Wednesday, hump day, whatever you want to call it: We are there. As always, that means a fabulous new crop of Food stories. You’ve already read them, of course. But just in case you’re a little behind, the big topics this week are: baby ginger, the hot new crop; the problem with extra-virgin olive oil; and microwave cooking for one without embarrassment.
Wednesday also means another Free Range chat, our freewheeling weekly exchange of information and ideas. It also usually involves a couple of free cookbooks, awarded to the two chatters whose questions or comments amuse us the most. It could be you!
So tune in at noon today. (You can also visit the site in advance and leave a question early.) If we don’t get around to your question during our allotted 60 minutes, maybe I’ll answer it in this space next week. Here’s a leftover from last week’s chat:
It’s my turn to host brunch for a bunch of carbo-phobes. I was thinking a crustless veggie quiche. How can I bind the lot together enough to be able to omit the pie shell? Would adding an extra egg or two do it, or do I need something more?
You say crustless quiche, I say frittata. When you think about it, they’re not all that different, right? Like quiches, frittatas are versatile and adaptable to many ingredients, but without the high dairy content. so they’re less high in fat. They’re great for entertaining; you can often make them a little ahead of time and serve at room temperature.
Here are some worthy candidates from The Post’s Recipe Finder, in descending order of carb content per serving: Frittata of Zucchini and Tomato Confit (11 grams), Ranchero-Style Frittata (6), Frittata With Mushrooms and Winter Greens (4), Arugula and Spring Onion Frittata (2). I particularly like the looks of Frittata With Zucchini (7 ), though the oil, whole milk and Parmesan cheese make it an indulgence. You’ll find the recipe a little farther down on the page.
Spanish tortillas are in the same family. They generally involve potatoes, which might not go over big with the low-carb crowd, but you could omit those or swap in something else. Below you’ll find a really nice tortilla recipe (from David Hagedorn, so you know it’s good); it seems to me that you could replace the potatoes with sauteed mushrooms, or sauteed zucchini, or some of each — something mild that won’t overpower the crab. But even with the potatoes, this one has only 8 grams of carbs per serving.
On to the recipes!
Fabrizio Aielli likes to make this for guests at his home. It’s the easiest, and some would argue best, way to make a large omelet. Small, thin zucchini have the most flavor.
Adapted from chef Fabrizio Aielli of Teatro Goldoni in downtown Washington.
4 main-course servings or 8 appetizer servings
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 large Vidalia onion, thinly sliced
4 to medium small (about 1 pound) slender zucchini, cut into thin rounds
Freshly ground black pepper
10 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Place a large nonstick skillet -- any shallow cooking pan 13 to 16 inches wide will do -- over medium heat and add the oil. Let it heat for a minute, then add the onion, zucchini and salt and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring every few minutes, until the onion has softened and the zucchini is just cooked, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the beaten eggs, milk, parsley and Parmesan cheese. When the vegetables are ready, pour in the egg mixture and cook, stirring to combine, for 1 minute. Transfer the skillet to the oven and cook the frittata just until firm, 4 to 5 minutes. Carefully invert the frittata onto a large serving dish or platter. Serve warm or at room temperature, and let people cut themselves a wedge or a scoop.
Traditional Spanish tortilla, basically a thick potato omelet, is made on the stove top and then flipped in its pan. This version is a cross between a tortilla and a frittata. Starting it on the stove and finishing it in the oven before turning it out eliminates the aerial work. The tortilla can be made up to 2 days in advance. It can be served at room temperature and stands well on its own, but the Old Bay mayonnaise makes a creamy complement. Use the freshest crabmeat you can find.
Adapted from chef and former restaurateur David Hagedorn.
For the tortilla
2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and held in a bowl of cold water
5 to 6 scallions, white and light green parts, finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
12 large eggs, at room temperature
1 pound jumbo lump crabmeat, picked free of shells and cartilage
Smoked Spanish paprika, for garnish (optional)
For the Old Bay mayonnaise
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup mayonnaise
1 to 1 tablespoon teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
Position a rack in the upper third of the oven; preheat to 350 degrees. Have ready a bowl of cold water.
Cut the potatoes into 1-inch cubes, then place in the bowl of water to keep them from discoloring. Drain and place the cubed potatoes in a large Dutch oven; cover with 10 cups of well-salted water (1 tablespoon) and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until the potatoes are tender but not mushy. Drain well and place in a large bowl. Add the chopped scallions, 1 teaspoon of the salt and 1 tablespoon of the oil. Set aside.
In another large bowl, combine the eggs and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Beat just enough to break up the yolks. Add the hot potato mixture and mix well to combine. Let the mixture rest for 5 minutes, then gently fold in the crabmeat.
Use the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to coat the bottom and sides of a well-seasoned 10-inch cast iron skillet or ovenproof nonstick skillet. Heat to the smoking point over medium-high heat, then add the egg mixture to the skillet.
Use a large spatula to push the egg mixture into the center of the pan as it starts to set, tilting the pan so that the uncooked portions flow into the space you clear as you work the spatula around the edges of the skillet. This should take about 5 minutes, or until the eggs have stopped flowing. Remove from the heat and even out the top of the tortilla, if necessary. Transfer to the top rack of the oven and bake for about 10 minutes, until a knife inserted in the center of the tortilla comes out clean. (If the eggs are not set on the top, run the pan under the broiler for 1 or 2 minutes, watching closely.) Transfer to a wire rack. Run a knife around the inside perimeter of the skillet to loosen the tortilla, then let it rest for 10 minutes.
While the tortilla cools, make the Old Bay mayonnaise: Combine the lemon juice and mayonnaise in a small bowl. Add the Old Bay seasoning to taste, stirring to combine. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
To invert the tortilla onto a serving platter, first insert a spatula under the tortilla and work around to dislodge it from the skillet. Invert the serving platter on top of the skillet, then carefully invert both together so the tortilla drops onto the platter. Cool to room temperature and serve, or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days. It will take about 20 minutes for the chilled tortilla to come to room temperature. Use a fine-mesh strainer to garnish the surface with smoked paprika, if desired. Cut the tortilla into slices; serve with Old Bay mayonnaise on the side.