Brunch was grand, though…

Brunch was grand, though Kev and I had a small tiff beforehand; I wanted him to stay for a bit, say hi to people, he wanted to run away to the office. He ran away, I was annoyed, but I got over it about ten minutes later, after people started arriving. We made up later. Sometimes it's not entirely easy, partnering an extrovert with an introvert. :-)

The food came out fantastic. That winter squash soup was as usual fabulous, and per usual, I skipped the Gruyere croutons, because it tastes plenty rich without them, but did include some aged Gouda on the side for people to grate on top. I like the contrasting sharpness to the sweetness of the soup. Jen brought hearty French bread, which worked wonderfully for sopping up soup.

More exciting was the recipe I invented, poking around in my fridge and thinking about slightly healthier alternatives to the quiche I usually make. I went for a frittata, and it wasn't all that healthy, since it still had cream and lots of olive oil and butter, but hey, it didn't have a pastry crust, so that's got to be an improvement, right? :-) I think you could cut back on the oil and butter if you had a nonstick pan to work with -- I was using all-clad, so I didn't want to risk not being able to get the frittata out of the pan. Came out fabulous, recipe below:

Fennel-Artichoke Frittata

(cooking time: 1 - 1.5 hrs -- start early!)

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped fine
  • 8 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 large fennel bulb, sliced thin
  • 4 artichoke hearts (from can), chopped
  • 2 T butter
  • 8 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 c. cream
  • salt to taste (about 1 flat t.)
  • white pepper to taste (about 1/4 t.)
  • fennel springs for garnish
  1. Saute onions in olive oil on medium heat until softened; add garlic, fennel, and artichoke hearts and cook until fennel is softened (about 10 min.); add butter and stir in, add salt and pepper
  2. Add cream to beaten eggs and mix well (add a little extra salt and pepper to egg/cream mixture); pour into pan, distributing evenly (don't be afraid to stir around the fennel/artichoke stuff at this point to get it reasonably even); turn heat down to low. (The active cooking part is over now -- the amount of time it takes from this point on will vary based on how low you turn the heat -- it took me about 45 min. from this point.)
  3. Check pan occasionally -- every 5-10 minutes, run a spatula around the edge of the pan, tipping the pan so loose egg runs to the edges, and pushing the egg mixture in slightly; the goal is to build up a small wall of cooked egg; this will make the frittata easier to flip.
  4. When the top of the mixture is starting to set, poke a few holes in it with a fork so that it finishes cooking evenly
  5. When the top is set, cover pan with a lid for 3 minutes (this will brown the bottom)
  6. Remove lid, and run a spatula around the edge of the pan -- if you have a long rubber spatula that is heatproof, I recommend carefully pushing it under the frittata, reaching to the center if you can, working in sections, so that you detach all of the frittata from the pan prior to flipping
  7. Place a serving plate over the pan and, holding it in place with one hand, carefully flip the frittata onto the plate in a single smooth motion. This is the trickiest bit, especially if, like me, you are using a heavy all-clad pan (and a glass serving plate)! But I managed it, and so can you.
  8. Garnish with fennel sprigs and cut into 12 (or fewer) small serving wedges. Roughly 125 calories a slice, I think. (400 calories oil and butter, 560 calories eggs, 250 calories cream, some miscellaneous for veggies)
  9. Enjoy the ooh's and aah's of your guests. :-)
I also made some spicy sausage, and ate it with great enjoyment, so I think yesterday was a bad dieting day. I'm estimating I ate about 1500 calories, and then I was just so exhausted that I couldn't bring myself to exercise -- that lack of sleep caught up with me. I got pretty disheartened about being so bad, but Kev cheered me up eventually. I'm afraid I've been rather a trial to live with recently -- exceedingly whiny and unusually pathetic. He has been a veritable font of patience. I was convinced that I was just being horribly bad about the whole dieting thing -- but this morning, my scale thinks I'm down two pounds from the weight I started at. My scale is notoriously unreliable, so I'm trying not to get too excited until I go in on Wednesday and try the fancy scale at the gym, but still -- it's heartening.

Time for some low-carb toast and fat-free cheese, along with work. Mmmm...fat-free cheese. :-)

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