Mediterranean in Manhattan

Melia Marden Invites Us Over for Her Greek Island-Inspired Home Cooking

Photographer Stefan Ruiz visited the sun-drenched apartment of Melia Marden, chef at New York City’s hipster culinary mecca The Smile, and her DJ husband Frank Sisti Jr. for today’s color-happy culinary portrait. The couple’s downtown home is infused with delectable smells such as onions being sauteed for a fanciful frittata, and brims with trinkets and ephemera. “We collect elephants and giraffes… and crustaceans, ducks, anything polar, peanuts, books—we just collect,” Marden says of her quirky décor. In addition to helming the kitchens of The Smile and The Smile To Go, the 32-year-old chef also runs the catering at fashion photography headquarters Milk Studios. Her first cookbook, Modern Mediterranean, is due out this week. It’s a culinary scrapbook of Marden’s favorite recipes, many of which derive from summers spent with her family on Hydra—her father is artist Brice Marden and her sister Mirabelle is a photographer. The old world Greek island is void of vehicles but rich with local fish and produce, and Marden cites the environment’s clean flavors and simple cooking techniques as huge influences on her approach at the stove. “It’s not super layered and complicated, so you really taste the ingredients. I want my recipe to be the simplest version of itself that it can be,” she explains.

Sausage, Red Repper and Onion Frittata

Serves four

Ingredients

  • 10 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 red ball pepper, halved lengthwise, seeded, and thinly sliced crosswise
  • 4 ounces spiced pork sausage meat, removed from casing
Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F (205°C).
  2. In a bowl, combine the eggs, milk and ½ teaspoon of the salt and whisk vigorously until completely blended.
  3. In a well-seasoned 10-inch ovenproof (preferably cast-iron) frying pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat for 30 seconds. Add the onion, pepper, and the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring often, until the onion is soft and translucent, about four minutes.
  4. Add the sausage and cook breaking it up with a spoon, until completely cooked through, two to three minutes.
  5. Add the mixture. Stir gently with a wooden spoon, scraping the sides and bottom of the pan as you would with scrambled eggs. Cook until the eggs are just beginning to set, about two minutes.
  6. Transfer the pan to the oven and cook until the frittata is puffed up and firm, about 10 minutes.
  7. Let it cool slightly. The frittata will deflate and the edges will shrink away from the sides of the pan. I like to bring the whole thing to the table and slice it into wedges directly into the pan. Use a spatula to lift out each piece and serve.

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