In which I really, really don’t like to cook

Sometimes I mind it less than others, and I am a devoted reader of cookbooks. But the day-in, day-out repetition makes me want to scream. And dealing with that when I’m on a deadline leaves me whimpering and fetal under the kitchen table. So, what’s a writer to do?

I’m in the process of putting together a list of basic things I can fling together quickly with excellent results. First up, frittata. I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with frittata. Every recipe I’ve tried ends up too eggy, too leathery, or too greasy. And then last week I cracked it. (Yep, that’s an egg pun!) I wanted a frittata that entailed extreme ease of method–no flipping. I wanted one that would give me a softly-puffed dish with none of the tough brown top I’ve come to fear. And I wanted one that wouldn’t leave an oil slick or call for a dozen eggs. Yes, I have made frittatas that call for a full dozen eggs and that way madness lies.

There’s no proper recipe for this, just method. Easy, delicious method. First, I preheat the oven to 325. I’ve seen recipes that call for MUCH hotter temperatures, and the people who write these are not to be trusted. Note: I use a cast iron skillet–medium sized for this. Using kitchen shears because I’m just that lazy, I snip two pieces of bacon into the skillet and turn on the flame. When the bacon is not entirely cooked–just beginning to think about crisping up–I add something starchy. I’ve used chopped yellow squash which was delectable, but my favorite was leftover roasted potatoes and onions still wearing a glossy coat of olive oil and smoked paprika. (Just dice them and toss in.) The point is that you need something a bit on the bland side to suck up the delicious salty fat of the bacon–and there’s not much fat because it’s only two slices. The starch element should just cover the bottom of the pan.

When that’s had a second to cook, throw in a handful of frozen corn. Leftover cooked corn would do just as well. This is also when you add diced mushrooms, leftover green vegetables, or some frozen chopped broccoli. Give it all a good stir and then turn off the flame. Make sure the mixture is spread evenly over the bottom of the pan, then gently pour over six beaten eggs that have been mixed with a handful of cheese. I generally use Parmesan but cheddar, Swiss, or goat would be lovely. If I’m using a salty cheese and leftover veg, then I make sure the egg mixture is only lightly salted. Otherwise, a good bit of salt, fresh pepper, maybe some fresh herbs go into the egg mixture.

Pop it into the oven and bake 15 minutes. Take it out and let it rest a minute or two before cutting. It will NOT be golden brown on top but beautifully yellow and soft and puffy. The beauty of this frittata is that there’s no right or wrong and it’s never the same twice. You could sweat some onions and sweet peppers with a jalapeno, then add potato and throw some Monterey Jack or queso fresco into the eggs with some cilantro. In that case, have some salsa to spoon on top of the hot wedges. You could use leftover Brussels sprouts with bits of ham and some smoked Gouda. Whatever’s in the fridge is fair game, and the whole thing takes half an hour max from start to finish–and there’s only one pan to wash. With a green salad and some fruit, it makes a lovely supper for a person who’s entirely too brain-fried to organize complicated food. In our house this serves two.

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2 Responses to In which I really, really don’t like to cook

  1. Libby Dodd says:

    Brilliantly done. That bit of “puff” is gets is marvelous.

  2. Lynne says:

    Deanna – in addition to the ingredients you mentioned, think mushrooms, diced peppers – green, red, yellow, etc. – and my Italian grandmother’s favorite – zucchini. And you do know you can use anything you like in scrambled eggs and bypass the oven. Just a thought from a woman who feels your pain…particularly in the heat of summer.

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