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10 posts from June 2022

06/30/2022

~ Stop Frittering Around & Fry Up A Batch of Fritters ~

6a0120a8551282970b01b7c6ce68e2970bHere in Pennsylvania, I grew up eating savory deep-fried corn fritters in July and August, when local sweet corn is in season, and  sweet apple fritters in September and October, when local apples are in season.  I grew up eating potato pancakes as well, which are technically a type of fritter, but, we don't refer to them as such because they are pan-fried.  Doughnuts were/are made on Doughnut Day, and, even though they're deep-fried, we don't call them fritters either. Why? Like their precursor cousin, the beignet, they don't contain any chopped protein, fresh or dried fruits and/or vegetables, and, with or without holes, they're just plain old deep-fried dough.

Fritters are deep-fried.  Fritters contain protein, fruit or veggies.

6a0120a8551282970b022ad376b6db200cA bit about fritters:  Defined as small, sweet or savory, deep-fried (not pan fried), dough- or batter-based cakes (fritters contain no bread or bread crumbs) made by combining chopped food (not whole pieces or chunks) with a thick, seasoned batter, dropped into hot oil and deep-fried until crisp on the outside and cooked-through on the inside. Depending on the consistency of the batter, fritters can emerge flat (like pancakes) or round (like golf balls).  Once chopped, almost anything can be made into a fritter:  meat, poultry, fish, seafood, fruits or vegetables.  

Fritters can be served for breakfast, lunch or dinner, as a snack, side-dish, main-course or dessert.  Fritters are sold on street corners and in five-star restaurants where they can be picked up and eaten with the hand or eaten with a fork.  Fritters are the original fast food and pub grub. Fritters are multi-cultural -- you can find a fritter anywhere in the world where they deep-fry food.

You can really use your imagination when it comes to fritter ingredients, but the most important thing is knowing how to properly deep fry food.  Oil that is too cold when food is added will impart an oily, greasy taste, which is undesirable.  Too hot oil can also cause less then perfect fritters or burned ones. Electric deep fryers with controllable temperature settings take all the guesswork out of deep-frying, though for experienced cooks, a simple temperature gauge and a sense of how the oil appears and smells is often enough information to produce perfectly fried food.

Try my recipe for Sweet Deep-Fried & Glazed Apple Fritters:

6a0120a8551282970b022ad39cd855200dOr my recipe for Savory Deep-Fried Sweet Corn Fritters:

6a0120a8551282970b01b7c6ce692f970b"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2022)

06/26/2022

~ Lox, Gravlax and Smoked Salmon -- Your Choice ~

6a0120a8551282970b022ad39c5547200dLox, gravlax and smoked salmon -- they are all cured salmon products, and, while they look similar, they are all distinctly different.  For lovers of cured salmon, we all have a favorite.  For example, I prefer smoked salmon to lox and prefer lox to gravlax.  There's more.  In my food world, I tend to serve one or the other for breakfast or brunch -- I don't think of it much as a dinner fare.  For lovers of cured salmon, the good news is, they can, for the most part, be used interchangeably in recipes, and, they can be served any time of day for any meal.

Entire books & lots of commentary have been written about all three.  For the average cook, I'll make a long story short:

Lox is associated with breakfast or brunch -- at least for me it is.  Derived from the Yiddish word lax, meaning salmon, lox is taken from the belly of the fish then very-thinly-sliced.  It gets salt-cured about three months and does not undergo any smoking process afterward. 

Gravlax is pretty much the same thing as lox -- it undergoes the salt cure and does not get smoked. That said, gravlax has spices added to the salt cure (usually sugar, salt and dill), then it's prepped with a seasoning that often includes juniper berry, pepper, and aquavit.

Smoked salmon is salt cured and smoked afterward, one of two ways: hot-smoked (at 145º for about 8 hours) and cold-smoked (no higher than 80º for about 15 hours).  Hot-smoked salmon is dryer and smokier, while cold-smoked is moister, less smoky and more similar to lox.

Try my Smoked Salmon & Folded Omelet Bagel Sandwich:

6a0120a8551282970b022ad3bbee21200bTry my Lox, Caviar & Frambled Egg Breakfast too:

6a0120a8551282970b022ad376292e200c"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2022)

06/23/2022

~ Crème Caramel -- The Ultimate Custard Dessert ~

6a0120a8551282970b01b7c754963a970bCrème caramel is a sophisticated dessert that is eaten around the world, but, was made famous in the later part of the 20th century in French restaurants.  It is a silky-smooth custard that is gently baked/steamed in a caramel-coated mold or in individual porcelain ramekins.  When slightly warm or room temperature the delicate custard is turned out onto its serving plate.  It emerges elegantly-glazed and exquisitely-sauced with the caramel from the bottom of the mold.

In the French language, the word crème means custard. 

6a0120a8551282970b01b8d0dddc37970cIn French, crème means custard.  It's worth mentioning that making crème caramel in individual-sized ramekin is much easier than turning out one larger sized one, as the fragile custard easily splits.  Large ones also require more care to avoid undercooking the interior or overcooking the exterior.  The objective is to obtain a homogeneous and smooth crème on the surface of the with a liquid caramel base.  For that reason, cooking either size in a water bath (bain-marie) is essential to the success of the dessert, as  cooking it in a bain-marie avoids burning the caramel.

Crème caramel is the direct opposite of its rustic cousin, crème brûlée, which is a similarly-baked custard with a hard caramel shell on the top that is served and eaten directly out of the vessel in which it is baked.  In France, crème caramel is also referred to as "crème renversee", in Italy it is called "crèma caramella", and, if you're in Spain, it is "flan" you are looking for.  It's an exquisite dessert that comes with a built-in elegant presentation.  When prepared using individual ramekins, it is conveniently portioned as well, so serving it is a dream come true.

Try my recipe for The Ultimate Silky Smooth Crème Caramel:

6a0120a8551282970b01b7c7548b4e970b"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2022

06/20/2022

~ Fully-Loaded Twice-Baked Potatoes -- Three Ways ~

6a0120a8551282970b01bb0859700c970d 2A twice baked potato is exactly what the name implies:  It's a potato that gets baked in the oven twice.  After the first bake, the potato is sliced in half and the light, fluffy soft-center is carefully scooped out, leaving the shell/the potato skin undamaged. The cooked center is then mashed, mashed-potato-style, with butter, salt, pepper and/or various seasonings or seasoning blends, and, creamy options like sour cream, yogurt and/or cream cheese.  Then the fun begins:

Add-ins, absolutely anything you want, usually family-friendly favorites (like the combination of bits of crispy chopped bacon and blanched chopped broccoli topped with shredded cheddar cheese in photo above), get folded in.  The flavor-packed potato mixture is scooped back into the the potato skins and baked a second time, which makes the skin crispy and melts the cheese on top -- they're the Rolls Royce of the baked-potato world -- it's twice-baked potato perfection.

From a method standpoint, the way I make them is not the quickest, but, that does't mean it's tedious.  I simply don't take short cuts, which are a definite compromise.  For example:  The microwave, while not a no-no, is not ideal (I want crispy, not soft steamed, potato skins), I use real-deal bacon (not store-bought bacon bits), and, my broccoli is freshly chopped (not frozen and thawed).  I have no exact recipe, but here's my estimated formula:  the mashed centers from 3-4 large Russet potatoes + 3-4 cups of add-ins, then sprinkle the tops of all with additional  cheese.

Tip from Mel:  I've tasted a lot of creative versions of twice-baked potatoes in my lifetime and the best combinations always contain some type of cooked meat or porcine, a vegetable or three, and, grated cheese.  Great twice-baked potatoes are not pot-luck or a place to throw your leftovers -- they are usually very-well conceived.  That said, I've never tasted a lo-calorie version of a twice-baked potato that had a purpose.  Who in the world counts calories when eating these?

Try my Classic Broccoli & Cheddar Twice-Baked Potatoes:

6a0120a8551282970b0240a49bb3c2200bOr, my Twice-Baked Fully-Loaded Taco Taters:

6a0120a8551282970b022ad3a014be200dAnd My Twice-Baked Fully-Loaded Texican Sweet Potatoes:

6a0120a8551282970b0240a44e037e200c"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2022)

06/17/2022

~My All-American All-Purpose Hamburger Seasoning~

PICT0040When it comes to hamburgers, as long as mine arrives steaming-hot and medium-rare, I don't much care what you did to get it there.  Cook it anyway you like or know how -- gas-grill it, charcoal-grill it, grill-pan it, pan-sear it, flat-top it, or broil it.  Flip it once or flip it twice, that's fine with me too.  Steaming-hot and medium-rare -- that's all I ask.  I'm flexible about condiments too. Lettuce, tomato, onion and mayo?  Awesome.  Ketchup, mustard and pickles?  Count me in. With or without cheese -- it matters not to me.  Steaming-hot and medium-rare -- that's all I ask.

All that said, if you've never tried seasoning your ground beef prior to cooking your hamburgers via your favorite method, you might want to really should give it a try.  It's one of my favorite things to do and, by seasoning the ground beef, I don't mean seasoning the patties - I mean I use my hands to mix the seasoning into the ground beef prior to making the patties.  There's more.  My seasoning is just right, meaning, it will enhance the flavor of your beef not overpower it.

6a0120a8551282970b0240a4ac751b200dFor my all-purpose  'burger seasoning:

2  teaspoons fine sea salt

1  teaspoon coarse-grind black pepper

1/2  teaspoon garlic powder

1/2  teaspoon onion powder

1  teaspoon beef bouillion

~ Step 1.  Stir all spices together in a small bowl.  Makes a scant 2 tablespoons.  Enough to mix into 3 pounds ground beef.

Try my Perfectly-Seasoned 16-Minute Broiled 'Burger:

6a0120a8551282970b0240a4adc635200dAnd my Perfectly-Seasoned Pan-Seared Smashed 'Burger:

6a0120a8551282970b022ad39e2eff200dMy All-American All-Purpose Hamburger Seasoning:  Recipe yields a scant 2 tablespoons seasoning blend.  Enough to stir into 3 pounds ground beef.

Special Equipment List:  small bowl, spoon

6a0120a8551282970b0240a4ad58d1200d 6a0120a8551282970b0240a4840c07200cCook's Note:  To make 1 1/2 cups of My Copycat McDonald's Special Sauce:

1  cup mayonnaise

1/4  cup each: ketchup and sweet pickle relish

1  tablespoon yellow mustard

1  teaspoon white vinegar

1/2  teaspoon each:  garlic and onion powder and paprika

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2022 

06/14/2022

~ Frank's RedHot Sauce and RedHot Wing Sauce ~

6a0120a8551282970b01b8d22f3f44970cFrank's RedHot is synonymous with Buffalo chicken wings.  Why? Frank's was the secret ingredient used in the original Buffalo chicken wing sauce recipe created at the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, NY in 1964 by Frank and Teresa Bellisimo.  Fast forward to present day -- Simply wander into a bar, any bar, anywhere in America.  Buffalo wings are on the pub grub menu.  It's remarkable.  No description is necessary.  You know you're getting unbreaded, deep-fried wingettes and drumettes coated in a vivid-red vinegar-based cayenne pepper and butter sauce.

6a0120a8551282970b01bb09489f1f970dThere are three stories regarding the invention of Buffalo wings and all come from members of the family, close friends and loyal bar patrons:

1)  Their son Dominic arrived late at night with a few hungry college buddies.  Teresa needed a fast snack and threw some chicken wings (which would normally be used to make chicken stock) in the deep-fryer and tossed them with some hot sauce and melted butter.  

2)  There was a mis-delivery of wings instead of backs and necks (which Teresa used to make the bar's spaghetti sauce.  Faced with tossing them out or taking up freezer space, Frank asked Theresa to come up with a use for them.  

3)  Dominic was working late in the kitchen on a Friday night and folks were still ordering a lot of drinks.  He wanted to do something nice for the patrons (who were mostly Catholic) and Teresa came up with the idea of wings, as it was after midnight and they were able to eat meat again.

In 1977, Buffalo officially declared July 29th, Chicken Wing Day.

By the 1980's, Buffalo wing sauce was being applied to a list of other food creations too: "Buffalo" chicken dip, "Buffalo" chicken quesadillas, "Buffalo" chicken salad (one of my personal favorites), "Buffalo" chicken pizza, "Buffalo" popcorn chicken and shrimp, and, "Buffalo" chicken fingers, nuggets and fries.  If it's got "Buffalo" in the name, it's got Buffalo sauce in it, on it, or alongside it. There's even "Buffalo"-flavored potato chips (sorry -- not one of my favorites).

6a0120a8551282970b01b7c8a539ea970bIt was inevitable that Frank's would start bottling and mass marketing their wing sauce.  Several other brands followed suit too.  For my taste, Frank's is #1.  That said, my husband likes a brand called Texas Pete.  Crystal is popular with a lot of folks, and, of course, there's an Anchor Bar wing sauce too.

< I borrowed this photo from the Serious Eats website.  They conducted a taste test of seven brands and wrote an interesting, in-depth article about it.  Read it.

The difference between hot pepper sauce and wing sauce.

The four bottles pictured above were the top four in the Serious Eats wing sauce taste test.  Aside from their #1, Anchor Bar, (which I've not tasted), I have tried the other three (and their cayenne pepper sauces too).  I use Frank's because it is my favorite (and it's worth noting the winner of Serious Eats best hot pepper sauce taste test).  So, what is the difference between bottled hot pepper sauces and wing sauces?  Wing sauces simply have butter flavoring added to them.

While bottled wing sauce is convenient, you're getting butter flavoring rather than real butter.  If it is convenience you need, go for it -- bottled wing sauces taste just fine unless your tasting them side-by-side one made with real-deal melted butter.  Interestingly enough, if you take the time to read the back label on any bottle of cayenne pepper sauce, you'll find instructions for making wing sauce -- and it simply says to mix their hot sauce with some amount of melted butter.

Try my Frank's-Style Buffalo-Style Chicken Wing Sauce:

6a0120a8551282970b01bb09482ff0970d"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2022)

06/11/2022

~Defining Neapolitan, New York & Sicilian-Style Pizza~

IMG_7184I never met a pizza I didn't like, and, pizza is one of my favorite subjects.  That said, a great pizza starts with a great crust, but, finding a pizza dough recipe to suit your requirements is not as easy as the ingredients list indicates:  flour, water, salt, yeast, and sometimes sugar and/or olive oil. Cooks who take pizza making seriously have more than one pizza dough recipe in their repertoire because certain pizzas require a certain type of crust -- there's no getting around it.  Beyond that, within each type, everyone who takes pizza making seriously, professionally or at home, makes their dough a bit differently -- there's no getting around that.  Pizza dough and pizza is personal -- there's no getting around that either.  That said, if you are new to pizza dough, sans a lot of the chemistry and science behind pizza dough, here's a bit of helpful background:  

6a0120a8551282970b01b8d16f592d970cThe three best-known Italian-style pizzas are:  1)  Neapolitan Pizza:  A simple dough containing high-gluten flour, water, salt and yeast that gets a long 2-3 day rise in the refrigerator.  Baked hot and fast, in 1-2 minutes, it's got a thin crispy bottom and a super-airy, chewy center.  2)  New York-Style Pizza: A more complex dough containing all-purpose or bread flour, water, olive oil, salt, sugar and yeast that gets a shorter 8-12 hour rise in the refrigerator.  Baked in a slightly more moderate oven for a longer period of time, 12-15 minutes, while crisp, it's tender, slightly-chewy center makes it pliable enough to fold in half.  While still a thin crust pizza, it is slightly thicker than its Neapolitan cousin.  3) Sicilian-Style Pizza:  Containing the same ingredients as New York-Style pizza, this distinctively thick-crust, square-shaped pizza gets baked with little or no rising time and is the easiest of the three to duplicate in the home kitchen.  It gets patted out into a rectangular pan or sheet tray that has been slathered with olive oil, which when baked in a moderate-for-pizza oven (350-375 degrees) for 12-15 minutes literally fries the bottom of the crust to a crispy state.  With a golden, crisp-fried bottom and a thick, soft, chewy center, this one is, perhaps, my favorite.

Try my favorite Sicilian-Style Semolina Pizza dough recipe:

6a0120a8551282970b026bdec0a27b200cTry my A-1 All-Purpose Bread-Machine Pizza Dough Recipe:

6a0120a8551282970b026bde9755bf200c"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2022

06/08/2022

~Detroit-Style Brick Cheese Pizza is All About the Pan~

6a0120a8551282970b01bb098b4233970dLong story short, Detroit-style pizza is a rectangular-shaped deep-deep-dish pan pizza -- it is a descendent of the rectangular-shaped Sicilian-style pizza.  That said, in the case of this specialty pizza, it really is all about the pan -- the man pan.  Without the pan, one can't really appreciate the full experience.  Luckily, the pans are easy to fine online and very affordable too.  Read on:

Lloyd Pans & Kitchenware, a Wisconsin-based company, manufacturers several styles of pans for pizzerias all over the world, including all of the top 10 pizza chains in the USA.  Their pans revolutionized how pizzas are baked -- their pans improve the quality of the pizza by providing the ability to achieve excellent results by all who use them.  From thin crust to pan pizza, deep dish and flatbread, their pans make great pizza.  They require no seasoning, minimal or no oiling, and, the permanent, Dura-Kote, easy-release finish, safe to 700° F., will never flake or chip off.

Detroit-Style Pizza =  A Rectangular, Deep-Deep-Dish, Pan Pizza.  Detroit-Style Pizza = A Descendant of Sicilian-Style Pizza. 

6a0120a8551282970b01b7c8e8a675970bThe history of Detroit-style pizza is a tale about a man and his (idea of a) pizza pan, and, pizza-loving residents of the Motor City have been fighting over a corner slice of this pizza since 1946. Gus Guerra, owner of a neighborhood bar, Buddy's Rendezvous, decided to "throw" his wife Anna's mother's Sicilian-style pizza dough into a unique, rectangular-shaped, deep-sided, blue-steel pan that was originally used to hold auto parts. Topped with pepperoni, Wisconsin brick cheese and sauce (in that order), Gus's pizza emerged with a thick, soft, airy crust with a crispy exterior and caramelized edges.  It would soon be affectionately named Detroit Pizza. The legend is that Gus was given his initial pans from a friend and customer who worked in an auto factory.

6a0120a8551282970b01bb098b4073970dBrick cheese, which is native to Wisconsin, is also available on-line, and, while you don't need it to make Detroit-style pizza, it's fun to order some and try it along with your new pan.  It's white to pale yellow in color and can range from sweet, buttery and mild when young, to strong, sharp and savory when aged.  It  melts great, which means it can be used in a wide variety of of other dishes too.  For starters, it goes great with crackers and fruit. It's the kind of cheese you want on your pizza, in your mac n' cheese, in your grilled-cheese sandwich, and, potatoes gratin.

Try my Detroit-Style Brick Cheese & Pepperoni Pan Pizza:

6a0120a8551282970b01b7c8e8a64b970b"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kichen/Copyright 2022)

06/05/2022

~Welsh Rarebit or Rabbit = the Original Cheese Toast~

6a0120a8551282970b01b8d2d01e02970cSay cheese please -- lots and lots of hot and bubbling, oooey, gooey cheese please.  If those words got you salivating, try these on for size:  a savory cheese sauce made from sharp cheddar cheese, egg yolk, Worcestershire sauce, English mustard and beer slathered onto thick-slices of toasted bread and broiled until bubbly.  Here in America, when a cheesy craving hits us, we treat ourselves to an all-American grilled cheese sandwich.  The British have a different twist on it, and Welsh rarebit is referred to as the original cheese toast (or cheese on toast).

Welsh rarebit (pronounced rabbit) is a traditional British dish made by ladling a thickened, sometimes roux-based, cheese sauce over crustless, thick-sliced ever-so-slightly-toasted bread, then quickly broiling the two until the sauce is bubbling and barely-light-golden.  Basic rarebit sauce is made by melting a hard English cheese (like cheddar, gloucester, cheshire or lancashire) with cayenne pepper, English mustard, a splash of Worcestershire sauce, milk and beer.  Another, easier (cheaters) method, it to simply melt sliced cheese atop lightly-toasted bread that has been slathered with mixture of softened butter, mustard, Worcestershire and cayenne pepper. 

Welsh rabbit is the original name, and, the dish is Welsh in origin, dating back to the 1700's.  The Welsh, who are famous for their love of cheese, claim to be among the first to use cheese in various dishes and sauces.  In their food world, the original name, rabbit, was an affectionate way to say, "we prefer eating cheese to eating rabbit".  In their real world, Wales was an impoverished nation and many a Welshman couldn't afford even the cheapest meat.  Others claim the original name, after making its way into English kitchens, was meant to cast aspersions on the Welsh, who were allegedly not adept at catching rabbits -- and "rabbit" changed to "rarebit" spurred by the need for political correctness.  Still others claim the Welsh peasants, who weren't allowed to eat the rabbits caught during the hunts on the estates of the nobles, eating melted cheese and bread as a substitute, named the dish.  Culinary authorities, like Auguste Escoffier, say the spelling was changed from "rabbit" to "rarebit" merely to emphasize it not being a meat dish.

Say Cheese Please -- Try my recipe for Perfect Welsh Rarebit:

6a0120a8551282970b01b8d2d01ceb970c"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2022)

06/02/2022

~My Frittata Formula -- To Feed Two, a Few or a Crew~

6a0120a8551282970b01b8d26904a1970cLearning to make a frittata is a valuable culinary lifeskill.  Commonly referred to as the Italian version of an omelette, a frittata is a concoction of whisked eggs and cream, sliced, diced or chopped previously-cooked vegetables, meat or seafood and/or grated cheese.  I prefer to compare it to a custard-like quiche without a crust rather than an omelette because, like a quiche, a frittata is traditionally round and rather thick -- not at all elongated and comparatively flat (like the French and American omelettes).  There's more.  I think of an omelette as something that goes from stovetop to table in a few short moments -- something that will get you fed in a hurry with no stress and little mess.  That's not the case with frittata, which takes 30+ minutes.

With a formula, a frittata can be made for two, a few or a crew.

6a0120a8551282970b01bb09809192970dThe Italian word frittata derives from the word friggere, which roughly means "fried.  This is why frittata is traditionally associated with a skillet, namely a cast-iron skillet.  If a casserole dish is more convenient, by all means use one -- simply season and sauté your fillings ingredients in a skillet, and toss them into the bottom of a casserole that has been sprayed with no-stick spray, add the whisked egg and cream mixture and bake as directed.   To make three sizes of frittata in either an oven-safe, deep-sized cast-iron skillet or in a casserole, measure as follows:

10" cast-iron skillet or 3-qt. casserole = 12 ex.-large eggs, 1 cup cream, 6 cups add-ins*

8" cast-iron skillet or 2-qt. casserole = 9 ex.-large eggs, 3/4 cup cream 4 1/2 cups add-ins*

6" cast-iron skillet or 1 1/2-qt. casserole = 6 ex.-large eggs, 1/2  cup cream 3 cups add-ins*

*I don't include grated melting cheese (American, cheddar, gruyère, fontina or mozzarella) or crispy-fried bacon bits in the add-ins total because neither adds a lot of overall volume.  Add 1 cup, 3/4 cup or 1/2 cup cheese, &/or, 1/2 cup, 1/4 cup or 2 tablespoons bacon bits.

A bit about add-in vegetables.  Sautéed vegetables or a medley of vegetables can be added, as long as they are cooked in some manner first.  Why?  Vegetables, particularly those that contain lots of liquid, unless cooked first, will render the frittata watery.  Root vegetables, like potatoes and carrots, won't fully-cook if not given a head start on the stovetop.  Onions and/or garlic are almost always added. Other options include asparagus, broccoli, bell peppers, spinach, peas, and/or mushrooms.  They all work great.  Extremely watery vegetables, like tomatoes, summer squash and and zucchini work well too, but the extra step of seeding prior to sautéing is recommended.

A bit about add-in meats or seafood.  When it comes to meat or seafood, the same rules apply:  if it's cooked first it can be added.  Leftover diced porcine, like ham or sausage crumbles, along with crispy-fried bacon bits are my three meaty favorites, and, crab meat or shrimp, or both, are divine. My kids liked frittata made with diced salami or pepperoni as a late night snack.   That said, if you like to eat steak with your eggs, by all means, throw in slivers of that leftover roasted or grilled red meat. Feel free to disagree, but, for my taste, poultry has no place in a frittata -- there is just something about chicken or turkey in an egg dish that I find unappealing (save it for a sandwich).

Bake @ 325º:  6" skillet/20 min.; 8" skillet/25 min.; 10" skillet/30 min.

Add 6-8 minutes extra baking time for any frittata baked in a casserole dish.  Why?  A frittata started in the skillet is hot -- a frittata assembled in the casserole is not.

Tips from Mel:  You can substitute half and half or whole milk, but anything less than full-fat dairy renders a rubbery rather than an unctuous frittata.  The worst mistake to make is to overbake a frittata.  If it's deep-golden on top, it's over-cooked in the center.  It should light in color and barely set, so, be sure to check it often during the cooking process.  Season your filling ingredients appropriately when sautéing them, to taste, with salt, pepper and/or herbs or spices. The same goes for the egg mixture:  whisk in the salt and pepper before pouring it into the skillet or casserole. Adding cheese?  Choose one with a good melting quality.  Aged cheeses, like Parmesan or Pecorino, which add sharp, salty flavor, don't melt great, but work nicely grated over the top of the finished frittata.  Never stir the frittata after the egg mixture has been added.

6a0120a8551282970b01bb09810388970d

Start it on the stovetop in a oven-safe skillet & finish it in the oven, or:

assemble the ingredients in a casserole & bake it in the oven. 

6a0120a8551282970b01bb09810334970dThe egg mixture is poured into the same oven-safe skillet (usually cast-iron), the vegetables and or meats have been cooked or placed in.  The Frittata is started on the stovetop for a few moments, just long enough to allow the bottom of the mixture to solidify a bit, then finished in a moderate oven for 30-45 minutes depending on its size and the recipe.  That said, a frittata can be prepared in the skillet entirely on the stovetop, or, in a casserole entirely in the oven (usually to make a large-size frittata).  Frittata can be served directly from the pan, but, family-friendly-sized frittata is often inverted onto a platter, to reveal its golden crust, then sliced into wedges.

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Breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner or late night snack, a frittata is a relatively-easy quick-to-make, hunger-satisfying meal.  It tastes great served hot, warm, at room temperature or cold, and, leftovers reheat beautifully in the microwave, which make it perfect for those who brown bag lunch.  A bit of slicing, dicing or chopping is typically required, but it's minimal, and, since frittata can be a tasty way to use up yummy leftovers, there are times when no knife is necessary.

For those times when you just gotta have frittata, try my recipe for:  Italian Sausage, Bell Peppers 'n Onions Frittata:

6a0120a8551282970b01b7c8ddd4d0970b"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2022)