Monday, February 23, 2009

It's How Lincoln Would Have Wanted It: Tomato and Cheese Frittata, Roasted Bacon, Carmelized French Toast, and Strawberry Sauce

When I was a kid, my favorite holiday was always Presidents' Day. We'd try to get some sleep, the anticipation too much to overcome. Finally, at the crack of dawn, we'd run downstairs to open our presents under the Lincoln Tree, meticulously decorated with ornaments of each of the presidents (save for the William Henry Harrison ornament, which broke like a month after we got the set, drag). After we opened our presents, we'd let Dad put them together while Mom made frittatas, bacon, and french toast. Sorry, I mean freedom toast. Then we'd watch the parade.

It was with these fond memories in mind that I invited over some friends for what I hope will be a continuation of the tradition. I decided to stick with the same dishes mom used to make. First up, the frittata, which Bittman claims is as good hot, warm, or room temp. Mom always made it by finishing it in the oven, but Bittman just does it all on the stove. It's pretty damn easy; saute onions (I used scallions) in olive oil, add tomatoes, throw the eggs on top of that, and sprinkle Parmesan over the top.

Let that go over low heat til the eggs are just set, and you're good to go. This was pretty tasty, but not altogether stunning. I served it pretty much room temperature, and I think I would have preferred it to be warmer. The other thing I can't put on the recipe or Bittman or even my friendly neighborhood produce guy: fresh tomatoes really suck this time of year. Tomato season just isn't long enough. These tomatoes just made the omelet a little wetter, a little plainer, whereas if we had some nice in season ones, it would probably make the dish something truly special. As it stood, it was more like the omelets at the dining hall freshman year, before you learn to never, ever ask for the tomatoes.

Next up was the bacon. Bittman says that roasting the stuff is a good way to go for large batches. I wasn't sure how it would turn out, but actually it was the best bacon I've ever made. I hate pan frying the stuff, it's messy and it takes forever and I'm just not down with that. From now on, I shall roast. There were a few benefits. For starters, all the bacon is done at once. Much less time consuming. It also takes a lot less effort, and on top of all that, I've never been able to get that kind of crunch by frying it. Big success.

Anna the bacoterian was here, and she also seemed pretty psyched on the stuff. Oh, and I think the bacon itself was very good quality, I got it at Fairway, and it tasted a cut above for sure.

Caramelized French Toast was the real highlight of this Presidents Day feast. Great thing to make at brunch because no one orders it when they go out for brunch. It's likely to be a crowd pleaser. I used challah, the ultimate bread for French toast, dredged it in the milk-egg-vanilla mixture, and cooked it on a grill pan. In this Caramelized variation you sprinkle a bit of sugar over the piece (you can also dredge it in sugar but that sounded too sweet) before you put it in the pan. Gives it a nice brown color, and doesn't hurt in the flavor department. Easier than you think. Served it with maple syrup, robviously, and the Strawberry Sauce that I made from the Fruit Sauce, Two Ways recipe (cooked fruit method). Basically you just boil some butter and sugar in water, let it thicken, then add the fruit. The recipe says to puree it, but I decided to leave the strawberries in slices. It's in the dessert section, but it goes pretty well with French toast.

So I've cracked the brunch section of How to Cook Everything, and I'm feeling good about what's to come.


  1. I love brunch food! My mouth is watering!

  2. I'm with Reva. That looks delicious.