I’ve just arrived back from a lovely visit to Mum’s where we spent some happy hours poring through her folders of collected recipes, many of which are Lois’ old NZ Listener columns. While the appearance of the columns changed every couple of years, the style of the food remained constant: seasonal, fresh, and simple. Recipes from 1996 are as enticing as recipes from 2007.
Lois’ columns are an absorbing read interspersed with personal anecdotes and references to food writers, colleagues or friends from whom she had sourced the recipe or inspiration. Lois often mentions River Cafe (Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers) whose modern Italian recipes make the best use of seasonal produce cooked in simple ways – much like Lois herself.
Lois gave Listener readers River Cafe’s recipe for spinach frittata back in 2000. We made it for dinner last Friday evening as a light supper (after a not-so light lunch) and it was perfection. I may very well make it again this Friday.
Spinach frittata (Lois Daish, Listener, August 19 2000)
500g fresh spinach, tough stalks removed
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
50g butter, cut into small cubes
50g parmesan, freshly grated
2 tablespoon olive oil
2 slices prosciutto (optional)
Preheat your oven grill to its maximum setting. Blanch the spinach briefly in boiling salted water. Drain in a colander and push down with a large spoon or spatula to squeeze out most of the water. Put into a bowl and dot with half of the butter cubes and grind over some salt and pepper. Break the eggs into a medium-sized bowel and beat lightly. Add the spinach and half of the grated parmesan and a bit more salt and pepper. Stir to combine.
Take a large 20-30cm fry pan with an ovenproof handle. Add the oil to the fry pan and heat on the stove top over a medium heat. Pour in the egg mixture, using a spatula to spread out the spinach evenly. Give the pan a jiggle and leave to cook for a few minutes. Dot the rest of the butter and parmesan over the top of the frittata and put under the grill for a couple of minutes until the top begins to rise and it turns crispy around the edges. Remove from oven (remembering that the pan handle will be hot!), cut into quarters and serve with prosciutto or, like we did with a salad of chopped tomatoes, torn basil, olive oil and salt and pepper.