Squash Flower and Swiss Chard Frittata

shadowed squash blossoms

 (Flickr Photo taken by NatalieHG)

 

I bought tons of colorful vegetables from the farmer’s market yesterday, and I wanted to make an easy meal that would combine lots of summer flavors in one compact recipe. As a vegetarian, I’m always thinking about protein, and eggs (though I don’t eat them everyday) definitely provide the energy to weather long summer days. Combined with parmesan cheese, a rainbow assortment of vegetables, basil, and the unique addition of flor de calabasas, this sumer frittata wins marks for both flavor and efficiency.

 

 

You will need:

An oven-proof saucepan

6 eggs

one cup of milk or soy milk

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese (plus more to sprinkle on top)

one red onion

about 8 brown mushrooms

a bunch of swiss chard

squash blossoms (about 7), stems cut off

one tomato, diced

fresh basil leaves

thyme, rosemary, black pepper, and sea salt

To prepare:

Preheat your oven to 475 degrees. Beat eggs along with milk or soy milk and add grated cheese, salt, and pepper. Set aside. In an oven-proof saucepan, sautee onions in a bit of live oil until clear and then add mushrooms. When the mushrooms are tender, add the chopped swiss chard, basil, and squash blossoms. Cook for only about two minutes, till everything has just wilted, and then poor in egg mixture. Add the tomatoes on top. Do not stir; instead, leave for about seven minutes and then stick the whole pan into the oven with more parmesan on top for about fifteen minutes or until all the egg is firm. Serve with toast or salad (and any more spice, such as hot sauce, if desired).

Biscuits of my Soul

So I’m back after a very long period in which I certainly kept eating but haven’t paused to reflect about it. I’ve always had the problem of beginning blogs and then sort of petering off after a couple of posts, but I am determined to continue this one, even if it’s not at a consistent pace. As long as I live in the city of blissful eating, this blog must live on.

I don’t intend to write too much about restaurants in this blog; there are way too many people who spend way too much time on Yelp or on review blogs and I have neither the money nor the attention span to commit to every new restaurant that rolls around. But an exception must be made, and that exception is Brenda’s French Soul Food. Serving a breakfast like no other in the city, this cafe resides in the heart of the Tenderloin on Polk and Eddy. The chalkboard out front entices you with Brenda’s daily offerings, and the hoard of diners normally crowding the door and front window is a fitting symbol of Brenda’s committed following.

Now, let’s get the most important aspect of the breakfast over with immediately. I would hop on my bike in a matter of seconds to get my paws on one of Brenda’s biscuits. They are, sincerely, absolutely, in all senses of the word within the biscuit universe, perfect. Delicate, crumbly, fluffy, light, buttery, and absolutely seductive. They wait patiently on your plate like illuminated dandelions, the ones with the rabbit-fur poof that takes flight with the caprices of the wind, and the first bite is the entering into the cloud while rising in an airplane and when the bite’s over you are sailing over strata of cloud upn cloud and soaring. I’m not usually this hyperbolic about food. But these biscuits are magical.

And naturally, anything you pair with them benefits from their character. The first time at Brenda’s, I had eggs florentine: two poached eggs resting magnificently atop a nest of spinach sitting on the levitational biscuits and topped with a cajun hollandaise. The combination of egg yolk, spinach, and biscuit sent me straight to breakfast purgatory–I had to keep eating because it tasted so good, but I dreaded the minute the experience was to cease. To supplement the already brilliant concoction, Brenda makes savory potato hash with scallions and tomatoes. I also sampled the apple preserves along with the biscuit and wished I had another biscuit to eat solely with the jam.

My second visit to Brenda’s was equally successful: again, a cup of thick chicory coffee warmed my palate and prepared me for breakfast food. This time they were not serving the florentine so I ordered the vegetarian omelet instead. The dish was not nearly as exciting as the eggs florentine had been, but the biscuit was almost better this time and I ate most of it with jam or syrup.

My roommate Gretchen went straight for the Banana Bread Pudding French Toast special. The dish arrived with three moist banana bread triangles drizzled with a toffee rum syrup, candied pecans, powdered sugar, and whipped cream. The intensely sweet breakfast was perhaps a bit much for those who can only survive a small bit of sugar, but Gretchen, along with ample help from yours truly, had no problem polishing it off. The word orgasmic definitely entered our conversation more than once while we were eating.

One criticism is that the menu is not all that vegetarian friendly; many dishes come with tomato bacon relish or incorporate meat in other ways. True to her New Orleans roots, Brenda makes few revisions to her French Creole dishes.

I ran into her in the kitchen on the way to the bathroom and commended her on the fabulous food. She was there cooking, like most mornings, and stopped for a second to thank me in a casual tone. I asked her if she had ever been to Lucille’s in Boulder, CO, my other favorite cajun breakfast spot, and told her that they make their own Katsup. “We make the katsup that goes on the burger,” she said. So maybe next time I will ask specially for a bit of homemade katsup to accompany my potatoes.

You can visit Brenda’s every day except Tuesdays for Breakfast and Lunch, but watch for deservedly long lines on the weekends.

Seven Ways with Oats

 

From Powerhousemuseum on Flickr

Grose Valley from Breakfast Point, Blackheath

Many recipes will find themselves on the pages of this blog. But I must first pay homage to a simple, somewhat bland little grain that inspired not only the title of this blog but is nestled into the very etymology of my last name: Oats. 

 

Oatmeal wakes me almost daily. The thought of its warmth and texture literally pulls me out of bed. Besides being healthy, easy to digest, and filling, Oatmeal is just so damn versatile. I stick with whole oats, because I find quick-cook or instant oatmeal drizzly and unsatisfying. Steel-cut oatmeal is also delicious, but requires a little more prep time. Here are seven ways to enjoy oats:

  1. The Classic: Mix raisins in while the oatmeal is still cooking, and add a dash of cinnamon when you spoon it into your bowl. Finish with some milk or soymilk and maple syrup.
  2. Chai Oatmeal: Cook with cardamom and bits of crystallized ginger, best with maple syrup or honey and cut up almonds or pecans, also good with sliced dried apricot
  3. Cocobanana: Mix in dried shredded coconut, sliced banana, cardamom, flax seeds, and sliced almonds
  4. Smoothie: Frozen or fresh strawberries, orange juice concentrate, blueberries (this is kudos to Noelle Bullion)
  5. Fig Oatman: Spoonful of fig jam, walnuts, flax seeds. 
  6. Chocolate Chips and bananas make a good birthday oatmeal. Like an oatmeal chocolate cookie!
  7. Savory Oats: Mark Bittman recently raved about soy sauce and scallions on his oatmeal in a Minimalist (for the New York Times) post: Your Morning Pizza

Feel free to post more oatmeal ideas here as a comment to this post.