Kale Potato Frittata and Dutch Baby with Strawberry Rhubarb Sauce

Perhaps the most useful cooking lesson I can teach kids is eggs: how to buy ’em, fry ’em, and transform them into dishes savory or sweet. In our farmbox from Jubilee Biodynamic Farm, which arrives a few hours before class, I found a dozen farm-fresh eggs, curly kale, broccolini, potatoes, onions, and rhubarb. Perfect. A quick stop at Metropolitan Market (also a generous sponsor) garnered cheese, half-and-half, lemons, berries, and sparkling water. The bases were well covered.

We began class with a drink made from the Burdock Ginger Syrup prepared in our last class. Two weeks in the refrigerator had intensified and rounded its flavors, and it proved delicious with salty pretzels and pickled carrots and daikon made a few days earlier. Quick pickles are a great way to rescue root vegetables from the crisper drawer, practice knife skills, and play with flavors. Children who don’t like raw carrots find these tender versions, slightly sweet and slightly sour, irresistable. A Guide to Understanding Egg Carton Labels Before we broke any eggs, we talked egg myths. Brown eggs are not better than white; “cage free,” “free range,” and “natural” mean next to nothing. Organic is worth the extra cost (organic is regulated) but even better is purchasing from a local, small-scale producer, one you know and trust. Perhaps your neighbor! Christina has hens, and affirmed that fresh eggs are tastiest, but eggs that are a few days old are easier to peel (check out her beautiful onion-dyed Easter eggs.) As for cooking, experts differ on methods, e.g, Julia Child’s omelet requires brief high heat, while Michael Ruhlman goes low and slow, but they universally advise a light touch. One reason home cooked eggs, whether scrambled, fried, or deviled, taste so much better than their rubbery counterparts in restaurants is that we can eat them immediately after they’re cooked. Keeping eggs warm makes them tough.

“What is this ‘Dutch baby?”” laughed Christina on seeing my recipe. She knows it as pfannkuchen in her native Germany. Dutch Baby, it turns out, is a Seattle coinage for the same thing (it really should be Deutsch Baby). Whatever the name, it’s very easy, requiring only four ingredients (eggs, flour, milk, and butter) and after inflating for 15 minutes in the oven, a show-stopper.

Ideally, the pancake batter should rest for 30 minutes (29 minutes longer than it usually gets in my kitchen), providing a nice pause to make fruit sauce. Frozen organic fruit is a great kitchen staple, ready for adding to smoothies, oatmeal, or dessert. Just as nutritious as fresh fruit, in the off season it is both cheaper and tastier than the stuff shipped in from warmer climes, masquerading as fruit but more like packing peanuts.

“In Germany we peel the rhubarb,” Christina told us. This proved very satisfying, like removing fingernail polish, if not entirely necessary, as rhubarb loses its stringiness with heat, and no doubt holds flavor and nutrients in that ruby lacquer. We live in a rhubarb empire (Washington grows most of what is consumed in the nation), and I’ve never known anyone to peel, but perhaps the custom evolved as insurance against grit, or an excuse to spend more time with Oma. In Yorkshire, enthusiasts harvest rhubarb by candlelight and swear they can hear it growing. I imagine it was a romantic who started that tradition, and who’s to argue?

While our students were familiar with quiche, they had never heard of its crustless cousin the frittata, which is much simpler to make (and gluten-free). Both egg dishes lend themselves to creative juggling of veggie and cheese scraps. While consideration must be given to cooking times for tougher veggies, it is forgiving of errors. The kids nixed broccolini and feta in favor of a potato, kale, and Gruyere combination, and began prepping. As they peeled, deribbed, chopped, and grated, a buzzing beehive of activity, I mused on the social aspects of cooking. The cook alone in a kitchen is a recent development in human history, as is the living arrangement of one family per home. “Nobody has ever before asked the nuclear family to live all by itself in a box the way we do,” said Margaret Mead. From time immemorial, food fetching and cooking was done with others: taught by elders, learned by children, a daily occupation and preoccupation. Bread was not just broken but baked together. What was lost as cooking became more specialized, with artistic, scientific, and corporate interests taking it in different directions? Not only nutrition, but the joy of community. As many of us return to the kitchen for health and environmental reasons, I think it’s important to remember that it need not be alone, like the solitary alchemist or Betty Friedan’s lonely housewife. We need to invite our spouses, kids, neighbors, and friends into the kitchen, and join them in theirs.

With batter resting, fruit sauce on the stove, and frittata in the oven, the kids took turns whipping cream by hand, in stainless steel bowls chilled a few minutes under a cold tap. Although we warned them not to make butter, the kids wanted to whip it good. And then taste. For those accustomed to the overly sweet stuff in aerosol cans, real whipped cream is a revelation, and there was avid sampling going on. As we waited for the timer to ring, I demonstrated Julia Child’s method for making a classic omelet: two eggs, salt, pepper, a tablespoon of butter in a nonstick pan, high heat, tilt, shake, shake, shake, and roll onto plate. Done! The stovetop in the class kitchen doesn’t get very hot, so it took longer than Julia’s prescribed 20 seconds, but the results were excellent: silky and tender. The kids passed the plate hand to hand, each taking a bite and pronouncing it good.  I had snuck in a little Gruyere, my favorite cheese for omelets.

I asked one of our least experienced cooks to make the next omelet, and two minutes later, it was ready. Nothing could be quicker, simpler, or more delicious, and if there are any parents reading this post, please ask your child to practice! Even if they ruin a few eggs, it’s an investment that pays off, and will soon result in a tasty alternative to take-out. (Or an excellent encore for take-out: when we get Thai or Indian, my husband reserves a few ounces to stuff the next morning’s omelet. There is nothing like Oeufs Saag Paneer or Gai Phad Prik King for breakfast! Which reminds me: why are omelets in Paris made with one egg? One egg is un oeuf.)

IMG_3588 Soon it was time to set the table, plate the frittata, and offer a few words of gratitude — this time, to the chickens who provided the eggs, which elicited giggles. While most of the kids loved the frittata, there was one long face.

“Why aren’t you eating?” the dawdler was asked by a tablemate.

“I eat kinda slow,” he explained, laying his head on one arm and pushing the frittata around on his plate. Any parent is familiar with that scene!

I reminded the class that it was okay to leave food on the plate. They are under no obligation to eat, and it was okay to have differences of opinion on what is good.

DUTCHBABYSAUCE I noted the same child had no problem inhaling his portion of Dutch Baby. Nor did any other. You’d think rhubarb was candy, not a vegetable!

“This was my favorite class EVER,” said Lily (in the photo below). Several others agreed, but Eric declared that the Chopped challenge was his favorite class, and when would we do it again?

Soon, kids. Soon. We have two more classes this semester, after which I’ll be teaching a few classes at Eckstein Middle School, and possibly a camp in August. If you’re interested in enrolling, give me a shout. lily

RECIPES

Potato Kale Frittata

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A frittata is the perfect path to a tasty dinner in less time than a pizza delivery. This is adapted from TheKitchn. Serves 6.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cups diced potato
  • 2 cups kale, chopped or torn into small pieces
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½-1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup Gruyere, grated
  • 6-8 large eggs, enough to cover the ingredients, beaten

Directions

  1. Heat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Heat oil over medium-high heat, add onion and garlic and cook until translucent.
  3. Add potatoes and cook until almost fork tender.
  4. Add kale and cook until soft.
  5. Add seasonings and taste to adjust.
  6. Spread vegetables into an even layer on bottom of pan. Sprinkle cheese on top.
  7. Pour eggs over mixture and tilt to settle evenly. Cook for a minute or two until you edges begin to set.
  8. Put the entire pan in the oven and bake for 8 to 10 minutes until eggs are set. To check, cut a small slit in the center of the frittata. If raw egg runs into the cut, bake for another few minutes. Cool five minutes, then slice and serve. Leftovers will keep refrigerated for a week.

***

Dutch Babies with Strawberry Rhubarb Sauce

Print-friendly version.

Makes 2 large pancakes, 4-6 servings each

Ingredients

  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup half and half or milk
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Lemon wedges
  • Powdered sugar
  • Berry sauce (recipe below)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425° F.
  2. Whisk eggs, milk, and flour or mix in a blender. Let stand for 30 minutes at room temperature if possible.
  3. Divide butter between two cast iron skillets, glass baking dishes, or one larger rectangular roasting pan. Place in oven until butter melts. Remove pans, swirling butter to coat sides.
  4. Divide batter between pans. Bake on lowest rack until golden brown, set on center rack and allow to bake until sides rise high above the sides of the pans, 12-15 minutes.
  5. Slice pancake into wedges, dust with sugar, and serve with lemon and berry sauce.

 

Strawberry Rhubarb Sauce

This sauce can be whipped up for pancakes or dessert topping, or served with yogurt and granola for a delicious parfait. Makes 3 cups.

Ingredients

  • 1 8-ounce bag frozen strawberries or 1 quart fresh berries, hulled and quartered
  • 1 pound rhubarb, chopped
  • 1/2 cup sugar or more, depending on tartness of fruit
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • Zest from one lemon

Directions

  1. In small saucepan, combine ingredients and bring to simmer over low heat, stirring to prevent burning as fruit releases juices.
  2. Simmer 15 minutes or longer until rhubarb is dissolved and sauce-like consistency is achieved. Taste and add more sugar or acid if needed.
  3. Serve warm or cool. Store in refrigerator.

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Categories: Appetizer, Beverage, Dessert, Entree, Kid Favorite, Snack, Vegetarian

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  1. Smoked Salmon Pasta, Lemon Butter Asparagus, and Nina’s Gluten-free Granola | FARM TO TABLE CLASS - May 18, 2014

    […] earthy and tart, and the dessert parfait (layers of granola, Greek yogurt and the kids’ own rhubarb-strawberry sauce) a crunchy, sweet and sour finale. Not bad at […]

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