Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Cajun shrimp frittata

Fun fact: I'm a bit of a wimp when it comes to spicy foods.  I can tackle my own weight in sugar without any problem, but a smidge of cayenne pepper can render me useless in a matter of seconds.

On the contrary, Matt puts hot sauce in/on practically anything.  Eggs, burritos, Chinese food, soups, hash browns, hot dogs, burgers, even pizza.  I've learned that I should operate on the assumption that he'll add either a dash of Frank's Red Hot Sauce or Cholula (his favorite) to his food, so I put the bottles on his end of the dining room table.

It's easy enough for Matt to spice up his food at home without having any effect on my meal or tender taste buds.  The problem arises when we're out at a restaurant, and he wants me to try a bite of his dish.

"Is it spicy?"
"No, I don't taste any spice at all."
"Are you sure?"
"Katy, it's not spicy.  Just try it."

After one bite, I'm forced to guzzle water to put out the fire that has inevitably started in my mouth.  I've since learned to totally disregard Matt's opinions on the level of heat in food.  The boy either has an extremely high tolerance for pain or has no taste buds at all.

All of that being said, I have promising news to share -- my tolerance for heat is increasing, slowly but surely!  Over the past six months, I've been adding more pepper to dishes, even becoming brave enough to add red pepper flakes and a bit of hot sauce to certain stews and soups.  I can now stand tall(er) in the face of the culinary red devil!

I can even make dishes with words like "cajun" in the title and tell you the truth when I say that it tastes dee-li-shuss.  Like this, one of my most favorite egg-based meals to date -- cajun shrimp frittata!

Aside from diced ham, I've never even considered adding meat or seafood to a frittata or quiche because I assumed eggs had the protein category covered.  Adding tender shrimp took an ordinary egg dish to another level and made what some consider to be dainty food a totally filling man-worthy dish.

I have a frittata for breakfast or dinner at least once a week, so I'm always looking for a way to kick things up a bit.  A full pound of shrimp cooked with the trinity of southern cuisine (celery, onions, and peppers) and chock full of zippy spices made for such a flavorful dish with just a bit of warmth but not too much that it overpowered the other ingredients.  Topped with tomato slices and a sprinkling of salty cheddar.  The award for most innovative frittata of my life goes to this one, without a doubt!

And, look at me, I consumed something that had contained cayenne and not only lived to tell the tale, but I enjoyed every last bite of it.  I'm even considering upping the heat index next time I make it.  Look out, world!

That being said, I doubt I'll ever trust Matt's heat index.  Love the guy, but there's something fishy about a person who would willingly eat a habanero pepper.  Wouldn't you agree?

One year ago: Quinoa with shrimp, orange, and avocado; Sloppy Joe grilled cheese sandwiches
Two years ago: Slow cooker beef stroganoff; Sally Lunn bread
Three years ago: Nutella-stuffed "doughnut" muffins

Cajun Shrimp Frittata
(inspired by Jenna's recipe)
-makes 4 servings

A few notes: If you don't have pre-mixed cajun seasoning, it's very easy to make your own.  Here is the recipe for the proportions I used.  Also, if you are like Matt and prefer/can handle more heat, feel free to up the amount of cayenne in your frittata.

3 stalks celery, minced
1 green bell pepper, small diced
5 green onions, diced
1 Tablespoon Old Bay seasoning
1 Tablespoon Cajun seasoning (see link in notes)
6 large eggs + 2 egg whites
1/4 cup milk
1 pound shrimp, cooked or raw, tails removed
1 small tomato, thinly sliced and seeds removed
1/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, egg whites, milk, roughly half of Old Bay, and Cajun seasoning; set aside.

Coat a large oven-safe skillet with nonstick cooking spray and place over medium heat.  Add celery, pepper, and onions and cook until tender, about 5 to 7 minutes.  Add remaining Old Bay and shrimp, tossing to combine.  Add egg mixture and cook, undisturbed, until edges are set, roughly 3 to 4 minutes.  The center will still be liquid.  Place skillet in oven and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, until top is set and knife inserted into the center comes out clean.  Cut and serve immediately, possibly atop pretty greens.  Enjoy!

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