brunch frittata (& how to care for your cast iron skillet)

A cast iron skillet was one of the only tangible items we put on our wedding registry. I can’t believe I didn’t have one before — it’s one of those kitchen “must haves” — and although I did have a ridged grilling cast iron pan, I didn’t have a flat bottomed cast iron skillet, which is perfect for frittatas, among other things!  So now that we have one (thanks Ben & Evan!) it was time to celebrate not having to study this weekend with a leisurely homemade brunch.

photo 1Frittatas are great because you can really throw in anything you want. If you ever have a bunch of veggies in the fridge that are looking a little sad, a frittata is a good way to use them up! Today I went with mushrooms, spinach, and ricotta. Onions or shallots of course, are always key as a first ingredient. Start with a generous few “glugs” of olive oil (especially if your cast iron skillet is new; it will need more fat to prevent sticking). Add diced onions or shallots, and let them cook until translucent or beginning to caramelize. It’s important to really get your onions browned before adding the other veggies if you’re using mushrooms because the mushrooms will start to release a lot of liquid as they cook and then you’ll just have steamed onions.

While the mushrooms are cooking, whisk eggs in a bowl (use 4-6 unless you have a very large pan; I used 5 today. I was worried 6 wouldn’t fit in the pan with all those veggies, but I probably could’ve managed it), and add some salt and pepper and some fresh or dried herbs like some oregano or basil, depending on the flavors of your veggies. Once the mushrooms are well cooked (they will cook down a lot), add your spinach or other greens and cook until wilted. photo 2

Then pour the beaten eggs into the skillet and push them around a little with the spatula, tilting the pan to get them evenly distributed. Next add dollops of ricotta cheese throughout, and finish with some grated parmesan on top before moving the whole skillet to a 400 degree oven for about 10 minutes. Remember when taking it out that the handle of the skillet is also cast iron – it will be hot!

photo 2 (1)Serve warm on top of more greens or salad, add extra grated parmesan if you want, and enjoy! I also  like to add some dried red pepper flakes for a little kick. The saltiness of the parmesan with the heat of the pepper flakes and the sweetness of the onions, mushrooms, and ricotta is perfect.

TIP- Keep your skillet seasoned: You don’t need to wash it with soap; just scrub any stuck food off with hot water and a brush/scrubber as soon as possible after cooking, dry it immediately, and spray some vegetable oil on it while still warm. This will “season” your skillet, protecting it from moisture so that it will last longer, and your food will taste better and better. Avoid cooking with acidic foods (like tomatoes) until you’ve cooked with and oil-coated your skillet quite a few times. I’ve heard that a cast iron skillet can last 100 years if treated correctly!

photo 3

kitchenette foodie has a new kitchenette

It’s true: I let the whole month of April go by, and most of May, without a single post! I blame it on grad school finals and I’ll try not to let it happen again (although don’t hold me to that next December or May).

The new kitchen (photo credit: Jonill Mayer)

And unfortunately there is no food in this post, as the contents of my kitchen are currently sitting in a giant pile of brown cardboard boxes. It’s too bad too, because I have a nice bunch of kale in the fridge with nothing to sautee it in and no spices for the next few days (anyone have any good raw kale recipes? Not that I have plates or bowls available at the moment…).

But the good news is that in two days I’ll be sharing my new kitchen (and the rest of the apartment) with my favorite co-chef, biggest supporter, and most enthusiastic fan of my cooking. And I will finally have drawers that open, cupboards with working doors, a broiler that opens more than three inches, a nice deep sink, a pantry closet, built in spice racks, and counter space galore! (Oh, and no dishwasher, but I’m not complaining about the washer-dryer).


The new kitchen & washer dryer

So keep your eyes peeled for some new summer recipes once I find and unpack everything again. Our weekly CSA farm share of vegetables starts in two weeks so there will definitely be some veggie inventions coming your way!

And as for the blog title, now that I have a (still small but) real kitchen instead of a kitchenette I’m not sure what to do, but suggestions are welcome…

kitchenette cooking: making the most of zero space

So here it is folks: the actual Kitchenette where all the meals on Kitchenette Foodie are created (and a glimpse of my whole apartment actually, just so you can understand what small space living really means!). I realized that I started this blog with the intention of offering advice on cooking in tiny areas, and yet I haven’t really mentioned it at all yet. I’ve been distracted by the actual food… so this whole post will be dedicated to just that.

1. If you have no counter space, invest in a rolling kitchen cart. Mine serves as counter space as well as for storage. It has a cabinet with two shelves and a drawer – the ONLY drawer in the kitchen. I ordered mine online for about $90 and assembled it myself (not expertly, I might add – after about a month of fighting with my shoddily assembled drawer every time he tried to find a fork, my boyfriend took it apart and reassembled it).

2. When you have no drawers, nice bowls are your best friend. My silverware lives in my one rolling cart drawer, and all other kitchen utensils are kept in my lovely Crate & Barrel popcorn bowls (table centerpieces from my friend Katie’s wedding in 2005).

3. Constant cleanup. Cooking generates a lot of dishes – even before you sit down to actually eat. In a small space like this, washing, drying, and putting away equipment as you go is essential. Otherwise you’ll end up unable to even see your sink. I use a wire rack (meant for cooling baked goods) over a dish towel when I air dry.

4. Use your vertical space. As you can see, I have pots and pans stacked until they touch the ceiling. Ikea shelves are great for small kitchens, and cheap! (I did hit my head once or twice while standing at the stove, before I got used to them). I’d like to say I installed these myself (I do own a drill and like using it!), but I’m 5’3. Sometimes you just have to let a tall man help. And pay him in beer.

5. An oven isn’t just an oven; it’s a cabinet. You can’t tell, but my oven contains a cookie sheet, a cast iron grill pan, and two pyrex baking dishes. There’s no shame in using your oven for storage – just don’t forget to take everything out before you preheat the oven. Just in case I’m forgetful, I never store anything melt-able, like plastic, in my oven.

6. Your kitchen can trickle into your living room, especially if there are no walls or doors. I have more kitchen items than anything else (I think when I moved, 70% of the boxes were labeled “Kitchen”). I keep cookbooks and salad bowls on top of my dresser drawers, and wine glasses, champagne glasses, cocktail shakers, smaller cookbooks, and a seltzer maker on my bookshelves. If you act like it’s a planned component of your decor, it works.

7. Coffee tables double as chopping blocks. When I’m preparing a multi-course meal or have lots going on in the kitchen, I bring my cutting boards over to the coffee table and chop there. For certain tasks, I even prefer the coffee table. It’s the best place to use a citrus juicer because it’s low down and I can get more leverage. Plus, it’s nice to sit down and relax while chopping or peeling vegetables sometimes. Just don’t get distracted. Last November, the combination of a very sharp Japanese chef’s knife, rock-hard raw butternut squash, and watching old Arrested Development episodes on Netflix almost cost me a fingertip!

8. This isn’t really a tip, but if you have a canine sous-chef like mine, who likes to be underneath you at all times, don’t forget to check their head and back after you’re done cooking. Eloise usually has a sprinkling of whatever I’ve dropped on the floor all over her. And picking garlic out of dog fur is much harder once it dries.