Archive for June, 2012

June 17, 2012

Last Night’s Dinner: Asparagus and Parmesan Frittata

Every year, without fail, the local asparagus season surprises me. I know what it tastes like and I know how I like to eat it, so why should it catch me unawares? I think the answer is that I also end up eating asparagus at other times of the year. Sometimes it’s in restaurants that claim they build their recipes around local, seasonal produce. But asparagus in London in November? I think not. Then it appears in stir fries and risottos: thin, woody, tasteless stalks from Peru or Thailand. Pah! Sometimes, like a fool, I even buy it myself.

So, every year, when the really good stuff comes around in May, I’m taken aback all over again at how fresh, juicy and earthily green, local in-season asparagus can be. The problem is that after a few meals of it I can get bored. I know the season will be over soon, but I’m tired and I don’t want another risotto, or another plate of steamed asparagus with new potatoes, or the stalks chargrilled with a grating of parmesan… etc etc. So, each year I come up with something new. Last year it was asparagus egg and chilli tomato. This year, a quick lunch of an asparagus-based fritatta. (Look carefully and you’ll notice that we kept the winning combination of the veg, eggs and cheese and simply reformulated it). So easy it hardly needs a recipe, we made this as a man from the phone company was fixing our broadband. Amounts, and the size of the pan, will depend on how many you want to feed… I’ll leave it up to you.

First, finely slice a red onion and begin to fry it gently in a little olive oil in a frying pan. Cook until it has softened – around 8 minutes. While it’s cooking, roughly chop the asparagus stalks. If they’re thick, halve them lengthways too so that they don’t take too long to cook through. Add them to the pan and cook for a further 8-10 minutes. Beat some eggs and season with a black pepper. Next, grate a handful or so of parmesan and mix it into the eggs. Add to the pan. Stir a little, coating the asparagus and onion – try to distribute the veg evenly through the egg mixture. Leave to cook on a low heat. Turn on your grill to high. When the edges of the frittata begin to crisp and turn gold but the top is still not quite set, take the pan off the heat and hold under the grill to set the top. When it’s gold, you’re done.

Serve hot, warm or cold.

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June 6, 2012

Last night’s dinner: Egg curry

I suppose it doesn’t sound particularly wonderful. A simple egg; that generic, catch-all term ‘curry’. Hmm.

My desire to make an egg curry, however, goes back to the mid ’90s when I received a ‘curry’ recipe book that featured one. I have no idea why I never got round to making it. And the book? I’ve no idea where it is.

Which means I had to make up a recipe for this protein rich, filling dish. The ‘curry’ is in fact a basic dhal that we then perked up with some extra ingredients on top. For our basic dhal recipe, see here.

I think dhal plus a boiled egg could be a little cloying on its own, so to balance the flavours we added some tangy sweetness in the shape of some cherry tomatoes, and some savouriness in the form of crispy fried onions. The eggs were boiled, straightforwardly, and have of them added to the dhal, half reserved for the top. The dish is finished with a little chopped coriander.

It’s the balance of those added extras that makes this work. And, after 17 years of waiting, I really rather enjoyed it.