This is the second in a series on eight high school interns learning to cook at Phipps Garden Center. Read last week's installment at post-gazette.com/food.
The high school interns took up their knives and spatulas and took on frittatas, the Italian version of omelets, last week at Phipps Garden Center in Shadyside. Teacher-cooks were Justine Cassell and myself, from Slow Food Pittsburgh.
The day before, the teens harvested kale and chard from the garden they're tending at Phipps Conservatory in Oakland. That morning, the herb bed was raided for parsley, oregano, basil, a sprig of lavender and a garlic scape. Dill also was available but was nixed by the cooks who know what they don't like.
Three frittatas (or frittatae, this being a classical Latin dish?) were baked, including a demonstration model prepared by Ms. Cassell from what she found in her refrigerator. Her stash was delicious: steamed asparagus and a tasty tomato paste, with lavender added on a creative impulse. Recipes were provided for a garden vegetable version with zucchini and chard, to which the scape was added, and another made with leftover pasta, in this case linguine in a pesto of basil and roasted pumpkin seeds.
The interns learned to peek under the frittata as it begins to cook, allowing the eggs to run under the rim, And they tried flipping the finished cake onto a platter.
To complete the lunch menu, they prepared a massaged kale salad and peaches baked with crumbled gingersnaps and served with ice cream.
A great and delicious way to use up leftovers. If the pasta has sauce on it (tomato sauce or pesto) even better!
- 1/2 pound (roughly 2 cups) cooked pasta (spaghetti, rigatoni, fettuccini)
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (or butter)
- 6 to 8 eggs (depending how many people you are feeding)
- Roughly 1/2 teaspoon each of black pepper and salt
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley or fresh basil leaves (optional)
Leave the pasta out so it warms to room temperature, or put in the microwave for 30 seconds to warm it up.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Put the oil (or butter) in a large ovenproof nonstick skillet over medium-high heat (a cast-iron skillet is perfect. But whatever you use, just make sure the handle can go in the oven without melting).
Beat the eggs with some salt and pepper in a large bowl until they are entirely mixed, then stir in the pasta (with sauce if it has sauce on it) with half of the parmesan and the herbs if you're using them. Or stir in any of the substitute leftovers listed below.
Pour the egg mixture into the skillet and immediately turn the heat down to medium-low. Use a spoon if necessary to even out the top of the frittata. For the first 5 minutes, lift the cooked edges of the frittata with a spatula or fork so that the uncooked eggs can run underneath and cook. Then cook, undisturbed, until the mixture firms up on the bottom, another 10 to 15 minutes, then transfer to the top shelf of the oven. Bake until the top is just cooked and a knife stuck into the middle of the frittata comes out fairly dry, about 15 to 20 minutes more. Cool frittata in the pan for 5 minutes, then loosen edge with a clean spatula and slide onto a large plate. Cut into wedges.
Serve warm or at room temperature.
Bread Frittata: Substitute 1 1/2 cups or so cubed or torn day-old crusty bread for the pasta.
Potato Frittata: Substitute 1 1/2 cups of leftover potatoes -- either French fries or hash browns or any kind of cooked potatoes. If the potatoes are in large pieces, cut them into roughly 1-inch pieces, and warm to room temperature.
Makes 4 to 6 servings.
-- Adapted from "How to Cook Everything" by Mark Bittman (Wiley, 1998)
Raw Kale Salad
- 8 ounces ( 1/2 pound) kale, washed and dried
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts or walnuts
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Juice from one 1 lemon (organic if possible)
- Zest from the lemon (see below)
- 1 teaspoon honey
- Salt, to taste (roughly 1/4 teaspoon)
- Black pepper, to taste (roughly 1/4 teaspoon)
- 1 apple, cut into small cubes (optional)
- 1/2 cup finely grated parmesan (optional)
Remove the fat central stem (called a "rib") from the kale, leaving just the leaves.
Roll up a few leaves of kale like a cigar, and slice them very thinly. Put into a large salad bowl. Continue with the rest of the kale until all the kale is cut into very, very thin slices this way.
Wash the lemon very carefully and dry with paper towels to remove any waxy exterior. Remove just the yellow part of the peel with a grater (this is called "zesting") and add to the bowl with the kale.
Slice the lemon in half and squeeze the juice into the bowl. Add olive oil, honey, salt, and pepper to the bowl.
Now massage the dressing into the kale with your hands for around 5 minutes, until the kale is wilted. This makes sure the flavors of the dressing penetrate the kale.
Let the salad sit for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat a frying pan without any oil or butter over medium-high heat and add the nuts. Shake the pan until you start smelling the nuts and they are starting to turn a little golden (but before they get brown!).
Add nuts (and optional apple cubes, and optional parmesan cheese) to salad, toss and eat!
Makes 4 servings.
-- Phipps Garden Center
Roast Peaches with crumbled cookies
- 3 firm but ripe large peaches, rinsed, wiped clean of fuzz, halved, pitted
- 6 small cookies (either gingersnap or butter or sugar or oatmeal cookies are best)
- 2 tablespoons unbleached all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into very small pieces
- Vanilla ice cream (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter 11-by-7-by-2-inch baking dish so the peaches won't stick (a glass baking dish is ideal, but a metal one is also okay OK). Put cookies into a baggie and crush them with a rolling pin or by pounding on them. Transfer crushed cookies to a bowl and add butter and brown sugar. Mush together with your fingers until well mixed.
Place peach halves, cut side up, in prepared dish. Spread topping over surface of each peach half (about 1 generous tablespoon for each), pressing lightly to adhere and leaving 1/4-inch plain border.
Bake peaches until tender when pierced with knife and topping is golden brown, about 35 minutes. Cool slightly. Transfer 1 warm roasted peach half to each of 6 plates.
Optional: Serve with scoop of vanilla ice cream alongside.
-- Phipps Garden Centerfood
Freelancer Nancy Hanst: firstname.lastname@example.org. First Published July 5, 2012 4:00 AM