I’m pretty good at making something out of nothing on the food front which is just as well because fast food doesn’t happen in the village and a sudden snack urge can leave you very frustrated with nothing more exciting than a fried egg sarnie. So I have a fridge full of bits and pieces of leftovers that I am loathe to turf out when they could be a tasty addition to a recipe.
Eventually when things reach a certain vintage the dogs get them – I’m not totally mad, I live in a country that hits 40 degrees for months on end, food poisoning is easy to get! But in the mean time I can knock up something quick and yummy from pretty much nothing.
Frittatas are amazingly versatile vehicles for all sorts of leftovers and they make a great snack, a super breakfast and even a great picnic food as they transport well.
My Mum taught me how to make them in a foolproof way – she calls them tortillas though – and it is all in the way you turn them, using a plate just a little bigger than your frying pan, and cook them by moving between hob and grill.
A frittata is basically a rather more interesting Spanish omelette. The one I made this morning featured cold potatoes left over from a potato salad, left over chicken, an elderly spicy sausage, a fresh chilli, onion, garlic, tomato and some grated cheese I had lying around, all bound in five eggs.
First chop an onion and fry until softened. Whilst the onion is frying (in olive oil – nach) chop up left over chicken, potatoes and a spicy sausage to chunky but manageable sizes, crush a couple of cloves of garlic and chop and deseed a chilli. Turn your grill on to heat.
Take a non stick, medium (6 inch ish) frying pan add a dash of olive oil and heat up. Add all your assorted leftovers – the chicken, the chopped up spicy sausage, the potatoes. You want your pan well filled, this is a chunky food, packed full of ingredients so don’t be stingy.
Add your chopped chilli, the onions you have fried and the garlic cloves. Stir until they are pretty evenly distributed and the pan is hot and then pour in five beaten eggs, a big pinch of salt and a grind of black pepper.
The eggs will cook quicker on the sides than in the middle so using a fork pull the sides towards the middle until you can see that the eggs are starting to set. At this point remove from the hob, scatter with grated cheese and tomato slices and put under a hot grill.
Leave it under the hot grill until the top is set. The bottom will continue to cook as your frying pan is still hot.
Now comes the tricky bit! Take the frying pan from under the grill and put it back on the hob, loosen the frittata from the sides of the frying pan with a fork, it should have shrunk away from the sides as it has cooked. Prod the middle to make sure it is almost set, you want it to stay in one piece when you turn it out!
Now take a flat plate and put it upside down on top of the frying pan. Walk over to your sink carrying the frying pan with the plate on top. Once safely over the sink invert the lot – ta da frittata falls out on to plate!
Now, quickly wipe out your frying pan, add a good knob of butter and put it back on the hob on a high heat, when the butter is foaming slide the frittata from the plate back into the pan and turn the heat down. Allow to cook for a couple of minutes more. The point of this is to give the top of the frittata a golden glaze and a rather yummy nutty butter baste.
By now your frittata should be cooked through so do the whole inverted plate performance again and the butter basted top of the frittata should now be golden brown and glossy. A quick flash under the grill again will make any remaining cheese bubble nicely.
You can make frittata’s from pretty much anything, broccoli is actually nice, any spicy sausage like chorizo, salami’s, chopped up ham and bacon, chicken, just onion and potato, just make sure it has plenty of stuff in it.
My family have always loved frittatas (sorry Mum, tortillas) and they were a standard part of any picnic along with corned beef sandwiches and stuffed layered loaf – I must make one of those soon!
Tonight I am out to dinner – hurray – but tomorrow I’m making pizzas and I’m experimenting with an interesting way of getting a stone baked result without the wood oven.