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This is not what I planned on posting this week.  I had a post on baked ziti all planned out, then I went and made this for dinner last night (on the fly).  It turned out so great, I had to drop everything and recreate it today so I wouldn’t forget how I made it!

A frittata is a big, baked omelet.  Whenever I don’t know what to make for dinner, I make a frittata.  If you have eggs in your fridge and a little cheese, a smidge of leftover this and a dash of leftover that, you can make a frittata.  I made this whole thing last night with what I had in the fridge.  My whole family was down with the flu last week and over Memorial Day weekend (Yay us!  Glamourous times!) and I had no meal plan at all for this week.  I had the flu too and I basically lived off of Cheetoes the whole time.  Juice cleanse?  Please.  Get the flu!  It’s nature’s cleanse!  Plus it’s free! And then as you recover, you can eat all the Cheetoes you want and still lose weight.  Magical.

Everything except the avocado was leftover from the week before.  Actually, I think the smoked gouda was in my fridge before that, and the spinach has been in my freezer since … I can’t even remember.

DSC_1343The frittata is a mainstay of the European kitchen.  It’s fast, easy, frugal and OH SO delicious.  All you need is a copious glass of wine and you’ve got yourself a gourmet meal.
DSC_1322The entire idea of a frittata is to turn bits of leftover cheeses and smoked meats into a gourmet feast, so I kind of feel bad actually posting a particular formula.  On one hand I want to encourage you to use what you’ve got – on the other hand, this frittata formula worked out GREAT and I can’t deny that I’ve cracked some kind of magical frittata code with the smoked gouda cheese and the irony spinach (with a dash of nutmeg), all on a base of caramelized onion…..and the browned cream cheese on the top.  It’s just good.  Just really, really good.

It takes a little skill, but I’ve written it all out for you here.  Maybe you can try this recipe, then get the general idea of how a frittata works so you can create your own when you need to.

DSC_1288First of all, you’ll need some kind of stovetop-to-oven pan.  I use my Le Creuset 12-inch casserole dish.  But any large skillet will do.  You just need to be able to heat it on the stove top, then put it in the oven.  Cast iron would be perfect.

Smoked Cheese, Ham and Spinach Frittata (With a Spot of Cream Cheese)

Ingredients:

One large onion, chopped

3-4 Tablespoons olive oil

1/4 teaspoon salt

dash of pepper

1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1 10 ounce box frozen chopped spinach (defrosted, and all the water squeezed out – very important to squeeze that liquid out)

8 eggs, beaten

8 ounces smoked gouda, grated

10 (or so) pieces of sliced lunchmeat ham – sliced again into ribbons

2-3 ounces (about 1/4 pack) of cream cheese, cut into chunks.

Preheat your oven to 350* F.

DSC_1293Over medium-high Saute the chopped onion in the olive oil until just golden around the edges.  Turn off the burner, and take the pan off the heat.  You’re done with the stove top.

DSC_1299Add the heavy whipping cream, the salt and pepper, the nutmeg and the garlic powder to your onion. The pan will still be warm enough to reduce that cream just a little.  Stir well to combine.

Incidentally, if you’re wondering why in the world we’re adding nutmeg to an omelet, you’ll understand when you taste the completed dish.  Nutmeg is GREAT with spinach.  It’s one of those strange unlikely pairings that really “works”, if you know what I mean.  Like almond extract and pitted fruits.  Or fresh cream and raspberries.  There’s a very deep acceptance of those flavors for each other on some spectrum of the palate that’s very hard to explain, chemically.

Sorry, I’ve just geeked out.  Moving on…
DSC_1302Next add the spinach and stir.  I need to stress how important it is that you defrost the spinach and squeeze out all the excess liquid.  That spinach water will kill your recipe.  Danger, danger Will Rogers (robot arms)….  You can squeeze the water out of the spinach over the sink with your bare hands.  Not pleasant, but it’ll get the job done.  You want that spinach to be dry as a bone.

DSC_1303Add your beaten eggs, and stir again.

DSC_1307Now, throw about 2/3 of the smoked gouda in the egg mixture.  Stir, then throw the last 1/3 of the cheese on the top.  You’re almost done!  Isn’t that easy?
DSC_1311Sprinkle your ribbons of sliced ham over the whole thing, and add your knobs of cream cheese.

Okay, now pay attention because this part will make or break your frittata:  We’re going to bake this dish at 350* for fifteen minutes.  That will set the base of the frittata, but the top will still be a little liquid.  So after it bakes for fifteen minutes (at 350*, remember), you’re going to turn off the oven and turn on the broiler.  Yes…the broiler…and brown the top for exactly five minutes.

Observe the below:
DSC_1314Here is the frittata after baking for fifteen minutes.  The edges and bottom are set.  The top is still liquid-ey.

DSC_1322After putting it under the broiler for five minutes, the top is set, and the cream cheese knobs are oh-so-delicately browned.  The inside of the frittata is perfectly custardy.  Not overcooked.

There’s nothing worse than an overcooked egg!  Nothing!

Except for maybe your whole family coming down with the flu at one time.  That’s harsh.  Holy hell.

I digress.

Okay, I’m going to add the photo with the wine one more time.

DSC_1343Yes…….

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