Bonnie's Pandemic Kitchen: An Hour Late and An Ingredient Short
Updated: Mar 24
By Bonnie Fishman
Have you ever had a recurring dream, year after year after year? Well, mine are usually about Bonnie’s Kitchen & Catering, my Bloomfield Hills, Mich. business, which I owned from 2005 to 2009. A few constant themes run through these dreams: forgetting I have a catering job, being unprepared and late, running out of food…none of which was ever true until last week. As if I didn’t have enough to worry about with the pandemic and all!
At the beginning of this month, things were abuzz at the Fishman Family Compound in northern California. The compound was about to burst with more Fishmans: on March 13, a cousin of ours from Israel and another from Detroit were coming to stay for a dozen days. We three sisters, being quintessential hosts and starved of entertaining others due to the pandemic, had a powwow on March 5 in anticipation of their arrival. We had to have a plan as to who was hosting which meal and what was being served. My sister, Nancy, took the helm, writing up a calendar and distributing it to each of us so we were clear on the dates and times.
Fast forward to Sunday, March 14, the morning of the brunch I was hosting in honor of my cousins. But when I had an early morning chat with my sister Marcia, I receive an unexpected shock. I discover that the family dinner I thought I was also scheduled to host later in the week was actually the next day! I didn’t have all my supplies for the meal because I thought I had more time to shop. So I had to borrow mushrooms and peppers from my two sisters. For shame! Borrow from someone else’s pantry? A travesty!
I still had four hours before my cousins would arrive at 11:30 am—or so I thought. I leisurely drank my coffee and watched the news before starting my brunch prep. On the menu: vegetable frittata, tuna salad, bagels, lox, sliced veggies, fresh fruit salad, and from scratch, blueberry muffins. Feeling like time was on my side, I even prepped my leg of lamb for dinner the next night, trimming the fat, a quick butterfly, and marinating. I was already at my station. Why not chop and sauté my vegetables for that dinner as well? No big deal.
But then, to my surprise, I heard tapping on the window. I looked up, and I saw my guests’ faces pressed against the glass of my barn doors. Why are they here an hour early? I am still in my pj’s, sink full of dishes, table unset. I am folding blueberries into the muffins, and the frittata isn’t yet in the oven!
Frantically, I waved off my hungry relatives and told them to come back at 11:30 a.m as planned. They held up a phone showing the time. It WAS 11:30 a.m.! The change to daylight saving time the night before had really messed with me. I was a wreck! Yes, even professional chefs make mistakes, right? Despite my frazzled state, I was able to put out a delicious meal on my time schedule. We all had a good laugh and a lovely time.
When I had my catering business, we never got the event date wrong, we were never late, and we never ran out of supplies, because we had The Prepared Pantry! But this particular morning, my nightmares came true! Reminder: check your calendar so you have your supplies on hand and do your prep ahead of time. And for G-d’s sake, make sure you know what time it is!
Today’s recipe is a really good one for cooking from your fridge pantry. My frittata, which is really baked eggs, is like pasta or soup-- pretty much anything you have hanging around will be fine in the casserole. You can add breakfast meat that has to be cooked (chopped bacon, ground chorizo or other sausage, chicken sausage) in with the vegetables. The variations go on from there. Feel free to cut the recipe in half, double it, you can’t go wrong. Also, if you want to prep a day ahead, you can chop and sauté the veggies. I encourage you to assemble and bake the morning of your brunch. If you have leftovers, you can cut them into portions, store them in a covered dish, and microwave. It makes for a quick breakfast or lunch. The frittata will keep for several days.
I would love to hear about your “riffs” on this casserole! Feel free to leave comments below and we can all enjoy your creativity.
Vegetable Frittata (Baked Eggs)
3 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 c. diced onion
1 1/2 c. diced red or yellow bell pepper
2 c. (4 oz.) sliced mushrooms
3 c. packed shredded spinach or Swiss chard
1 1/2 c. shredded sharp cheddar or other cheese
10 lg. eggs
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
Generously spray a 2 to 2 1/2 quart shallow casserole with pan release. Preheat oven to 350°. In a large skillet over moderate heat, sauté the onions and peppers for 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and sauté for 5 minutes more. Stir in the spinach or chard and cook until the greens are wilted but still bright green, about 2-3 minutes. Season with the salt and black pepper. Cool to room temperature. Stir in the shredded cheese.
In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs until well blended. Pour the eggs onto the vegetables, making sure the eggs are incorporated. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake for about 25 minutes. The eggs should be set and slightly browned.
Serve hot or at room temperature.
Bonnie Fishman attended the Cordon Bleu Cookery School in London. Later, she owned and operated Bonnie’s Patisserie in Southfield, Mich. and Bonnie’s Kitchen and Catering in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. She has taught cooking for over 35 years and created hundreds of recipes. She is now living in Northern California.