Sunday, April 18, 2010

Potato Frittata and Birch Syrup

A visit to the Newmarket farmers' market yesterday brought all kinds of new surprises: impeccably fresh, early-April lettuces from Bee Thankful Farm (complete with plump aphids hiding in their creases (a good sign that pesticides are not used, and nothing a salad spinner can't handle!); bundles of garlic greens from Wild Miller Gardens (think giant blades of grass, but garlicky); baskets of fresh shiitake and oyster mushrooms and pots of baby herbs (parsley, dill, sage and others) from Healthy Home Harvest; wine jams (yum!) from Laurel Hill Jams & Jellies; and, last but not least, BIRCH syrup from David Moore and The Crooked Chimney!

Birch syrup made from the sap of Paper, Yellow and Sweet birches.  High in vitamin C, potassium, manganese and calcium, birch syrup is more complex in flavor than maple syrup and not as sweet.  I was told some people have made beer with it!  I made salad dressing.  Recipe can be found at end of post.
This is awesome stuff.  It looks and pours just like blackstrap molasses, even tastes a bit like it, too, but also has a hint of aged balsamic vinegar hiding in its notes.  At $20 for an 8-ounce bottle (well worth it when you know how much more sap is needed for producing it!), it's sure to be used like a fine, aged balsamic vinegar, too.  So how did I experiment?  As an accent flavor to a Spanish frittata made with yesterday's shroomz and garlic greens,and a few other locally grown garden gems, and in a salad vinaigrette!

To make the frittata, have the following ready:
~8 eggs
2 med waxy potatoes
1 sm-med onion
garlic, 1-2 cloves if fresh (I used all of a head that I roasted the night before)
~1 and a 1/2 cups mushrooms of your liking
2 cups fresh greens (spinach, arugula, etc.), roughly chopped
1/4c milk, cream, or non-dairy sub
any other veg or greens that move you (I had 1/2 of a Barker's farm red bell pepper on hand)
cheese, if you're so inclined (I had a round of local goat cheese that called my name)
olive oil

Eggs from TwisterAllie Farm; spinach from Heron Pond Farm; garlic greens from Wild Miller Gardens; mushrooms from
Healthy Home Harvest
First things first:  slice the potatoes and onion into thin pieces.  Halve your potatoes pole to pole, then slice crosswise into 1/4" (+/-) pieces.  Ditto the onions.  Slice/tear your mushrooms into large bite-size pieces.  Toss all of this together, and any other veg, such as bell pepper, in a large bowl with a Tbsp or two of olive oil and a pinch of s&p.

Next, heat 1-2 Tbsp olive oil in a large nonstick, broiler-safe skillet over med-high heat until shimmering.  Pour the veg mix in and let cook for 3-4 minutes before stirring.  After stirring the mix thoroughly, cover and lower heat to med-low and let cook for another 3-4 minutes.  Repeat this one more time, for a total cooking time of 9-12 minutes or until potatoes are creamy and tender.

While the above is cooking, preheat oven to 375 with top rack positioned 5" from broiler element.

Beat eggs with the milk/cream in the same bowl that you tossed the veg in.  Season eggs with salt and pepper.  Beat only until the whites blend into the yolks.  Too much beating, and you'll end up with a tough frittata.  Fold herbs and cheese, if using, into beaten eggs.     

When the veg are soft and tender, pour the egg mixture all over until evenly coated, shaking the pan gently to coax the egg down into the veg cavities.  Using a spatula, make small swirls from the center outward, moving the bottom of the mixture around until you see signs of egg cooking, 2-3 minutes, +/-. Stop this motion once you see signs of the egg setting.

When the sides are set, place the whole pan in the oven and BAKE for 3-4 minutes on the top rack.  Switch to BROIL mode and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes (watch carefully!).  Some browning is appropriate, but the frittata should have a slight jiggle when you shake the pan (similar to a cheesecake).

Let rest for 5 minutes.  Serve as wedges (or bite-size squares if you want tapas!) with fresh salad greens and crusty bread.  A crisp, young, dry white wine will work, but depending on your cheese you might also try a mellow red, say, a rioja!
These bright greens got dressed in a simple vinaigrette made with birch syrup, sherry vinegar, olive oil, a teeny pinch of sugar, and s&p.  Thin the syrup with a bit of water.  Add the vinegar and seasonings.  While whisking, slowly drizzle the olive oil in.  Keep whisking until emulsified.  Taste for seasoning.  Feel free to add fresh chopped herbs too!

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