Mmmm mmmm mmmm!

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For a mom-blog, we have talked very little about cooking. The Smock doesn't like to cook much, and would really prefer to let someone else do it for her permanently! I like to cook, and am OK at it, but during the years of Scouting, church volunteering, and homeschooling, expediency was key. I know a bunch of quickie casserole recipes, and have fallen back too much on them.

Now that I am finished with Scouting (though Zteen is now an assistant scoutmaster at his troop), and homeschooling for me consists simply of cracking the whip over Zteen, it's time for me to pick up the art of cooking, real cooking, again.

Julie over at Happy Catholic recommended a couple of good cookbooks to me. I took the B&N giftcards I received at Christmas and purchased The All New Good Housekeeping Cookbook. What a great basic cookbook it is. It has clear directions, nice pictures, good info on all kinds of stuff, and 1,500 receipes, ranging from homestyle favorites to more exotic ethnic fare. This isn't your mother's old cookbook.

So, I've been reading the cookbook as if it were a novel, and putting sticky arrows on tons of recipes. Last night we had Tamale Pie (good--even better as leftovers). But tonight was better than good. It was outstanding.

We had Potato and Ham Frittata, served with biscuits and a mixed berry fruit salad. I will tell you that the Pillsbury frozen biscuits are very good. Not the microwave kind--the bake in the oven kind. They were well reviewed by the cooking editor of our newspaper, and I had bought a bag last time I went to the grocery store. Not as good as my Mama Warren's biscuits, but better than my own biscuits by a long shot. And the fact I could pop them in the oven while I was preparing the frittata was a big plus.

Anyway, both of my guys raved over the frittata. We keep a "Southard Family Cookbook" of all the recipes we have really loved. The ones that I will hand down to Zack and to his bride one day. They are collected from all over--different cookbooks, stuff clipped out of magazines, handed down through the family, passed on by friends. We have three levels of "good" recipes in our house, and everyone votes: 1) OK, but if we never have it again that's fine. 2) Good, but just remember which cookbook it's in. And 3) PUT IT IN THE FAMILY BOOK. Tonight's frittata was in the third category. Its been awhile since anything hit the book.

So, courtesy of the Good Housekeeping Cookbook, here's a recipe for you to try:

Potato and Ham Frittata

10 ounces all-purpose potatoes (2 medium), peeled, cut lenghtwise in half, then crosswise into thin slices (2 cups)
1-1/4 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 piece cooked ham (4 ounces), cut into 1/2-inch pieces (1 cup)
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
8 large eggs
1/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
pinch dried thyme

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. In 2 quart saucepan, combine potatoes, 3 cups cold water, and 1 teaspoon salt; heat to boiling over high heat. Cook until tender, about 10 minutes; drain.

2. In oven-safe nonstick 10 inch skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat. Add ham and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. With slotted spoon, transfer ham to plate.

3. Add 1 tablespoon oil to skillet; add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and golden, about 10 minutes. Transfer onion to plate with ham.

4. In large bowl, with wire whisk, beat eggs, water, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, pepper, and thyme until well blended. Stir in potatoes, ham, and onion. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in skillet over medium heat. Pour in egg mixture; cover and cook until egg mixture begins to set around edge, about 3 minutes. Remove cover and place skillet in oven; bake until frittata is set, 8-10 minutes.

5. To serve, loosen frittata from skillet and slide onto warm platter; cut into 6 wedges. Makes 6 main-dish servings.

I will say that my frittata wouldn't slide out--my pan has very steep sides. But I flipped it out onto the plate and it was still beautiful. And the good thing about a frittata is that I can see hundreds of variations, depending on what's left over in the refrigerator.....


That sounds SO good. I'm not big on cooking, I mess up frequently & need the "easy" recipes or ya know, eat someone elses cooking. Mmmm. I love to eat though. Especially when I have a little person inside of me, that increases the hunger. Anyway I think i'm going to try this out. Someday.

I'm so glad the cookbook worked out ... my very favorite way to read them is like a novel, with a post-it note in the front for making notes on interesting recipes. And I also am picking out family favorite recipes from cookbooks to put in my "hand-me-down" computer cookbook that I will give to the girls when they have their own kitchens. So we are definitely on the same page!

That Frittata looks great and I'm going to have to try it out soon!

So why is everyone posting meat recipes in the middle of Lent? I am getting cranky - I have to really be careful that my penance doesn't turn into penance for those around me!
I actually made a quicky meal earlier this week that you might want to try sometime. It isn't quite a casserole but has some of the same aspects, and if you are categorically opposed to canned goods quit reading here.
Start some rice cooking. (I use a rice cooker).
Open a can of cream of something soup - I use celery, but mushroom would work - chicken if you aren't going meatless. Toss in a can of tuna, salmon, or shrimp. Or put in some leftover flaked fish or meats. Season to taste with curry powder or similar seasoning. Heat through. Serve over hot cooked rice, with a few accompaniments/condiments such as peanuts, cashews, coconut, chopped scallions, chopped peppers, raisins, chopped dried apricots, chopped apples. I usually have a dried fruit, a fresh fruit, a savory vegetable, nuts and coconut.
Tea on the side.
I did shrimp in celery this time.

Alicia, that sounds very like my family's #1 comfort food and Friday night dinner, Tunafish and Rice. We make it with cream of mushroom and tuna (plenty of tuna), and along with the curry we add some cumin for extra interest. We also include lots of frozen mixed vegetables.

I've never tried to go meatless all through Lent, in part because that would reduce low-carbohydrate options dramatically. At least you're in charge of the food, and make the decisions yourself. A man I don't much like once announced to his long-suffering wife that he was giving up meat, fish, eggs, dairy, and bread, and couldn't understand why she had any difficulty in putting together menus to suit him.

A man I don't much like once announced to his long-suffering wife that he was giving up meat, fish, eggs, dairy, and bread, and couldn't understand why she had any difficulty in putting together menus to suit him.

I can think of an easy solution to that: serve boiled greens and boiled rice every single meal. If he complains, ask him what he thinks penance is all about anyway, then eliminate salt and herbs, just as a reminder. "You want penance, dear? Don't let me stand in your way. Maybe I should add iron filings to your underwear, too?"

I take a fairly hardline fast during Lent mainly because my work as a restaurant reviewer requires that at least once a week I have to give up on fasting (although I wonder if my editor would notice if I only reviewed hippy vegetarian restaurants for Lent, although that might be a penance I would have too much trouble accepting - have you ever eaten at one of those wretched places?), so I try to balance it out the other five days, but I have to make sure that I am not compelling the rest of the household to follow this. If it means making two meals, then that is an even better penance (or of me taking my main meal at other times and just having my snack at the table, so that I am not sitting there looking glum as they eat their pork chops, so much the better).

I have to admit that I like fasting, as it forces me to be more creative as a cook (I normally go through a pound a week of pancetta, as it is an essential flavoring to most of the Italian food I cook, so switching to anchovies and having to adjust becomes an interesting discipline). Also, this year I have managed (hah! as if it were an accomplishment) to actually put on weight, something that I have not done for 15 years. As much as I am wary of using Lent as a time for fitness, there is a place for it when one has slipped in the other direction, and I should hope that I can be back under 200 by Easter (of course nixing the martinis and manhattens helps a lot here).

Anyway, Alicia, I have been remiss in posting meatless recipes. I will do so this week. Sorry.

Yummy, Mama T!! I love egg recipes-- we eat so much huevos con carne it's loco.



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This page contains a single entry by MamaT published on February 15, 2005 8:54 PM.

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