"The only real stumbling block is the fear of failure. In cooking, you have got to have a what-the-hell attitude." ~ Julia Child

Artichoke Frittata…er…scramble

by Julie Tilsner on October 25, 2007

in Stuff the Kids Won't Eat, Dinner, Vegetarian

ArtichokesDawn was once a yoga teacher and a Tai Chi chick. Dawn is an artist (every member of the Tilsner clan has a painting or print of hers on their wall) who is now moving into photography. Dawn is smarter than she should be. She reads science books for fun. Dawn also writes annoyingly well, for someone who isn’t a “Writer.” Dawn knows how to drive big, scary vans. Dawn thinks she is probably Ted Nugent’s love child.

Dawn, as you can see, is one kick-ass gal. It’s not her fault I can’t cook.

Dawn recently sent me an envelope filled with quick, delicious
recipes. She and her husband are on a diet, looking to reclaim their
yoga/tai chi/rock climbing bodies.

On the top of the pile was a recipe for artichoke frittata. Dawn had called me earlier in the week to rant about this recipe specifically.

It sounded good to me. I love eggy dishes. My daughter loves
artichoke hearts. Tony might even like this one, paired with a tangy
salad. This recipe had week-night potential written all over it.

Over the next few days I assembled the ingredients, even making a
special trip to Ralph’s to procure the leeks. Here’s the recipe:

2 small leeks, sliced (white parts only) (Dawn suggests cutting them into 1/4 inch rounds, then cutting those in half.)
1 garlic clove, minced
2 scallions, sliced
1/4 cup vegetable broth
4 eggs, lightly beaten
dried dill to taste
2 tablespoons water
1 can (3.5-ounce) artichoke hearts, rinsed and sliced
6 black olives, pitted and minced
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice.

In a medium nonstick skilled, saute the leeks, garlic, scallions and
broth until leeks are soft. Dawn cautions against browning them. Spread
evenly over the bottom of the skillet. Mix dill and water with eggs and
pour into the skillet. Arrange the artichoke slices and olives on top
of the egg mixture. Sprinkle with cilantro and cook over low heat until
egg mixture is set, about eight minutes. Shake skillet occasionally to
prevent sticking. Cover the skilled handle and place under broiler
until lightly brown, about two minutes.

Cut into wedges and drizzle with lemon juice. Serve with crusty bread, and maybe a nice salad.

Sounds easy, no?

I was feeling very pleased with myself Tuesday evening as I prepped.
Very pleased indeed. Luke was over playing with the kids. The kitchen
iPod was playing. I felt confident. Happy. Tonight, I told myself, I’d
make a real meal. Like a real mom. Tonight, there would be no pasta. No
breakfast cereal. No toasted bagels with butter. We’d eat a real dinner.

Then I realized I didn’t have any dill.

Why must spices conspire against me so? I have an entire container
of spices, how could I not have dill? I pulled out my spice box and
inspected the contents, one by one. Ground cardimom; check. Garam
masala; check. Cumin seeds. Cumin powder. Ground sage. Allspice. Bay
leaves. Mustard seeds. Coriander seeds. Oregano. Turmeric. Ground
ginger. Cayenne. The cheap bottle of dried thyme I bought last week
after discovering I was out of that. Check.

No dill.

At 7 p.m. on a Tuesday night, with hungry kids nipping at your
heels, Is a trip back to Trader Joe’s worth a teaspoon worth of dill?
If I sent Luke out the kids would turn their attentions to me,
interrupting my cooking flow and ruining my hard-earned wa. There was no guarantee he’d find dill at TJ’s anyway (they’re very erratic on their spice selection, you know.)

It wasn’t worth it. Dangerous waters would have to be entered.

I called Luke into the kitchen for a quick consultation. “Do you think I could just substitute thyme for dill?”

He hesitated. “…I don’t know. Dill’s got a particular taste…”

“Yeah, but why couldn’t I just substitute thyme….”

“I wouldn’t,” he said. “You know what happens when you start substituting things.”

He returned to the nits and I threw in a teaspoon and a half of
dried thyme. The cooking continued apace. My daughter came in and took
a big whiff. “Yummy!” she proclaimed. This was a good sign, I figured.
Alas, it was a false one.

Because I don’t have a broiler-safe skillet, and indeed, am sort of
afraid to turn on my broiler, I decided that there’d be no harm cooking
the dish up like a tortilla and flipping it to cook the other side.
Frittata and tortilla is essentially the same thing, right?

Only there was no oil in the bottom of the skillet like there is
with a tortilla. The egg mixture stuck to the bottom. I tried to take
to the thing with the spatula, but at some point I had to accept defeat.

I had artichoke frittata scramble. Aroma: 10. Looks: 2. Presentation: -1.

I slopped some out onto plates. We were married for ten years. Luke
is used to this, and is known to eat most anything, if he’s hungry
enough. He’s also known for his diplomacy skills, and his habit of
choosing his words carefully. “The kids will try this, don’t you think?”


So the kids had leftover lentils and rice. We had the artichoke
frittata scramble. Which, apart from looking like crap, was really very
tasty. At least the thyme substitution worked out, even if the flipping
broiler thing didn’t.

I know Dawn would understand. Next time, though, she’d better send me the right spices.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

elfini October 25, 2007 at 1:15 pm

First off- I don’t think I’ve ever seen my name typed out so many times. Dawn da da Dawn Dawn Dawn. Freaky. And I am a ‘kicky’ kind of gal. Watch your shins!
Now the frittata. It does have a tendency to look strange. The first time I made it the eggs looked gray. I was convinced it was a disaster until I took that first bite. Then it was all gross color be damned seconds please. I think this was caused by letting those leeks brown. And I never noticed the recipe calls for a 3.5 ounce can of artichoke hearts. I’ve never seen such a small can. I use the 14 oz can. All of it.
So. Get thee a skillet with a metal handle and show that broiler who’s the boss!


bad home cook October 25, 2007 at 1:28 pm

I was going for alliteration, which you might not understand because you’re not a “Writer,” (note capital W).
I’m joking of course. If I were a better writer, I might have mentioned the gray cast over the eggs…but I thought that was just going too far…
And yeah, a 3-ounce can? That’s got to be a typo in the recipe…That would be three artichoke hearts…I used most of a 13-ounce can.
You just wait. I’m a gonna nail this one…


Sam's Mom October 25, 2007 at 1:43 pm

I’m going to try this, I love artichokes. I’m right around the corner, if you’re ever in a pinch and you need a spice give me a holler, I may have it. It may be 5 years old but at least it’s dill right


AT October 25, 2007 at 1:50 pm

..maybe Tony will enter the film frame here with a trip to
Sur La Table for the broiler safe skillet!? How’s that sound BHC?


Kim October 28, 2007 at 4:59 am

This sounds good, even if it didn’t look it. I caution Sam’s mom to check her five year-old dill carefully before she dumps it into the mix. As a kindred spirit whose spices outlast various household pets, I want to warn her to check out the spice container for, um, signs of life.


Abi October 27, 2007 at 10:19 pm

I know it sounds like a strange request because of the way that your dinner turned out, but it would be great if you included photos of the final product.


Sam's Mom October 28, 2007 at 12:04 pm

Thank’s Kim, it was just a joke. When I buy bottled spices I date them and toss them after a certain time. No science projects growing in those jars, although I may have a specimin or two in the produce drawer of my fridge 😉


elfini October 28, 2007 at 12:06 pm

Kim – Ugh. That’s kind of freaking me out. Because I know that the only reason I had dill in the house was from the last time Chris and I did this diet. And that was a couple years ago!


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