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Shiitaki and gruyere muffin frittatas

Food For Thought
By Deborah Lee Walker | Nov 09, 2017

(Nov. 10, 2017) Eggs are one of the most humble and versatile ingredients, but perfecting the variety of cooking techniques is not an easy task.

The delicacy of this complex food is part of its enduring challenge. Therefore, a quick review can only prove to be beneficial.

Cracking eggs on flat surfaces as opposed to the edge of hard surfaces will lesson the chances of the egg shell breaking into little pieces. But if this happens, use culinary or regular tweezers to remove the tiny pieces. Trying to remove a piece of shell out of a raw egg with your fingers or a spoon can be a slippery and frustrating experience.

Sometimes making a mistake or what you think is an error can prove to be to your advantage. One morning, I went to make scrambled eggs and did not have any milk. Against my better judgment, I used half-and-half.

To my surprise, the eggs were fluffier than eggs mixed with milk. As it turns out, the combination of fat, water and dairy creates steam which produces a fluffier egg. Half-and-half is a happy medium between milk and cream and creates the best results.

Salt is a must for eggs but the key is when to add it. According to Cook’s Illustrated, mixing salt into raw eggs before they touch the hot skillet produces more tender curds. The reason is salt dissolves the egg proteins, making them unable to bond as tightly when they come into contact with heat.

While we are on the subject of salt, should one use salted or unsalted butter when cooking with eggs? The general consensus is to use unsalted butter; this way you have complete control of the amount of salt used. In addition, different brands add different amounts of salt to their butter and this lack of coherence is another reason to use unsalted butter.

The way to get easy-to-peel hard boiled eggs is not to boil them at all. Senior editor Andrea Geary of Cook’s Illustrated states that the trick is to cook the eggs in hot steam. The heat breaks down the outermost proteins so they shrink and pull away from the membrane, making the eggs much easier to peel.

On the other hand, if you place eggs in a pot of cold water and then bring them to a boil, the whites set more slowly, giving them time to bind to the surrounding membranes, which makes the eggs harder to peel.

I think poached eggs are the epitome of what a cooked egg should be. The tender whites are the foundation for a gorgeous, runny yolk. A few tips equate success.

Make sure your eggs are fresh. Add 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar to simmering, not boiling, water. Create a gentle whirlpool in the water to help the egg white wrap around the yolk. Crack eggs individually into a ramekin or cup. Very gently lower eggs one at a time, leaving space between them and cook for 3 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, carefully lift each egg and drain on paper towels. Cut off any wispy edges for a more attractive presentation. Salt and pepper eggs to taste and serve immediately.

What looks like a muffin but tastes like an omelet? If one guessed muffin frittatas, you are correct. Custard is poured over a frittata base in a muffin tin. The end result is a flavorful, savory muffin with a delectable, soft texture. The piece de resistance is a crown of poached eggs but this addition is optional.

Shiitaki and gruyere muffin frittatas are easy to make and produce delicious results. The earthiness of the shiitaki and the nuttiness of the gruyere are perfect for fall menus. Enjoy!

 

Shiitaki and Gruyere Muffin Frittatas

Frittata Filling

2 tablespoons good quality extra-virgin olive oil

¼ cup chicken stock

3 ounces pancetta, finely diced

1 yellow onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

10 ounces shiitaki mushrooms, stems removed and sliced thin

(freeze stems for stock)

8 ounces Yukon potatoes, peeled, and chopped

½ teaspoon crushed, dried rosemary

½ teaspoon Herbs de province

1 teaspoon dried thyme

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

6 ounces shredded gruyere cheese

Muffin Filling

8 large eggs

¼ cup half-and-half

½ teaspoon pepper

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

1 recipe frittata filling

1. Heat olive oil and chicken stock in a nonstick pan over medium heat. Add pancetta and cook for 5 minutes. Add onions, garlic, mushrooms, potatoes, rosemary, thyme, Herbs de Province, salt and pepper to taste, and cook 12 to 14 minutes.

2. Transfer frittata filling to a large bowl and let stand for 15 minutes; this allows the mixture to cool. Stir in gruyere and readjust seasoning if necessary.

3. In the meantime, heat oven to 425 degrees. Generously spray 1-cup nonstick muffin tin with vegetable spray.

4. Whisk eggs, half-and-half, pepper and salt together in a large bowl.

5. Divide frittata filling evenly among muffin cups. Using a ladle, evenly distribute egg mixture over filling in muffin cups.

6. Bake until frittatas are lightly puffed, 9 to 11 minutes. Transfer muffin tin to cooling rack and let stand for 10 minutes. Run a plastic knife around edges of frittatas, if necessary, to loosen from muffin tin, then gently remove and serve immediately.

Secret Ingredient - Possibility. “Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”

— St. Francis of Assisi

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