“Have you put tarragon in that?”
Henceforth comes the question from my usually unfussy husband when I bring anything to the table that has the faintest hint of anise. Apparently, excessive generosity of tarragon use is my biggest flaw in the kitchen.
Sometimes, when cooking for others, I do wonder what I’m letting myself in for. It is, unquestionably, the thing I enjoy most in life, but it is not without its tribulations. This weekend, for example, my parents came to visit and the conversation eventually moved over to the Christmas Dinner I would be cooking them this year:
Dad: “I don’t like Christmas pudding.”
Me: “Yes, I know. You’ve never liked it. So I’m also making that steamed chocolate pudding you like. You know, the one with the chocolate fudge sauce? And I’m making vanilla ice cream to go with it.”
Dad: “No custard?”
This is a fairly typical exchange whenever my parents come to visit, which infuriates me immeasurably. My dad, having never cooked a Christmas dinner in his life, fails to understand the sheer enormity of the undertaking; the weeks of preparation, the juggling of multiple pans on the cooker and the precise timings upon which everything hangs. He just wants custard. Under usual circumstances this is a perfectly reasonable request, however, when you’ve spent hours planning a dinner that is festive enough, doable in a small London kitchen and parent-friendly; one that uses every pot, pan and utensil in the kitchen; whimsical alterations will cause you to roll your eyes in the best case scenario and completely tip you over the edge in the worst.
Fortunately, my husband has 11 years of experience to know when to just leave me to it, except where tarragon is concerned. With the merest sound of the knife hitting the chopping board, I find him peering over my shoulder to appraise my choice of herb. As so happened when I made this frittata for breakfast on Saturday morning. For me, tarragon is the perfect companion for mushrooms and goats cheese; for him, less so. If I were a better wife, perhaps, I would leave it out altogether, or concoct some inventive method for stirring chopped tarragon into one side of the pan once the eggs had already been poured in but, alas, I am a selfish being. At least when it comes to breakfast.
The beauty of frittata is that you can add more or less anything you like. I would have liked this particular one with a layer of thinly sliced fried potatoes at the bottom, but only realised I didn’t have any as I started to cook. I used a mixture of chestnut and shiitake mushrooms, but you can throw in whatever is in season. And, of course, you can leave out the tarragon if you absolutely must.
Mushroom and Goat’s Cheese Frittata
250g mixed mushrooms
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
Splash of milk
Salt and pepper
1 tbsp chopped tarragon
75g soft goat’s cheese
2 tbsp finely grated parmesan
Preheat the oven to 180°c.
Heat a little olive oil in a large, deep frying pan, or chef’s pan, and sauté the onions until browned. Transfer to a plate and set aside. In the same pan, gently fry the onions and garlic until soft, but not browned.
Crack the eggs into a bowl, add the milk, salt and pepper and three-quarters of the chopped tarragon and whisk together. Return the mushrooms to the pan and spread out to cover the base. Pour over the egg mixture.
Crumble over the goat’s cheese, then sprinkle over the Parmesan and remaining chopped tarragon. Allow to cook on the hob for a couple of minutes before transferring to the oven for 15 minutes, until the eggs have set. Allow to cool a little before serving.
Thank you to everybody on Twitter who cleared up the conundrum of where the apostrophe should go in ‘goat’s cheese.’ After a great deal of debate, the general consensus is that before the ‘s’ is correct.