Inaugurating a New Kitchen

Hello friends… I haven’t posted in a while, partially because I am the delinquent child in this blog relationship.  But also because in the last month or so I have picked up all of my belongings and carried them to a new home.  I’m still in the city of Chicago, but I’m now inhabiting a place with a spacious kitchen.  This is a huge relief and something I was looking forward to as soon as I set foot in my previous apartment.  I tried not to complain about it too much, but I had a galley kitchen with basically no counter space to speak of.  It was a hallway leading to what should have been an actual kitchen.  Sigh.

Now, however, I have a lovely kitchen with lots of space to cook.  It’s beautiful.  Another new thing that’s begun recently is a CSA I’m sharing with a friend of mine.  As I’m sure most of our readers know, this spring was unusually cold, so a lot of the yield thus far has been in the way of lettuce.  It’s weird to have so many different types of lettuce just kicking around.  I’m not a huge lettuce eater, but I obviously eat it more when it’s being delivered to me on a weekly basis.  We are starting to see a transition out of all lettuce and into heartier stuff, such as snow peas, turnips, green beans and cucumbers.

Not that cucumbers are hearty.  We were really hoping for a lot of dark leafy greens, and really I chose this CSA because they promised kale.  I wanted a bunch of kale every week, at least, if not 2-3 varieties.  Alas, we work with what we’re given, the motto of CSA subscribers everywhere.  Luckily, turnips mean turnip greens, which aren’t kale, per say, but are nice sauteed and are good for nutrients.  For a quick dinner, I sauteed turnip greens in olive oil and salt, laid them over some polenta and fried up a chicken sausage for the side.  I also roasted turnips, garlic scapes, onions and a non-CSA sweet potato in the over with garlic and herbs until the veggies were soft and munched on it quite happily.

Sweet potatoes tend to sneak their way into a lot of impromptu meals, but one situation in which I’ve found them particularly useful is in the creation of frittatas.  I posted before (as part of the donut post) about a frittata I made back in March. I used a recipe then, but decided this time that it wasn’t even necessary.  There are two tricks to a delicious frittata I have learned in my experiments.  Browning thinly sliced potatoes in the pan (sweet or otherwise) and leaving them there as a crust adds a good foundation to the dish.  When you bite into it, you get the eggs and cheese and fillers on top, and then there is that constant golden brown potato in every bite.  Very satisfying.  Sweet potatoes are my choice because not only is it golden brown, it’s also a little creamy and sweet to boot.  Who is turning down golden brown, crispy, creamy sweet vegetables?  Not me.

The other trick, or it might be essential depending on how technical you are being about your frittatas, is to finish it off in the oven.  For this you will need a pan that can be put in the over.  Generally, these are anodized and don’t have plastic on their handles.  So when you finish the frittata on the stove, usually by adding a generous layer of cheese, you can just pop the whole thing in the oven to brown on top.  The only truly aggravating thing about creating frittata is that it takes a long time.  To slice the thin potatoes, to brown the potatoes, to prep and sautee the other veggies, to mix the eggs, to get the whole thing together on the stove and then to brown it in the oven takes some serious cooking time. However, I have found the process to be worth it, 100%, each time I have concocted a frittata.

Something I did this time, was take the frittata and flip it onto my large wooden cutting board to cut it.  This saved the integrity of my pan a little, made sort of an interesting serving dish, and made me feel pretty skilled for being able to deftly flip a large pan full of food onto another surface without destroying it.  My roommate was impressed anyways.

In other non-frittata related news, I recently discovered a way of making my gluten, yeast, dairy, egg free BFF a real chocolate cake.   This is how it went down.  I said I would have her and her boyfriend over for dinner.  Knowing the constraints this would put on my menu choices, I chose pork roast, roasted root veggies, and corn on the cob (something I know she likes).  We were talking online day of and she was lamenting about how she would never be able to eat real cake again, and it struck me that my mother had made eggless cakes for our family growing up all the time, because my father was allergic.  It was called a screwball cake, probably because the recipe sounds kind of crazy.  Since GF folks are pretty numerous and pretty vocal, there are some decent GF baking flours on the market.  So I picked up a bag of GF baking flour, and I baked her a cake.  So, for those of you who battle dietary restrictions including, gluten, dairy, yeast, and/or egg, here is a recipe for you to have your cake and eat it.  All of it.

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Mix 3c flour (GF if necessary), 2c sugar, 1/2c cocoa, and 1/2 tsp salt in a large bowl.  You might need to sift the mixture together, as GF flour likes to clump a little more than wheat flour.  Once it’s all combined, you make three holes in the mix.  (Nothing fancy, just dig out three holes equidistant from each other.)  In one hole, put 2tsp baking soda, in the next hole put 2tsp white vinegar, and in hole #3, put 1c oil (it’s not all going to fit in the hole, relax.  This deviates from the recipe a little, but I throw a little vanilla in at this point too, with the oil, or before the oil in hole three.  Then you pour 2 cups cold water over the top of everything, and mix it all together.  Pour into a 9×13 ungreased pan and bake for 45 mines.  Voila, gluten free, egg free, dairy free, yeast free cake!  I made a topping with powdered sugar, almond milk, and cocoa to pour over the top.  It was a hit with my friends for sure.

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