Friday, June 29, 2012

Happy Weekending!

I'm off to Charlotte for the weekend with some of my favorite adventurers and will get to try stand up paddle boarding for the first time!  Hopefully everyone will stay cool if they're affected by this heat wave (it's supposed to be 105 in Charlotte tomorrow??) and eat lots of popsicles. 

I made these cookies to give us energy while we try our hand at SPB, kayaking, and zip lining.  They're turned out wonderfully, so I'll be back next week to share them with you.

In the meantime, have a great weekend!

Photo via.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Tortilla Espanola

Back in 2006 (so long ago!) I spent a wonderful summer in Seville, Spain "studying," living with a Spanish family, and doing loads of traveling.

It was only for one summer, but we were able to visit lots of different Spanish cities, northern Morocco, and (my favorite) Lagos, Portugal.  I'm not sure how I even managed to stay awake through all the fun we had, because we were waking up early and staying up late in order to fit everything in.  I stayed with this lovely couple, who exposed me to the way of life of real Spaniards.  I still wish we had siesta each afternoon in the states!

While the benefits of living with host parents can be debated, one of the biggest perks was the amazing food that Marta cooked for us each day.  To this day, I haven't found Spanish food that can hold a candle to her cooking.  Back then, I wasn't as interested in cooking as I am now, but I had the good sense to ask Marta to show me how to make my favorite dish, tortilla espanola.

Tortilla is my go-to beach food.  It's perfect eaten cold or at room temperature, which makes it a great picnic food in general.  You can eat it properly with a fork and knife, or grab a slice and eat it straight from your hand.  It's full of protein and flavor and cooks to the perfect texture and density.  In the summer months when hot food sounds down right detestable, tortilla is always a good bet.  Even better if you serve it with gazpacho, but that's a story for another day.

To start, peel the potatoes and cut them into paper thin slices.  The thinner the better.

Cut the onion and pepper into slices as well.

In a medium frying pan*, heat about 1 1/2 cups of canola oil over medium heat.  You should have approximately 1 inch of oil in the pan.  Add the potatoes, onion, bell pepper, salt and pepper and stir.  Salt and pepper is very important to the flavor, so don't skimp!  Make sure the oil is sufficiently hot before adding the other ingredients, or the potato will soak up the oil.  The oil won't cover all of the ingredients, so stir frequently.

Cook for approximately 15 minutes, or until you can easily insert a fork into the potatoes.  Remove the potatoes, peppers, and onions with a slotted spoon and place in a colander to drain any excess oil.  It's helpful if you put some paper towels under the colander to absorb the oil.

In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs and add the drained potato mixture.  Stir together.

Remove all but two tablespoons of the leftover oil from the frying pan.  Heat to medium once again and pour in the egg/potato mixture, spreading it out evenly.

Cover it and cook for approximately 10 minutes, or until the tortilla is browned on the bottom and set on the edges.  It might still be a little bit wet on top, which is fine.  It will look something like this:

While you're waiting for it to cook, play with the puppy.

Next, flip the tortilla over.  This can get a little tricky (hence the lack of photos of these steps - I'm only so coordinated!).  Place a plate that is wider than the frying pan on top of the frying pan.  Using pot holders, flip both the frying pan and plate over so that the tortilla is on the plate.  Slide the tortilla off the plate and back into the frying pan.  Cook it for about 5 - 10 minutes longer or until firm in the center and browned on the bottom.  Not as brown as in this picture, but you get the idea.

Remove the tortilla from the pan using the plate-flipping method and let it cool.  Slice it like a pie, and serve it either cold or at room temperature.  Extra points if you eat it on the beach!

* You can use a large frying pan to make a larger tortilla, but note that this makes it harder to flip.  Make sure you have a plate that is wider than the frying pan.  If you use a large frying pan, you can almost double the proportions of potato-egg.

Tortilla Espanola
Serves 4

3 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced very thinly
1/2 onion, sliced
1/2 bell pepper, sliced
6 eggs
1 1/2 cups canola oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

In a medium frying pan, heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the potatoes, onion, bell pepper, salt and pepper and cook until a fork can be easily inserted in the potato, about 15 minutes.  Stir frequently and do not let it brown.  With a slotted spoon, remove the ingredients from the oil and place in a colander to drain.  Pour the oil out of the frying pan and set aside.  In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs and stir in the drained, fried ingredients.

Return two tablespoons of oil to the frying pan and heat over medium heat.   Add the egg and potato mixture, cover, and cook for 10 minutes or until almost set on the edges (some liquid will remain) and brown on the bottom   Flip the tortilla by placing a large plate over the frying pan and flipping the tortilla onto the plate.  Slide the tortilla back into the frying pan and cook for 5 - 10 more minutes or until set and browned.  Remove to a plate and cool.  Slice and serve cold or at room temperature.
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