Italian omelets, called frittatas, are delicious pancakes filled with a variety of vegetables, meats and cheese. Frittatas can be eaten warm or at room temperature and often you will find them offered as appetizers at lunch or dinner, rather than as something to eat for breakfast.
Still, one of the most delicious brunch or luncheon dishes I know is a "cake" of vegetable frittatas that are layered with cheese and held together by an herb-filled custard. This frittata cake is baked until the custard is set, then turned out of the pan and cut into wedges. The cake can be made as much as two days in advance and then reheated perfectly in the microwave (cover slices with wax paper and microwave medium power for two to three minutes).
The food processor speeds up preparation time by quickly grating each of the three different cheeses called for in the recipe. First, one-quarter pound of Parmesan cheese is processed to a powdery texture using the metal blade of the processor. This technique, called grinding to grate, gives best results with hard grating cheeses that are too firm to shred.
Chilled Fontina and mozzarella are processed to a grated or shredded consistency with the medium shredding disc. For best results, this type of cheese that has a semi-soft texture should be refrigerator-cold. Be sure to use moderate pressure when shredding mozzarella or Fontina, since pushing too hard can cause the cheese to become slightly gummy.
4 ounces Parmesan cheese, cubed
4 ounces Fontina cheese
4 ounces mozzarella cheese
1 bunch green onions
1 medium sweet red pepper
14 very thin asparagus
3 egg yolks
1 1/2 cups plus 3 tablespoons whipping cream
1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper
3 to 4 tablespoons oil
1/4 cup minced chives
1/4 cup minced parsley
8 dashes hot pepper sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons softened unsalted butter
Insert metal blade in dry food processor. Process Parmesan cheese until finely ground and set aside. Change to medium shredding disc. Shred Fontina and mozzarella and set each aside separately on wax paper.
Change to medium (4 millimeter) slicing disc. Cut green onions into even lengths to fit upright in food chute and slice with gentle push. Set aside.
Trim off asparagus ends. Bring 1 1/2 cups water to boil in medium skillet. Add asparagus and cook until tender-crisp, about 3 minutes. Remove to paper towels. Under broiler or over gas flame, roast pepper until skin blackens. Set aside in plastic bag 10 minutes, then peel, seed, core and cut pepper into thin julienne strips.
Combine 6 eggs, egg yolks, 3 tablespoons whipping cream and white pepper in 4-cup glass measure or mixing bowl and set aside. Heat about 1 tablespoon oil in omelet pan. Add green onions and saute until tender, about 2 minutes.
Add 2/3 cup frittata batter to pan and swirl to evenly mix with green onions until edges begin to set and frittata slides freely in pan. When center of frittata is still runny but outside is set, remove pan from heat. Sprinkle 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese evenly over frittata, then place pan under broiler and cook until puffy and lightly browned.
Transfer frittata to sheet of foil. Wipe out pan and repeat green onion frittata cooking procedure to make asparagus and red pepper frittatas. Combine remaining 3 eggs and 1 1/2 cups whipping cream with chives, parsley, hot pepper sauce, salt, black pepper and butter in large measuring cup and set aside.
Generously butter 8x2-inch cake pan. Place green onion frittata, browned-side down, in bottom of pan. Moisten with 1/4 cup custard and sprinkle with mozzarella. Place red pepper frittata over cheese, moisten with 1/4 cup custard and sprinkle with fontina. Top with asparagus frittata and fill pan with remaining custard.
Cover cake pan with sheet of buttered foil and set in roasting pan filled with enough hot tap water to come halfway up outside. Bake at 350 degrees 1 hour. Remove foil and bake 15 to 20 minutes longer, or until wood pick inserted into center is withdrawn clean. Let stand 5 minutes, then remove from water bath and unmold onto serving plate. Serve hot, warm or tepid by cutting in wedges. Makes 6 to 8 servings.