Kale Frittata

A very long time ago, in a galaxy far far away… I was at a dinner party at my friend Ginny’s house, and one of the dishes she made was a fritte.  That’s what Italian-Canadian farmers call them.  The rest of us say frittata.  Anyway, her sister-in-law was over the moon at how fluffy it was.  “How many eggs did you use?!  I always have to use at least 8 eggs and mine never turns out this fluffy?!”  Ginny shrugged and replied she used 2 eggs.  “No way!”  another shrug and that’s it for my memory.  I was new to food.  In those days I still ate Alphaghetti out of the can during my busy season.  What I realize now is that Ginny got her eggs from the next farm down the road, organic and super-fresh.  She never used grocery store eggs, and whether she pointed that out to her sister-in-law at the party I don’t remember.  But that is the first trick to making a fantastic frittata.  Fresh eggs.  The eggs you buy at the store can be months old already by the time you buy them.  They do have a long shelf life.  But nutrition aside, there is no comparison between Industrial grocery-store eggs, even “organic” or “Omega-3” eggs, and what you buy from a farmer with happy chickens.  Just as a material, the way they work, the results you get.  $6.50/dozen from Farmbox.  You could totally make a frittata with 2 eggs.  I use 6 because I want to eat more eggs.

The next trick is to beat them well.  I mean, top speed on your mix master.  Crack them into the bowl, turn the mixer on, and then prep the rest of your ingredients.  You can do it with a hand mixer, or by hand, it will just take you a lot longer.  If you have a blender you could use that to beat your eggs.  You want them good and fluffy.  Add your salt and pepper in this step.  When you add the rest of the ingredients, fold them in carefully trying not to collapse the eggs.

The trick with the cooking part is pre-heat a seasoned cast-iron skillet well over medium heat, I always add a drop of olive oil even though theoretically you don’t need to if it’s seasoned (black). If the oil is smoking a tiny bit you’re good to go.  That keeps it from sticking.  Covering it with something (lid, cookie tray…) helps it cook more evenly, and I turn the heat down a bit once I’ve poured the mixture into the pan.  Then I finish it in the oven so the top gets nice and golden.

So here is my “recipe”: (this is basically what I brought to the potluck in July)

Beat 6 eggs (fresh, Farmbox). Salt & pepper. Fold in chopped kale, shallots, tomatoes, oregano, feta, garlic scape pesto. Pour into large pre-heated cast iron skillet, cover. When mostly cooked sprinkle with parmesan and move to hot oven. May need broiling.

Regarding the ingredients: use anything. Last time I used beet tops. Chard is great in this. Nice thing is you can just clean out your fridge with this one. Use any herb.  The oregano plants in the garden right now are huge and STRONG. But sage, thyme, or rosemary would be nice too.  Just stick with one herb though. Use anything oniony or garlic-y.  Chives, green garlic or green onion tops… I’m trying to use up this garlic scape pesto that turned out to be not so great raw, but is super-yummy cooked into stuff.  Beans are ready in the garden; this might be great with blanched, chopped beans.  How about some grilled zucchini?!  Or leftover baked potatoes?!  Artichoke hearts, roasted peppers, roasted eggplant… Also, change it up with the cheese.  I’m a vegetarian so I never think to include meat, but I bet it would be great with leftover chicken, ham, bacon or maybe even fish.  Bake it in a pie crust and you have quiche.

-Nicole

Harvesting and Storing Potatoes

Potatoes are formed and can be harvested once they start blooming.  However you can leave them in the ground a lot longer, until the plants die back, and the potatoes will keep growing. They can be safely left in the ground for up to 6 weeks after the tops have died back as long as the ground doesn’t freeze and you don’t forget where they are.  It is best to dig potatoes early in the morning when the ground is cool, and to dig them when the soil is dry. (CCGS Communal Gardeners note: The Peas and Potatoes Team is managing the timing of the potato harvest to maximize the yield so we Communal Gardeners wait for their go-ahead to harvest.)

When you are ready to dig up your potatoes use a pitchfork to loosen the soil about 12-18 inches around the plant (depending on the variety).  You can pull the whole plant out and often there will be potatoes attached to it.  Then with a hand tool or your hands, dig around in the soil for more potatoes.  You want to be careful not to scar the skins with a tool. The plants can go on the compost pile.

With a dry rough cloth (like an old face cloth) or vegetable brush, clean the dirt off your potatoes and inspect them.  If the skin is damaged, or there are scabby bumps, set these aside to eat up right away.

The rest of your potatoes, the ones with skins intact, need to be “cured” for about 1-2 weeks to prep for winter storage.  Lay them out in a single layer on a screen that is propped so air circulates all the way around, in a cool dark place that is protected from sun, rain and wind. Spread them out on newspaper if you can’t get your hands on a screen.  If your Cool Dark Place is also very dry, you can put a bowl of water near or under them to give a bit of humidity.  This “curing” helps toughen the skins and heal minor nicks, think the difference between the potatoes you buy in the winter and the ones farmers are selling you right now with the thin flakey skins.  Without this step, your potatoes will last 4-6 weeks in the fridge.

To store your potatoes, you can put small batches in boxes or burlap bags and keep them in a cool dark corner of your basement, or alternately if you have limited room, I have had good luck keeping them in a crisper drawer in my fridge through to April.  They need a damp, cool spot.  High humidity, around 90%, and a temperature of about 4-8 degrees Celsius.  At a lower humidity and/or higher temperature, they will go soft more quickly.  At a colder temperature the starches start to turn to sugar making them taste odd.  This can be fixed by letting them sit at room temperature for a few days before cooking.  Freezing will ruin potatoes.   They bruise easily so handle with care.

Enjoy your potatoes!

-Nicole Tremblay