Secret Recipe Club: Potato Parmesan Frittata Irene

Amy writes:
Thursday: A hurricane is coming?!?
Chris is at his first day back to school, professional development for teachers. I sit, somewhat depressed about the end of such a fabulous summer, unmotivated to do those last few things I should be doing, and instead zone out in front of the t.v. The entire 11 a.m. news broadcast is dedicated to Hurricane Irene, predicted to reach us this weekend. Having lived in New Orleans, I, 1.) don't mess around with hurricanes, and 2.) have an idea of what I should to do prepare, regardless of what they are saying. I head out to the store. Already, there is little water on the shelves (I buy 4 large bottles, leaving some for the next person) and they are out of D batteries (bummer). Figuring my pantry has plenty of non-perishables, I get cash (just in case), eggs, milk, fruit, and a few other things. I head home and wonder if my basement will flood.

Friday: What should I do?
I'm still pretty unmotivated to do anything I should be doing, but now I have a mission: a hurricane is coming. Still, our basement hasn't flooded in the ten years we've lived here, and we are far too inland to get the kinds of winds that would destroy windows. Why am I so worried? I text Chris (in his second teacher-only day at school): "Should I tape the windows?" A reply: "Only if you want sticky windows." I text again: "Should I start moving stuff up from the basement?" He replies: "Are you that bored? I really doubt our basement will flood, but if it makes you feel better." Last text I send: "I should clear the garage though, right, so we can put our cars in." He's all about me doing that. I spend the rest of the afternoon doing just that. Hurricanes are a pain in the butt!

Saturday: Battening down the hatches.
We spend the day clearing our yard, porch and deck of anything that could become a projectile. Then we have to do the same for our neighbors, D and J, who are in Minnesota at a wedding. We spend the evening watching the news and calling friends and relatives to make sure everyone is ready, and fall asleep watching the 24-hour hurricane news.

Sunday: Irene arrives. She's a Tropical Storm.
We had a lot of wind and rain overnight, but according to the news, the worst is yet to come. Around 8:30, a neighbor's uprooted tree knocks their garage off the foundation and crushes another neighbor's above-ground pool. There are leaves and branches all over our yard, but that's about it. Chris thinks we'll be losing power any minute, so I start breakfast. I want to use up the stuff in the fridge before we lose power. It's Secret Recipe Club week, and I've been eying this beautiful frittata created by "Owen's Mom" at my assigned blog, "Adventures in All Things Food." She has a lot of great baking recipes, but our latest baking attempts haven't been very successful. She raises chickens, therefore has plenty of egg recipes, and this particular recipe will use up a lot of what I could lose in a power outage - eggs, milk, and cheese. Plus, she suggests making it in a "big cast iron skillet," which we love to cook in. I make a few adaptations, since I don't have a couple of the ingredients she calls for. I put it in the oven; it has to cook for an hour. Forty-five minutes later, we lose power. I figure if I leave the oven door shut, my gas oven will stay warm and continue to cook the frittata. It does and it's delicious!!!

We eat the fluffy frittata, drink mimosas, and use our cell phones to check in on our loved ones. School is called off for tomorrow (yay!). Our next-door neighbor has power, so Chris runs a string of extension cords and plugs in one light, our television (still no cable or network), and alternates power between our refrigerator and chest freezer. Our neighbor across the street jealously watches our t.v. from his window. I think I'm going to miss the reveal for Secret Recipe Club...

Potato Parmesan Frittata Irene
adapted from "Simple Supper Idea: Potato Basil Frittata" by Adventures in All Things Food

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
4 potatoes (Yukon Golds are great in this)
8 large eggs
15 ounces of ricotta cheese
1 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese, divided
1/3 cup flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup fresh basil, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350. Dice the potatoes and toss them in one tablespoon of olive oil. Heat the other tablespoon of olive oil in a large cast iron skillet. Cook the potatoes until they are nicely browned and tender, stirring often. In the meantime, whisk the eggs in a large bowl. Add the ricotta and 1 cup of the parmesan; stir to combine. Gently stir in the flour and baking powder to the egg mixture. Pour the melted butter over the potatoes in the skillet and allow to heat for a few seconds. Then pour the egg mixture over the potatoes and shut off the stovetop heat. Top the egg mixture with the basil and the remaining parmesan cheese and put in oven. Bake at 350 for one hour, until set. Enjoy!

Monday: The Calm After the Storm
It's a beautiful 70-degrees and sunny. Everyone we know is safe and sound and has little property damage. We spend the day cleaning up the debris in the yard and wishing for power. We drive to the nearby Dunkin Donuts, for we've heard tell that their free WiFi is up and running, and you can get it from the parking lot. I download another book on my Kindle, and we pick up some takeout. The fabulous guys at the electric company arrive around 6 p.m. and fix our power amidst a round of cheers from everyone on the street. No cable (thus no internet) yet. Chris has to go to school tomorrow, but since 80% of the town where I work still has no power, I do not. I secretly revel in having one more bonus day of summer and stay up late watching The Untouchables, which I TiVo-d during A and E's "Mob Week." Life is good and we know how lucky we are. Our thoughts and prayers are with those who weren't as lucky.

Tuesday: A New Day
Another gorgeous sunny day off. I have power AND cable, and need to get this post done asap because it's very late. My apologies to the Secret Recipe Club, and many thanks for your flexibility and understanding. Hope everyone out there is making a good recovery from Irene.


Blueberry Hand Pies Baking Fail: Your Recipe, [Our] Kitchen

A few weeks back, we stopped at a quaint roadside market on the way home from Atlantic City. They had pints and pints of fresh local Jersey blueberries that we couldn't resist buying. Some we ate straight out of the package - they were warm and juicy and tasted like summer candy. The others were destined for hand pies. Have you heard -- pie is the new cupcake?

(Insert appropriate segue here)...We've been meaning to join up with the "Your Recipe, My Kitchen" club hosted at Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker, and this recipe for blueberry hand pies from The Pastry Affair was one of the many recipes we had bookmarked to try. They looked and sounded so good, and now we had plenty of blueberries, so, why not?

In the interest of disclosure, we used store-bought pie crust, but otherwise followed the recipe without changes. They looked beautiful - crimped with a fork and topped with demerara sugar before going into the hot oven.

Okay. We may or may not have overstuffed the pies just a bit. Take a look:

They all burst in the oven. Our cookie sheets were glazed with sticky sugary blueberries. Thank goodness we used aluminum foil! One more baking fail. (And now you know why we don't bake that often).

We did end up with a half-dozen decent-looking darlings that we shared with our neighbors. This was the prettiest one.

The rest of the mess we served ourselves in bowls topped with vanilla ice cream. It may not have looked pretty, but it was deee-licious! We loved the freshness the lemon zest added, and the deep warmth from the cinnamon. And, of course, all those bursting blueberries!!!

Thanks for the recipe, The Pastry Affair. We'll give it another try sometime. You've inspired us.


Smoked Ribeye Steaks

As you may remember, we bought a smoker this summer. And even though we know ribeye steaks don't need slow and low cooking, we decided to cook them on the smoker anyway. And we're so glad we did! Holy cow!!! These ribeyes were fantastic. Juicy and tender with beautiful hints of woodsy smokiness. We'll be making these again very soon! Here's how we did it:

First, we seasoned the gorgeously marbled steaks with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Then we covered them in a some red wine for marinating. We marinated them for about an hour, flipping them over half way through, while we drank the rest of the wine and heated up the smoker.

We set the steaks on the top grill rack with soaked applewood chips creating the smoke. We let them smoke for 40 minutes.

After we took them off, we seared them on the grill for a quick two minutes on each side, just to get some grill marks on them. Easy as that!


Kodak Gallery Photo Book (and a Discount Offer!)

As part of Foodbuzz's Tastemaker Program, we received a coupon code from Kodak Gallery to make a medium hard cover photo book in exchange for blogging about it. We've been away, but finally had a chance this morning to get to work on creating our masterpiece, A Couple in the Kitchen: A Culinary Year.

Our best food-inspired photos representing each month of the year will be highlighted in a beautiful book we created ourselves using Kodak's easy-to-use website. It was so much fun reviewing our photos and choosing the perfect ones to go in the book.

There were tons of designs and themes to choose from, and each page can be laid out in a variety of ways. Optional captions were easy to add and the auto-fill feature worked really well. We can't wait until the final product arrives on our doorstep!

Kodak Gallery is offering our readers an opportunity to create a medium or large photo book at 40% off until August 31st. So use this link here and start saving your memories too!

Wordless Weekender: Where We've Been


Godiva Iced Mocha Truffle

As part of their Tastemaker Program, Foodbuzz partnered with Godiva Coffee and sent us two packages of Godiva coffee (Chocolate Truffle and French Vanilla) and challenged us to come up with an iced coffee creation. In the past 24 hours, we did just that, using the Chocolate Truffle flavored coffee and our Toddy cold-brew coffee maker. We're calling it the "Godiva Iced Mocha Truffle."

When you have an exceptional product like Godiva, you want to make sure you can really taste it. That is why we chose to use the cold-water brewing process. It extracts the natural flavor of the coffee, leaves behind the acidic bitterness that coffee can sometimes have, and results in a smooth, velvety iced coffee drink.

First, we made the cold-brew coffee concentrate using only the 12-ounce package of Godiva Chocolate Truffle Coffee and cold water (yes, we know...it looks a bit like mud). We left that to brew for twelve hours, then removed the stopper and allowed the concentrate to flow into the glass decanter.

To enhance that chocolatey goodness, we added a little chocolate syrup to the glass before filling it with ice, then made our drink with the coffee concentrate and some whole milk. The first sip was silky smooth, refreshing, and filled with both coffee and chocolate flavors, no additional sugar needed. It was a deliciously creamy drink that we enjoyed with a handful of Godiva dark chocolate almonds. Pure indulgence!


To make the coffee concentrate using the Toddy Maker:


1 12-ounce package Godiva Chocolate Truffle Coffee, ground
8 cups cold water

Make sure filter and stopper are inside the Toddy Maker. Pour 1 cup of the water into the Toddy Maker. Add half of the ground coffee. Slowly pour 4 cups of water in a circular motion over the coffee grounds. Add the remainder of the ground coffee. Add 2 more cups of water in a circular motion over the coffee grounds. Wait five minutes then add the remaining 1 cup of water. Allow to brew for 12 hours, then remove stopper and allow to flow into glass decanter.

To make each serving of Godiva Iced Mocha Truffle:


2 ounces Godiva Chocolate Truffle Coffee Concentrate (directions above)
4 ounces milk
1/2 ounce chocolate syrup

Pour chocolate syrup into a glass. Fill glass with ice, then add coffee concentrate and milk. Using a martini shaker, shake until well blended and foamy. Enjoy!


Atlantic City Food and Wine Festival

We have just returned from an awesome weekend in Atlantic City which included a visit to the Atlantic City Food and Wine Festival. There were festival events all weekend, but the only one we attended was the signature event of the festival, The Grand Market and Italian Village.

While the process of getting into the event, even with pre-purchased tickets, was chaotic to say the least, the tasting itself was fantastic. There was a maze of ballrooms at Bally's dedicated to the event, in which there were over 125 tasting stations featuring small plates, wine, beer, specialty food products and cooking demonstrations. There was so much to taste, it would be impossible to taste it all! However, we thought we'd offer you a taste by highlighting some of our favorites from the festival.

One of the first stops we made was to Simply Naked wines, not only because they were stationed near the entrance, but also because their eye-catching display included male and female models with whom you could take a photo. Very Atlantic City. These were delicious, straight-forward wines that are made without aging them in oak. This process makes it easier to taste the varietal itself; Amy loved the fruit-forward Cabernet Sauvignon and thinks Joanne would [heart] the unoaked Chardonnay.

Across from the Simply Naked station was a cooking demo given by the enthusiastic and personable Mike Hawk of Tony Baloney's who was being sponsored by Reynold's Wrap as the winner of the 2010 Cheesesteak Battle. He showed us how to make his Atlantic City Smoked Cheesesteak on the grill using Reynold's Wrap Non-Stick Foil (we received a roll in our swag bag). For this cheesesteak, sirloin is cooked in stout beer with an intriguing mix of seasonings including mustard seed, allspice berries, cumin, fennel, coriander and paprika, and is then topped with smoked mozzarella. How good does that sound (and look)???

A small number of the other food highlights included this nicely seasoned, full of lump crab, fabulous crabcake offered by Phillip's Seafood,

this crunchy bite of bruschetta topped with sweet juicy tomatoes and tangy cheese,

and this complex, delightfully shmancy dish of grilled steak and poached lobstertail over saffron risotto.

In the specialty food products category, we fell completely in love with 2 Chicks with Chocolate, who were offerings tastes of their "Spice Tiles" (milk chocolate blended with cinnamon, clove, ginger, nutmeg and cayenne) with port (fantastic pairing, indeed!), as well as their amazing caramel blends. Their owner, Elyissia Wassung, was attentive and personable, encouraging tasting after tasting, and answering questions with patience and enthusiasm for her products. We purchased a box of the tiles, some of their "Fire and Ice" cocoa mix (frozen chocolate martinis, anyone?), and a box of their luscious, velvety caramels, of which the rosemary lemon (top row, below) is quickly becoming Amy's latest addiction. Thankfully, they are available online!

There were plenty (and we mean, plenty!) of wines to taste, and we tried as many of them as we could. One that really stood out was Zenaida Cellars' ZC Red, a luscious blend from Paso Robles that had fruit and spice notes as well as excellent mouthfeel. We'll be looking for this wine for sure!

One non-alcoholic drink we loved was Jin-Ja, an herbal tonic made with fresh ginger, cayenne, lemon, mint, green tea and a touch of sugar. This drink had bite! And, it is purported to bring quick hangover relief. (We're happy to say that we didn't need it the next morning.)

As foodies and oenophiles flocked into the ballrooms, there was a general feeling of gaiety and comraderie. We were all here for the love of food and wine, and it showed.  We met plenty of great people, and the chefs seemed to love being showered with our attention. Here is a photo of Chris with Tony Luke, a legend in the world of Philly Cheesesteaks.

All in all, we had a great time. It was a lot of fun being among other foodies, trying all the delicious foods and wines, and being introduced to products that were new to us, or even new to the market. We may have to make this an annual event!