Monday, February 25, 2013
One thing that always stumps me when planning a meal is the first course. I’m not talking about during the week, when I’m aiming at one course that will serve all purposes. But on the weekends when I’m inviting people over and multi-course is the thing.
Pasta is an obvious primo here in Italy. But not only does that often involve last minute fussiness (a no no in my book) but it’s also often just a bit too much food to follow up with a meaty main.
Also, there’s that whole no carbs thing we’ve been doing all month.
So on Saturday, rather than think primo, I started channeling the whole concept of antipasto. Like it’s name, it means ‘before the meal.’ Back in the day all self respecting Roman trattorie would have a great quantity of colorful antipasti on display: grilled peppers, mozzarella, sun dried tomatoes, olives, various salads. But one of the main stays of any antipasto spread was always the frittata.
But since I was having a dinner party I decided to fancy things up. A plain old frittata just seemed, well, too plain and old.
So to the usual eggy base I added a hefty does of shredded fontina (fancy!) and quite a bit of heavy cream (really fancy!) To pretend it was somewhat healthy I also included some steamed broccoli.
Since I wanted it to be luscious and rich, I decided not to cook it on top of the stove, but baked it in a pretty slow oven, in a pretty little dish, so that the custard became truly custardy.
Once cooked, I let it rest for about 20 minutes so the cheese had time to set and I had time to make a (fancy!) radicchio salad to serve with it.
I ended up making way too much. Which was ok. Because as it turns out, my fancy Saturday night antipasto is the perfect Sunday morning breakfast too.
Cheese and Broccoli Crustless Tart
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 cup shredded fontina cheese
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups steamed broccoli
Preheat oven to 160c/ 320F
Wash and divide the broccoli into small florets. Steam until just done. Don’t let them get all mushy. Take off of heat, lay on plate and stick them in the fridge to stop them from cooking and keep them green (I hate plunging broccoli into a cold water bath, since this just makes them all wet)
Break eggs into a bowl and add cream and salt. Stir with fork until mixed. Add cheese and mix. Add broccoli and stir gently
Butter a 8 inch pie dish or square pan and gently pour in the egg mixture. Make sure the broccoli is evenly distributed.
Place in middle rack of oven and bake for about 25 minutes, until well set and beginning to brown.
Take out and let rest for about 15 minutes. Cut into pieces and serve, along side a salad.