When I was a little girl, Mum used to joke that if you are what you eat, I must have been made of potatoes. Apparently, if there was a choice between any kind of food or even delicious treats and (mashed, steamed, fried, boiled) potato, I'd be all over the potatoes like a rash as if it were candy. Weird. I wonder if I had some rare elemental nutrient deficiency? Is it selenium that somes from spuds? Let me know!
Anyhoo, I'm a bit more balanced in my diet now, but I must admit that potato is still my go-to carbs over other choices, probably because I've devoted such a lifetime to discovering fun and interesting ways to cook it. This includes the time that my parents got the "evil" (according to my Year 2 teacher) microwave device, and I would cook a potato in the microwave plain, then pour Maggi seasoning sauce (essentially soya sauce with MSG added) on and feel like an evil genius gourmand. The babysitter who taught me how to make home-made crisps by thinly slicing potatoes and frying them as an after school snack is still my favourite, and we are still in contact 25 years on! No surprise then that my aforementioned recipe clipping folder contains an entire section devoted to potatoes:
...and my favourite recipe is potato frittata, which has taken many many forms in my topsy-turvy-many-housey lifetime. I can't believe I haven't blogged it yet for you!
Potato frittata (or "potato based quiche") is a versatile dish. It is a great dish to cut up into little finger food/tapas sized pieces for people to nibble as an appetiser at parties and goes down well as it is substantial but snacky enough to bring to "bring a plate" functions or to work. It's also a lovely comfort food that you can serve up, country café-style on a plate with a simple salad. You can bake it, then keep it in the fridge as leftovers to eat cold or reheated for breakfast, lunch, dinner or supper; which is perfect for the times when I've been living the solitary shiftworker lifestyle and can only work up enough energy to cook once for a big round of days or nights on. I'm actually post-nights, and eating a big leftover slab of it right now as we speak.
(No seriously, when can I quit my day/night job and run a little country café?)
I've also found that in lieu of having the entire thing as a dense layer of potatoey goodness, you can also substitute many combinations of ingredients for the middle and top layer without too much fuss. Shredded turkey, chopped BBQ chicken, grated zucchini, broccolini pieces, mushrooms, sweet potato and leftover Christmas ham are amongst some of my tried and tested concepts. You can completely replace the potato, if you have a weird childhood trauma aversion to them (Irish ex-boyfriend, are you listening?), but I would suggest you use them for the very base layer just to add some structural integrity. You can also make two different combos in the same dish:
So here is the basic recipe, but if you can imagine it is three layers, one potato, one onion +/- bacon/ham; one potato, feel free to substitute in any cooked meat or vegies for the top two layers.
For a lasagne dish 18x27cm
--> Line the dish with baking paper and oil it (I use olive oil spray but butter or oil smear works just as well)
--> Preheat the oven to 180degrees.
Base and top layers
1kg (approx. 10 medium sized) potatoes, thinly sliced (Kipfler or waxy potatoes are best, not mashing potatoes)
--> Boil, steam or microwave these until al dente. These will be for both the base and top layers. As I do them in the microwave, I put half first into the microwave. While that is cooking I then sort out the middle layer (see below). Then while the second 500g (of potatoes or other vegies) is cooking I can start layering the first layer of cooked potatoes into the dish.
If I have limited time on one day or know I plan to make frittata a day later, the other option is to cook all the potatoes, then allow them to cool and keep them in the fridge until you are ready for assembly.
1 large or two small (red or white) onions, finely chopped
2 rashers of bacon or slices of ham, finely chopped (optional)
1 small red chili, seeded and finely chopped OR a tablespoon of sweet chili sauce
--> Fry these together in a pan with a spray or splash of olive oil until the onion is translucent and soft.
--> Layer the bottom layer neatly with your first 500g of cooked potato slices. Season with a sprinkle of:
Parsley (dried or chopped fresh), chives or spring onions finely snipped
Ground black pepper
Parmesan cheese (instant stuff in a jar or grated fresh are both fine)
--> Then layer on the middle layer mix; and again sprinkle on the seasonings.
--> Then place the top layer ingredients (your 2nd 500g of potato slices, or whatever cooked meat/vegie mix you want to incorporate. If you have heaps of leftover vegies to use up or a cooked chook in the back of the fridge, you can skip the middle layer to allow more room for this stuff and to save time. Again sprinkly over a fine layer of the seasonings.
8 eggs, beaten
1 cup buttermilk or milk, mixed in with the eggs
--> Pour this mixture over your layered goodies. Allow to settle/gently encourage the ingredients down below the egg line with a fork.
--> Bake for 45 minutes, or until the egg mix is set (which you can check by inserting a skewer in the middle which should come out cleanly if it is cooked through). I find most ovens are not 100% even, so I often pull it out at about 20 or 30 minutes to give it a gentle jiggle to check the firmness, then I rotate it around in the oven for more even baking.
--> Allow to cool out of the oven once done to let the excess steam escape and the egg mix to firm up. I then use the baking paper and a couple of spatulas to lift the whole thing out of the pan onto a chopping board to allow for easier slicing. If you want to make small tapas sized pieces, use a very sharp knife and allow it to cool further before slicing to really firm up the mix (often I refrigerate it overnight then slice it the next day for this effect).
For a standard sized round quiche dish, 3-4 potatoes are enough for each layer (see purple recipe above) and then alter the middle and top layers accordingly; use 6 eggs to 1/2 a cup of milk for your egg mix.
For a larger roasting pan, use 11 or 12 eggs to one cup of milk, and larger potatoes or more meat/vegie mix.
It's an art, not a science! Enjoy!!!