As I crossed the threshold into the warm kitchen of Sweet Selma Farms a couple weeks back, I had a sense that I was in for some serious Southern hospitality. As my eyes soaked up the cozy and colorful decor, sweeping past pegboard utensils rack and an antique jadeite sink, my ears tuned into the soft pa-pock of backyard hens hunting for bugs, while my nose took in the sleepy scents of a Sunday breakfast in the making.
I’d dropped by Sweet Selma, an old tackle shop and cricket hatchery-turned-urban homestead, to make farm fresh frittatas — hand harvested mushrooms and all — with Sandy and Jake (of Old Fourth Ward’s Jake’s Ice Cream and Irwin Street Market fame) as well as a few friends and fellow foodies.
At one acre, the farm is a compact cornucopia that’s bursting with organic nourishment. Every last egg, shiitake, scallion, and basil leaf that went into our breakfast was raised in sight of the kitchen window. Wander through the yard and you’ll find pecan and peach and apple and fig trees, muscadine vines that twist their way past a crawdad pond into an herb garden that hosts garlic and ginger, sage and mint, tarragon and turmeric. There are berries bushes, brassicas galore, and even a little field of asparagus situated neatly between humming beehives and a robust mushroom nursery.
The farm also offers sanctuary for a variety of feathered friends — a hundred chickens, rescued peacocks and ducks, orphan tom turkeys, and the occasional Delta Air Lines aviator. Nestled just a few miles from the Atlanta airport, Sweet Selma’s Historic College Park location and snug guest cottage have quickly become a favorite landing pad for visiting pilots.
Jake’s menagerie of animals is not so different from the ragtag bunch my mom and I once collected over the course of several Easters — a couple of baby turkeys, beautiful wild ducks (a duo my Nanny inexplicably named Razzle Dazzle and Rabbai), and a starch white Pekin duck named Peso, whose life purpose and ultimate pleasure seemed to be joining our border collie P.J. in running the lawn mower and all visitors off the front lawn.
Jake’s humane approach to his birds is the same as ours was for our security guards P.J. and Peso: Every hardworking hen at Sweet Selma has a lifetime home on the farm. Jake mentioned, “A hen is born with 4,000 eggs inside of her, waiting to develop. The idea of any of them working that hard to then end up in a soup pot for broth may be the “farm way” but it is not my way. Mine will live out their lives with my gratitude for their delicious production.”
Those happy hens make for happy breakfasts — fresh and beautiful golden yolks paired with Sandy and Jake’s expert frittata making know-how. Their skills have attracted the likes of Les Dames d’ Escoffier to the farm and recently sent the pair across the Atlantic to cook in Julia Child’s summer home of three decades.
Their secrets to perfect farm-to-table frittatas? A well-seasoned skillet that’s searing hot, sautéing all watery vegetables (think tomatoes, onions, mushrooms) before they’re mixed with the raw eggs, and pulling the pan while it’s still jiggling a bit at its center — your frittata will continue to cook and set in the hot skillet after it’s out of the oven.
For the ultimate lazy weekend breakfast or easy Thanksgiving brunch, pair piping-hot frittatas with a seasonal fruit and cheese board, Briny Marys dressed in pickled okra, and a big bowl of broiled sweet potatoes.
Sweet Selma’s Savory Farm-Fresh Frittatas
- 6 eggs
- 1/4 cup whole milk
- 2-4 tablespoons fresh herbs, minced
- 2 cups favorite veggies, pre-cooked as needed
- 1 cup favorite cheese, divided
- Preheat oven to 350°F and preheat cast iron skillet (dry on the eye, set to medium high heat).
- In a small bowl, lightly whisk eggs just until yolks and whites are combined.
- Fold in milk, veggies, herbs, and half of your cheese. Good melting cheeses include Fontina, Gruyère, and cheddar, but by all means use your favorite: brie, feta, goat, or even vegan cashew cheese.
- Brush the inside of your hot skillet with olive oil, and pour in egg mixture.
- In 2 to 3 minutes, when the egg begins to pull away from the sides of the skillet, top with remaining cheese and move skillet to the oven.
- Bake for approximately 5 to 8 minutes. Remove from oven when the center of your frittata is still loose. The skillet is so hot, the frittata will continue cooking when removed from the oven. If you bake the frittata until the egg is completely set, your frittata will be overcooked when you slice into it.
- Grab a trivet and serve straight from the skillet.
R&F BRUNCH ESSENTIALS