19 October 2008

Not Just Another Brunch

Today, I had a few friends over for brunch.  We did my fritatta, Jacque's broiled asparagus, and Paul's tomato salad.  What a great way to finish a weekend!

Jacque's asparagus is in a previous posting, but it's so simple, I'll repeat it here.

Here's what we did:

Greg's Frittata

12 eggs, grain-fed, free-range
1/4 cup whipping cream
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 large onions
6 cloves garlic
12 strips bacon, cooked
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup shredded Mozzarela cheese
12-inch non-stick skillet

In a 12-inch non-stick skillet with a heat-resistant handle, sauté the onions in the oil over medium-high heat until almost caramelized, about 15 minutes.  Add the garlic and sauté for 5 minutes more.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, briskly whip the eggs and cream until frothy (3 to 4 minutes) with an electric whisk.
Stir in the cheeses.
Chop the bacon into small pieces.
Add the bacon to the onions and garlic in the skillet.
Stir in the egg mixture.
Turn on the broiler.
Initially, stir the mixture like you’re making scrambled eggs, but stop after about a minute and let things start to “gel”.  Continue using a rubber (heat-resistant!) spatula to loosen the eggs from the sides and bottom of the pan.  Once it’s firm on the bottom and sides but still liquid in the middle, put the pan under the broiler until the top starts to turn golden brown, about 2 minutes.
Remove from broiler and let stand for 2 or 3 minutes.
Slide the frittata out of the pan and slice into 8 pieces.  Garnish with whatever edible greenery you have handy.

Jacque's Asparagus

one bunch asparagus, trimmed
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
quarter-sheet baking pan

Spread the asparagus on a baking sheet.  Dust with the Parmesan cheese.  Broil for 10-15 minutes, until al dente.

Paul's Tomato Salad

3 tomatoes, sliced
1/2 cup fresh basil, coarsely chopped
salt to taste
olive oil to drizzle

If you need instructions for this, you probably should not be preparing it.  See the picture.

Serve all this with mimosas, and everyone will leave happy!

09 October 2008

TexaCali Treats

Last weekend's weather in Dallas was too pretty NOT to be outside, so we decided to do a cook-out.  We invited friends and neighbors to come over for burgers, brats, and brew.  Our friend and neighbor, Susan (whom you may recall from a previous posting turned 38 recently), suggested that we do grilled chicken sandwiches instead, and since she had a package of chicken breasts in her freezer that she offered, we would have been foolish not to run with that suggestion.

Susan further suggested that we make them "California" chicken sandwiches.  I think the "California" part just means that there are avocados or sprouts involved somehow.  Given that she is the donor here, who was I to argue?

I asked one of our other guests to bring something crisp and green, and we settled on a pre-made broccoli slaw from a local grocery store.  (Sandra Lee would be proud of the semi-homemade-ness of this meal.)

Our favorite barbeque spot in the world is The Salt Lick in Driftwood, Texas, just outside of Austin.  A few years ago, they started distributing their sauces and seasonings to grocers around Texas and as luck would have it, we can now buy them locally in Dallas (Whole Foods Market and Central Market).  I used the Salt Lick dry rub to season the chicken, ensuring that there would be Texas ties to these California creations.  Susan made an avocado spread for the sandwiches, thus ensuring the California connection.

To prepare the meat, I used my meat mallet to flatten the breast halves to a consistent thickness to ensure that each would be large enough to cover a bun.  We all learned the importance of bun coverage from the late Clara Peller back in the 1980's.  Cover the meat with plastic wrap before whacking it to avoid splatters of raw chicken juice all over the kitchen.  I seasoned each generously with the Salt Lick dry rub, then fired up The Egg.

We set up a garnish bar with Susan's avocado spread, sliced onions, sliced tomatoes, and leafy lettuce.  Everyone assembled their sandwiches to their tastes, and the finished product was fantastic.

TexaCali Grilled Chicken
(serves 8)

meat mallet (or other device to flatten the chicken)
warmed serving platter
8 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
8 whole-wheat buns (onion rolls would be good, too)
Salt Lick dry rub
8 slices Monterrey jack cheese
Susan's avocado spread (see below)
1 large red onion, thinly sliced
2 tomatoes, thinly sliced

Use the meat mallet to flatten the chicken pieces to a consistent thickness.
Dust each piece generously with the dry rub.
Grill over charcoal until cooked through, about 10 minutes total, turning once.  Top with cheese slices and grill a few seconds longer until the cheese starts to melt.  Remove to the warm serving platter.
Toast the buns on the grill for about 20-30 seconds to give the sandwiches a little extra punch.
Assemble the sandwiches and eat immediately.

Susan's Avocado Spread

2 ripe avocados
juice of 1/2 lemon
cayenne pepper and salt to taste

Mash all ingredients together and serve.


Use the remaining lemon half to clean your wood cutting board.  I learned this from Martha.  Sprinkle your board lightly with coarse salt.  Use the flesh (exposed fruit) side of the lemon as a scrub brush, making circular motions over the salt to loosen food particles and freshen foul odors.  It's a good thing.