I am blessed – or cursed – depending on how you look at it, with a very finely tuned palate. It’s one of the few things my brother and I have in common; and it drove our mother
mad madder than she was already. We were all, “This isn’t Heinz Ketchup” and “They’re not Kellogg’s Cornflakes”, when she sneakily decanted things into Tupperware to try to trick us into eating cheaper versions of household staples. It failed every time. Every time. It isn’t even just the flavor, it’s the texture and consistency our palates get all persnickety over, too. We can tell a Heinz Baked Bean from the rest of the pack the instant it touches our tongues. What this all means is, we’re unintentionally picky. Life is much tastier with this condition, but life would be much simpler without it; plus, there’d be a whole lot less disappointment involved. I am having major ice cream disappointment right now.
The other day, The Bailornator and I hung out over dinner. We played an updated version of “My Dad’s Bigger Than Your Dad”, which we called, “My Dinner Is Saner Than Your Dinner”. I still say I won. He’s terribly competitive, you know, that Mr. Bailor. I had New York Steak, which was billed as coming with a pile of mash & a bunch of veggies. I asked to swap out the mash for a caesar salad. Jonathan had the Baby Back Ribs and swapped out the fries for double veggies. Of course he used his tag-line, “Hold the starch and double the veggies”, so I can confirm he really does say that when he’s eating out. I say my dinner was saner than his because his ribs came slathered in BBQ sauce, and I am certain there was some sugar involved in the making of that sweet, glossy goop. He says his was saner because my steak showed up covered in an enormous pile of previously unannounced fried onion rings. WHICH I DIDN’T EAT. So I won. Ha! Then Jonathan reminded me – we’re not about perfection anyway – a splash of BBQ sauce ain’t gonna ruin all your hard work. I ate more than Jonathan too, which is quite something given that I have arms like wet spaghetti and only reach 5′ 5″ on a good day, whereas he’s over 6′ tall and built like this. He wimped out and had to take some ribs home in a box. He says they make for a fine *SANE breakfast, and I believe him. Needless to say, we were both too full for dessert. Yes. We really do live like we say we do on those crazy a** podcasts. Well, most of the time. Give or take a dab of BBQ sauce and the odd cupcake.
One of the things we talked about over starchless plates of *SANEity, was ice cream. People go wild for my ice cream, but they’re rather *inSANE (the ice creams, not the people). I’ve been thinking about creating a range of *SANE ice creams for you. How awesome would that be??! Except that…because of that finely tuned palate thing I mentioned a few minutes back, it’s not going to be as easy as it might seem. I suspect there may be rather more than a few rounds of ice cream disappointment before I get you something awesome. Here’s where my palate becomes a problem: there is nothing I’ve found that tastes exactly like sugar. Anyone who thinks that erythritol tastes the same as sugar doesn’t just need their taste buds tested, they need to have them replaced altogether.
It’s not just the taste issue that’s giving me heartburn, either. The Bailornator, bless his heart, commented, “Oh just replace the sugar with Stevia.” If only it worked that way. Sigh. While a dash of Stevia can replace that spoon of sugar in your coffee perfectly, it’s not a miracle worker when it comes to baking. Sugar has other functions other than sweetness. Baking is science – and sugar reacts with other ingredients and heat to get the right results, so you can’t just whip out the sugar willy-nilly, replace it with a.n.other sweetener, and expect it all to just work. Even if you replace sugar with honey, you need to tweak the recipe to allow for the higher moisture content of the honey. It’s science. In ice cream, sugar has a dramatic effect on the consistency and texture. Just put a pint of milk or heavy cream in the freezer and see if you get a spoonable, creamy bowl of ice cream out once it has frozen. Milk freezes like a block of ice. Enter, sugar. Sugar is what keeps the ice cream from freezing, so you can’t just replace sugar with an artificial sweetener and hope for a good result. You have to find a way to replace sugar’s other characteristics too.
Like sugar, you can’t always just replace full-fat dairy with non-fat or low-fat dairy and expect the same results in the taste and texture department. It’s science. This morning I started to fiddle with my Cheesecake Ice Cream base recipe to make it more *SANE, by using non-fat dairy products. Not that we’re trying to make low-fat ice cream, rather we’re trying to make higher-protein ice cream. It all looked like it was going swimmingly, but by the time the base was ready to be chilled my picky palate was ready to have a tantrum. I haven’t churned it yet, but already I can tell the taste and texture won’t be there. Bummer. Back to the ice cream drawing board.
While I am beavering away figuring out how to make fabulous *SANE ice cream for you (***UPDATE!! My SANE Ice Cream book will be published in September 2013!!***), I thought you might enjoy my latest go-to dish for breakfast, lunch or dinner. It’s super-easy, super-speedy SANEity*. When I get home late and haven’t eaten dinner – I can whip this up in 5 minutes. In a bit of a morning rush? 5 minutes. Tired, hungry, and not in the mood to cook? 5 minutes.
I give you Minted Pea Frittata. Like a far-more-manageable cousin of the Omelet, a Frittata more or less amuses itself while cooking instead of demanding attention like a petulant 3-year-old.
Another plus – as long as you have eggs on hand – you don’t need anything else that’s fresh. I use frozen peas and I grow mint in my yard, so it’s become my I-forgot-to-get-anything-out-of-the-freezer miracle dinner. If you have some green salad on hand, pile some on the side. If you have the time and inclination, some stir-fried veggies would be great too. If you’re needing an extra shot of protein, add a couple of sausages or some bacon on the side – they can be grillin’ under the broiler while the eggs are on the stove-top. I normally eat it just as it is. But that’s just how I roll. I love me a quick and dirty frittata for my dinner.
- 4 eggs (whatever mix of whole eggs & egg whites you care to use)
- 1/4 cup / 2 fl oz. water
- Sea salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tsp. coconut oil
- 1 tsp. butter
- 1/2 lb / 225g frozen peas
- 1/4 cup fresh, chopped mint
- 1/2 cup grated cheese (optional)
- Turn the oven broiler on high.
- Whisk the eggs well with the water, chopped mint, salt and pepper.
- Heat the coconut oil and butter in a small skillet or omelet pan over a high heat.
- Add the frozen peas and cook for 1 minute on high.
- Turn the heat to medium and pour the whisked eggs into the pan.
- Move the eggs around in the pan with a spatula for 20 seconds.
- Let the eggs cook for 1 minute.
- Remove the pan from the heat and place it under the broiler.
- Cook for 1 minute or until the eggs have completely set.
- Remove the pan from under the broiler and place back on the stove-top.
- If you are using the cheese, sprinkle it over the top of the frittata now.
- Cook the frittata for another minute on the stove-top, or until the underside is golden brown. Carefully lift one edge of the frittata with a spatula to check on the color.
- Slide the frittata onto a plate and fold in half in one action.