A Mediterranean Father’s Day Frittata

I love my dad.

Many folks say their either a momma’s boy or daddy’s boy or whatever – personally, I love them equally. When I’m with my mom, I’m a momma’s boy – and vice versa with my pops.

So I like to do whatever I can for them to show my appreciation. Honestly, I think celebrating my birthday’s silly – WTF did I do? Shit, I actually tried to strangle myself in the womb, so its not like a whole lot of work went into my birth from my end. That was all my Mama, and partially my dad, so my birthday really should be me thanking them profusely for not just saying ‘fuck it lets try again next year’ since I was such a little pain.

Anyway, I digress. Last Saturday I picked up my dad’s dog Ralphie (sweet old boxer) and headed down to San Diego to see my dad.

From left to right - Ralphie, Myrddin (mer-thin), and Lady

This one’s for you Pops.

The Pieces

Prep Time: 20-25 minutes

Cook Time: 40-45 minutes

Feeds: 3-4 people

  • 1 large red bell pepper
  • 1 yellow zucchini
  • 1 roma tomato
  • 1 large red onion
  • 1/2 pound pitted kalamata olives
  • 8 oz cheese curds of some sort (ricotta or mozzarella)
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/4 cup half and half
  • cayenne
  • fresh cracked black pepper

The Puzzle

1. Preheat oven to 375

2. finely dice (very nearly mince) all your veggies except the kalamata’s. We want these roughly chopped.

3. Combine eggs, half and half, cheese curds, olives in a bowl and whip together vigorously

4. In a pan on high heat, saute your finely diced veggies with some oil, 1 tsp cayenne, and some fresh cracked black pepper until see through. No more than 5 minutes

5. In a deep casserole dish, ideally 7x7x4, place your sauteed veggies

6. top with the egg mixture and lightly combine. We still want most of the veggies on the bottom

I had some extra cloth bound cheddar sitting around, which i crumbled on top

7. Stick it in the oven for about 40 minutes, or until a knife stuck in the center comes out completely clean. It should puff up considerably.

8. Once done, let stand at room temperature at least 10 minutes

9. For an extra special kick, serve with tzatziki sauce. I’ll be doing my own version of this soon enough.

10. Remind your father just how much you love him, and enjoy!

YUMMM

Grilled Cheese and Beer, a taste of paradise

DISCLAIMER: I broke some rules here. I ate meat, and I’m not sorry for it – I wanted to taste the sandwiches the way Andrew intended them be enjoyed. I understand some of you won’t like this, but I honestly don’t give a shit. It was high quality stuff, not the corn fed farmed garbage Tyson will pawn off on you, so don’t grief me and I won’t send monkey’s to fling feces on your pristine suburban house.

Now then – this post is dedicated to Andrew over at Andrew’s Cheese Shop. Salutations, sir, and many thanks for an incredibly memorable evening.

For the poor saps out there unfortunate enough to be unable to attend, you are lessened by your absence. I’m serious about this, if you live in LA, fucking get over there ASAP.

Allow me to set the stage: Its 7:30 on a Friday night. Beautiful weather outside, just enough light to see by, you approach a relatively unassuming storefront. Inside its all candles and soft light, surrounded by high quality wine, beer, salts, craft soda and best of all, under the quiet luminescent glow, wonderful cheeses.  A long table with beautiful flat ware and 2o seats confronts you –  an intimate setting, to say the least. You settle in and make idle conversation with your friends as the rest of the group files in – an interesting assortment of folks, from all apparent walks of life, each beautiful in their own way, especially those close to you.

Once all have gathered, the door is locked and the evening begins with a small speech from Andrew, preparing you for the glory about to be thrust upon you, and you dig into the salad artfully set in front of you.

Wasabi vinaigrette? Fuck yea.

Tomatoes, cucumber, olives, red bell pepper, red onion, all topped with a pleasantly spicy Wasabi vinaigrette. The purpose here, as Andrew elucidates, is to prep your taste buds for some bold flavors, and to whet your thirst for some top notch beer.

The first course arrives, more of an amuse-bouche than anything else.

Beer soaked baguette topped with 1 year old Grafton sharp cheddar

Beer: Called ‘Blanche de Chambly’, this light and cidery Belgian white is brewed by the wonderful folks over at Unibroue, who have given us La Terrible, my current favorite beer. A great start, paired with the richness of the baguette, as the sunny citrus sweet really livens up your palate.

This is dangerous. I can see myself drinking several bottles and running into walls before I even noticed I was drunk.

Sandwich: Very simple baguette topped with sharp cheddar cheese – the kicker hits once you bite into the bread proper, whereupon you realize what Andrew meant when he said ‘Beer Soaked Baguette’… simply bursts with flavor. And then, once you’ve finished the whole thing, a small tingling at the back of your throat – horseradish! I’ve never had the stuff used subtly before, very interesting.

A few minutes to settle, and on comes course two….

Very reminiscent of a Caprese salad...on bread...

Unfortunately these pictures aren’t going to do much justice…so much of the magic happens just under the cheese.

Beer: Saison Rue, brewed by ‘The Bruery‘ (a clever play on words based on the families last name). Quite similar to the last beer actually, with more of a bite on the back end. Pleasantly fruity ‘peasant beer’.

Sandwich: Hands down the best damn thing I’ve put in my mouth in years (and don’t you dare take that out of context…). A few others, including my wonderfully ascerbic neighbor, were a little underwhelmed by this one, and that’s fine…and its your opinion…but your wrong Lucy (true name omitted in the interest of safety)! I’M LOOKING AT YOU.

This shits the bee’s knees, or whatever the kids say these days…Olive bread, basil butter, prosciutto de parma, Burrata (OMFGYESSS), tomato, basil, truffle salt. Yea, you read that right, fucking truffle salt. It wasn’t simply the composition of the sandwich, which was impressive given the quality of the ingredients, but the BREAD! Perfectly soaked through with each one of the above mentioned flavors, lightly browned basil butter…..heaven. Heaven on bread.

Paired well with the beer as well.

And as I’m coming down from this euphoric height, considering whether or not I need to change my pants, in comes Course the Third.

Not a personal favorite, delightful nonetheless

Beer: Arrogant Bastard. Bitter, angry, unapologetic – you’ve had it before, and if you haven’t, or you didn’t like it, the fine folks at Stone don’t give a shit and neither do I.

Sandwich: Harvest (carrot, walnut, raisin) wheat bread, Isle of Mull and Quicke’s oak smoked cheddar cheese, dijon mustard, black forest ham, raisins. A nice sandwich, this one was probably the low point of the evening for me. A little too salty, a little too heavy – delicious, nonetheless, but a little much for me. Although, I will say this – the dijon mustard really accented the smoked cheddar beautifully.

Course Four, or how I discovered my ‘Jolly Face’ and appeal to ‘Alternative Women’.

Simple. Spectacular.

I’m not going to explain the last comment, needless to say its an inside joke relating to the conversation at hand.

Beer: Malheur 12. The 12 refers to the percentage of alcohol present, and I must say I found this hard to believe – honestly – since most high alcohol beers end up tasting like ass. For reference, try out Brew Dog’s 18% Tokyo some time; relatively popular, it tastes like sickeningly sweet ass, and I’m convinced the hipsters who drink it all despise it. No, this beer was wonderful. Smooth, nutty coffe chocolate flavor, absolutely no bitterness on the back end, which is off putting considering its color, which is remarkably similar to Arrogant Bastard.

Brandon, my roommate, didn’t like it much…but that doesn’t say anything to the quality of the beer. Homie doesn’t like pickles and has to eat a Hostess Cosmic Brownie with every damn meal, so, yeah. He also hates watermelon. WHO HATES WATERMELON SERIOUSLY.

Sandwich: This was all about the cheese – Morbier, Beaufort de Savoie, varieties of Gruyere, on multigrain wheat. It was topped with some amazing Fleur de Sel, which completely changed the taste, in an ‘OMG I CAN SEE INTO THE FUTURE’ kind of way.

At this point we’d all sort of settled into a comfortable food coma, contentedly sipping our beers and making idle conversation about traveling and the inherent dangers of Italian dentistry, when the Final Course arrived.

Gorgonzola, honey, mana from god

Beer: Meantime London Porter. Another tasty one, made with no less than 7 malts – very intense flavor, also reminiscent of chocolate.

Sandwich: Saison bread, with hazelnuts, walnuts, and raisins soaked in LAMILL coffee. Not sure why that’s all caps. The cheeses were gorgonzola, Munster Gerome, topped with honey – a nice sweeter way to end what was all around a damn spectacular night.

Good friends, new and old, tasty food and eye opening beers…I’m marking this one a downright success.

Thanks again Andrew!

Various info on the Cheese Shop:

Site

Yelp

Facebook

CHEESE, or Food Porn 101

Obsession.

To quote the equally depraved John Waters:

“Without obsession, life is nothing.”

On the other hand, Norman Mailer:

“Obsession is the single most wasteful human activity, because with an obsession you keep coming back and back and back to the same question and never get an answer”

Either way, its a word I use a lot, something I myself have often fought with describing. At first, when I decided to rant on the subject of my darkest, unhealthiest obsession I wasn’t sure quite where to begin.

After some though the obvious became more so – where better than the beginning?

obsession begins somewhere. For me it began (truly) at my first regional italian cooking course in Southern California. My previous exposure to cheese had been minimal, a condiment used, albeit liberally, in many dishes I’d had and cooked. Very rarely had I eaten the stuff on its own, so for me I didn’t see it in the same light.

Now here I was, 21 and attempting to turn my couch ridden most likely alcoholic ass into something presentable, cultured, maybe even…worldly? A foolish endeavor I realize now, yet at least it earned me a little more knowledge than i was previously possessed of, and gave me an opportunity to expand my mind.

At the start of each class the teacher would present us with an assortment of cheese, olives, and olive oil.

Thick mozzarella sack...creamy filling... so dirty, so delicious

What popped my cherry, opened my mind and blew down all previous inhibitions?

Burrata.

Sweet, savory, creamy, fucking orgasmically brilliant – a simple cheese at best. But still, it birthed my obsession with all things cheese. From there it was a downward spiral, filled with dark alleys and cheese filled trench coats, pushers hawking their villainous wares to the horribly depraved addicts, desperate for that next creamy fix.

Well…ok, perhaps not that severe.

I’d had Brie. I’d had Gouda. I’d had Cheddar. I thought I knew cheese.

Fuck me, was I ever wrong. As soon as the proverbial levees broke, I began reaching ever outwards, looking for stranger, more bizarre cheese, for those as like minded as me.

I began to learn more about cheese (wikipedia for starters) and the process behind making this soft gem. So many steps!

Shortly thereafter I was introduced to Andrew’s Cheese shop, and a like minded individual who’s obsession far exceeded my own.

What he showed me, I lack the words to describe. So let some pics highlight my favorite cheese, and help guide you down the rabbit hole, towards the dark side of cheese…

Uber Veggie Quesadilla, or Love at first Bite

Another one for the books.

I often find myself, in the wee hours of the morning, or when the roomies aren’t around, watching my ‘guilty pleasures’ – Food Network shows like Guys Big Bite, or Tyler’s Ultimate. It was one such occasion that inspired this deviant work. He called it a ‘Coyote Quesadilla‘, but me being me I had to expand upon it.

I was planning the whole thing out when I met Chef Andi of the World Fare truck.

I’d gotten her to come to Treyarch and serve us on Saturday, and I knew a lot about her, but I never expected her to be so awesome. So, in the course of us chatting, she mentioned I should try ‘Soyrizo’, since she’d had it just the other day and couldn’t for the life of her tell the difference.

A deviant plan was born.

The Pieces

Prep Time: 20 minutes of chopping

Cook Time: 15 minutes in the oven (not including the 5 minutes for the soyrizo)

  • 1 package Soyrizo (they sell it cheap at Ralphs, and it tastes remarkably good)
  • 1 12 oz can Fat Free refried beans
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 6-7 small sweet peppers, diced
  • 1 bunch green onions, sliced
  • 8 oz shredded mozzarella
  • 8 oz shredded cheddar
  • 8 oz shredded pepper jack
  • 12 oz can of sliced ‘nacho’ jalapenos
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Cumin/Paprika/Fresh cracked black

Sauce

  • 1 8 oz tub of sour cream
  • 4 oz ranch dressing
  • 1 can Chipotles in Adobo sauce

The Puzzle

1. Preheat oven to 375

2. Heat the oil in a skillet on high. Once shimmering, add onions

3. As the onions saute, squeeze the soyrizo into the onions

4. Reduce heat to medium and allow to combine. Add your spices.

5. In a separate pan, brown 3 tortillas on high til just barely crispy

6. Once the soyrizo is rendered down (5 mins or so) take it off the heat

7. To put it all together: 1st layer, spread a thin layer of beans, followed by the soyrizo/onion mixture, followed by green onion and bell pepper, and topped by 1/3 of the cheese and jalapenos

8. Add the next tortilla, repeat the layering. Use the final tortilla as the cap, top with jalapenos and the rest of the cheese

9. this goes into the oven for approximately 10 minutes, or until golden brown and orgasmic

Sauce

1/2 the sour cream, the ranch dressing, 2 chipotle chili’s and some Adobo, pulse in your blender til creamy.

I served this rather like a cake (as you can see) with sour cream and the sauce on top.

Seriously amazingly tasty. Amazingly.

gooey and goddamn amazing. *DROOL* Now I want some more...

Leaving Lorraine

Quiche style.

Recently I’ve read on several blogs, including here at the simple stove, vegetarian varieties of quiche, a favored dish of mine…however, being the ‘rebel’ I am, I decided on a different take. I ditched the crust, used a variety of cheeses, and ended up with easily the best fucking quiche I have ever cooked let alone tasted. The closest one I can thing of is Urth Caffe‘s veggie tomato and smoked mozzarella.

My photographer/camera op room mate took a bunch of beautiful pics, which I’ll upload later when I find my memory card reader.

Lets get started.

The Pieces

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes…or so

  • 8 oz fresh Ricotta
  • 6 oz fresh grated pepper jack
  • 4 oz Minuet or something comparable
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup skim milk
  • 1/4 cup diced white onion
  • 1/2 cup sliced green onion
  • 4 cloves minced or pressed garlic
  • 1/4 cup diced celery
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • salt
  • fresh cracked black

Aww, ain't Brandon talented...

The Puzzle

0. Preheat oven to 375

1. Use 2 burners to heat up a 13″x9″ pyrex casserole on high

2. Saute your garlic and green onion until the white portion of the onion is transparent. Remove the onion/garlic from the pan, and turn off the burners

3. Layer your broccoli, white onion and celery in the bottom of the casserole dish

4. Combine milk, eggs, salt, pepper, green onion and garlic in a bowl. Begin whisking together, adding in the ricotta and 3 oz of the pepper jack slowly.

5. Once smoothly combined, pour evenly into the pyrex dish.

AWESOMEINORITE

Again, Brandon my photographer

6. Top with crumbled bits of minuet (I was just lucky enough to have this delicious shit on hand. Feta/gorgonzola could also do the trick) and remaining portion of Pepper Jack

Sometimes, my talents scares me

7. Stick it into the oven until golden brown on top, or when a knife stuck in the center comes out w/o egg on it

FUCK YEA

I know, right?

Burrata, Berries, Badassery

For the first time in a long time I found myself with a weekend all to myself. Roommates were either out of town or busy, and I actually didn’t have to work. Given my skimpy budget, I had to make do with minimal groceries – but I did have enough to treat myself to some severely sick ovo-lacto vegetarian decadence. Some of you may be unaware of this, but I generally don’t like sweet desserts. This, however, is something I can get behind.

On Friday I’d visited Andrew’s Cheese shop (review coming Friday, after a follow up visit) and picked up, among other items, a pound of fresh Burrata.

For those of you who don’t know:

Burrata cheese is more a variety of mozzarella than anything else – its a thin Mozzarella sack filled with cream and bits of, you guessed it, more mozzarella. It is quite hard to find, so should you be so lucky, run home with some crusty bread and some balsamic vinegar, for you are in for a treat.

So i’d already been eating my burrata on italian loaf with a balsamic glaze when it occurred to me to try this out. Very simple, and very delicious.

The Pieces

1/2 cup each of blueberries, raspberries, and sliced strawberries

1/2 pound Burrata cheese

High quality clover honey

The Puzzle

I’m not even putting steps here, its that simple –

Cheese, honey, berries, mix. Love me sexy.

For some intense variety I can also recommend a balsamic reduction be drizzled over the top, but thats really up to you

o fuck yea. iPhone camera FTW.

Apeshit Mac N’Cheese

Goddamn, this is easily one of my more…decadent…recipes.

Its delicious, don’t get me wrong, but this is something you eat once or twice a year – and i’m not being facetious.

So, if you’ve had a bad day, or you or a friend recently went through a breakup, or you just need some of the best fucking comfort food out there – this is your dish.

I’ll get more precise measurements, but this how I roll – approximately.

The Pieces

Prep Time: 5-10 mins, depending on how fast you can grate cheese…

Cook Time: 50 minutes

  • 1 box of elbow macaroni
  • half a full stick of butter
  • a generous amount of flour (lets say 1/2 a cup, for shits and giggles)
  • 16 oz each of: Mozzarella, Cheddar, Pepper Jack
  • 8 oz of: smoked gouda and brie
  • About a cup of whole milk
  • unflavored italian breadcrumbs
  • paprika
  • cayenne
  • salt and pepper

How its done

Have you ever made a roux? If not, go hang yourself in the bathroom with a used towel.

Or I can tell you how. If you don’t kill yourself. Which is still an option.

Roux 101

A roux is, very simply, a thickening agent used in many of the more traditional soups and stews. Its a combination of flour and fat – some cooks prefer oil, but most will tell you clarified butter (ghee) is the way to go.  The first thing you do is combine equal parts flour and fat over low heat, and stir to combine. As it thickens, it will go through a series of colors: white, blonde, beige, brick, fucking burnt and ruined you ass.

The color roux you end up with actually changes the flavor profile of the dish you’re cooking (and pretty drastically) – for example, a brick roux, which is used most frequently in gumbo, has a distinct nutty flavor.

For this dish today we’ll be using a blonde roux.

1. Clarify your butter. To do this, throw your butter in a sauce pan on low heat. Once it has melted, tilt the pot towards yourself and skim the fat off using a large spoon – or whatever works I don’t give a shit.

2. Put some of your clarified butter, say 2-3 tbsp, into a new sauce pot on medium heat

3. Add the flour

4. Stir constantly until thick. We’re looking for a consistency similar to that paste you ate in kindergarten. No? Just me? Whatever.

5. Once it has reached a ‘blonde’ color, whisk in your milk

Though the pic's shit, the consistency you are looking for pre-cheese - nice and smooth

6. After the two have combined completely, begin adding your cheese in batches. This part is really up to you – if the sauce gets to thick, just add more milk. But don’t skimp on that cheese.

7. Add a lot (i’m talking nearly 1 tbsp) of paprika and a few pinches of cayenne

8. Thats pretty much it for your sauce – now you’ll want to add the cooked (just barely al dente) macaroni. And no, I didn’t include a step for that, because its common fucking sense. If I need to tell you to boil the goddamn pasta go find another blog – Rachel Ray could always use another reader.

9. Once the pasta’s fully coated in the sauce spread it out evenly in a casserole dish

10. Now, in a separate bowl, toss your breadcrumbs with a little more of that ghee and any remaining cheese you have the balls to use.

11. Sprinkle that glorious shit all over the top of your pasta, and pop the pan into a preheated oven (375) until golden brown and awesome.

If you don’t absolutely love this, refer to my drunk taters recipe and GTFO.

Or there’s still hanging yourself in the bathroom. I never took that off the table…

Hot delicious mess

Before we get started, know this – the idea came from a damn good friend of mine, Jacob, and was prepared at 1 am while doing shots – so my measurements are most definitely off a bit.

Still, for something this haphazard, that shouldn’t matter. We grabbed the random shit floating around my apt, combined it with a few things he’d brought, and before our bleary eyes realized it we’d made a masterpiece.

The Pieces

Prep Time:10 mins

Cook Time: 45 mins – 1 hour

  • 1 16 oz can whole tomatoes, seeded (save a bit of juice)
  • Most of a 16 oz bag of shredded cheddar and mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 a stick of salted butter
  • 3 yukon gold potatoes, cubed
  • 1 bigass sweet potato, cubed
  • 1 large brown onion, diced
  • 1 12 oz can of sweet peas, drained
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • paprika
  • cayenne
  • fresh cracked black pepper
  • some oregano (i think?)

The Puzzle

0. Preheat oven to 375

1. Chop time: dice your peeled potatoes and onion.

2. Throw the onion into a glass casserole dish on high heat, and sweat until barely translucent. Remove the pan from the heat, and take the onions out (adding them in later)

3. Put your diced potatoes in the pan with the onion oil, and get that in the oven for 15 minutes

4. Take 3-4 shots of cheap whiskey

5. Drain and seed your tomatoes. Roughly chop and add to the potatoes after the 15 mins is up.

6. Add your reserve tomato juice and peas, and let cook for approx 45 minutes or until the potatoes are just barely fork tender

7. Mix beaten eggs with some cheese and the remaining spice you feel like adding- at least pepper and cayenee.

8. Pour this over the top and mix into the casserole dish

9. Copiously cover with cheese

10. Cook until nicely browned on top

11. Bask in your friends adoration at your pure fucking awesome skill

Bottle of rum on the right, beer on the left...