By Frank E. Vaerewyck, The Firehouse Foodie
Training is essential: “Train like you live, live like you train.” Whether you’re in the fire service or in a kitchen, training is the key. We spend months in rookie school learning our trade. For chefs, rookie school comes in the form of culinary institutes, where masters of the trade pass on their knowledge of mastery in the culinary arts. Just because you finish, graduate, and enter the profession doesn’t mean the training stops. This initial training is just that, initial training.
Television has opened our eyes to the creativity and mastery of cooking. These chefs make creating complicated meals look like child's play not because it’s easy but because they have trained on these skills and, even more importantly, they have practiced what they have learned.
No matter what the profession, you have to have a passion for it. You must practice the training you have received and be willing to pass on what you have learned, what you have mastered. I am passing on this great breakfast dish that works great any time of the day and goes great with some training around the kitchen table. Frittatas are flat Italian-style omelets that are usually prepared in a cast-iron skillet. They’re easy to make and even easier to eat. “That's bringing the firehouse home.”
Serves 6 (just right for the engine company; double it if the truck company is eating also)
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
5 small red potatoes, thinly sliced
4 green spring onions, trimmed and sliced
2 red bell peppers*
2 green bell peppers*
2 cup diced ham
1/2 cup diced roasted red pepper
1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley, plus more for garnish
Black pepper freshly ground
1. Preheat oven to 375º F.
2. In a large cast-iron skillet, heat 2 tablespoon olive oil. Add the sliced potatoes to the skillet, saute for about 6 to 8 minutes until tender but firm and you see a little brown on the potatoes.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, parsley, and 1 1/2 cups of the cheese along with some sea salt and pepper.
4. Add the onion, ham, bell peppers, and red pepper mix to the skillet with the potatoes. Stir to combine.
5. Over medium-low heat, add the egg mixture to the skillet and stir for one minute. A little curd to the egg will develop.
6. Then allow to cook for an additional 2 to 3 minutes without stirring until the eggs start to set around the edges. Use a rubber spatula to help lift the edges away from the pan. Drizzle olive oil around the edge of the pan to help with easy removal of the frittata from the pan.
7. Finish cooking at 375º F in the oven for 10 to 12 minutes, until the eggs have completely set in the center. Serve straight out of the skillet or flip onto a serving plate. Garnish with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese and more fresh parsley if desired.
A lot of grocery stores sell a mixture of red, green bell peppers with onions in the frozen food section. This works great and is typically cheaper than buying the fresh ones, and a little extra onion never hurt anything.
Frank Vaerewyck has had a passion for the fire service that has spanned 20 years. He has been a volunteer and career firefighter and is currently a firefighter/EMT with the Manassas (VA) Volunteer Fire Company. He has passed on his passion for the fire service through instruction and mentorship. That same passion he has for the fire service is shared with his love of food. In 2006, Vaerewyck won an Iron Chef-style competition sponsored by a radio station in Richmond, Virginia. That is where he also furthered his education by attending a Culinary Arts Program.
As the Firehouse Foodie, he has been compiling recipes to be included in a cookbook that will give others the opportunity to see their hometown heroes not just as firefighters, but as the firehouse chefs they truly are.