Wednesday, September 16, 2009

just about the best

There is a photo album you can buy from somewhere that says on the cover “My friends are prettier than your friends.” I think that’s kind of a bratty thing to say, but sometimes when I see cute photos of MY friends, I can’t help but think that. They really are pretty. But it’s not their cute haircuts or stylish outfits that I love the best (although I truly appreciate both very much) it’s their guts, their insides, their souls, if want to get new agey about it (and I would rather you didn’t). I just love ‘em and whenever I get the chance to see my favorite out-of-town friends in person I want to squeeze their cute guts right out of them. I also, like with everyone I love, want to stuff their guts full of delicious foods. And my guts too, naturally.

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So this past weekend found two of my favorites visiting and they brought with them two very awesome reasons to celebrate. Val, brave soul that she is, offered to be the first of our clan to enter the age of 31. Go Val! Happy Birthday! And Shawn, Nina’s main squeeze, gave us an equally squeal-worthy reason to clink glasses when last weekend he up and decided to make an honest woman of our Neens. Lucky boy.

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We had a celebratory dinner on Friday night (don’t worry I’ll cover the menu and the RIDICULOUS pie eventually) but when my ride turned into a pumpkin around midnight I found myself eager to lengthen the visit. So I offered to host breakfast in the morning.

I think breakfast is just about the best meal you can make for people. There’s something really fun about taking the time to prepare a proper meal in the morning when we all too often just jam a bagel down our throats. Having company before noon is pretty nice. For one, it’s an excuse for me to make my bed for once in my life and it’s kind of nice to see the table set first thing in the morning.


I really never gave breakfast enough credit until my 20s. In fact, I used to be one of those ninnies that thought “oh, but if I eat breakfast I get so hungry and then I end up eating more throughout the day.” Um, not if you eat a proper breakfast, dummy. Plus, when you deny yourself breakfast, you deny eggs all of the incredible possibilities that they have to offer. Behold the frittata. My mom, sister and I love us a frittata. If we had our own reality show you could play a drinking game in accordance with how often one, if not all three, of us brought up frittatas, made frittatas or just voiced our general approval of frittatas. When telling both of them about my Saturday breakfast menu they both sort of clucked approval and nodded (well I could hear my sister nodding from California) “Frittata. Way to go” and “Yup. Can’t go wrong with a frittata.” It’s kind of obnoxious. In fact, as a write this I’m beginning to loathe the word “frittata” (drink).

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But in all seriousness. You really can’t beat this. I never made a f------a for this many people. All I did was up it to twelve eggs instead of six. It took a bit longer to cook but it puffed up beautifully and cut effortlessly, like a giant egg pie, if you will. Trust me on this: frittatas are your friend. We also had homefries, bacon, English muffins and a pitcher of mimosas. But truly the frittata was the star of the show.

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Serves 8 (you can easily scale this back to six eggs, and it serves 4)

12 eggs
1 small white onion, diced
1 large heirloom tomato, thinly sliced
1 small clove garlic, minced
Olive oil
Handful of chopped fresh herbs (I used parsley, garlic chives and basil)
Cheese of your pleasing (I used feta, shredded cheddar and a sprinkle of parmesan)

Heat oven to 350. Spray an oven safe skillet with olive oil, drizzle some additional oil in the pan (about 1-2 tbsp.) warm over medium-high heat. Saute onion until translucent, just a few minutes, add minced garlic, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Crack eggs into large bowl and whip aggressively with a wire whisk. The fluffier you get your raw eggs before you transfer them into the pan, the lighter and fluffier your cooked eggs will be. Pour eggs into sauce pan. Lower heat. Add sliced tomatoes and some more salt and pepper. Add cheeses. Sprinkle the top with the herbs. Remove from burner and place into oven. Bake about 35 minutes (maybe longer). I originally set my timer for 15 and it wasn’t even close. I added another 15 and then periodically checked on my pan. If you grab the handle and give it a wiggle, it should not jiggle in the middle. I kept checking on mine and the minute the center appeared firm, I took it out and cut it into wedges. The result was moist, not dry, but also cooked through, so none of my dear guests ran the risk of salmonella. And I couldn't do that to them. They're too good looking after all.

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Serves 8

3 large Yukon gold potatoes, chopped into 1 inch cubes
1 small white onion, diced
vegetable Oil
seasoned salt, chili powder and Old Bay Seasoning

Cover potatoes with cold water and set to boil on the stovetop. Test a larger chunk at about 10-15 minutes. Once the potatoes are fork tender, remove from heat and drain. Heat a good drizzle of vegetable oil in a nonstick pan over medium to medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté for a few minutes, until translucent. Add potatoes to the pan. I did drizzle in a bit more oil at this point, as the taters tend to soak it up.

Homefries are probably the first thing I ever cooked myself when I was little. The key to delicious, red tinged, smoky homefries is paprika. Lot’s of it. When I realized I was out, I improvised. I read the ingredients on my Old Bay seasoning and paprika was one of them. Sold. I used generous sprinkles of that, along with a smaller pinch of chili powder and about a ½-1 teaspoon of Lawry’s seasoned salt. I have never in my life purchased seasoned salt before. Frankly it scared me a little bit, but it was an ingredient in my mac and cheese last weekend. Funny enough, it came in handy once again as a really nice way to salt up these homefries.

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While I was cooking this particular breakfast, I turned the heat on these down to medium-low and just gave them a turn every once in a while. They are low maintenance and it’s kind of nice to just let them cook and let the flavors merge together while you prepare the rest of breakfast. Plus I really like when there are little burned bits of potato and onion in my homefries, but that’s personal preference.

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