Better Cook

Kate Taylor

better cook: the anything frittata recipe

the anything frittata by cookie and kate

Hello! Kathryne from Cookie and Kate here. Frittatas are one of my go-to quick, clean-out-the-fridge meals, so they seemed the perfect subject for my latest Better Cook post. As long as you have some eggs, milk, cheese and vegetables, you can whip up a frittata for breakfast, brunch or dinner in no time! Slices of frittata also make great leftovers, too, whether served warm or cold.

I based my frittata off BHG’s “Anything Frittata” recipe, but in the spirit of the “anything” frittata, I used the Greek-style ingredients I had on hand. I also halved the recipe, using 4 eggs and 1/4 cup milk, and cooked the frittata in an 8-inch pan. Other ingredients included a big handful of chopped fresh spinach, sliced Kalamata olives and roasted red pepper, chopped shallot and crumbled goat cheese.

To make a frittata, simply whisk together eggs with a splash of milk or half and half and a dash of salt, pepper and maybe some dried herbs. Chop up your vegetables, shred the cheese, and start cooking.

Preheat your broiler and put an appropriately sized, oven-proof skillet on the stove over medium heat. Add a splash of olive oil or a big pat of butter. Cook the vegetables until crisp-tender, then pour the egg mixture on top. At this point, I just use a spatula to push the curds to the middle as they set, cooking for a few minutes, then I top the eggs with cheese and put the whole pan in the oven for a few more minutes, until the frittata is fully set. Slice and serve!

frittata tips by cookie and kate

Once you have the basic method down, frittatas are basically foolproof. Here are a few more tips to help make sure your frittata turns out fantastic:

1) Use quality eggs. My eggs came from a local farm; they are better for you and taste better, too.

2) Most recipes will tell you to use a non-stick skillet, but I have better luck with a well-seasoned cast iron skillet. Cast iron skillets are non-toxic, too, and you don’t have to worry about scratching them—just slice and serve right from the pan.

3) Top the egg mixture with cheese right before you put it in the oven. Melted, golden cheese on top is extra delicious.

4) If you aren’t in a rush to eat, try preheating your oven to 350 degrees and letting the frittata bake for longer instead of using the broil setting. I think it produces a creamier texture. And don’t skip the splash of milk!

5) For a simple side, roast fingerling potatoes while you’re working on your frittata. Just scrub the potatoes and pat dry, then toss with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt. Bake until the potatoes are easily pierced through with a fork (about 25 to 30 minutes).

Enjoy! And don’t miss BHG’s “Anything Frittata” recipe.

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Erin Gleeson

Better Cook: Sipping Chocolate for 2

 

Happy Valentine’s Day! It’s been chilly out here in the woods so tonight I am making this Sipping Chocolate for my sweetheart. Making hot cocoa from scratch is really simple- you basically just melt bits of chocolate and a dab of honey in milk over medium heat and stir until they are all melted together and smooth. I topped mine with whip cream, chocolate shavings and a pinch of cayenne pepper (for a hot kick!). My favorite technique for making curly chocolate shavings is to use a potato peeler. Save a couple squares out of the chocolate bar for this and just swipe the peeler along the edge of the bar to create the shaving. (*tip: milk chocolate has more wax in it than dark chocolate which makes the shavings curl better and less likely to break). I have found it’s easiest to create the shavings right over the whipped cream since picking them up often causes them to break. Enjoy!

 

Sipping Chocolate for 2

(Recipe is adapted from this Double Hot Chocolate recipe. I used honey instead of corn syrup and just one type of chocolate )

Ingredients:

2c milk

1 chocolate bar (milk or dark, approx 1.5 oz., save a couple squares for shaving)

1t honey

topping: whipped cream, chocolate shavings and a pinch of cayenne pepper

Directions:

1. In a 2-quart heavy saucepan combine milk, chocolate, and honey. Cook and stir over medium heat until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.

2. Serve in warmed latte mugs or bowls. If desired, top with sweetened whipped cream and sprinkle with grated bittersweet chocolate and a pinch of cayenne pepper.

 

The Forest Feast is a blog by Erin Gleeson full of simple, colorful vegetable based recipes with photos and watercolor illustration. After working for many years as a food photographer in NYC, Erin moved to a cabin in the woods where she is currently working on The Forest Feast Cookbook. Follow Erin on Twitter and  Instagram, @theforestfeast.


Kristin Porter

Better Cook: How To Cook Salmon

When I think of the Midwest in terms of food, I think of fresh sweet corn, bustling farmers’ markets, and some of the best beef and pork in the country. What I don’t think of, is seafood.

See, we’re landlocked. Rocking the ‘no coast’, if you will, and the most exotic seafood I dined on growing up here in Iowa was shrimp and imitation crab sticks. Luckily over the past 10 years or so, many varieties of fresh and reasonably priced fish have become readily available at the grocery store, making it easy to incorporate fish and seafood into my weekly menu.

Salmon in particular has become one of my favorites over the past couple of years, not only for it’s mild taste and versatility, but also for it’s high concentration of Omega 3 fatty acids, which have benefits ranging from boosting heart health, to improving skin tone.

Despite its healthy benefits I think many people, not just here in the Midwest, are unsure of the best way to cook salmon. I promise, it’s actually very easy. I’ll show you how!

First select your salmon. I usually choose 4oz filets of wild-caught sockeye or Atlantic salmon, which taste “salmony” but aren’t too strongly flavored. Brush both the skin and flesh side with extra virgin olive oil, then season liberally with salt and pepper. Don’t be scared by the salmon skin, by the way. I’ll show you an incredibly easy way to remove it in a bit!

Place the salmon skin-side down in a dry skillet over medium-high heat.

Cook the salmon until you can start to see it changing color up the side.

Flip the salmon then let it cook for about 1/2 the time it cooked on the first side.

While the salmon is cooking on the second side, peel back the skin, which is now crisp and should come off in one strip, which you an immediately toss.

See? Easy!

At this point I like to add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, or add a glaze like this Maple-Bourbon Glaze I spooned onto the salmon after removing the skin. (Made sans bourbon, as the husband got thirsty…)

Flip the salmon over one last time, then slide it onto a plate.

Serve with fresh veggies, and a light starch like rice, and dig in!

Easy, flaky, fuss-free salmon, every time. Let me know in the comments section if you have any other questions!


Lauren Brennan

Healthy Eating Shortcut!

Happy Belated New Year! How many of you are getting healthy in 2013? This is something I always try to focus on because I’m a young Mom with a 3 year old and another one on the way. Pregnancy tires me out and I’ve noticed I’ve had less patience for elaborate dinners. But lucky for me {and you!} I’ve found a few healthy shortcuts to save time and keep things healthier in my family’s diet.

1. Add more veggies to all your meals! My favorite thing to do is hide lots of zucchini and carrot in my Spaghetti Sauce or making something with Mexican flavors, like Portobello Fajitas or Chicken Enchiladas, and throwing in a few extra peppers and using corn tortillas. I used to hate corn tortillas because they were dry and I never had the patience to fry each tortilla individually to soften it up. Seriously, who has time to babysit seventeen tortillas in a shallow oil bath? Not this girl! I’ve seen people ‘dry fry’ their tortillas in a hot pan just to warm them through, but again I don’t have time for that! I tried microwaving them dry too, but it didn’t seem to help. Mine kept cracking. Well, one day I got an epiphany that seriously has been such a caloric time saver! One that will keep corn tortillas soft and pliable. Are you ready for my shortcut? It seriously takes 2 minutes or less to do.

First, grab a wad of paper towels and make them damp.

Unwrap these paper towels and place your stack of tortillas in the center.

Wrap the paper towels up and around your corn tortillas and microwave 30 seconds to 1 minute, depending on how strong your microwave is and that’s it! 

The water helps steam the tortillas, turning them into pliable, soft extra tasty tortillas! Perfect for any Mexican dinner like these Portobello Fajitas or Chicken Enchiladas! So tasty and packed full of veggies! If you think you’re not a corn tortillas person, give this trick a whirl and see if it changes your mind! It definitely changed mine!

2. Bake instead of fry chicken. Baking chicken is a great way to lower the fat content in a dish. Season it up and throw it in the oven. The best part about this is you don’t have to babysit the chicken on the stovetop. This is such a time saver for me! This Roasted Cranberry Chicken sounds simple and super delish!

3. Choose to drink water over juice or other beverages with calories–I’m pretty sure my child is the only one on the block who would rather have water than apple or orange juice! If you don’t like water or seem to have to force it down, try squeezing in a little lemon or experiment with this Cucumber Mint Water.

Hope you all have a happy and healthy new year! Enjoy!


Erin Gleeson

Better Cook: Old Fashioned Holiday Cocktail

Seasons Greetings from The Forest Feast! It’s always fun to have one fancy cocktail at holiday celebrations in addition to beer and wine, and this one is easy and festive! It’s a holiday twist on the classic Old Fashioned, with floating cranberries as garnish instead of a maraschino cherry.

The only real technique involved is cutting the orange twist. Just use a pairing knife to make a long wide shaving, then gently twist it from both ends into a loose spiral that can hang off the edge of the glass.

I mixed my ingredients first in a cocktail mixing glass, but you can also just do it in your glass.

Old Fashioned Cocktail (with a holiday twist!)

Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Dash bitters
  • An orange twist or an orange slice
  • 2 ounces bourbon
  • A few ice cubes (1/2 cup?)
  • Fresh cranberries for garnish (they’re edible but probably too tart to eat)

Directions:

1. In a short stemless glass, combine sugar,  bitters and bourbon. Stir  until sugar is dissolved, then add ice and stir more.

2. Garnish with floating cranberries and an orange “twist” on the side of the glass.

Makes 1 serving

The Forest Feast is a blog by Erin Gleeson full of simple, colorful vegetable based recipes. After working for many years as a food photographer in NYC, Erin moved to a cabin in the woods last summer where she is currently working on The Forest Feast Cookbook.


Kristin Porter

How To Juice a Pomegrante

If you’ve been keeping your eyes peeled at the market lately, chances are you’ve come across a crop of perfectly pink and plump pomegranates at one time or another.

Pomegranates have been grown and cultivated in many parts of the world since ancient times, but have only gained popularity here in the US over the past couple of years, notably for the high levels of antioxidants found in their jewel-toned arils, or seeds.

I know you’ve heard about pomegranates before, but maybe you’re wondering – what the heck do I do with ‘em?!

Well it’s the aforementioned seeds you’re after, where one of the most potent sources of antioxidants lie in waiting – pomegranate juice. Higher in free-radical-killing, and skin-smoothing benefits than both red wine and green tea, pomegranate juice is as delicious as it packed with vitamins and minerals. Plus it’s kind of fun to make at home!

Start by purchasing pomegranates that are smooth-skinned and heavy for their size. For each large pomegranate, you can expect to extract about 1 cup of juice.

Wash and dry the pomegranate, then cut into the blossom-end about one inch. Use your fingers to crack the pomegranate in half, which will reduce the amount of juice lost vs cutting the whole thing down the center. Repeat the cutting and cracking process on both halves to make four quarters.

Next, use your fingers to pry the juice-filled seeds from the quarters, letting them land in a bowl filled with cold water. I recommend doing this deep in the recesses of your sink, by the way, to cut down on juice splattered around the kitchen!

Once all the seeds have been removed, scoop out any white pith that may have fallen into the bowl from the pomegranate, which will rise to the top of the water, then rinse and strain the seeds a couple of times.

At this point you can add the sweet seeds to your morning yogurt, toss into lunchtime salads, pop as-is, or continue on with the juice-making process.

Which is where we head to next! Transfer the seeds to a blender, then pulse and blend until a pulp is formed.

Strain the seeds into a bowl through a fine-mesh strainer, then use a spatula to press and scrape every last drop out of the pulp

A few minutes later – voila! – fresh pomegranate juice! Some may find the juice a tad too tart to sip as is, so add a sprinkle of sugar if it tastes good. Me? I like it straight up. Sweet and perfectly tart!

Refreshing, and ultra-healthy, too!

Click here for my pomegranate juicing inspiration >