Monday, March 31, 2008

Asparagus, Mushroom and Parmesan Frittata: Basements and Breakfast

Up until recently, our 109-year-old basement (a.k.a. the Ninth Circle of Hell) was the scariest place in all of Brooklyn. It was the kind of dusty, brick-lined dungeon where stairs threatened to splinter at every step and light bulbs blew for no reason at all. Only dirt, mold, and ghosts would have dared to call it Home, and in retrospect, I’m pretty sure it inspired The Blair Witch Project.

Yesterday, as part of the Most Productive Weekend in History, The Boyfriend, our two roommates and I decided to take a whack at it. We had already turned our backyard from Depression-era scrap heap into brick-lined paradise, and were dusty and daring (and dumb?) enough to keep the ball rolling. Four dust masks and a pack of contractor-caliber garbage bags later, we were hauling up armfuls of the former tenant’s decades-old detritus, which included, but was not limited to:
  • Eight plastic boomerangs
  • 300 pounds of free weights
  • Two-dozen tiles of rock-hard linoleum
  • Two car jacks
  • Two broken fans
  • Two broken chairs
  • A hand-operated drill
  • A rusty hatchet
  • Four open bags of kitty litter
  • Eight human heads
(Just kidding about that last one … maybe.)

All told, it took two or three hours to clean, organize, and attempt to sweep. Nobody died, and any spectre who sets up house down there will now be much more comfortable. Plus, everything we put outside on our stoop was snatched up by this morning, 300 pounds of free weights included. I love this neighborhood.

This was all a very roundabout way of saying this: to psyche ourselves up for Cellarfest ’08, we made a large, semi-opulent brunch of bacon, strawberries, Bloody Marys, toast, and Asparagus, Mushroom and Parmesan Frittatas. I wrote up another frittata recipe on the blog a few weeks ago, which was delicious but contained canned instead of cooked produce. This one uses fresh vegetables and a few more eggs to adequately hold the bulk. It is also delicious, and will most definitely tide you over for and terrible, terrible tasks that may lie ahead.

Oo – and I should mention: the asparagus is so inexpensive because I bought a bunch for $0.50 on the street in Chinatown. It was one of those, “La-di-da, I’m walking … I’m walking … have to get somewhere … oo, look a vegetable stand … enh, I’m late … still walking … wait, did that say asparagus for $0.50/bunch? … still walking, only backwards now … yes, they are $0.50/bunch … uh, ma’am, can I have 12 of these?” purchases. Thank you, Canal Street!

Asparagus, Mushroom, and Parmesan Frittata
Serves 4

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, divided
8 small stalks asparagus (4 or 5 medium), cut into 1” pieces
1/3 lb white button mushrooms, cut into sixths
2 tablespoons chicken stock
1 cup minced onion
6 large eggs
2 large egg whites
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper

1) In a large oven-proof skillet, heat 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add asparagus. Cook for 1-2 minutes. Add stock. Add mushrooms. Cook until mushrooms have released their liquid, and then that evaporates. Put mixture in a bowl to the side.

2) Whisk eggs, parmesan, and salt and pepper to taste together in a small bowl.

3) Preheat broiler.

4) In the same skillet, heat remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook about 3 minutes, until translucent. While this is happening, pat down the asparagus and mushrooms to remove some of the moisture.

5) Turn heat down to medium and add eggs. Without stirring, let eggs set for about 3 or 4 minutes.

6) When sides of frittata start to set (they’ll begin pulling away from the pan), sprinkle asparagus and mushrooms evenly on top. Cook for about 3 minutes more, until the top just starts to set.

7) Transfer pan to broiler and cook until top becomes light golden brown. This should take about 3 minutes, but check after 2 since broilers are different the world over. (Mine only took 2.)

8) Using a potholder, remove pan from broiler and set on top of stove. Loosen frittata with plastic spatula immediately (otherwise it will continue to cook), being careful not to tear the eggs. Plate and eat.

Approximate Calories, Fat and Price per Serving
212 calories, 13.7 g fat, $0.85

½ tablespoon extra virgin olive oil: 60 calories, 7 g fat, $0.05
8 small stalks asparagus (4 or 5 medium), cut into 1” pieces: 16 calories, 0.2 g fat, $0.15
1/3 lb white button mushrooms, cut into sixths: 33 calories, 0.5 g fat, $1.00
2 tablespoons chicken stock: 11 calories, 0.4 g fat, $0.03
6 large eggs: 441 calories, 29.8 g fat, $0.90
2 large egg whites: 34 calories, 0.1 g fat, $0.30
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese: 144 calories, 9.5 g fat, $0.75
salt and pepper: negligible calories and fat, $0.02
½ tablespoon extra virgin olive oil: 60 calories, 7 g fat, $0.05
1 cup minced onion: 48 calories, 0.1 g fat, $0.15
TOTAL: 847 calories, 54.6 g fat, $3.40
PER SERVING (TOTAL/4): 212 calories, 13.7 g fat, $0.85

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Jen@BigBinder said...

This frittata looks wonderful. Your basement sounds scary. A hatchet?? I wonder what the boomerangs were all about?

michelle @ TNS said...

50 cents a bunch? are you fricking kidding me!

i'm know where i'm headed on my lunch hour.

Gehci said...

Chicken stock is not very vegetarian =) ...I'm assuming vegetable stock would be a suitable substitute?

naturescomplete said...

This recipe sounds yummy. And to boot, it would work really well with my diet.