, went with the breakfast sammy: grilled country bread, eggs over easy, arugula, avocado, prosciutto, oven roasted tomatoes, fontina and chive pesto:

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