Friday, May 6, 2011

You say Frittata..I say Fancy Omelet!

My father on retiring, decided to fulfill his dreams and bought a small farm in the English countryside, down on the South Coast of England, in a market town named Chichester.  For some reason, he always wanted to be a turkey farmer (why?) but settled instead for raising chickens, a rare-breed goat called Geraldine, two fancy-schmancy pigs, the size of a kitchen table each (no joking), the occasional goose, which would invariably wind up on someone's Christmas table, and a greenhouse full of sweet-tasting fresh produce. 

At its peak, my father's farm had 60 or so egg-laying free range chickens - so eggs were always in plentiful supply.   And these ones were special.  The chickens were fed raw spinach leaves (a great source of iron) which turned the egg yolks a bright sunshine yellow.  They taste different...they just do.

At the Market, we're lucky enough to be able to enjoy organic and free range or barnyard eggs from a number of Merchants.  Fair Food Farmstand is a good first stop, selling over-sized goose eggs (I fried one for breakfast and it filled the omelet pan completely!) and teeny tiny exotic quail eggs - best hard-boiled and served as appetizers with celery salt and (if you want to push the boat out) caviar.

Goose eggs have a stickier texture than chicken eggs and a deeper more intense flavor...

Quails eggs by comparison are delicate and sooo pretty to look at!

Unlike Keri, who likes her eggs best in desserts and baked goods generally, I'm a big fan of eggs; eggs are a cheap, wholesome source of protein, are easy to cook with, and you can dress them up for special events.  Queen of the Kitchen, Nigella Lawson suggests a number of frittata recipes in her cookbooks.  My favorite recipe is for a pea and potato recipe from Forever Summer

A frittata is really just a hoity-toity omelet in disguise..they are most similar to a Spanish omelet - the principal for cooking both is the same.  You cook them in a heavy bottomed pan which can be used both on the stove and in the oven.  The idea is that you cook all the ingredients (meats, cheese or vegetables) thoroughly, whisk the eggs, add the eggs to the savory ingredients already in the pan, add your seasoning (herbs/spices), cook for a few minutes and then throw the pan into the oven and bake the frittata until it is cooked through.  The whole affair takes less than an hour.  And the best thing about this dish is that you can serve it hot for breakfast or brunch or cold for lunch with a salad and crusty bread.

I like to mix it up a bit and chop and change the ingredients. 

Tomorrow night's supper, which will please both adults and teenagers alike -- pea, red onion and chorizo frittata!  Photos to follow!

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