Hi gang. I hope your summers are ending well. I’ve been enjoying the dregs this year, if you can even say that yet in Texas. Summer in Texas is kind of a creepy ex who “won’t let you” break up with him. He’ll stick around for awhile, no matter your feelings. Despite the 100 degree temps, there are other signs. Berries are gone. Or at least no longer super cheap. I miss ’em already. School started, which matters when you work for a university.
Plus Labor Day happened, which was always The End of Summer when I was a kid. My uncle and aunt live on this lake in almost-Wisconsin, Illinois on a tiny lane that hosts an amazing Labor Day corn roast party every year. I think it’s a fundraiser for stuff; they have kids’ games and a raffle and some races, but all I ever paid attention to was the corn. I am kind of salivating just thinking about it. So, they fill a couple canoes with water and soak approximately three million ears of corn in there, which they then grill on a line of giant barrel grills. A few dad-type neighbors keep it going all day long, with work gloves and midwestern friendliness. All you do is walk up and they grab you a hot grilled corn, shuck it for you with their gloves, throw a couple napkins around the leaves so it isn’t too hot, and hand it over. They always had tin coffee cans filled with melted butter that I’d dip my entire corn (cob? corn-on-the-cob?) into before dousing it with salt. Seriously. Entire coffee cans filled with butter. My mom always made me get a burger or something at least marginally substantial too, but all I wanted was that corn. I’d eat way too many and rinse my hands off in the lake. I never won the raffle, but it was pretty much the best. I missed that corn roast desperately when I went away to college. Let’s be honest, I still miss it.
Now Labor Day is kind of the opposite for me. In Chicagoland, Labor Day is one of the last semi-dependably warm weekends of the year. Being at the lake was a perfect way to say goodbye to summer, with waterskiing and corn. In Texas, Labor Day signals that it will soon be cool enough to enjoy the outdoors again. It’s usually still too hot to make grilling out (Texan for barbecuing) in any way appealing. I mean, people do it; and I am no longer opposed to toughing it out and just being sweaty all day, but if you’re going for comfort you want to be inside. So, the alternative to a Labor Day barbecue is obviously brunch. Inside brunch. With bloody marys. And bacon. And the Dahm’s bacon risotto. And Luke’s chickpea salad. And watermelon. And a frittata made with some of your last fresh, garden-grown tomatoes cooked to perfection.
Look at that beauty. I am proud to say that this is the first bloody mary to win the heart of my friend Brandon, who never liked them before. I think the classic recipe is just a splash of worchestershire in tomato juice and vodka. Not being particularly attracted to tomato juice, I require more than that. My bloody mary consists of tomato juice and worchestershire, with important additions of hot sauce, celery salt, generous amounts of black pepper, a squeeze of fresh lemon, a giant celery stalk, olives, spicy pickles, not spicy pickles, and love. Oh and vodka. Preferably black pepper infused vodka. I fixed up a pitcher and set up a bar from which people could add their own extras and accoutrements. I recommend it.
But to the point: frittata. I think this was my first real frittata ever. For some reason I usually go the quiche route, with or without a crust, if I’m making eggs for more than a few people. Fool! Frittatas take no time at all and make very little mess. Plus, pretty:
This particular frittata involved almost everything good, mainly because those things happened to be in my fridge. Work with what you’ve got; bacon, goat cheese, caramelized onions, and fresh tomatoes! This summer I was mocked mercilessly for saying that there is nothing better in the food universe than biting into lightly salted slice of perfectly ripe, homegrown tomato. It may have been during a trip to some food capitals of the world in Italy and France…which may have made the comment seem more ludicrous…but I won’t back down. It’s about the food experience! Crêpes au caramel et beurre salé are obviously better than tomatoes. I’ll say it. When we were in Paris I tried to get one every night. The salted caramel pools in the bottom of your little folded cone and you pull pieces of perfectly cooked, thin but tender crêpe off the top to dip in that sweet buttery goodness, until you get to the end and the whole thing is completely saturated with buttery caramel, and a hint of salt to cut through all that sugar…I think I just blacked out a little. But! Still; when you’re biting into a fresh tomato that is perfectly juicy, a little sweet, firm but yielding without being squishy, overripe, or mealy and you can still smell that summer smell of earthy tomato leaves and stem…that’s all you want in the world. So, anyway. Too much food talk? I think I just wrote food love letters, and I’m a little creeped out. Here’s the frittata recipe.
End of Summer Frittata
- three slices of bacon (or more!)
- one smallish sweet onion
- half a zucchini
- two big handfuls of cherry, grape, sungold, or whatever tomatoes you have around
- ten eggs
- a generous splash of half and half (maybe 1/4-1/2 cup)
- around 4oz. of creamy goat cheese (or more!)
- salt and pepper, duh
- Preheat your oven to 375.
- Cook the bacon in a cast iron skillet, then set aside. If it looks like there is too much bacon grease in the skillet, you can drain some off.
- Slice and cook the onion in the bacon fat with a pinch of salt and generous amounts of black pepper until it begins to caramelize.
- Add the sliced zucchini and cook, stirring frequently, until tender.
- Add washed and dried tomatoes and stir a few times before spreading everything into an even layer.
- Whisk the eggs and half and half together, and pour over the other ingredients.
- Break up that reserved bacon and sprinkle it over the top.
- Once the eggs start to set up a bit, scatter spoonfuls of the goat cheese over the top and transfer the skillet to the oven for about 10 minutes, checking on them after around 7.
- Make sure the eggs are cooked through, and let everything sit for a few minutes before cutting into wedges and serving.
This made some excellent leftovers, perfect to eat for lunch, cold with a little side salad. So, frittatas away! Breakfasts for dinners! Brunch forever! Etc.
Also, thanks to the lovely Andrea again for photos: