Your Next Caribbean Breakfast Recipe

By Nigel Spence
CJ Contributor

You know how dem seh the phrase: “…starting out with a bang”?  Well little did I know I would end up being the main star in that double feature.

Recently, I visited the Sunshine State –  Florida, for the immense pleasure of witnessing my niece and nephew walk across the podium.  You see, they were both graduating from the University of Miami, consecutively, with their MBA and B.Sc. degrees.  In honor of their huge achievements, a Grad Bash was also organized so friends and family could join in to pay respects and share in the momentous occasion.

As each event was stationed in Miami proper, I decided it was a good idea to bed down close to the venue.  So, my siblings and I went on a search to find suitable accommodations for us in one of Miami’s renowned condos on the beach. Finally, we all agreed on one property in particular, as it boasted the right amount of space we needed, at a reasonable-enough rate.

Arriving at the destination, tired like “dawgs”, we noticed a few features that were conveniently left out of their online review, like the HUGE construction going on in and around the building, the fact that their allotted parking area was as distant as traveling back to New York and not to mention the musty smell that seemed to follow our every move.  The truth is we were all so worn out from travel that wi couldn’t bodda argue ’bout it – we just needed to flop in a comfortable bed and call “lights out”.

The door finally opened to our deluxe 3-bedroom suite.  As I took it all in, I had a flashback to the days of “Miami Vice” and Don Johnson. I guess the owners must have been going for some kind of retro 70’s or 80’s scene with the all-white sofa covered in “pleather” and the beds just a little higher than the height of a box spring or futon. That being said, it was not really a bad-looking place.  I was willing to chalk it up to “being modern”.

A quick scan of the kitchen revealed a decent amount of space though and enough commodities to work up a few meals if time allowed during our stay. I decided the kitchen made up for the musty odor of the rooms, which hung around us, much like the invisible cloak worn by the Emperor in the legendary fairy tale “The Emperor’s New Clothes”.

I quickly off-loaded my food store making a mental note of where everything went.  My main concentration then was on jumping into bed as fast as could be and let sleep, glorious sleep take over. In a few short minutes you bet it did.  I was in heaven…well for a short time anyway, before I found myself in hell.

I was deep in sleep, when I heard a huge crash! I tried to jump up but found I was trapped and unable to move.  Thoughts of Miami Vice came flooding back as I envisioned a shootout with me as the victim.  As the fog of sleep slowly cleared, the reality of my predicament was so shocking, I thought for sure somebody needed to pinch me – I was still dreaming!

Di glamorous retro bed nuh bruk up!

What was worse, me and di mattress had fallen through the slats to the floor below leaving me stuck between the bed frame. Ha!  If I had not just lost all that weight, I would have been inclined to feel a likkle shame, but when I heard a similar crash coming from the bedroom beside mine, all I could do was dead wid laugh along with everybody else who had been awakened. The view from this new vantage point put me in full sight of all the other smaller critters who didn’t make it out from that bed either. It was inevitable. We were getting the hell out of Dodge in case the walls were next in line to fall.

Somehow, things always seem easier to handle after a hearty meal.  I decided to fore-go the hour of sleep left and instead set to work on one of my favorite breakfast creations.  Thankfully, the kitchen kept its end of the deal and I was able to whip up this simple, lip-smacking, color-rich egg frittata, while everyone repacked their bags for a swift exit from the temple of doom.  Knowing my family as I do, food (not time) heals all wounds (no pun intended) – ha!

From the resounding oohs and ahhs I knew I had made a wise decision. Now everyone’s mood was lighter and we were ready to face the tasks of the day.  As we later watched the condo building disappearing from sight, we all agreed this was definitely one time we literally received more “bang” for our buck! LOL.

Suffice it to say, the ceremonies went well, the family could not be prouder of our graduates and we all slept soundly and event free in our new digs.

A frittata is quick and simple way to prepare an egg breakfast without the time consuming fuss of making individual omelets, or worrying about folding, flipping or any of those tasks that many fear when dealing with breakfast. It’s also a great way to use up just about anything you have hanging out in the fridge or pantry that has difficulty finding its way into any of your dishes. Just put the ingredients in the sauté pan with the oil of your choice, heat them up and add the beaten eggs. Finish it in a broiler or oven or toaster oven and ends up looking like a giant egg pizza. Just slice and serve! It’s even more foolproof using a non-stick pan. It just slides right out upon removing from the oven.

With this particular recipe, I found some super fresh fiddle head ferns that are VERY seasonal, so I wanted my family to experience the taste of them. They are only around for a short time in the spring. I felt that assorted mushrooms would be a great compliment to the ferns. Definitely try them if you find them in your vegetable market.

Miami Vice Egg Frittata

Ingredients

6 whole Large Eggs
1/3 Cup Fiddle head ferns
3/4 cup or 4 oz Mushrooms
1/4 cup fresh Tomatoes, diced
1/2 Cup Vegan or regular shredded Cheese
2 dashes Hot Sauce, Optional
4 Tablespoons Coconut oil or Butter
1/2 Medium Onion, Halved And Sliced Thin
Add any other items you choose
Salt And Black Pepper to taste

METHOD

Preheat the oven to 375 F.

Beat the eggs with the salt and pepper. Do not over-beat; just mix until the egg whites are mixed with the yolks. Stir in the grated cheese and set aside. Stir in hot sauce.

In a 6 inch oven-proof non-stick skillet, melt oil or butter over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook for several minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions are soft and golden brown. Add the mushrooms, ferns and tomatoes and cook about 3 minutes until all are heated through and the mushrooms soft. Make sure all the ingredients are evenly distributed across the bottom of the skillet, then pour in the egg mixture so that it evenly coats everything. Let it sit on the burner for 30-45 seconds to set the edges, then put the skillet in the oven.

Watch the frittata as it cooks. Let it cook in the oven for 10-12 minutes until the eggs are set but remove it before the eggs get brown.

Slide the frittata out of the skillet and onto a cutting board.
Slice into wedges and serve.

NOTE: Use up any and everything you have in the refrigerator. You can dice up old potatoes, yam, ackee, salt-fish, susumber, callaloo, etc accordingly to availability and personal preference.

Nigel Spence, a Culinary Institute of America alumnus, was born in Kingston, Jamaica. Nigel freelanced at the Television Food Network for three years where he worked with culinary luminaries such as Mario Batali, Bobby Flay and Emeril Lagasse. Chef Spence has appeared twice on Throwdown with Bobby Flay where he emerged the victor in cookoffs against the Food Network star and was featured on CBS when he appeared on Tony’s Table as well as ABC’s Neighborhood Eats, NBC’s The Today Show, Sirius’ Everyday Living with Martha Stewart and TVFN’s Chopped. The acclaimed and New York Times-reviewed Ripe Kitchen and Bar is Mr Spence’s first entrepreneurial endeavour.