Sunday, March 3, 2013

In the Beginning Was the Chicken AND the Egg: Frittata with Chicken Liver and Spinach!

Well, I do think it just might be time for a walk through memory lane.  See, Don and I have been cooking together for a long, long time.  You might say a really, really, long time.  And "In the beginning", there was a chicken and an egg!

The first time Don and I cooked together was in the late summer of 1993.  The occasion took place in Oklahoma- and was brunch.  Neither of us had any idea at that time how many times this beautiful ritual would be reenacted in kitchens across the many states we have traveled- and sometimes lived.

Now of course at the time I had NO IDEA that Don HATED liver!  And also given how very new this "cooking together" was- he didn't mention this for years- not that liver was ever a staple in either of our diets.  For certain one of the things that has changed over these many years- you can trust me on this- Don is rather clear about his likes and dislikes in and out of the kitchen!

But back those many years ago, Don quietly browned those chicken livers without even the faintest of gags!  

In today's environment it is a bit more difficult to find chicken livers (am I the only person in the world who thinks they are one of life's delicacy's- bring on the pate').  But with a very accommodating neighborhood butcher shop we were able to get ours absolutely free!  Guess it has something to do with "supply and demand"! (We'd show you the "raw" livers, but decided that in order to keep you reading we best just show how they arrived in our kitchen!)

But enough of that!  It's time to get on with the cooking!

Frittata with Chicken Liver and Spinach!



Eggs: 6
Vermouth: 1/4 cup 
Butter: 4 Tbsp
Salt and Pepper
(The brilliant addition of Vermouth is from Chef Frank DeCarlo, a NYC chef according to Mark Bittman.)


Chicken Livers: 2 whole ones
Green Onions: 1 cup, chopped- Be sure to include some of the green tops as well.
Spinach: 2 BIG handfuls- I use baby spinach so the size is perfect!
Gruyere Cheese: 1 cup, grated

(You can be as creative as you wish here with the ingredients.  Try other cheeses.  Substitute Italian sausage or bacon. Or leave the meat out.  Consider mushrooms.  And then maybe be really daring with swiss chard rather than spinach. The possibilities are endless!)


Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Using a 12 inch non-stick, oven proof skillet, melt 2 tbsp of butter. (I really must insert a commercial here.  If you're looking for a good, durable, environmentally friendly non-stick pan I highly recommend the "scanpan". You can find it at Amazon.)

Cook the chicken livers until almost done, then add the green onions and cook long enough to soften.

When the chicken livers are completely cooked, remove both the livers and green onions from the pan.  Chop the livers into small pieces.

Wilt the spinach in the butter left in the skillet. 

Remove from the pan.

In a large glass mixing bowl, thoroughly blend the eggs with the vermouth. 

 I use a stick blender for this. (Not sure how I would survive in the kitchen without my stick blender.  We've had our Breville so long now our particular one is no longer on the market.  We've bought several of the Cuisinart for family and friends.  Do be careful with the stick blender as this article in the New York Times points out.  It can be quite dangerous in the kitchen!

Gently stir in the chicken livers, green onions, spinach and cheese.

Salt and Pepper to taste.

Melt the remaining 2 tbsp of butter in the skillet.  When the butter is melted and the pan is hot, pour in the egg mixture. Using a silicone spatula gently lift up the edges of the egg mixture as it sets on the bottom of the skillet.  

Cook on the stove top for approximately 2 minutes, then place the skillet in the preheated oven for an additional 10 minutes until the Frittata is cooked through.

Since we were having our Frittata for dinner we served with a side salad and crusty bread roll.  Wine of course!


Monday, January 28, 2013

Oatmeal Cookies, Anyway You Like Them!

I know, I know- it's been a long time.  And can't say we were very regular about it even before that.  And I promised we were going to be better.

I bet you thought we forgot.  Or maybe changed our mind and thought it was a bad idea. Or stopped cooking.  Or maybe even fell off the face of the earth.

Well actually the explanation is a bit easier- we've been busy- or at least I have been.  In between traveling to see one child or another (not to mention the GRANDS!)- and squeezing in a friend here and there, I find that retirement is very, very time consuming.  I mean after lingering over coffee for up to an hour- and then showering- and then lingering over breakfast while I read the New York Times it's almost afternoon.  And then if not too distracted by some stray idea or other I finally sit at the piano and play for an hour or two.  And sometimes I take a walk... And of course there are the occasional errands... And by that time for sure it is time to begin the ritual of dinner- which of course includes a leisurely glass of wine to get the right mood for the work.  

Well as you can tell- it's mighty hard to fit in writing a blog with the whirlwind life I'm leading.  Now being a bit more disciplined about the blog was a New Year's resolution- and given that it's almost February, I'm noticing that I'm not off to a very good start.

It's not that we're not cooking.  Why we're cooking pretty much everyday- and some day's it even seems like we're cooking all day when a crowd is coming.  But cooking isn't the same as blogging.  Cooking is well- just cooking.

But I'm really going to try- for me- and for you as well. I thought I'd rather like to start simple- and nothing is simpler than an oatmeal cookie.  Why oatmeal cookies are cookies without the guilt. I think of them rather like breakfast in cookie form.

After the whirlwind of the holidays and our life settled a bit- the holiday company all safely returned to their homes, it seemed that the time was just perfect for spending the day in the kitchen baking cookies.  So baking cookies is what we did- and then Don boxed them up and mailed them to all the kids.  They were for the "post holiday" let down when you're desperately trying to find even a crumb left over from all sweets that seem to linger for days in November and December and then suddenly comes January and it's cold turkey for sure.Oatmeal cookies seem just the comfort food that's perfect for the dark, cold winter days. 

Now for most folks Oatmeal Cookies are rather straightforward.  Oatmeal, raisins and there you have it.  But then our family isn't very straightforward- for some you can't call it a dessert unless there is some chocolate tucked in somewhere- and Don HATES raisins.  So there you have it- I needed a cookie that was flexible- one that could bend here and there for the different folks.  So here it is:


1 1/2 cup Oatmeal (Can increase oatmeal to 2 cups and decrease flour to 1 cup. I think Don would like it if I skipped the flour altogether and just used the oats.)
1 1/2 cup Flour
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Nutmeg, freshly ground

1/2 cup White Sugar
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
2 sticks of Butter, softened
2 Eggs
1 tsp Vanilla

1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup Cranberries 
May also add Coconut, Walnuts, Dried Cherries....
(Of course for Don the cookie of choice was PLAIN- I mean absolutely PLAIN- no chocolate, no cranberries, no cherries, no coconut- PLAIN!)

Mix Dry Ingredients.

Cream butter and sugars.
Mix in eggs.
Finally add vanilla.

Preheat Oven to 350 degrees.

Add in chocolate chips and dried cranberries.

Plain and Loaded!

Chill dough in refrigerator for 15-30 minutes. (This helps keep the dough from flattening so fast when you begin to bake them.  You also can spoon them on the the cookie sheet and chill the entire sheet of cookies if you'd like.)

Spoon onto cookie sheet.

Bake for 10 minutes! (Careful that you don't over bake this cookie- or any cookie for that matter- unless you like your cookies hard!  I did learn a trick to create that "fresh from the oven" taste even when the cookies are 3-5 days old.  Wrap the cookies in a damp paper towel and microwave for 15 seconds or so.  Usually I skipped the damp paper towel and just microwaved on a plate and this seemed to work as well.)

Enjoy it your way!