Shayma has just done the impossible: she reinvented a simple egg preparation, spinning a simple recipe into the realm of the seriously delectable sublime. Comprised of eggs and only four additional ingredients, the frittata she explains to us today is the perfect breakfast to share with friends. It's also the perfect thing to make just for one, as I've done three times this past week, while my husband studied in the library for his finals!
We've highlighted Shayma's culinary memoir–style blog, The Spice Spoon, before, so perhaps you're familiar with her straight–from–the–heart writing and inspired recipes from her multiple homelands. Shayma is of Afghan, Pakistani and Irani decent but has lived across the globe, spending large periods of time in Nigeria, Kenya, England, Pakistan, the United States, and Italy. She currently resides in Toronto. Shayma cooks as a way to connect with her roots, finding comfort in the dishes her grandmothers prepared, especially while living far away from family members. This common thread within most of her recipes makes the blog a joy to read; we are invited to delve into Shayma's amazing culinary family history through delicious foods and lovely photographs.
About this breakfast Shayma says:
Zain, my husband and I never go out for brunch on weekends — because Saturday and Sunday are the two days when he gets deep into the kitchen and prepares all sort of omelettes for us. We call them "farmers' omelettes" because they are prepared with whatever is in our fridge that particular morning (no farm here, sadly). Some days it is caramelized shallots and roasted tomatoes with brie folded in, which softly oozes out with each bite; other days it is mushroom, thyme and Swiss cheese. And there is always a little bit of caramelized garlic in them.Fresh feta cheese at a farmer's market.
One morning, in the mood for an omelette in the Italian manner — a frittata, I entered the kitchen with Zain to prepare it. He took out Roma tomatoes, Irani feta and the fresh herb of the week, tarragon. Zain peeled the roma tomatoes with a potato peeler while I whipped the eggs. After pouring a few globs of olive oil into the frying pan, I added the chopped Roma tomatoes. Over a slow flame, as we sipped our cardamom tea, the tomatoes slumped and yielded, becoming soft and jam–like. In went the eggs and as Zain swirled the pan with a flick of his wrist, I added lots of soft, creamy, crumbled Irani feta. As it began to come together along the sides, we transferred it under the broiler for ten minutes. Flipped over onto a plate was a thick circle of eggy goodness—la sort of savory custard, garnished with strands of fragrant tarragon. And since we had just returned from Istanbul, we had to give the frittata a dusting of pul biber, the prized semi–moist, red chili flakes from Turkey. We scooped up the custard–like frittata with our favorite pumpernickel bread using our hands.
This frittata is as luscious and savory as Shayma describes. The phrase, "oozing with flavor," came to mind over and over as I also scooped up the egg custard with a slice of pumpernickel bread. The play of sweetness and acidity from the tomatoes, slight anise flavor of the tarragon mixed with the bright salt of Iranian feta, all set on the rich backdrop of farm–fresh eggs . . . It's a stunning combination, so balanced and unexpected. A frittata revelation if you will, the whole truly being greater than the sum of its parts. The pumpernickel bread is a great vehicle for mopping up this custard, adding another layer of complex flavor to the meal. This dish would be great for a holiday brunch, but works just as well for an easy weeknight dinner, as I can attest to.
one generous glug of olive oil
2 roma tomatoes, peeled (if you don't have any you can use 1/2 of a 14 oz can of chopped or diced tomatoes)
1/2 cup Irani feta (this is more creamy and soft than the Greek variety, and very salty)
Small handful fresh tarragon
Large pinch Turkish red chili flakes pul biber also known as Aleppo Pepper (if not available you can use hot smoked paprika)
Turn the oven broiler on high. Place a large non–stick frying on medium heat and add a few globs of olive oil. Add the chopped tomatoes and sauté slowly for 10 minutes till soft and jammy. Next, whip u the eggs vigorously with a whisk until uniform in color. Add the eggs to the pan and swirl slowly, allowing egg to set up slightly. Add crumbled feta, but do not stir. As the egg continues to cook, remove from flame and place directly under broiler.
Check frittata at about 7 minutes, it should be slightly golden and bubbly on top. If it is not ready, allow 3 more minutes under the broiler. When ready, using a tea towel, place a plate over the frying pan and flip over carefully.
Serve with some tarragon leaves on top and a dusting of pul biber (or smoked paprika) alongside your favorite bread.
Thanks Shayma for contributing to our Breakfast with a Blogger series!
• Visit Shayma's Blog: The Spice Spoon
Related: Recipe Review: Zucchini-Potato Frittata
(Images: Leela Cyd Ross, images of farm eggs and market cheeses, Shayma Sadaat, images of finished frittata in pan and on plate)