Thursday, September 18, 2014

Food riff, aka "the egg thing"

The inspiration for this particular food riff (aka "the egg thing") came from this recipe:

I have made several variations (I rarely make something exactly the same way twice due to on hand ingredients, whim, etc.), and it is a grand and glorious thing, but it is rather labor intensive.  I wanted the same experience of essentially a meal in a slice  – potatoes, eggs, veggies – without quite so much work.

The first egg thing
Grease a 9x13 Pyrex pan with unsalted butter.  Don’t skimp here.  Make sure the pan is well coated.  None of this cooking spray nonsense.  Not only does the butter add a little extra savory yumminess, but it also makes the thing practically hop out of the pan, making it easier to serve and clean up afterwards.

Slice 3 or 4 fist-sized potatoes into ¼” slices.  I am a fan of red potatoes.  And I don’t peel them.  Use pretty much whatever potato strikes your fancy, although I wouldn’t recommend large “baking” potatoes.  Peel or not, as you prefer.

Line the bottom of the pan with the potatoes and sprinkle with a pinch of salt.  (If you grease the pan with salted butter rather than unsalted, skip the salt here.)

Slice up whatever other veggies you want to use.

The first time I did half a medium-sized onion, a small-ish zucchini (maybe 6 inches long), a yellow squash the same size as the, and a handful of small plum tomatoes, layering them over the potatoes in that order.  This last time I didn’t have yellow squash, and I added portabella mushrooms between the zucchini and tomatoes.  I think I sliced up a couple of shallots as well as a small onion, too.  I am a fan of sweeter onions, but any kind will work.  Scallions, too.  Or leeks.  I separated the onion slices into rings.

The layers shouldn’t really reach more than about halfway up the side of the pan.  (If they do, you’ll need more eggs and longer cooking time.)

I haven’t done a meat version, but adding cooked bacon or sausage or prosciutto or ham or pancetta could certainly be a happy thing.

Sprinkle some shredded cheese over the top.  I would say no more than a cup.  A light covering.  Not like pizza topping cheese.  I like to mix a bunch of cheese blends together – parmesan, asiago, romano, mozzarella, provolone, cheddar, Monterey jack.  You could crumble in some feta (and add some olives while you are at it – ooh!  and marinated artichokes – go for that Mediterranean feel) or add dabs of fresh ricotta.  (It’s not a recipe!  It’s a food riff!)

Beat half a dozen eggs together with a good splash of milk (I totally don’t measure – 3 or 4 tablespoons maybe?) and about ¼ cup of sour cream.  (I just scoop out a nice heaping tablespoon – flatware tablespoon as opposed to measuring tablespoon.)  I prefer light sour cream.  You could certainly use whole fat, but I would not recommend fat free.  Also, you could use crème fraiche instead if you like that sort of thing.

The main thing I learned from the quiche with has brown crust recipe is that the sour cream is key to helping the eggs set nicely.  That and beating them thoroughly to aerate them.  I beat with a fork for probably about 90 seconds.  An electric mixer can probably do it in half the time, but then you have to clean the electric mixer.  A whisk works, too.

Add salt and pepper to taste.  If you like herbs and/or spices, add them to the egg mix now.  I like some Bouquet Garni, Herbes de Provence, or an Italian blend.  Fresh basil, rosemary, tarragon, etc. are good, too.  If you like heat, add some chilies or red pepper flakes or a clove of minced garlic.

Pour the egg mixture over the layered potatoes and veggies.  They will not be completely covered.  The eggs will expand and mostly cover them as they bake.  If you are really concerned that there is not enough egg, beat up one or two more and add them.  (I did that the third time, and I don’t think that it turned out quite as well.)

Bake uncovered at 435 (yes, 435 – I like to add 5 or 10 degrees, might just be my oven) for about 35 minutes.  Maybe check at 30 minutes.  Inserted knife should come out clean.

Let sit for 5 minutes or so after removing the pan from the oven.  Cut and serve.

It reheats nicely or could even be eaten at room temperature.  I eat it as is, but you could top with more sour cream or salsa or whatever strikes your fancy.

Have fun!

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