Monday, February 13, 2006

Frittata Up The River

There were few “food” days growing up that I enjoyed rising for. Weekday food treats meant my mother was appeasing one of the three kids about the upcoming school day: Would we be taken to the dentist after school? Did one of us have a test? This could all be gauged by the care put into the weekday breakfast: Chocolate chip pancakes are shots at a doctor’s annual. Cold cereal and orange juice is a regular day.

But oh, those fabulous Sundays! My brothers and I would be dragged kicking to Sunday school. One would complain of fever, one would hide in the closet. I always waited until I got into class. As the teacher began discussing King Solomon, I raised my hand: “I have to go to the bathroom.”
“Really, Stacey? The bathroom?”
“Yes, I have to go.”
“Fine. But come back this time!”
“Oh, yes, I will.”

I left class, walked past the bathroom, took a right at the lounge, made a beeline for the Sisterhood Gift Shop, entered the small glass cube, ducked behind the counter, and twisted 3 inch purple ribbon into bows for my mother, head shopkeeper. “What happened to class?”
“I had to go to the bathroom.”
I sat on the floor pulling bows for 45 minutes while my class was lectured about the King. Soon, the sound of footsteps echoed in the halls making their way to the congregation room. I found my class, sunk into the rhythm of their footsteps, and entered the room to sing for the next 20 minutes.

Song time ended and I returned to the gift shop. I helped my mother clean and lock up, my brothers would arrive, and we would meet my father at the local delicatessen. Within seconds our platter arrived. It was the same platter that we ordered every Sunday: 1 pound thinly sliced Nova smoked salmon, 2 slender glistening white fish, 1 scoop plain cream cheese, 1 scoop chive, sliced tomatoes, onions and a bucket of pickles. Each received a plate with their personal bagel: sesame for my father, everything for my mother, plain for my older brother, raisin for the younger, and egg for me-- all toasted or fresh according to taste.

Now, when I eat smoked salmon, I cannot help but remember those platters of fish for my family. Needless to say, I can appreciate smoked salmon in a variety of ways these days. It does not hurt to have a bagel with a schmear on the side, though. Smoked salmon is usually reserved for special occasions now-- a wee too decadent for weekly consumption.

This Valentine’s Day, have a special meal. Better than going out is making something at home. It does not have to be overly expensive to be special, just good. Make your favorite meal with perfect care, if it’s for a special someone doing what you know will take the edge off. This frittata has two of my favorites: asparagus and smoked salmon (and a bagel with schmear on the side). So there you go, go up the river and bring back the memories—just leave King Solomon behind.

Serving Size= 2. Prep + Cook Time= 15 minutes.
* 4 eggs
* 3 Tbl milk or cream
* 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
* 8 asparagus stalks, washed and cut into 1-inch pieces
* 4 slices (about ¼ pound) smoked salmon, cut into bite-size pieces
* 1 Tbl butter

1) In an oven-safe skillet on the stovetop over medium heat, warm pan and melt butter. While butter is warming, crack eggs into a bowl, add milk, vanilla and whisk together. When butter begins to bubble, sauté asparagus until a dark green, about 3 minutes. Add eggs over top, leave on heat for 3 minutes.
2) Turn broiler on. Place skillet under the broiler and bake 8-10 minutes. Eggs are done when they are set and lightly browned. Remove from broiler, place smoked salmon over top, return to broiler for no more than 20 seconds (you do not want to cook the salmon—it is already smoked—just warmed).
3) Serve with cream cheese schmeared toast or bagel.

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