No crust, no problem: Skillet pie lives up to its name

A few weeks ago, I rediscovered the joy of my vegetarian cookbooks, particularly one from Deborah Madison.

The first recipe I made of her vegetarian stuffed peppers fit a large casserole, so no blogging about it, but you can get the recipe here. However, it had an interesting way of incorporating onions that at first I scoffed at. As I looked closer, though, I didn’t see a way around doing it her way. I ended up very glad I actually followed the recipe. While the onions (first deglazed in wine) baked on the bottom of the casserole, since it was stuffed peppers, they ended up as a sweet and sour topping that complemented the rest of the ingredients incredibly well.

So, for my second recipe, I looked specifically for things that would work in my small skillet.

It didn’t take long to find the perfect meal. With the amount of cheese, it wasn’t light exactly but a simple eggy dish didn’t feel all that hefty in the summer heat.

Egg and cheese skillet pie ingredients.

Even better, it was incredibly easy. Mix up some ingredients in a large-ish bowl. Pour in a buttered small skillet. Bake, and voila, you’ve got dinner.

Pulling back the curtain, I will admit I made the focaccia to go with this meal, and a bread is the perfect addition so you have a more filling meal. Alternatively, it’d make a good breakfast item.

So much cheese, so tasty.

Here’s what I did, sticking to the recipe, though I used my 9-inch skillet rather than the called-for 10-inch (and it just fit!):

Ingredients

  • ¾ lb. feta cheese
  • 1 lb. ricotta cheese
  • 6 eggs
  • ¼ c. flour
  • ¾ c. milk
  • 1 T. dill, preferably fresh and chopped (I used more)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Butter, for coating

Directions

Heat the oven to 375 degrees.

Mix ¾ of the feta with the ricotta in a medium bowl, without worrying about getting it perfectly smooth. Beat the eggs into the cheese. Then, add the flour and milk. Season with the dill and salt and pepper.

Butter a 9- to 10-inch cast iron skillet. Pour in the batter, and crumble the remaining feta cheese on top. Bake until golden, about 35 to 40 minutes.

Cut into wedges and serve with bread or another preferred side, and enjoy!

Fat, fluffy focaccia

Since the pandemic began, apparently people have been getting into bread baking. Not only are there the news stories but I have the anecdotal evidence that my sweetie had trouble finding active dry yeast during one of his recent weekly grocery trips.

However, for once, I was ahead of the curve. I have been making bread on the regular for years. And since my sweetie did go to a second store for the yeast, I am back in business now after nearly using up my stash when I made pizza a couple weeks ago.

I do get why it’s picked up in popularity, as it’s often cheaper especially than some fancier breads, and it’s a good distraction for a few hours. Those brave souls who nourish sourdough starters — which I did for a while during my bread year and beyond but didn’t survive the move to Ames — are even giving themselves ongoing time commitments.

What I’m saying is, like Oprah, I love bread.

Rosemary and olive focaccia bread ingredients.

One of my favorites is focaccia. What’s not to love about a lot of olive oil, and for me, the addition of olives and/or rosemary. While I’ve made this many times before, I couldn’t recall ever making it in a small skillet.

Thankfully, the wonderful Serious Eats had a no-knead (even better!) recipe that was designed for a 10-inch skillet. I figured my 9-inch Le Creuset would work after reading the directions. It did, but barely. I ended up with a much poofier loaf than anticipated; however, another thing I did wrong among expert breadmakers is I neglected the preferred weight measurements and instead went with the also provided cup measurements. In the end, I needed more water than the recipe called for, which likely means I used too much flour and ended up with a bigger loaf than I would have otherwise.

I could beat myself up about it … but in the end, there’s just more bread to love.

Though I’m sure weighted measurements are preferred (and given) for all but my additions, this still-somewhat-lazy baker would probably worry mostly about the flour and the water measurements in weights.

Crispy, crunchy bread.

Here’s what I did, adding my own tweaks:

Ingredients

  • 500 g. bread flour or all-purpose flour (~3 ¼ c.)
  • 10 g. kosher salt (~2 ½ t.)
  • 4 g. active dry yeast (~1 rounded t.)
  • 400 g. room temperature water (1 ½ c. plus 3 T.)
  • 68 g. olive oil (~5 T.), divided
  • ~3 sprigs rosemary, divided
  • ½ c. pitted kalamata olives, chopped
  • Coarse sea salt

Directions 

Combine the flour, salt, and yeast in a large bowl and whisk to blend. Add the water and stir with a wooden spoon until no dry flour remains, about 2 minutes (if you measured by cups, you may need to add additional water to combine). Add about 1 ½ T. (20 g.) olive oil and stir to incorporate, using hands if necessary to work into the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature for 1 hour.

Remove plastic wrap (but keep!), and add about 2 sprigs worth of rosemary leaves, chopped if desired and all the olives. Then, use a lightly greased bowl scraper to fold the dough over itself by lifting and folding the edge of the dough toward the middle. Turn bowl and repeat the motion another 5 times (which should also help combine in the rosemary and olives). Re-cover with the plastic wrap and let rest for 15 minutes. Repeat the folding process one more time, and re-cover with the plastic wrap.

Then, refrigerate for at least 18 hours and up to 3 days.

To bake, remove the dough from the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for 10 minutes. Sprinkle the top of the dough lightly with flour, and then transfer to a work surface, and shape holding it with well-floured hands, tucking the dough underneath itself and rotating until it forms a tight ball.

Add about 2 T. (27 g.) olive oil into a 9- to 10-inch cast iron skillet and spread the oil over the entire inner surface using your hands. Transfer the dough to the pan, turn to coat it in the oil, and then position seam-side down. Spread gently with your hands to mostly fill the pan. Cover tightly and let rise at room temperature until dough is soft and puffy, about 1 ½ hours to 2 hours.

Heat oven to 500 degrees and position the rack in the lower third of the oven, when the dough is nearly ready.

Use your fingertips to gently press and stretch the dough to evenly fill all corners of the pan, lifting up the edges of the dough to let air bubbles underneath escape, and then create small dimples in the top of the dough. Drizzle the remaining 1 ½ T. (20 g.) olive oil over the top of the dough, and then sprinkle with coarse sea salt and the leaves from the remaining sprig of rosemary.

Transfer skillet to oven and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes, rotating the skillet about halfway through the baking. (It seems hot, and I deviated from the directions here since I didn’t have a baking stone, but it works with some light charring on top but perfectly golden on the bottom; however, keep a closer eye on times given the high heat.) Remove from heat and let the focaccia cool in the skillet for 5 minutes, and then use a spatula to carefully remove the focaccia from the still-hot skillet and transfer the bread to a wire rack. Let cool at least 10 minutes before serving, and enjoy!

Don’t be a nutter, try this fluffernutter pie

Remember how a few weeks ago I talked about my adventures with a peanut butter and jelly pie, and my excitement to adapt it?

Well, I couldn’t wait.

My sweetie suggested a fluffernutter pie, and I had to know how it’d work as an adaptation.

Fluffernutter pie with pretzel crust ingredients.

Another thing I wanted to try was a pretzel crust. The sweetness and the salt sounded exciting, and tasty. I thought the extra sweet fluffernutter would be the perfect test vehicle for my salty crust.

So, in (very technical) science terms, I added some extra variables, but the constant from the peanut butter and jelly pie was the center peanut butter filling.

The first variable I thought I had tried before, mixing marshmallow cream into whipped cream. I had not; in past instances, I’d mixed the marshmallow with meringue as a delightful way to “toast” the marshmallow in a S’mores pie and a Thanksgiving sweet potato pie. This time, though, I wanted an icebox pie, no cooking beyond the crust required. So, it was a test. Does whipped cream folded into marshmallow cream work? It resoundingly does.

The second variable I was more confident in, as I’ve already made a saltine crust earlier this year and, in theory, crushed pretzels aren’t that different from crushed graham crackers. The pretzels took a little more pounding, but otherwise, it was much the same as the graham cracker/saltine crusts. So again, it was a test, but I was less surprised when this was also a resounding success.

Even better, it all came together great. It was, like the last pie, the perfect adaptation of the original favorite sandwich, just sweetening the deal a little. (My sweetie has next suggested a Take 5 pie … I might take him up on it, but I might also take 5 *wink* on repeating a peanut butter pie every month.)

Salt, sweet, marshmallow, peanut butter, perfection.

Here’s what I did, adapting the peanut butter and jelly pie Taste of Home recipe from last month:

Ingredients

For the crust:

  • 1 ½ c. pretzel crumbs (I’d estimate I used about 3 c. of pretzel twists and then pounded the sh*t out of them with a meat tenderizer)
  • 5 T. unsalted butter, melted
  • ¼ c. sugar
  • Pinch of salt

For the pie:

  • 1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
  • ½ c. confectioners’ sugar
  • ½ c. peanut butter (I went with creamy for the pie, even though I like crunchy, but you do you)

For the topping: 

  • 1 c. heavy cream
  • 7 oz. marshmallow fluff

Directions

For the crust:

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix together the ingredients in a medium bowl, and then press them into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch skillet. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until the edges are golden. Remove from oven, and let cool completely.

For the pie: 

In a large bowl, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, and peanut butter until smooth. Spoon into cooled pretzel crust. Top with whipped topping (directions below).

For the topping: 

Beat the heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Fold the marshmallow fluff into the whipped cream.

To finish: 

Place the whipped topping on top of the pie. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight, and enjoy!

A simple side for all occasions

OK, so maybe I spent an evening last week going through my Betty Crocker cookbook since I didn’t have the brainpower to read a book nor the mental health state to keep up on Twitter but had the anxious energy to do more than simply watch TV.

That’s just maybe how last week’s and this week’s recipes came to be the top of my queue of food to make. Even better, both last week’s 5 ingredient chicken and this week’s orzo vegetable side dish were simple to make, and (full disclosure) went well together.

Veggie orzo side dish ingredients.

The original recipe is for a main dish that uses plain sauteed chicken tenders that are first cooked and then mixed into orzo mixture. Since I planned to use it as a side dish with chicken, I skipped the chicken in the recipe and made a nice vegetarian side dish (or main dish but with fewer servings).

Anyone who owns a Betty Crocker cookbook knows that the recipes are not often the most exciting, but they’re also not the most difficult. They’re perfect, in other words, for a weeknight dinner when you want something homemade but don’t want to be cooking all night.

This one in particular was a nice reminder to me that orzo is a great pasta for a fast, tasty side dish. I think it’s one I’ll play with and enjoy over and over again.

So simple, so tasty.

Here’s what I did, adapting the Betty Crocker main dish:

Ingredients

  • 14 oz. (1 can, or homemade) vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1 ⅓ c. uncooked orzo
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium zucchini, chopped (yielding about 1 ½ c.)
  • 1 ½ c. cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 small bell pepper, chopped (yielding about 1 c.)
  • 1 c. water
  • ~1 T. chopped fresh rosemary
  • ½ t. salt

Directions

Heat a 9- to 10-inch skillet on medium heat. Stir in the broth, pasta, and garlic. Heat to boiling, and then reduce heat. Cover and simmer for about 8 minutes, until most of the liquid is absorbed. Add in the vegetables, water, rosemary, and salt, and stir together. Heat to boiling, and simmer another 5–7 minutes until the vegetables are tender-crisp and the pasta is cooked through. Let cool slightly, and enjoy!

All the herbs!!!

At this point, I’ve lost track of the last time I went to the grocery store and have no idea what it looks like now.

I do, however, get dispatches from my sweetie when he makes his weekly stop, as he’s good enough to be our designated shopper given my compromised immune system. And what I know now is that while many staples are still available, and we’re in no danger of food shortages, some of the things we’re used to are getting harder to come by.

We appreciate it more when we can find the fresh herbs and vegetables we want, and especially, for me, when I can get the meat I most enjoy.

This week I was ecstatic to see that my grocery list items to make this Persian frittata all made it into the cart, and into the refrigerator at home.

Persian frittata ingredients.

I have even more reason to be grateful to my sweetie because in the before times he’d already test-driven this recipe from Bon Appetit for me, so I knew I was in for a treat.

There’s a fair amount of herb chopping, but I have these wonderful herb-cutting scissors that make the whole thing go smoothly. It’s so simple and easy that I made it with a simple Middle Eastern soup so we’d be able to enjoy the frittata for breakfast after our first meal.

If you’re able to find all the veggies and (mostly the) fresh herbs, this is a real, simple treat.

Eggy, green, and great!

Here’s what I did:

Ingredients 

  • 5 T. vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 medium leek, white and pale green parts only, finely chopped
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • ½ t. ground turmeric
  • ½ T. ground fenugreek
  • 1 ½ c. finely chopped cilantro (about 1 bunch)
  • 1 ½ c. finely chopped parsley (about 1 bunch)
  • 1 ½ c. finely chopped dill (about 2 small packages)

Directions

Heat 2 T. oil in a 9- to 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Cook the onion and leeks, stirring occasionally until soft but not browned, 10–12 minutes. Transfer to a plate and let cool. Wipe out the skillet and set aside.

Meanwhile, whisk together the eggs, baking powder, salt and pepper, turmeric, and fenugreek in a large bowl. Mix in the onion mixture, cilantro, dill, and parsley. The egg mixture should look thick and very green (with bits of egg poking through, depending on how finely you chop the herbs; mine could be greener).

Heat the broiler.

On the stove top, heat the remaining 3 T. of oil in the reserved skillet. Pour in the egg mixture, and spread evenly across the pan with a spatula. Cover and cook the frittata until the bottom is just set, about 8–10 minutes. Remove from heat and take off the cover.

Broil for about 1 minute until the top is just set and starting to brown.

Let cool slightly, slide out onto a platter, cut into triangles, and enjoy!

Take your time with chickpea stew

I had my ups and downs with this week’s recipe. Spoiler alert: it ends on an upswing.

However, when I first decided to make it, I soon realized that the recipe wasn’t going to work in my small skillet. So, I downsized to halve the recipe.

Then, I realized that the proportions seemed odd and off even in half-size, so I retooled again.

When it came time to make it, I wasn’t all that optimistic or eager.

It managed to get worse as it went on, and I started to wonder if the chickpea stew with spinach and topped with a fried egg would even be a tasty dinner.

Chickpea stew ingredients.

Seriously, I thought as I was stirring, how is a mash of chickpeas and crushed tomatoes even going to be tasty?

What a fool I was.

I should have known better than to doubt Bon Appetit and my own savvy. Plus, time. Time allows the flavors to meld, the onion, the garlic, the cumin seeds, and the paprika to imbue their flavors into the tomatoes and chickpeas.

It was incredibly delicious. I don’t even think the eggs were all that necessary.

When I make this again, I will do a couple things differently.

First, the spinach was not nearly enough. I used an entire bag, but I should have used two. Also, I might *might* consider using thawed chopped spinach to save a little time. While it’s nice to be able to saute it with the garlic, there’s plenty of garlic in the dish (I forgot to halve the garlic but I’m not complaining) and I’m not sure the freshness made all that much difference. Then again, maybe I just should have used more.

Secondly, like with the purgatory eggs, this meal would have been wonderfully enhanced by having a nice sourdough or another good bread to serve it with. Since I halved the recipe, it went down to a three-serving meal; however, I think it would have been a nice four-serving meal if there had been bread.

But I can say this tasted so good that I will make it again. I might even go to full size skillet for even more deliciousness.

I wish the flavors would show through in this picture. It was so good.

Here’s what I did, adapting the recipe more than a bit:

Ingredients

  • 3 T. olive oil, divided
  • 5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced, divided
  • 1-2 bags baby spinach
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 T. cumin seeds
  • 2 t. smoked paprika
  • 1 (15 oz.) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 to 1 ½ c. vegetable broth
  • 4 eggs
  • Sourdough bread, toasted, for serving (optional)

Directions

Heat 1 T. oil in a 9- to 10-inch skillet (10-inch probably preferable but I made it work in my 9-inch Le Creuset) over medium heat. When oil begins to shimmer, add the equivalent of one garlic clove of the sliced garlic to the skillet. Cook until golden, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add spinach. Toss, adding salt and pepper as desired, and cook until the spinach is wilted but still bright green, about 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate, and set aside.

Add the remaining oil to the same pot. When oil begins to shimmer, add onion and the remaining sliced garlic. Cook, stirring often, until the onion is softened, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add in the cumin and paprika, and stir until the cumin is toasted and fragrant, another minute.

Add in the chickpeas and crushed tomatoes, and stir to combine. Cook, stirring often, for about 8 to 10 minutes.

Add about 1 c. of broth, and bring to a simmer, scraping up any browned bits. Continue to simmer, occasionally using mashing some chickpeas with the back of a spoon, until sauce is thickened, another 8 to 10 minutes, adding more broth as necessary.

Add in the spinach and continue to simmer another 8 to 10 minutes, again adding more broth as necessary.

Meanwhile, in a separate non-stick skillet, pour in oil or butter and heat over medium high. Cook eggs to desired done-ness (the recipe says to do sunny-side up; I prefer over medium). Season eggs with salt and pepper and transfer to a plate.

Spoon chickpea mixture into bowls, top with an egg, and serve with some toasted bread as desired, and enjoy!

Have rice and eggs anytime

I admit that this week’s recipe was one of those where I just happened to have all the ingredients in the house, and so had the perfect excuse to make it.

Even easier to do as it was another of the Jamie Oliver 5 Ingredients recipes, so I literally only needed to have 5 ingredients (plus salt and water) on hand, most of them household staples for us.

Now, not all ingredients will be household staples for most. I’m just lucky that my sweetie has been doing the shopping for us since the pandemic began and has been adding a stop at the local Asian market to his errands while he’s out. That’s how we came to have kimchi available any time.

While the Korean eggs and rice dish is, of course, Korean, it’s also possible to replace the kimchi with another vegetable. Kimchi worked really well with the cilantro as well, but again, anyone could use a different herb or spice accompaniment.

Korean eggs and rice ingredients.

I might recommend giving kimchi a try, though, as the fermented cabbage is quite a bit tastier than its name or its description might make it seem.

This is the second time I’ve made the dish and I’ve stuck to the recipe both times, other than the fact that I’ve used a smaller skillet than called for and increased the cilantro amounts. It’s been fine, though I’ve never quite managed to get the eggs to fully encompass the rice; I think next time I’ll just go ahead and stir it in a bit rather than hoping it wraps around. However, it does still taste great and does allow the rice to crisp a little more, which I enjoy quite a bit.

The meal also delightfully works as both breakfast and dinner. All around a nice, easy meal when you don’t have a lot of time or the energy to make something too difficult.

Looks good, don’t it.

Here’s what I did:

Ingredients

  • 1 T. sesame seeds (I didn’t really measure so definitely used more)
  • 150 g. basmati rice
  • 150 g. kimchi
  • 8 sprigs of cilantro
  • 4 eggs
  • Salt, to taste
  • 400 ml water

Directions 

Toast sesame seeds in a 9- to 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Once lightly golden, remove to a plate, and reduce heat to medium-low. Place the rice in a pan with a pinch of salt, and then pour in 400 ml of water. Cover and cook the rice for 10 to 15 minutes until the rice has absorbed all the liquid.

Meanwhile, chop the kimchi and tear up half the cilantro, and place in a medium bowl. Beat in the eggs, and then pour over the rice when it’s ready, spreading evenly with a spatula. Cover and cook for another 10 minutes or so until the eggs are just set.

Loosen the edges with a spatula, and then slide it out on a plate. Scatter the sesame seeds on top and then place the remaining cilantro leaves on top, and enjoy!

Breaking biscuits and gravy, Part 1

I had been considering making my usual biscuits and gravy recipe ever since I started the small skillet year, but it seemed like a cop-out as it’s just sausage and a general white gravy with store-bought biscuits.

Thankfully, I found a twist on the traditional recipe that allowed me to make one of my favorites *and* try something new. Bless you, Bon Appetit.

Cornmeal biscuits recipe.

Even if I hadn’t been considering biscuits and gravy all along, this recipe had me from its name that implied to me a south by southwest mash-up.

In place of traditional flour biscuits, a cornmeal-based biscuit that very much resembled cornbread. In place of breakfast sausage, chorizo. In addition to all that, and if it wasn’t filling and unhealthy enough, the addition of cotija and avocado, as well as cilantro and scallions.

Of course, it was a delight.

I’m focusing this week just on the biscuits, as I believe each *could* be made individually, and I felt like throwing too much out at this point could be overwhelming.

Chorizo and/or gravy may not be for everyone, and I feel like it’d be possible to just use store-bought biscuits and use next week’s gravy recipe if one were not inclined to bake biscuits.

So, how did the biscuits turn out?

I was nervous that an 8-inch skillet wouldn’t be enough to separate the biscuit batter, and even using a 9-inch it was a single biscuit instead of distinct ones (however, placing them individually still made it easier to separate once baked). I think it must have been a typo. But a medium-skillet will work; even if you end up with a single biscuit, it’ll be possible to pull them apart.

The taste, though, was amazing. It really was like a cornbread in biscuit form. It’s not that they’re interchangeable, but it was the perfect combination of biscuit consistency with buttermilk cornbread flavors, and it worked really well with the particular gravy recipe. It’d also work as just a biscuit with butter, like I may have done with one leftover biscuit.

I used a little more buttermilk than the recipe called for but otherwise stuck to it, though I might recommend a slightly larger skillet (which may affect cooking time).

The giant singular biscuit still tasted like the perfect cross between biscuits and cornbread. So I don’t care, I love it.

Here’s what I did:

Ingredients 

  • 1 c. all-purpose flour
  • ¾ c. cornmeal
  • 1 T. sugar
  • 1 ½ t. baking powder
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 1 t. salt
  • ¼ t. black pepper, freshly ground if possible (I did not measure but grinded generously)
  • ½ c. (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • ¾ to 1 c. buttermilk (I used it all but if your consistency is good and sticky after ¾ c., don’t add more)

Directions

Heat oven to 425 degrees.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Use your hands or a pastry cutter to work the butter into the flour until the pieces are chickpea-sized. Add buttermilk and mix to blend until dough is just combined and sticky.

Drop dough by heaping ¼ cupfuls into a medium cast-iron skillet, spacing if at all possible. Bake, rotating once halfway through, until biscuits are puffed, golden brown, and cooked through, about 15 minutes. Cool slightly and enjoy with butter or next week’s gravy recipe!

This is hell, time for purgatory eggs

Another week of self-isolation, another simple recipe for the end times.

My sweetie found this simple egg dish from the Add a Pinch blog that managed to use ingredients we mostly had lying around the house. We did end up needing to get more eggs by the time I worked up the energy to make it, but so much of the dish called “eggs in purgatory” includes household staples that make this a simple and tasty breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner.

Eggs in purgatory ingredients.

As is typical when I try to poach eggs, I overcooked them. I pretend that one day I’m going to solve this but I have eaten eggs where the whites aren’t quite done and I would rather eat hard yolks for an eternity than have to eat underdone eggs ever again. So, I will live with my choices.

However, for you dear reader, know that 9 minutes is likely waayyyy too long; three minutes definitely was still too short, so somewhere in between is probably good.

Other than that (not very) helpful advice, the only other key is to use a good tomato sauce as it makes up most of the flavor. I ended up using a straight up pre-made pasta sauce, particularly arrabbiata, so if you have that on hand, it’s even better. Oh, and a good bread to serve this with makes this dish go from good to great.

So simple, so good.

Here’s what I did, slightly adapting the recipe:

Ingredients

  • ~1 T. olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 ¼ c. tomato sauce or pasta sauce (the more flavorful the better, but whatever you have on hand will work)
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • ¼ t. red pepper flakes (I didn’t measure but did not use a lot as arrabbiata is already semi-spicy)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • ¼ c. fresh parsley, chopped, divided
  • 4 eggs
  • ¼ c. grated Parmesan cheese
  • Toasted bread, for serving (optional)

Directions

Drizzle olive oil into a 9- or 10-inch skillet set over medium heat. Once the skillet warms, add the onions and cook about 3 minutes until tender. Add the garlic and cook another minute.

Then, stir in the tomato/pasta sauce, red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper. Add about half of the parsley and cook for about 5 minutes to allow the sauce to thicken and flavors to meld.

Break eggs into each quarter of the skillet on top of the sauce (the recipe, of course, says to place it into a small bowl first, but I’ve never dirtied another dish *embarrassed face*). Top with the grated cheese and any additional salt and pepper, as desired.

Cover the skillet and cook until the whites are set and the yolks are done to desired level (see note above for how long-ish to do that). Remove from heat, sprinkle on the remaining parsley, and any additional cheese, and enjoy with a fancy bread!

Honest artichoke dip

One of my go-to cookbooks since I discovered it is Amy Thielen’s The New Midwestern Table cookbook. As a nearly life-long Midwesterner, it’s perfect. Its recipes are rustic, delicious, mostly not that healthy, and not terribly pretentious, kind of like most Midwesterners.

As I was looking for a simple appetizer for something to share with friends, I was ecstatic to find a recipe that also fit my little Le Creuset/small skillet mission. It also happened to have artichokes, wine, and a butt-ton of cheese, aka, most of my diet.

So, basically, I moved the artichoke fondue dip to the top of my queue.

Artichoke fondue dip ingredients.

Two things about it appealed to me specifically — OK, OK, in addition to the aforementioned wine, cheese, and artichokes.

The first was that she correctly labels it a fondue dip; let’s be honest about what a Midwesterner’s (or really, everyone’s) idea of spinach artichoke dip is, mostly cheese. The second thing is not so much that it ditched the spinach, which I enjoy, though it does have a tendency to get stuck in between one’s teeth, but that there was a note about her choice in an alternative.

She not only replaced spinach with edamame, which has an entirely different texture and reasonably different taste, but noted that she’d been called out for how egregious it was to add to the point that she makes the edamame optional in her recipe.

I couldn’t resist seeing what the fuss was about.

My assessment, it was pretty good with it, and it didn’t scare off any of my friends who tried it.

All in all, it’s a damn good, and incredibly easy dip.

I wish there was more.

Here’s what I did, following the recipe (edamame and all):

Ingredients

  • 1 (14 oz.) can brined, quartered artichoke hearts
  • ½ c. heavy cream
  • 1 c. shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 c. shredded aged Gouda cheese
  • 3 T. dry white wine (preferably Sauvignon Blanc)
  • 2 T. chopped parsley
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 t. cornstarch
  • ½ c. shelled edamame, fresh or frozen (optional, but come on, you want to try it!)
  • A baguette, sliced, or crackers for serving

Directions

Heat the oven to 325 degrees.

Drain the artichokes, and preferably, give each a little squeeze to release excess brine. Chop the artichokes roughly.

In a medium bowl, combine the artichoke hearts, cream, both cheeses, wine, parsley, salt and pepper, and cornstarch. Stir until well mixed. If using frozen edamame, ensure there are no ice particles on them, or rinse until they’re removed, and shake off any excess water, and add to the artichoke mixture.

Pour the mixture into a 9-inch skillet, and bake until the dip begins to brown at the edges and is bubbly, about 35 to 40 minutes. Serve with bread or crackers, or both, and enjoy!