Episode 6: "Bottomless Brunch"
Hi everyone! Chef John here and on this episode of Cheap Date we are brunching on a graduate student’s budget! I’ll show you how to make a delicious frittata using your leftovers that is sure to knock your socks off!
You met Audrey a couple of weeks ago at a grad school “Wild West Night” LGBTQ+ mixer at the GPSCY and already you’re falling head over heels for her.
It was cold and rainy that night and you didn’t feel particularly western. You pretty much wished you just stayed at home and were thinking about skidaddling back to “the ranch” when Audrey sauntered up beside you at the bar and said “howdy, pardner.” One look at her in that Sissy Hankshaw from Even Cowgirls Get the Blues cosplay and you knew you were a goner. The two of you hit it off immediately. You spent the rest of the night together downing shots of whiskey as she taught you how to do the Boot Scootin’ Boogie. Things ended with a nice Hasta Luego kiss and a plan to see each other again that weekend. Yippee ki-yay!
Now, you keep telling anyone who will listen how Audrey is the apple of your eye, she’s the light of your life, the knees on your bees, the Alice B. Toklas to your Gertrude Stein, … okay, okay, we get it: you like her a lot!
Anyway, after a few more dates, Audrey accepted your invitation to go out for New Year’s Eve and you couldn’t be more stoked! The perpetually self-doubting part of you wonders if she is actually more interested in the fact that you scored tickets to the Hemingway in Havana six-course dinner at Elm City Social hosted by (yours truly) Chef John Brennan (Kudos to your good taste btw! *insert wink emoji here*) … but your mom assured you you’re a “real catch” and “any woman would be crazy if she didn’t want to ring in the new year with such a smart, good-looking, and talented gal like my bubaleh!”
It’s been a few dates and things are proceeding nicely. There was the hot and heavy make-out session beneath the High Street arch of the Yale Art Gallery last Saturday night, and just the other morning while dropping off a coffee to you at Sterling Library, she pulled you into the stacks for another round of lip music … but you’re not the kind to kiss and tell. The point is, you think this might be it; Audrey might be the one; and maybe this really is where you hang up your proverbial spurs.
So, Audrey agreed to go out with you on New Year’s Eve and she’s been hinting at staying over your place that night so you can finally consummate your budding romance. You are planning on asking her to go steady, be your main squeeze, the banana to your split, the lime in your coconut, the clams to your white pie, The Goffe to your Whalley! It’s truly a match made in New Haven. ❤
You have the entire evening planned out. You have your tickets for the six-course dinner. You cleaned your apartment to the best of your ability, a.k.a. put some clean sheets on the mattress, pushed all the clothes from the floor into the closet, draped a red silk scarf erotically over your Ikea bedside lamp for mood lighting, and cleaned your bathroom for the first time in several months. You’ve got a bottle of champagne in your fridge in case she wants a nightcap after. You slipped your roommate $100 to go get a cheap hotel for the evening, and even booked your Lyft trip home from Elm City Social ahead of time because you know those rates are going to surge come midnight!
You had it all planned out and it all worked like a charm! The two of you had a ravishing good time eating your way through six decedent courses paired with six amazing Plantation Rum cocktails! You had your toast at midnight, some light foreplay during the ride back to your place, and then had an evening of hot, passionate … love and affection.
As Audrey drifted to sleep, the two of you in each other’s arms, her warm, content breath on your clavicle, you watched the bright, white moon slowly sliding past each blade of your window blinds and thought about how for once in your life things finally seem to be working out okay. You are officially a couple. When you asked her if she wanted to be exclusive, through the blur and haze of midnight champagne and noisemakers, she said definitely and kissed you hard on the lips. The thought of it is still kind of blowing your mind. You look over at her fast asleep and fall off into your own peaceful sleep … now dreaming of your new life together!
When you wake up the next morning, Aubrey is already awake, kneeling beside you on the mattress smiling. She’s got a look on her face like a cat waiting to be fed.
“So?,” she days. “How about that amazing breakfast in bed you were talking up last night?”
Shit, you think. Your brain rushes back to memories of when last’s nights conversation turned to a litany of (unfounded) culinary boasts.
“So you think you can cook?” she’d said over a third round of rum cocktails.
“Cook?” You scoffed. “I’m a Breakfast Champ, the Spatula Spartan, the Egginator. Gordon Ramsey ain’t got shit on me!”
Now, sober and slightly hungover you have to face the unfortunate truth: Gordan Ramsey has got massive amounts of shit on you and he’s not afraid to tear your egg burning ass down!
But have no fear! Chef John is here with a great recipe you can make for breakfast in bed using that leftover pasta from dinner two days ago, a few eggs, cream, cheese and pretty much whatever else you’ve got in your fridge that is not out of date!
This Italian peasant food breakfast classic, the frittata, is sure to be a hit, and who knows maybe you’ll make Mr. Ramsay proud or at least make your new partner a breakfast that won’t cause her to ditch your sorry ass!
As a backup, if you really can’t figure out how to cook eggs have no fear, Olives and Oil is open for New Years Day Brunch, 11am-4pm!
Let’s get cookin’!
Things You Might Want to Need…
Mushroom & Spinach Frittata
3 whole eggs
1 ½ oz. heavy cream
½ cup cooked pasta (I like to use capelleni or spaghetti)
½ cup raw mushrooms sliced
1 ¼ cup olive oil
2 cups fresh picked basil
½ cup baby spinach
2 oz. grated parmesan cheese
1 oz. pine nuts
S&P to taste
1 small block of parmesan reggiano
1. Take 2 cups of basil, 1oz pine nuts, 1 cup of olive oil, 1 oz. grated parmesan and puree in a food processor or blender to make your pesto. Add salt & pepper to taste, set aside.
2. Beat eggs & heavy cream in a mixing bowl, add salt and pepper to taste and set aside.
3. Heat a small to medium pan on low to medium heat.
4. Once the pan is warmed add beaten eggs, then cooked pasta, mushrooms, spinach and a little grated parmesan cheese.
5. Using a rubber spatula, tease the edge of the eggs as it cooks, pushing the ingredients into the cooking eggs.
6. Once cooked on one side, flip in pan and heat until the frittata is cooked through.
7. Plate, garnish with basil pesto, fresh grated parmesan & enjoy!
When picking your basil, it is important to pick the leaves off the stems before you puree your basil. This small step will make your pesto an A+ instead of a B-.
When cooking the frittata make sure to keep the pan on medium to low heat so you don’t burn your eggs while they are cooking.
Flipping the frittata for the first time can be a little intimidating. Use your rubber spatula to help you flip it, commit to the flip and you will be fine! In the worse-case scenario your frittata will taste good even if it’s ugly.
Plating and Other Stuff…
Plating this dish is pretty easy. I suggest saving some cute- little basil leaves to use as a garnish and the fresh grated parmesan reggiano will do the rest of the work. Place some pesto on the center of the plate, then your frittata, then top with a dollop of pesto, grate your cheese over the top, garnish with your basil leaves and you are ready to serve!
What to drink?
Rosé Grapefruit Mimosa
Wine: Reginato Celestina Sparkling Rosé
Grab yourself a bottle of sparkling rose! Dry and fruity roses are all the rage these days and their sparkling counterparts are a great option for something a little different for your New Years’ Day mimosas. I suggest the, Reginato Celestina Sparkling Rose’, its moderately priced, is good in a cocktail and on its own as a sipper.
With this recipe, we are going to stick with the spirit of being untraditional and use fresh squeezed grapefruit juice instead of orange juice. Start off with the simple 50/50 split of juice and sparkling wine and then adjust as you get to the end of the bottle! You’ll have last night’s festivities back up and restarted in no time! Just remember you have to go to work on Wednesday!
What to listen to?
Dan & the Wildfire
“The River’s Gonna Rise” Part 1 & 2
This group of talented musicians out of Boston have the perfect vibe for your New Years’ Day chilaxin brunch with your new boo! If you’re looking for real New England Indy-Folk check these guys out! Dan and the Wildfire perform regularly up and down the east coast, tune in and then let yourself tune out. I see big things coming their way! Music available on Itunes, Spotify and Pandora! www.danandthewildfire.com
A Boozy Bonus by Bartender Dan Rek!
Not So Boring Holiday Party Eggnog!!!
Similar to your cooking skills, your bar tabs would denote that you stick to a cheap shot and a beer when you’re out because there are so many oddball ingredients these days that those fancy mixologists use and you wouldn’t know where to start with them. For this cocktail, I used just that, inexpensive (but great tasting) whiskey and what else but our house favorite, the Champagne of Beers, along with (mostly) household ingredients to give you a killer eggnog that will have your holiday parties more lit than your crazy aunt’s hair last year when she sat too close to the candle at the family holiday dinner last year.
-5 Whole Eggs
-150 grams of sugar
-9 oz. Heavy Cream
-10 oz. Almond Milk (regular is fine, however if it’s unsweetened, you’ll need to add more sugar to your final product to taste)
-1 Miller Highlife Tall Boy (16 oz.)
-7 ounces of Evan Williams Black Label Bourbon (Any good quality bourbon of similar proof will work here as well if you already have some, the proof to aim for is around 86 or 43% alcohol)
-0.25 teaspoons of Vanilla Extract
-0.25 teaspoons of Almond Extract
-1 whole Nutmeg, freshly grated
-1 roughly 2.5-inch cinnamon stick, freshly grated
I made this recipe to fit into an average sized kitchen blender (around 40 oz.) for your convenience, so it will yield about one quart.
When I make this, I use weight just for consistency and precision but liquid volume measurements will get the job done just fine.
To start, you’re going to put all five of the eggs in your blender and start it up with the lid on tight. Unless you’re a sicko that enjoys cleaning kitchen walls or something.
After the liquid’s stopped splashing all over the place, you’re going to pop the lid off and SLOWLY add each of the ingredients in the order of the shopping list above.
The order is important because alcohol has chemical properties that will curdle the cream, ruining your eggnog, if you don’t emulsify the dairy with sugar and add more liquid volume first.
After everything is said and done, move over whatever Highlife is left and make room in your fridge. Transfer the nog to a refrigerator-friendly container and let it sit overnight for at least a day to let all of the flavors marry together.
When serving, give the drink a small dusting of nutmeg before enticing your olfactory senses into opening up your taste buds even more to enjoy your hard work.
Chef’s Closing Notes:
I hope your enjoyed this episode of Cheap Date! New Years’ Eve is right around the corner and we have a few tickets still available for my Hemingway in Havana Dinner for sale here: https://www.elmcitysocial.com/events/a-new-years-eve-extravagancia-2018 This is our fourth year doing a themed dinner for New Years’ Eve and its always a great time! We will also be opening both Elm City Social and Olives and Oil for New Years’ Day Brunch, 11am-4pm, so make your reservations now before we fill up!