Thursday, June 12, 2014

Frittata Frenzy: Brunch for the Family!

It all started with trying to find an easy way to host a large family brunch and it turned into a Frittata Frenzy!  Actually, it was more fun then frenzy with several family members coming early to help chop vegetables and whisk eggs. We got creative with the ingredients and suddenly 3 frittatas turned into 5, including versions for special diet requests.

For those unfamiliar with the frittata, it is an Italian egg dish that is sometimes described as a crustless quiche or pan-sized omelet.  They are super easy to make and once you have the basic recipe then you can easily create your own masterpieces. They are wonderful for brunch but also make a great mid-week supper and are a super way to use up leftovers.

Our brunch was completed with several other family members bringing hot crossed buns, heart shaped waffles, Asparagus Gruyere Tart, fruit salad, hash brown casserole, Greek and quinoa salad and Pecan and Saskatoon pie for dessert.  It was a feast (there were over 30 of us) and with everyone pitching it – not that much work either!

Here are few recipes from our brunch, including a basic frittata recipe.  I hope you try it out and have as much fun creating frittatas as we did! Enjoy!

Basic Frittata Recipe
1 cup protein 250 mL
2 -3 cups mixed vegetables 500 – 750 mL
2 Tbsp canola oil 30 mL
1 – 2 tsp herbs and or spices 5 – 10 mL
1 – 2 tsp minced garlic 5 – 10 mL
½ - 1 tsp salt 2 – 5 mL
½ - 1 cup shredded or cubed cheese 125 – 250 mL
6 – 8 large eggs (enough to cover ingredients)
Large skillet, cast iron pan or baking pan.
1. Preheat the oven to 350° F (180° C).
2. If protein requires cooking, cook it first and then set aside.
3. In a large nonstick, ovenproof skillet heat canola oil over medium heat. Add vegetables, starting with the ones that take the longest to cook.  Cook until vegetables are tender. Drain any excess liquid. Return protein to the skillet.  Stir to combine.
4. Add selected herbs, spices, garlic and salt.  I tend to over season as once you add the eggs the flavor will soften.  Arrange mixture in your skillet, cast iron pan or oiled baking pan. Cover with shredded or cubed cheese.
5.  Whisk eggs together and pour over vegetables and cheese. Ensure the eggs cover the other ingredients and that they settle evenly through the vegetables and cheese to the bottom of the pan.
6. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until the eggs are set.  Timing will depend on which ingredients you use.  It is best to test the frittata by inserting a knife into the middle.  If the eggs are runny cook for a few more minutes; if the eggs are set remove the frittata from the oven.  Cool, for 5 minutes, cut into pieces and serve. 

Protein Ideas: (choose 1)
1 cup diced chicken, beef, pork… 250 mL
1 cup chopped bacon, ham or sausage 250 mL
1 cup chopped smoked salmon 250 mL
1 1/2 cup cubed tofu 375 mL
extra ½ cup shredded or cubed cheese 125 mL

Vegetable Ideas: (choose 2 or 3)
1 onion, diced
1 cup diced mushrooms
2 cups spinach or kale 500 mL
1 potato, sliced
1 green, yellow or red pepper, diced
2 green onions, sliced
8 – 10 cherry tomatoes, No need to precook these.
½ cup shredded carrot 125 mL
1 cup chopped cauliflower or broccoli or zucchini 250 mL
1 cup leftover potatoes (or rice/pasta) or 250 mL

Seasoning Ideas: Basil, red pepper flakes, tarragon, oregano, chili powder, Dijon mustard
Cheese Ideas: Parmesan, Parmigiano-Reggiano, sharp cheddar, Gruyere, Emmental, Monterey Jack, feta, ricotta, mozzarella

Here are the ingredients we used for our frittatas.  Because we were cooking for a bunch we used baking pans. Not only did they serve more but also we could fit more in the oven at one time. We oiled them before using and then simply filled each pan not quite ¾ full of vegetables, chees and protein. Then we whisked about 8 to 10 eggs for each pan. Just ensure that the eggs almost cover everything.

Frittata Frenzy #1: Bacon, broccoli, Monterey Jack, tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, peppers, garlic and red pepper flakes.
Frittata Frenzy #2: Sausage, spinach, peppers, mushrooms and sharp cheddar cheese, garlic and oregano
Frittata Frenzy #3: Smoked salmon, asparagus, shredded carrot, tarragon mustard and Emmental cheese
Frittata Frenzy #4: Ham, Gruyere cheese, shredded carrot tomatoes, peppers, garlic and basil
Frittata Frenzy #5: Bacon, onion, Parmigiano-Reggiano and Ricotta cheese, kale and red pepper flakes

Hash Brown Casserole
There are never any leftovers with this dish. There are many versions of this casserole. This one is based on Campbell Soups’ recipe. I have also seen recipes that include bacon, red peppers and even green chilies.
1 pkg. (1 kg) frozen hash browns, thawed
1 can (10 fl oz/284 mL) condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 cup light sour cream 250 mL
1 onion, chopped
1/2 cup butter, melted 125 mL
½ tsp ground black pepper 2 mL
2 cups mozza-cheddar blend shredded cheese, divided 500 mL
1/2 cup crushed corn flakes 125 mL
1.    Heat oven to 350 F (180 C).
2.    In a large bowl, hash browns, soup, sour cream, onion, butter, pepper and 1 cup (250 mL) cheese; mix lightly.
3.    Spoon into 9 x 13 inch (22 x 33 cm) oiled baking dish. Top with corn flakes and remaining cheese.
4.    Bake 40 to 45 min. or until hot and bubbling.

Whole-Grain Waffles with Strawberry Rhubarb Topping
Ellie Krieger of the Food Network originally developed this recipe. It is perfect for a spring brunch as these waffles are served with a tasty strawberry-rhubarb sauce.
1/2 cup fresh rhubarb, cut into ½-inch -(1 cm-) pieces 125 mL
1 Tbsp orange juice 15 mL
3 Tbsp maple syrup 45 mL
1½ cup strawberries, quartered 375 mL 
3/4 cup all-purpose flour 175 mL
3/4 cup whole-wheat pastry flour or regular whole-wheat flour 175 mL
2 Tbsp toasted wheat germ 30 mL
1¼ tsp baking powder 6 mL
1/2tsp baking soda 2 mL
1/4 tsp salt 1 mL
1/2 cup nonfat plain yogurt 125 mL
1 cup nonfat milk 250 mL
2 Tbsp canola oil 30 mL
1 Tbsp maple syrup 15 mL
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract 2 mL
Canola oil cooking spray
Confectioner’s sugar for garnish (optional) 
1.    To make topping: In saucepan, combine rhubarb, orange juice and maple syrup. Bring to boil, reduce heat to medium and simmer for five minutes until rhubarb has softened and starts to break down. Add strawberries. Return to boil and then reduce heat slightly and cook, stirring occasionally, until strawberries have softened and liquid is thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
2.    To make waffles: Preheat waffle iron to medium-high heat. In large bowl, whisk together all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, wheat germ, baking powder, baking soda and salt to combine. In another large bowl, whisk together yogurt, milk, canola oil, maple syrup, egg and vanilla. Stir wet ingredients into dry ones, mixing only enough to combine. 
3.    Spray waffle iron with canola oil cooking spray and ladle batter onto waffle iron according to manufacturer’s directions. Close waffle maker and cook batter until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Repeat with remaining batter. Dust with confectioner’s sugar, if using. Serve with strawberry topping. 
Yield: 4 servings. Serving size: 1 large, Belgium-style waffle or two regular waffles and 1/4 cup (60 mL) topping.

Three Citrus Mint Dressing on Seasonal Fresh Fruits
Cookbook author George Geary developed this recipe. The light and zesty dressing is like a mint pesto and really compliments fresh seasonal fruit.
8 cups sliced fresh seasonal fruits (melon and berries) 2L
1/2 cup canola oil 125 mL
1/3 cup mint leaves, chopped fine 75 mL
2 Tbsp fresh orange juice 30 mL
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice 30 mL
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice 30 mL
2 tsp poppy seeds 10 mL
1. In large bowl, combine fruit. Set aside. 
2. In small saucepan, heat oil on low to about 120 °F (50 °C) or until just heated. Turn off flame and add chopped mint. (It may sizzle.) Let sit to infuse for 1 hour and to cool down. 

3. In food processor bowl fitted with metal blade, process orange, lemon and lime juice. Add oil/mint mixture and process until fine, about 45 seconds. Toss over fruit with poppy seeds. Stir to evenly coat. Serve. 

Yield: 16 servings. Serving size: 1/2 cup (125 mL).

Asparagus Gruyere Tart
When I was searching for recipe ideas for the brunch. I came across this one on  It was so pretty I had to try it.  I accidently bought phyllo dough rather then puff pastry dough.  The phyllo dough worked out fine (no flour required). I used about 6 or 8 phyllo sheets, which I brushed with melted butter as I layered them.
Flour, for work surface
1 sheet frozen puff pastry
5 ½ oz (2 cups) Gruyere Cheese, shredded 500 mL
1 ½ lbs medium or thick asparagus 750 g
1 Tbsp olive oil 15 mL
Salt and pepper
STEP 1: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a floured surface, roll the puff pastry into a 16-by-10-inch rectangle. Trim uneven edges. Place pastry on a baking sheet. With a sharp knife, lightly score pastry dough 1 inch in from the edges to mark a rectangle. Using a fork, pierce dough inside the markings at 1/2-inch intervals. Bake until golden, about 15 minutes.
STEP 2: Remove pastry shell from oven, and sprinkle with Gruyere. Trim the bottoms of the asparagus spears to fit crosswise inside the tart shell; arrange in a single layer over Gruyere, alternating ends and tips. Brush with oil, and season with salt and pepper. Bake until spears are tender, 20 to 25 minutes. 

Source: Everyday Food, March/April 2003 via

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