Friday, March 16, 2012

friday field trip: portsmouth, nh

This mug is from my absolute favorite coffee shop in Portsmouth!
Today we'll celebrate friendship and DF Anne's 40th birthday with some girl-time in Portsmouth, NH.  This seaside town has a great vibe with a charming, walkable downtown square, funky shops, plenty of local restaurants and fresh sea air.  Perfection!  I'll update this post with pics when we return!

Happy Friday!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

zucchini + proscuitto frittata for two

frittata's are lovely for two
and even better for guests!

I can't imagine why, but frittatas call to me in spring.  Maybe it is the bright yellow 'eggy-ness' or the flecks of new veggies but I love to make them as the winter starts to thaw. Frittatas are the Italian version of the French omelette. In my mind, this Italian staple is less intimidating than its French cousin and better suited to entertaining.  They can be made in advance with a simple (not fussy) technique and served to your group, large or small, at room temperature.

Today, I made a small one with my 8" non-stick fry pan* for Jeff and me to share.  The quantities are a good beginning for changing up the veggies and cheese to suit the contents of your refrigerator.  Frittatas are a wonderful way to use up leftover veggies from the night before - think potatoes and squash, mushrooms and sausage, peppers and onions, etc.

Zucchini + Proscuitto Frittata (per due)
adapted from Italian Cooking for Beginners by Helene Siegel


1 small to medium zucchini
3 thin slices of proscuitto
4 jumbo eggs (or 5 large)
1/4 c grated parmesan cheese (+ extra for garnish)
1 heaping T of chopped fresh parsley (+ extra for garnish)
freshly ground pepper
1/2 T butter, unsalted

* skillet needs to have an ovenproof handle

Tip:  You can make this in a larger fry pan for a group by doubling the ingredients.  Leftovers keep in the fridg and make a lovely lunch with a mixed green salad or a handful of arugula dressed with lemon juice.


1. Trim the ends from your zucchini and coarsely grate.  I used a box grater but you can also use your food processor.  Slice the proscuitto into strips about 1" x 1/8".  (See pictures for a guide.  This helps for even distribution in your dish so that each bite has a little of the salty goodness!)

2. Beat the eggs in a bowl with a fork or whisk.  Incorporate the zucchini, proscuitto, cheese and parsley.  Season with pepper to taste - you won't need to add salt to this dish as the cheese and meat bring plenty!

3. Preheat the broiler in your oven and adjust the top rack (if needed) to rest about 6" below the heat source.  Warm your skillet* over medium-high heat; add the butter and a drizzle of evoo.  Swirl to coat the bottom.

4.  Pour the egg mixture into the pan and give it one minute to set the bottom.  (I did this for 2 minutes because I like a more crisp crust on my frittata - but then I also prefer my bacon almost burnt.  Try the one minute version your first time and adjust to your taste as you perfect your frittata making!) 

5.  Then lower the heat to medium-low and cook till the edges set but the center is still a bit runny - this took about 6 minutes in my small pan.  Give it 10-14 in a medium (10"?) skillet with an 8-egg mixture.

6. Just before I put the pan in the oven, I sprinkle about a T of parmesan cheese on top - more crispy crust!  Now slide it in, under the broiler.  Leave it for 1-2 minutes, until the top puffs up a bit and is golden brown.

7.  Remove and let it cool in the pan for about 5 minutes.  If you cut into it sooner, a little egg might run out, not critical.  To ease with removal, run a heatproof spatula around the edge to help loosen.  Invert onto a plate, cut into wedges and serve.


love the course bits on the hand grater
a little much for our small dish -
gave a handful + a little cheese to
Lucy for breakfast (our Golden)

trimmed to one inch slices
then stacked and sliced thinly
the eggs only need a light hand, a fork will
do just as well as a whisk

just a little oil and butter,
(could use spray if on
restrictive diet)
coat the bottom - makes removal easy!

edges set, ready for the oven

puffed and golden after the broiler


Saturday, March 10, 2012

savory pecan butter

Compound butters wake up our palates. 

Hurray!  Back in action after many weeks off-line.  Getting back into our groove, I'll look to our travel for creative ideas.  This savory butter is inspired by a fantastic dish I enjoyed while on vacation in Florida.

Whenever we visit our family in Vero Beach, Jeff and I try to make time for one meal at the Ocean Grill.  My very first meal here was with 'Gramma Z', Jeff's maternal grandmother.  She was a remarkable woman who made magical dinner conversations (an cocktails were always an EVENT!).

Located in the beach shopping district, the Ocean Grill sits on a sand dune and the dining room looks out over the Atlantic Ocean.  Less than 200 yards of sand between you and the crashing waves! We like to relax and chat while watching the sun set, munching on crackers and their divine blue cheese spread.  This time I ordered the fish special for dinner: roasted cobia (had never heard of this fish) with pecan butter. It was delicious!  Upon arriving home, cobia popped up on my twitter feed with an article about it and Legal Seafoods. Seafood fans - keep a lookout for this tasty fish!

Tonight I used this butter to dress up steamed green beans;
great on roasted swordfish and cajun rib-eye steaks, too!

Savory Pecan Butter
inspired by the Ocean Grill


1 stick of unsalted butter, softened to room temp
1/2 large yellow onion (or 1 small)
4 cloves of garlic
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/2 c pecans
1 t brown sugar
salt and pepper to taste


1. One stick of unsalted butter will soften to room temperature after about a half hour on your countertop.

2. Cut a large yellow onion in half. Reserve one half for another use.  Peel and cut in two the remaining piece.  I pulse a small food processor to chop the onion and garlic finely.  Then I put the minced onion and garlic in a bowl with the softened butter.  The lemon juice and zest goes in as well.

3.  I use the same processor to mince the pecans together with the brown sugar.  I find the sugar keeps the pecans from turning to butter.

4.  Mash all the ingredients together and then put onto a piece of wax paper.  Using the wax paper, shape the butter into a log, wrap and twist the ends.  Put in the freezer for future use.  (You can date it with a sharpie.  Best consumed within 6 months.)