Some twenty years ago, I found myself unexpectedly in possession of several gallons of cooked rice. I had wildly overestimated how much uncooked rice I would need to put in the pot to feed fifteen people, and after the meal our leftovers still filled an old style soup-kettle. What can I say? I was an undergrad at the time. Over the next week, my housemates and guests and I added the rice to every recipe we thought might withstand it. None of us were very accomplished cooks, and I was the lamest of us. radiotelescope probably remembers the time I thought I'd baked my watch into a casserole. Eventually we got so sick of rice we pitched the couple of gallons we had left. Otherwise, I'm pretty sure we'd still be picking at it to this day.
The one trick that stuck with me from that week was a sort of inside-out version of fried rice, an omelette-like thing featuring an almost foolproof combination of soy sauce, fresh ginger, garlic, and sesame oil, along with leftover rice and beaten eggs.
Some years later, when I'd had a little more book-learning and practice as a cook, I became enamored of frittatas, mostly because they're fast. I'm quite good in the kitchen now, as long as I don't have to do more than 20 minutes of hands-on work.
If a recipe requires 20 minutes of touch time, I get to thinking about my mortality. As in, one day I will die and leave a dozen books unwritten that I might have finished, and they'll be unwritten because I was burning up my mortal hours stuffing poultry. Down with poultry! At about minute 20, I start getting restless. At minute 30, there's profanity, even if the kids are underfoot. Beyond minute 30, it really ain't pretty.
So here's how I cook Godzilla Frittata:
Look in the fridge and discover that key ingredients for the other meal you had planned to cook have spoiled. Swear vociferously. Discover a tupperthing of leftover rice. Throw together the red bells you forgot to put in the tagine yesterday, the shiitakes you probably shouldn't have splurged on at the farmers' market, and the questionable looking scallions so old you weren't sure you really remembered buying them. Clean. Chop. Toss around in some sesame oil over medium-high heat with a couple of minced garlic cloves and some grated fresh ginger. Add a little olive oil to tone down the sesame. Beat some eggs with a glup of soy sauce. Sniff. It should probably smell more strongly of soy sauce than that, so glup a little more in. Your kids won't eat it anyway, so you might as well hit it with a shot of tabasco. Follow the half-remembered directions for frittatas from your disintegrating copy of The Joy of Cooking. (Not your husband's disintegrating copy, on the cover of which only the word Joy is still legible, because all the other words are burned off under the spiral imprint of a long-ago electric burner. His copy is of the wrong edition.) Is there still some cilantro left from the garnish for yesterday's slow-cookered tagine? Thank goodness. We're now at minute 20, and if you had to start plucking the leaves off the cilantro stems, you might start swearing again, and here are the kids underfoot just in time for you to fend them off from the broiler while you finish the custardy center of the frittata to a golden brown. Get the pan to the table at minute 28. Be astounded at how good the results are.
I would never have invented Godzilla Frittata, except for the small problem of my being Godzilla.