Fast and Healthy Asparagus & Tomato Frittata

Fast and Healthy Asparagus & Tomato Frittata

Fast and Healthy Asparagus & Tomato Frittata

I’m not joking around here.  This asparagus and tomato frittata is fast and it is healthy (unless you make it mostly cheese, then it’s just cheese isn’t it?).  It’s pretty much my take-to-work-breakfast staple.  And lunch, and dinner in the summer when it’s hot and all your body wants is salad, vegetables and ice pops.  It’s vegetables and protein, what’s not to love? 

The silicone baking pan makes all the difference for me, I literally throw everything in, RAW, and shove it in the oven.  That’s it.  If silicone wonder-pan is occupied with other goodies I’ll pop a wax paper/baking paper liner in the bottom of the pan so I can just turf it out when it’s done.  I can’t think of one person who enjoys scraping off burnt egg.  Fact.

cherry tomatoes with asparagus and spring onions for frittataI. could. not. stop. eating. the. tomatoes.  I must have a deficiency only satisfied by tomatoes.  I eat a lot of them. (With too much salt and soaked in vinagery salad dressing. Ahem.)

Raw asparagus and tomatoes ready for frittata

There really aren’t a lot of ingredients for this.

1 bunch of asparagus – about 15 slim spears
10 cherry tomatoes – halved and quatered
5 spring onions – chopped
12 eggs

What you see is what you get.  I snapped the asparagus into two with my hands and cut the tomatoes into either halves or quarters so some could sneak through the asparagus.

But asparagus is woody, you say?  Nah.  The trick to getting rid of the woody end is it to hold the spear in both hands.  One hand on the end and the other hand half way to the tip of the spear, bend it and it will snap where the woody part ends and the stalk becomes softer.  DO NOT THROW AWAY THE WOODY ENDS!  Keep a plastic bag in the freezer (or tupperware box if you have space, I don’t – little kitchen!) with vegetable odds and ends to make stock.  I’m serious!  Onion peelings (yes! the papery skins!), mushroom stalks, celery ends, unwanted herb stalks – but why you wouldn’t use those I’ll never know – any bits of vegetable, it all makes flavour.  It’s so much nicer than using those nasty nasty MSG filled stock cubes (except Kallo, y’all know I love ’em).  There will be a separate post where I’m going to use many exclamation marks to get my point across about this, just you wait.

tomatoes-and-asparagus-with-spring-onions-frittata

Anyway! Next add in the chopped up spring onions, raw again.  Everything will cook just enough in the oven with the eggs.  Who wants soggy vegetable frittata?  Bleugh!  Don’t be afraid to jam pack the pan with vegetables, they’ll all float about and have a swim in the egg custard when it’s poured in anyway.

Parmesan grated into egg custard for frittata

My favourite – a big soft heaping of grated parmesan.  Salty deliciousness. I’ve got about 12 eggs in there.  Yes. Twelve, we need that protein!  I just grated about a handful in, I didn’t want it too cheesy cause I’m trying to get my weight down (hah, never happen).  I also added a pinch of salt, a little black pepper (’cause, y’know, eggs) and about a dessert spoon of truffle oil, just for a background savoury flavour.  Absolutely not necessary or required, I just couldn’t help myself.

parmesan-egg-custard-frittata-2

That’s it!  Mix it up and pour it all in.  Bake it at about 180 C and keep checking on it after 25 minutes until it’s not too wobbly and is cooked through in the centre.  Turn it out quite soon after it’s done so you can drain away any liquid that may have been released by the vegetables, I poured off about a tablespoon but still.. we don’t want it soggy!

Leek and Potato Soup

leek-and-potato-soup

I still have a cold.  I’m not good at not doing anything, so…  Feed a cold, right?

Leeks-and-potatoes

Spring flowers are my favourite flowers, I grabbed them yesterday on a brief supply trip.  There are even some snowdrops in the garden and the footpaths are beginning to have a genuinely dry look about them.  I’m writing this whilst I’m waiting to finish a Blood Orange Meringue Pie, it’s on the step outside cooling as I type.   I think I went on a little bit of a seasonal food spree, hence the leeks and blood oranges.

leeks

I love leeks.  Beautiful colours and so silky in soup.  Just wash them thoroughly, they’ve been banked up and hidden in soil so it gets into the leaves pretty thoroughly.  Top and tail them, remove any grubby/tatty outer leaves and cut half way through the length.  Pop them under running water so you can wipe dirt away with your fingers whilst you pull the leaves aside.

I always begin soup with onion and celery (carrot as well if it’s going to be tomatoey).  Why onions when I’m using leeks?  It’s a different onion flavour plus the slow braising of onion and celery help give the soup more depth, a bloody good chicken stock will also help.  Translucent onions which are brown around the edge make food taste good.

Brown food tastes better!

So.. soup!  It’s creamy and leeky and delicious and is really good with some sharp, jaw tingling cheddar melted onto some oven-crisped bread.

leek-and-potato-soup2

Makes a huge pot of soup, I’d at least half it if you don’t want to eat it for a few days (or freeze it!).

1 onion diced
3 sticks celery, chopped
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp vegetable oil
6 leeks, cleaned and cut into 1 inch chunks
10 new potatoes or salad potatoes or any potatoes you have lying around, washed and in small chunks
2 chicken stock cubes*
Salt and Pepper

Biiiig pan time. Put the onion and celery in with the butter and oil. Coat everything in the oil and leave this on a low heat with the lid on while you wash and cut the leeks.
Put in all the leeks, if you think you need some more butter to coat them when they’ve wilted, go right on ahead. I love butter.
Wilt the leeks and put in the potatoes.
Add the stock cubes and cover everything generously with boiling water.
Boil until the potatoes are cooked.
Use an immersion hand blender or a blender blender. Blitz away! I left a few bits, but not many. I don’t think I look attractive when I run into difficulty getting slippy leeks off a spoon with my face.
Taste it and adjust the seasoning. Even after adding stock cubes I required more salt.
If you want cheddar toasts, grate a little cheese onto slices of bread, pop under the grill until it’s the colour you want. I didn’t toast the bread first, I like it warm and soft.

*I use a lot of stock cubes. I get it, for someone who is.. well.. a food snob.. I use a lot of stock cubes. I also work a lot, I don’t have the time or money to roast an organic free range chicken every time I need chicken stock (unfortunately) but as I’ve said, oh so many times, Kallo cubes are a pretty good substitute.

Spring Cabbage and Pea Soup

Shredded cabbage and peas

spring-cabbage-and-pea-soup-two

This is really just ‘fridge soup’ masquerading as a healthy broth.  It IS healthy, and I found it oddly comforting.   I honestly expected it to be bland cabbage soup, the kind the crazy yo-yo dieters insist is the miracle weight stripper.  But it was delicious.  Light and quite sweet from the peas, so the sharp grilled cheddar toasts were a savory delight.  Also – crunchy bread with soft hot soup?  Win.

 cropped-savoy-cabbage-one.jpg

 

ingredients-saucepan

Of course you can make this soup more delicious – add BACON.  Yep.  I said it.  Bacon.  Quite possibly the most delicious, deeply savory soup meat.
If you were to buy a piece of bacon – not the ready sliced rashers which curl up at the thought of being immersed in hot water, leaving their white wobbly fat floating around the pan. A lump/piece of bacon. Normally quite cheap in supermarkets over here in the UK.
So, if you were to buy a piece of bacon to make this soup more delicious – and not vegetarian – you should chop it into chunks and add it to the pan when the onions, bay, celery and garlic have had a few moments to themselves. Do not add stock cubes when you add the water! Bacon is salty.
Let all of this bubble around for quite a while if you want tender bacon which falls into strips. Or even in the slow cooker overnight. Then, when the bacon is done, continue on with the cabbage and peas. It will be tremendous.
Alternatively, brown some cubed pancetta with the onions and carry on regardless.

shredded-savoy-cabbage

 

 

Shredded cabbage and peas

 

 

bread-and-cheese

 

two tablespoons of olive oil
one chopped onion
two ribs of celery, chopped
two cloves of garlic, finely chopped
one bay leaf
a half head of savoy cabbage
two stock cubes – vegetable or chicken
two mugs of frozen peas
Into a large saucepan put the oil, onion, celery, bay leaf and garlic. Let this sit on low while you clean and finely slice the cabbage.
Cut out the tough stem of the cabbage, which will leave you two ‘ears’. Stack the ear leaves on top of each other and finely slice across the length.
Add the cabbage ribbons to the pot and coat with the oil.
Add the stock cubes and cover with hot water.
Let this bubble to take the raw edge off the cabbage, about five minutes will do.
I used this five minutes to grate some sharp cheddar onto a slice of olive bread (all I had in the cupboard) and shoved it under a high grill to bubble and crisp.
Toss in the peas for about three minutes.
Check the seasoning and serve.
Beware, it’s very steamy – thoroughly fogged my camera lens.

 

Smothered Potatoes. Southern old school cooking.

Sometimes I don’t want plain boiled potatoes.  If I’m not using the oven for anything else I’m not going to put it on just to make roasted potatoes, however excellent they are and however much I would love them to be a diet staple.

I still want them to be full of flavour but I don’t want to invest much more effort than I would to boil them.  This is when I turn to smothering.  The act of cooking something with onions and stock.

Recently this was a no brainer accompaniment to simple peppered steak with greens.

At the end of the recipe is the trick I do with some raw cooking chorizo for a speedy one pot wonder.

Served three people with leftovers which I put into Mushroom Soup.

1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 sliced onion
2 500g bags of tiny new potatoes kept whole
500ml chicken stock from a Kallo stock cube – of course you could use vegetable stock.

Into a big pan put the butter and olive oil on a medium heat to melt and mingle.
Add the sliced onions and coat them with the oil, let them cook for about five minutes while you wash and clean the potatoes.
Throw in the potatoes and coat them with the onions and oils. Give them a few minutes while you boil the kettle for the stock.
Put the cube in with the potatoes then pour in boiling water.
Now. I like to reduce the stock so by the end of their cooking time there is an intense ‘gravy’ in the pan, so I boil them without a lid.
If by the time you have a thickish gravy your potatoes aren’t cooked, add a little more boiling water until they are.

Done.

I have, on occasion, added a sliced red pepper, 1 tsp fennel seeds and some chunks of cooking chorizo in with the onions and then proceeded the same way. The chorizo stays moist and colours the dish, adding its paprika gloss and smoky flavour. Delicious with a sharply dressed green salad to cut through the oils.

Eaton Mess.

Last Saturday I had finished work at 4pm.  I was loitering at the bar with a G&T (Sipsmith’s, delicious!) when a friend – who always seems in a permanent hustle – breezed in.  I’m not good with time off – I don’t know what to do – so I told said friend they would be coming home with me for chats and dinner.

On Saturday night, even though I don’t get the same weekend as other working folk (bar staff and other shift workers will know my plight), I still wanted Saturday-Night-a-Little-Bit-Special-Dinner.  Also, had company.  Must make a little effort.

It was Smothered Potatoes with lemon greens and STEAK.  What better to follow a hunk of peppery protein than mounds of cream, meringue, fruit and nuts.

The only effort required here is the whipping.  Maybe cutting the strawberries in half could be included but it all happened alongside conversation and the continued consumption of gin.  (At home it was Edinburgh gin, always with Fever Tree tonic).

So, to Mess!  This ended up being enough to serve six people.  I cannot cook for two.  I don’t know how.

1 300ml tub whipping cream
1 300ml tub crème fraîche
1 tsp vanilla bean paste (essence would work)
8 small meringue nests – mine were from Waitrose
3 Cadbury’s crunchie bars bashed up in their packets with a rolling pin
1 punnet of strawberries – tops off and halved
1 punnet of blackberries
1 punnet of blueberries
200g flaked almonds

So, while you’re standing around in the kitchen talking up a storm pop the whipping cream into a bowl big enough to hold everything by the end (or do it in a stand mixer and have more dishes to wash). Whip your cream until it makes peaks, not too stiff. You want it to fall from a spoon with just a little coercion. Fold in the vanilla.
After this, crumble in the meringue with your hands. Pour the crème fraîche on top. Add the crunchie mess, the fruit and the almonds. Fold everything gently.

Done. Dish up and retreat to the sofa so when the cream coma hits you’re in a safe place.

Bhindi Bhaji on the Fly

Stuff the big supermarkets, beautiful fresh tomatoes and coriander from the local Asian grocer.
Stuff the big supermarkets, beautiful fresh tomatoes and coriander from the local Asian grocer.

I happen to live around the corner from Asda.  I also can’t remember what day it is, I’m all skewiff because of the festive season.  So when I got off the bus after work at about 6pm it was shut.  Of course it was shut.  It’s Sunday.

This was meant to happen.  I went to the Asian supermarket around the other corner instead.  The place I should have gone to first.

I stropped my tired hungry self around the shop throwing items in the basket; Five ripe tomatoes, a bunch of fresh coriander and two packets of frozen okra.  I know, it’s not seasonal.  I’m sorry.  I was hungry!

I think I’ve made enough to feed six people.
The quantities below will feed two who are hungry.

2 tbsp vegetable/rapeseed oil
1 large onion, halved and sliced across the rings
2 tsp black mustard seeds
3 ripe tomatoes, chopped
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground fenugreek
400g okra (mine was frozen so maybe 500g fresh)
1 or 2 hot chilies, cut slits into them
2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
Salt

Pour the oil into a large pan and add the onions, coat them with the oil and let them start to heat up. Add the mustard seeds and when they begin to crackle throw in the tomatoes.
When the tomatoes begin to soften and release their juice add the ground spices and mix thoroughly. Add in all of the okra, the one or two chillies and then season to taste.
Let everything bubble for about ten minutes, adjust the seasoning if you need to.
Turn off the heat and stir in the fresh coriander.
Absolutely grate in an inch of fresh ginger if you want to, I just didn’t have any.

I had mine on a mound of brown rice cooked with a bay leaf and nine cardamom pods. I put it on to cook before I did anything else. Y’know, brown rice taking so long and all.

Sweetcorn Hash with Avocado and Eggs

I woke up hungry.  Who am I kidding? I always wake up hungry.  But I got up late, so late in fact that I had to turn breakfast into a late lunch. Also, this was January 2nd so I only had the mountain of food I’d gathered on New Year’s Eve.

I really wanted sweetcorn. But I couldn’t be bothered (!) making sweetcorn fritters. I wanted crispy potato but couldn’t be bothered (!) making hash browns. Something was wrong, food would help.

Scrabbling around the fridge and cupboards I came up with four new potatoes needing to be used, avocados, eggs, a small packet of parma ham, canned corn, onions, a lime, and coriander. This is what happened next.

Serves two hungry people.

Into a warm cast iron fry pan I added some butter and some olive oil. I tossed in the four new potatoes which I’d cut into sixteenths, basically no bigger than 1 inch cubed.
I added a chopped onion and let them begin to brown over a high heat.
While they were cooking my partner in crime scooped out two avocados and mashed them up with a little salt, some lime and about 2 tablespoons of chopped coriander.
I sliced up the ham into fat pieces – they’re only thin after all – and lay them over the onions and potatoes, tucking the fat down to touch the bottom of the pan so it could crisp up and render out some flavour.
By now the potatoes were nicely brown and the onions had lost their raw edge. I chucked in a small can of corn and let it warm through.
I divided the corn hash between two plates, wiped out the pan and poured in some fresh rapeseed oil.
In went two eggs to gently fry for a runny yolk.
One egg on each mound of hash with delicious avocado on the side.