My Grandfather's yard was his sanctuary. Next to his garden, he built an enclosed porch with big windows he could open and close according to the season. He had a small stove in the back of his porch where he often cooked his favorite foods. He answered to no one in this private kitchen. I remember a huge tin of olive oil next to his stove always ready to prepare something delicious. One of Grandpa's best creations was an Italian Potato Cake. This is almost a FRITTATA but is cooked in a skillet on top of the stove, so we called it a "cake". Grandpa had a huge heavy skillet which produced a big enough "cake" for our large family. My version is made in a 12 inch non-stick skillet and is easier to turn. Use fresh herbs and don't skip the red pepper as it gives just the right sweetness to this recipe. When turning the "cake" use oven mitts so you don't burn your wrists with any oil that may escape from the skillet. You will know it's time to turn the "cake" over when steam starts coming from the middle and the edges start to separate from the sides of the pan. We served this "potato cake" with fresh Flounder from Joe's Seafood Market on Central Avenue in Valley Stream, breaded with Italian crumbs and fried to a crisp.
Serve this potato cake at room temperature or cold from the refrigerator. This "cake" makes a delicious sandwich topped with genoa salami and a fresh slice of tomato. —Lorraine Fina Stevenski
extra virgin olive oil
medium russet potatoes (4" or smaller), peeled and sliced 1/4" thick
large red peppers, no seeds, sliced 1/4" thick
large sweet onion, peeled, sliced 1/4" thick
fresh basil, chiffonade
fresh italian parsley, minced fine
slices cooked bacon or prosciutto, cut in 1" pieces
large eggs, beaten
grated parmigiano reggiano cheese + more for topping at the table
In a 12-inch deep non-stick skillet heat half of the olive oil. Add the peeled and sliced potatoes, red peppers and onions. On medium-high heat turn every minute or so as the vegetables brown. Use more olive oil if necessary.
When the potatoes are lightly browned and soft, add the fresh basil, parsley, bacon or prosciutto and salt and pepper to your taste. Give all the ingredients a few turns until the herbs are mixed in.
Slowly add the beaten eggs to the skillet contents. Use a fork to push the vegetables around so the egg incorporates evenly. Make sure there are enough eggs to fill the pan to the edge of the skillet. Add more eggs if necessary as they will hold all the vegetables together when the "cake" is turned. Cook on medium low heat until the edges and middle of the "cake" are cooked enough to hold together. Steam will escape from the middle when ready to turn.
Take the skillet off the burner to the side and place a 12 inch dinner plate over the "cake". Invert the "cake" onto the platter with 1 hand on the skillet handle and 1 hand on the top of the plate. The bottom of the "cake" will be the top so make sure it is browned just right.
Push the skillet back onto the burner and add the remainder of the olive oil or more if you like, and lightly brown the bottom of the "cake". Shake the skillet a few times to get a nice edge on the "cake". Invert the finished "cake" onto a serving platter. Top with the grated cheese and more salt and pepper to your taste.