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Spinach, Bacon, Onion and Goat Cheese Frittata

This is another great brunch recipe. I have chosen a triple crème goat cheese Brie from Woolwich Dairy, which has a rich texture and a savory taste. It may be a bit salty for some, so I didn’t add much salt to the frittata. Goat cheese has a pungent smell and flavor, which is beautifully absorbed in this dish. I have added some smoky bacon, some sweet onions and some spinach with a hint of nutmeg.

Photography by Robert Demetrius

This is an easy and effortless meal to pull together.

For the bacon:
6 rashers of bacon, sliced in ¼ inch to ½ inch slices, about 7 ounces
1 teaspoon olive oil

For the onions:
2 large onions, cut in half and sliced into ¼ inch slices, 16 ounces
1 tablespoons olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt

For the spinach:
9 ounces spinach
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

For the egg mixture:
8 eggs
¼ cup of heavy cream
3 teaspoons thyme, chopped
a pinch of salt
1 tablespoon olive oil

Topping of the frittata:
8.8 ounces Woolwich Dairy, Triple Crème Goat Cheese Brie, sliced into ½ inch slices

For this dish, we will need a skillet or pan that can be used on the stovetop, as well as in the oven. Please make sure that the skillet or pan isn’t too deep, about 2 ½ to 3 inches will do the trick. Once the egg mixture is added and put into the oven, it will rise beautifully and will need the space to expand.
You will be putting the skillet or pan on the middle shelf in the oven, so make sure that the rack above it isn’t too close. Once you have arranged the rack, if necessary, start pre-heating the oven to 425° Fahrenheit.

It would be much easier to have a nice big bowl by the stove, as you will be preparing the bacon, onions and spinach separately to start and then mixing them together at the end. Using a slotted cooking spoon would be best, as we will not be requiring any added juices in our dish, when we are putting it all together before baking.

We will start off by heating our the pan at a medium low heat, so that it’s nice and hot before adding 1 teaspoon olive oil and then the bacon that has been sliced in ¼ inch slices. Sauté the bacon for 5 minutes, until they are about to turn crispy and are nice and caramelized on the edges.
In the meantime, cut the 2 large onions in half and slice in ¼ inch slices and set aside until the bacon is finished.

Once the bacon is finished, after 5 minutes, remove the bacon bits from the pan and place in the big bowl. Make sure not to pour the bacon bits into the bowl, as we will be using some of the oil and fat left in the pan for the onions.

Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to the pan, along with the leftover fat from the bacon before adding the sliced onions and ¼ teaspoon of salt. The salt brings out the sweetness in the onions, which will be welcomed as well as the smoky flavor of the bacon, which was done in the same pan. Stir the onions around so they don’t burn, for 8 minutes until they are translucent. As soon as the onions are done, remove from the pan with the slotted spoon and add to the bowl with the bacon.

Add another 2 tablespoons of olive oil in the pan, because by now, the onions have soaked up all the oil and we will need more to sauté the spinach.

As soon as the olive oil had been added, toss in the 9 ounces of spinach, ½ teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon of black pepper and 1/8 teaspoon of ground nutmeg. Toss together for 2 minutes. The spinach will wilt pretty quickly and you will have a bit of juice in the pan from the bacon bits, onions and the liquid in the spinach. Using the slotted spoon, add the onions and bacon back in the pan and toss well together allowing some more of the liquid to evaporate for another 2 minutes. 
Then remove the mixture with the slotted spoon and place in the bowl again. Discard the lovely juice from the pan and place the pan back on the burner. At this point the pan should be void of all bits at the bottom and all the liquid is discarded. If necessary, take a paper towel and wipe the bottom of the pan ensuring that no moisture is on the bottom. If you wish, you can also wash out the pan and dry thoroughly before placing back on the burner.

Beat 8 eggs till well blended, adding ¼ cup of heavy cream, a pinch of salt and 3 teaspoons chopped thyme, making sure they are well incorporated into the beaten eggs. Pour 1 tablespoon olive oil in the pan swirling the pan around so that the olive oil is well distributed at the bottom of the pan before pouring in the egg mixture. Make sure the burner is at a medium low heat, because if it’s too high, the bottom will be pretty burnt before the rest is done. Let the egg mixture set for 4 minutes before adding the bacon, onion and spinach mixture, with a slotted spoon evenly around to the pan and letting it set at the same medium low heat for a further 5 minutes. The edges will start bubbling and you are able to run a spatula around the edge and it won’t stick to the pan.
While the eggs and the bacon, onion and spinach mixture are still in the pan, slice the Triple Crème Goat Cheese Brie into ½ inch slices. Make sure the cheese is nice and cold so that when you cut it, it doesn’t run. Place on top of the bacon onion and spinach mixture. 

Once done, it’s ready to be placed into the oven. Bake for 15 minutes until beautifully brown. The frittata would have risen to the edge of the pan and is ready to be enjoyed. Voilà. This is another wonderful dish. Just be careful not to burn your tongue, as it’s pretty hot when just taken out of the oven. Serves 6 persons.

This recipe is so satisfying that it is also a great lunch idea. Add a nice green tossed salad with a vinaigrette and some crusty bread and you are well on your way.


Smoky Spicy Black Beans with Hot Italian Sausage

Hot Italian sausages are not only very flavorful because they are seasoned with garlic, hot peppers, fennel and/or anise, but they also have nice big chunks of coarsely chopped pork, so it is a hearty, spicy and aromatic sausage. To compliment the richness and slight sweetness of the black beans, a few fragrant and smoky spices have been added to the mix. Get ready for this mélange of flavors. Cumin is an aromatic spice with a smoky flavor, coriander is mildly fragrant, aromatic and makes a great combination with cumin. Marjoram is a mild herb that adds a sweet oregano flavor, whilst Hungarian Paprika brings a richness, smokiness and depth to the dish. Thyme is just one of my staples and always seems to find itself into most of my dishes and it comes with a fresh subtle lemony bite
Photography by Heaven on Hearth

Here are all the ingredients you will need:
2 15.5 ounce cans of black beans with liquid
1 tablespoon minced garlic, about 3 cloves of garlic
½ large onion, diced, about 1 cup
1 cup diced tomatoes with a little juice
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon dried French thyme
½ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon ground coriander
¼ teaspoon broken marjoram leaves
¼ teaspoon half- sharp Hungarian paprika
2 stalks scallions, finely sliced
¼ teaspoon salt
3 hot Italian sausages, about 14 ounces
2 rashers of bacon, sliced into ¼ inch slices, about 3 ounces

To begin, slice the rashers of bacon into ¼ inch slices and then start preparing the sausages. To prepare the sausages, I took off the casing, which was quite easy. I ran my knife along the top to the bottom of the sausage, lengthwise of course, which separated the casing, not cutting too deep into the sausage though and just peel off the casing. I do that because when you cut the sausages into pieces, the casing tends to hang off a bit on the sausage when cooking and it’s really not all that attractive. If you choose to leave it on, it will not spoil the dish at all. Once the casing has been removed, cut each sausage into ¾ and 1 inch pieces. So, 1½ sausages will be cut into 1 inch pieces and the other 1½ will be cut into ¾ inch pieces. I did that just to get slightly different size pieces to bite into. You will see that it’s a pretty course type of sausage when you cut them into pieces. You can see the meat, fat and spices, which makes them so nice and hearty. Now if you do not like spicy, you can substitute it for the sweet Italian sausage, which has the same ingredients, except the hot pepper, so you will be losing absolutely no flavor.

Hot Italian Sausages
 Now, just make sure that our pot is nice and hot before tossing in the bacon that has been sliced, which we will sauté for 1 minute at medium heat before adding in the sausage pieces. Stir occasionally until the sausage pieces are a bit brown in color. In the meantime, dice ½ of a large onion. Once you see the sausage pieces getting brown, add the onions into the pot and give it a good mix. Wow, that smell of the bacon, sausage and the onions are delicious as the mixture of flavors hit your nose. You will notice that nothing is overdone. The bacon isn’t crispy and the sausage isn’t burnt. You will need no oil for this dish as the bacon offers enough.

Hot Italian Sausages Cut Into Chunks
Leave the bacon, sausage and onions for about 8 minutes while all the flavors start blending with each other and we have a flavorful and tasty base before adding the black beans. Don’t forget to stir every now and then. Starting mincing the 3 cloves of garlic and slicing the 2 stalks of scallions and set aside. After 8 minutes, add the black beans with the liquid, because that will bind everything together, so you get this nice thick consistency. Then, add the garlic, scallion and spices.

Be careful when adding the crushed red pepper flakes with the rest of the spices. I love spicy, so it was fine for me. My suggestion is to omit the crushed red pepper first while it simmers and see if the sausages give you the heat that you need, if not then add a pinch at a time. Remember, the heat of the stove will bring out heat in the pepper.

Smoky Spicy Black Beans with Hot Italian Sausage

Smoky Spicy Black Beans with Hot Italian Sausage
Turn down the heat to a low and allow to simmer, covered, for another 5 minutes, checking every now and then before adding the cup of diced tomatoes. Watch out when you open that pot, you will be hit by some amazing aromas coming at you. Continue to simmer for another 5 minutes before removing the lid, let it simmer for a further 5 minutes uncovered, so that the excess liquid can evaporate. Voilà. There you have a quick and simple dish that serves 4. Serve in a bowl with a spoon. If you wish, you can also serve with white rice, a dollop of sour cream and some freshly chopped cilantro on top. Enjoy.


Baked Eggs, Sunday Style Just for One

Why not treat yourself to a Sunday morning breakfast during the week? Go for it, you are worth it.
This breakfast dish makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside with the very first bite. It has so many heartwarming elements. You get the creaminess from the egg, the buttery taste of the cream, the smoked hickory, sugar cured bacon gives it a smoky sweet flavor, the mushrooms lend an earthy yet meaty flavor and texture, the slowly caramelized onions offer a sweetness and then the lemony thyme bits, the mild yet fresh onion flavor of the scallions and the garlicky flavor of the chives, all in one bite.

Photography by Heaven on Hearth
Here are all the ingredients you will need:
2 eggs
2 oz. bacon, or 1 rasher, sliced in ¼ inch thick slices
2 oz. onions, about ¼ medium size onion, sliced then cut in half
2 oz. mushrooms (1 oz. cremini mushrooms, 1 oz. white mushrooms) finely sliced. You can use all white mushrooms if you prefer or just use what you have on hand. Please don’t use canned or bottled mushrooms because the dish will get very watery and will also have a rubbery texture, which you really don’t want.
½ ounce scallion (1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon) chopped
½ teaspoon fresh thyme
1 tablespoon and ½ teaspoon chives
1 ½ tablespoons on heavy cream
pinch of pepper

Preparing all the ingredients beforehand makes it so much easier to put together but don’t sweat it if you don’t, it’s actually quite easy and can be done pretty quickly in between the stages.

Photography by Heaven on Hearth

Use a non-stick skillet for this. Just turn the burner to a medium low heat. This will also depend on your burner of course, but lower is better for this dish. Heat the skillet until the bottom of the pan is toasty warm. You can check it by just placing your palm about 1 ½ inches above the bottom of the skillet. Just don’t touch it…or else! Once you feel that warmth on your palm, you know the pan is heating and it’s time for you to throw in the bacon. Keep your spatula at hand since you will want to move it around in the skillet every now and then. Sauté the bacon for about 2 minutes, not much longer. You will notice that the bacon is not getting crispy, but don’t worry, we really don’t want it to start getting crispy at this point.

Bacon, Onion and Mushroom Mixture
While the bacon is gently sizzling away, slice the onions in the mean time. Add the onions and sauté with the bacon for another 3 minutes. The bacon is now getting a nice color, the fat is melting nicely and the onions are becoming translucent.
Start slicing the mushrooms, while the bacon and onions are being sautéed. If you have already bought sliced mushrooms, just run your knife through them again so that they are a bit finer and smaller in size. If using whole mushrooms, cut in half then slice finely.
Now, add the mushrooms and mix evenly through the skillet for a further 3 ½ - 4 minutes. Once that is done, you will realize that the bacon is nice and crispy, the onions have started to caramelize and the mushrooms have absorbed all the yummy oils and flavor of the bacon and onions. Do not add any salt. The bacon is already a bit salty, but if you add salt to the mushrooms, it will bring out the water and we are not looking for a saucy consistency with this dish. It is however okay to add some pepper if you wish. Sometimes, if I am feeling fiery, I will add a pinch of dried pepper flakes to give it a nice kick. Chop the herbs and set aside until needed. So, now with this mixture done, I turn the oven on to low broil while putting the final dish together, so that the oven is nicely heated before putting in the ramekin. Make sure that the tray is about 5 inches below the heat of the broiler.

Just before going into the oven
Put the mixture in an 8 ounce ramekin. There will be no need to butter the ramekin, because there is enough fat in the mixture, so it wont stick on the dish when finished. Make sure all sides are covered with the mixture, sort of cupping on to the ramekin.
Crack two eggs in bowl, just to make sure that they are good, then gently pour into the ramekin. If a yolk breaks, no need to worry, it will still be good. Sprinkle the herbs on top of the eggs and then finally add the cream. Put the ramekin on top of a baking dish, just so that it doesn’t tip over in the oven, in between the spaces of the rack. That could get pretty messy. Once placed in the oven, broil on low for about 6 – 7 minutes. You should get a nice firm egg white and soft yolks underneath. Season with salt and pepper if you wish.
Baked Eggs, Sunday Style Just for One
Voilà! If you are going to have this dish first thing in the morning, serve with toast, but if you are making it more around lunchtime, add a tossed green salad and some Italian bread and butter. Enjoy.


Baked Cauliflower and Chicken with a Sage and Mustard Sauce

I was feeling for comfort…something warm, definitely creamy, with a little edge in flavor. Sage tastes a bit sweet, savory, yet slightly peppery and goes a long way when it comes to flavor, so use it sparingly. Whole grain mustard is zesty; Dijon mustard is sharp and pungent. But mix them all together and the combination will surprise you!

Photography by Heaven on Hearth
So, start by preheating the oven to 375°.

Use about a ¾ head of cauliflower, parted into florets. You can cut the florets too, if they are too large. Bite size pieces work well for me.
Butter a baking dish with about 1 tablespoon of butter making sure that all corners are well covered. If you need to use more, go right ahead. I used a baking dish that would hold all the ingredients in one to two layers.
Arrange the florets in a layer, in the baking dish.
Pour 6 tablespoons of chicken broth over the florets and season with ¼ teaspoon of salt, preferably kosher and black pepper. Cover well and tightly with aluminum foil and bake for about 10 minutes while preparing the rest of the ingredients. This will soften the cauliflower just a bit so that once you add the chicken component the cauliflower isn’t overcooked at the end.
While the cauliflower is steaming away in the oven, start with the chicken mixture.

For the Chicken with Sage and Mustard Sauce

Photography by Heaven on Hearth
Cut six large deboned chicken thighs into ½ inch strips, or a bit larger if you like
2 tablespoons olive oil
¼ teaspoon of salt and 1/8 teaspoon of black pepper
½ of a medium onion and 2 cloves of garlic, finely diced
10 small fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
1 cup whole milk and ½ cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
2 ounces grated gruyère

Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat the skillet with 2 tablespoons olive oil. In the mean time, season the chicken with salt and pepper. Sauté chicken till just before it reaches a nice golden color before adding the finely chopped onion and garlic. Once the onions and garlic are soft, add the chopped sage leaves and toss until the spice has been evenly distributed in the pan. Before pouring the whole milk and heavy cream mixture into the pan, whisk in the mustard, and then pour into the pan. Once the chicken with the milk and cream starts bubbling gently, you will notice that it’s also getting a bit thicker. If it’s not thickening to your liking, and you wish to have more of a thicker consistency, mix a ½ - 1 teaspoon of corn starch with a bit of water or chicken broth and pour into the skillet, that should do the trick, now make sure to stir constantly and evenly so that you don’t get a thick clump in one part of the pan. Once the sauce has thickened, remove the pan from the burner. Gently pour the mixture into the dish with the cauliflower florets and toss gently so that the cauliflower is well coated with the chicken sage and mustard sauce.

Cover the dish once again with the aluminum foil and bake for 10 minutes covered. Take off the cover, sprinkle evenly over the entire mixture with the grated gruyère and bake a further 20 minutes uncovered. Voilà! A comforting dish to be enjoyed. This easily serves 4 persons. It can be accompanied with French bread, potatoes and even rice if you wish. Add a simple salad and you are good to go.
Bon Appétit.

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