Tortilla Espanola : Spanish Potato Omelette

It took me a while to get onto the Tortilla bandwagon.  I just didn’t see the amazing simplicity of this fabulous dish.  Obviously it was because I had not had a good specimen until I had a really good home-made one.  And now that I’ve mastered it, I make it at home more often.

Now here comes the great debate:  Onions or no onions?  And, as any true Spaniard will attest, the other great debate, is runny or dry?  Well, as all things, I think it is really preference.  I personally like mine with onions, it lends it a certain depth and sweetness.  Now the runny and dry bit, well, that was another point.  As you all may know, I used to hate eggs, so when I first moved here, the obvious answer was a dry tortilla.  I now love the runny ones, but not as runny as some of my friends.  And here in Catalonia, it is served with the ubiquitous “Pa amb tomaquet”….which is our version of the bruschetta.  (Shh, don’t tell anyone, it isn’t as nice as the Italian version, although it is still delicious).

Tortilla is one of those simple, feel good dishes that is great to serve as a light dinner.  Mind you, it is not easy to master, and it does take quite a bit of preparation to make a perfect tortilla.  It’s not one of those things that you say, two minutes into your famished guests arriving, “I’ll make a tortilla!”  because you will all be eating the cutlery by that point.

Since I teach how to make tortillas on a weekly basis, I have mastered the technique which I am going to share with you.  Step by step.

So here’s what you’re going to need:

Serves 4

6 eggs

2 potatoes, peeled, cut in half, and sliced horizontally

1 large onion, sliced

Salt

1 liter of olive oil (trust me on this)

In a large stockpot over medium high heat, add 3/4 liter of olive oil.  When it is hot but not smoking, add the potatoes and onions.  Lower heat to medium.  Cook, poaching the potatoes and onions until the potatoes are fork tender, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, crack your eggs and beat.  Add salt.    At this time, get all the things you are going to need for the tortilla.  A large plate, two frying pans, one medium, one smaller (optional).  IMPORTANT NOTE:  THEY MUST BE NON-STICK FRYING PANS.  If not, your tortilla will stick and the whole process is ruined.


When your potatoes and onions are done, strain them, reserving 2 tbsp of oil.   Let cool for at least 10 minutes.  When your potatoes are cool enough to touch, then mix them in with your scrambled eggs.

In a medium frying pan, add 1 tbsp of your reserved oil.  Heat over medium heat until almost smoking.

Now add your egg and potato mixture, and as soon as it hits the pan, start stirring the eggs so that they coagulate and the uncooked part goes to the bottom, and you get some cooked egg on top……like this:

simultaneously, as you are stirring the center, with your wooden spoon, drag it along the edges to make sure that it is drying up.

This enables you to make sure that the tortilla is not sticking on the edges, so it will flip loosely onto your large plate.  Keep doing these movements until you see little runniness in the middle, and it seems like it is drying up.

When you feel that there won’t be enough egg mix lost when you do “The Flip”, then place your large plate (it must be larger than the circumference of your frying pan) on top of the pan,

And with a flick of your wrist, flip the tortilla onto the plate, and then slide back into the frying pan.

At this point, you can choose if you want to place it into a smaller frying pan.  I learned this tip from a proper Catalan, who said always move your tortilla into a smaller frying pan to get that nice rounded shape.

If you do switch to a smaller frying pan, then add the remaining 1 tbsp of olive oil, and heat over a low flame.  Either way, if you do or you don’t, you have to start to tuck in the edges of the tortilla, to give it a nice round shape on the edges.  And, now the key is if you want it a bit runny, or “JUICY” as they would say here, you either cook it for 2 more minutes, or 7 more minutes.  Since I like mine in between, I cook it for 5 more minutes.

Slide it back on a clean plate, let rest for at least 5 minutes, and serve warm with nice crusty tomato bread.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

 

Zucchini Blossoms Stuffed with Ricotta, Bufala Mozarella, Pancetta and Pine Nuts

From my jobs last week, to whirlwind tour guide this week, I haven’t had a moment’s time to sit down and post a recipe until now, so sorry my friends.  You see, my aunt, uncle and their friend are here visiting for the first time, and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to show them around my beautiful city.  We’ve been traipsing through the Gothic Quarter, frolicking in Gaudi’s Park Guell, feasting on Paella by the azure Mediterranean, and last night sipping Margarita’s while watching the Spain vs. Portugal match!  But two nights ago they came to my house for dinner, and that same afternoon I had taken them to the Boqueria Market and had spotted some amazing Zucchini Blossoms.

I knew immediately I wanted to make something with them, stuff them actually, but I figured I would just play it by ear with what I had at home.  I decided I would stuff them with ricotta, mozzarella, the gorgeous pancetta that I had brought back from Italy and some pine nuts.  I also chopped the baby zucchini into tiny little pieces and mixed it all up.

It was DELICIOUS.  Like, mouth-watering, crazy insane delicious.  I only bought 7 blossoms.  Now I wish I had gotten 20.  I could have just had that for dinner!

This is a surprisingly easy preparation, that will be heavenly for dinner, lunch or canapes.  So, I hope you all try this soon, before these delicate blossoms are out of season again.

 

So here’s what you’re going to need:

Serves 4

8 zucchini blossoms

4 baby zucchini (the ones that come attached), finely chopped

1/4 cup pancetta, sliced thick and diced

2 tbsp pine nuts

salt and pepper to taste

1/4 cup ricotta cheese

1 bufala mozzarella, chopped

1/4 cup olive oil

3 tbsp flour

1 egg

1 tbsp cold water

Slice off the zucchini blossoms, retaining a little bit of the zucchini at the base.  Carefully open the flower and remove the pistil.

In a small frying pan over medium heat, sauté the pancetta and zucchini until crisp.  Add the pine nuts and sauté for another 3 to 4 minutes.

Reserve in a bowl, and mix well with the ricotta and mozzarella.  Add salt and pepper.

In another large frying pan, heat the olive oil.  Meanwhile, place your cheese mixture in a pastry bag.

Stuff the blossoms with the cheese mixture, and then twist the ends of the petals to close.  Don’t twist too tight, they are quite delicate.  In another bowl mix the flour, egg and water.

Dip your blossoms in the batter and fry, about 1 minute each side.

Serve hot.

 

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

 

 

 

Negro Carbon: Cute litte Argentine Burger Joint in Barcelona’s Born

After our event, and then last night’s barbecue for St. John’s Eve……I did not feel like lifting a finger.  I feel as if  I’ve washed enough dishes to be able to treat myself to having lunch prepared for me.

So, I was craving a burger.  To me, a well prepared burger is one of the most divine dishes ever.  EVER.  I always think of Jimmy Buffet’s “Cheeseburger in Paradise”, and I think to myself, I could probably dedicate a song to quite a number of foods, and a good Cheeseburger would be on the top of my list.

But, even though burger places are cropping up like weeds here in Barcelona, I truly do not think not one of them have a) tried a burger in the US, or b) asked someone American to teach them how to make a burger.  You see, my benchmark for burgers is when you bite into them, you get that teeny little bit of grease on your chin.  There is nothing worse than a dry burger.  Here though, they seem to think that you should make burgers with lean beef, so you never get that juicyness.  But Negro Carbon has made a good effort, and I give them a B+.  Their burgers are made with Argentine beef, which is amazing, and they are substantially better than all the other burger places that abound in my neighborhood and others.

But, the service is terrible.  We waited 35 minutes for our burgers……I mean, were they picking up the beef from the airport?  Thank God they brought us out the fries and onion rings, because I was about to have a mini-meltdown!

The fries are definitely home-made, they remind me of the ones my mom would make when I was a kid.  I am not sure if the onion rings are made there or not, but they are really, really good!

My boyfriend ordered the “La Gringa” burger, which if you don’t already know, Gringa and gringo means American.  The “La Gringa” is made with cheddar, pickles, bacon, lettuce tomato, barbecue sauce and an onion ring.

And I chose my favorite, “Pipi -Cucu”, which has Swiss cheese, caramelized onions and sautéed mushrooms.  When I first came to this restaurant, I wondered why on earth they would call a burger by that name.  And the waiter told me it’s a story about an Argentine boxer who did a press release in France, and all he had to say was Merci Beaucoup, but instead he said “Pipi Cucu”.  Anyhow, funny story or not, I love it.  I have a thing for mushrooms and onions, so I can’t go wrong with this burger.

I don’t think I’ve ever gotten dessert here, because I am usually so stuffed after the burgers.  But I am sure they will have something nice, maybe next time I should try something else……nah!

So, if you’re in Barcelona and are in the mood for a good burger made with excellent quality beef, come to Negro Carbon!

Negro Carbon

Pla de Palau 16

Barcelona, 08003

+34 93 319 1123

http://www.negrocarbon.com

Creamy Scrambled Eggs and Truffle oil with “Migas de Chorizo” (Chorizo Breadcrumbs)

I apologize for not posting anything yesterday, but I had a huge team building event that I was catering.  It was a huge success, but working all day yesterday took its toll on everything else in my life.

I wanted to share one of our most popular tapas, “Huevos revuelto con Aceite de Trufa y Migas de Chorizo”.  This is such a playful dish, and a huge crowd pleaser.  It’s incredibly fun to eat, right out of the shell, and with a few tips you can easily re-create this at home and serve it just as we did, on the egg crate.

Eggs are divine, and they are so easy to pair with other ingredients.  We wanted to play with the whole “Eggs and Bacon” Bit, but make it more accessible to our Spanish clients by adding Chorizo instead of bacon, which is undoubtedly a very Anglo-Saxon food.

To keep the eggs creamy, and to be able to prepare them before hand and then re-heat them and still be creamy, we made a light béchamel sauce, mixed with the scrambled egg and spooned them back into their shells.  Then with a light drizzle of olive oil, and the addition of the chorizo breadcrumbs, you just plonk it in a 375 F oven for three to four minutes, and serve immediately.

Serving them on the egg crate is not only fun, but super useful.  It allows you to make up to 30 at a time, and then place the whole thing in the oven and take it out again easily.

Migas is a typical dish of central Spain, which was originally made by sheep herders.  It was a way to re-use stale bread, and make it into a filling meal.  We added the chorizo sausage, because of its high content of paprika, it gives the bread crumbs this beautiful red hue that you can see here.

The addition of truffle oil elevates it from a very humble dish to a more sophisticated tapa.

So here’s what you’re going to need:

Serves 30 as an appetizer

30 farm fresh eggs

4 tbsp olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

4 cups cold milk

6 tbsp butter

6 tbsp flour

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

2 stale baguettes

2 pieces of cured chorizo sausage

White or Black truffle oil, for drizzling

If you don’t have an egg cutter, then lay the egg sideways on top of a tea towel, and with a serrated knife slice the wider end of the egg in a quick sawing motion until half way through or less, and then with your fingers take the top off carefully.  Place the egg in a bowl, and your shell back on its crate.  Once you’ve opened all the shells, wash the inside of the egg shells in warm water, and place upside down on the crate to dry.

Meanwhile, in a large heavy bottomed sauce pan, melt your 6 tbsp of butter.  Add the flour, and cook over very low heat, stirring constantly, for 5-6 minutes.  Add the cold milk, whisking vigorously so no lumps form.  Continue to cook, for about 10-15 minutes, until the sauce thickens and coats the back of a spoon.  You don’t want it too thick though.  So a key to make sure it isn’t that thick, is when you coat the back of the spoon, blow on it, and if it makes a slight flower pattern and then returns back to normal, you’re done.  Too thick would be that it stays as a flower pattern.  Take off heat and add the nutmeg, salt and pepper.

In a large non-stick skillet, heat your olive oil.  Whisk the eggs, and cook until done but still juicy.  Add the béchamel, a large spoonful at a time, whisking, until soft and creamy, but still tastes very eggy.  Make sure you don’t add too much, just enough so that it stays creamy when it cools, but not so much that you lose the egg flavor.  I can’t give you exact details, because each egg is different size, and it really has to do with more of the texture you want.  Cover and set aside.

To make the migas, slice the baguette into rounds, and with a food processor, pulse to make bread crumbs.  Set aside.
Then slice the chorizo, and in a food processor, pulse until it is finely chopped.  In a large skillet or sauté pan, place the breadcrumbs and chorizo, and over medium heat, cook until all the bread is coated with chorizo and slightly fried.

To assemble, spoon the scrambled eggs back into their shells until 3/4 full, drizzle with a little of the olive oil, and top with a spoonful of the chorizo breadcrumbs.  Place them back on the crate, and place in a 375 F oven.  Re-heat for 3 to 4 minutes.

Let cool slightly (the shell will be quite hot) and serve on the crate!

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

 

 

Pad Ped Nua: Stir-Fried Curried Beef with Long Beans

A couple of days ago, going through my reader on WordPress, I came across The Appletizer’s blog post about Thailand’s floating markets.  That reminded me of one of my cook books gathering dust on my shelf, because the picture on the cover is what I am assuming is something to do with the floating markets.

That made me crave thai food, but I didn’t want to do my staple, Pad Thai, I wanted to venture into something different, but easy.  I have a huge job tomorrow night, which takes up a lot of my time.  But a girl still has to eat right?

I decided on this, the stir fried curried beef with long beans.  My decision was wholly based on the fact that I have always wanted to try long beans.  I am not sure what I was thinking, if they were going to taste totally different than regular beans or what, but still, I had this mild curiosity to work with them.  They just look so cool.

I truly love this series of cookbooks, now a days cookbooks all mostly have amazing pictures, but back in the day, well it was sort of a novelty.  I started collecting as much as I could, but only have 7.  When I moved to Spain, I gave away (stupidly) about 4 of them.  Oh well.  I don’t know if the recipes are super authentic, but they seem to be so.  Most of the author’s are native to the country the book is about.

The other thing that really interested me was making my own red curry paste.  It actually turned out to be more of a green paste, due to the fact that I couldn’t find any red jalapeño chilies……but the taste was divine all the same!  And in my local Asian market, I found what they labeled as “Thai Cilantro”

It was really fragrant, and I think it might be what we call Culantro in the States.  But I might be wrong.  In the end, I really loved this dish.  The ingredients in the paste were fantastic, the only thing, is that I couldn’t find fresh Galangal, so I used dry.  I didn’t soak it enough, so I did find some bits of it in the finished curry.  I suggest if you can’t get fresh, to either boil the dried galangal, or to soak it overnight.  If anyone else has any other suggestions on how to handle dried galangal, I would love to hear them!

So here’s what you’re going to need:

Adapted from “Thailand, The Beautiful Cookbook”

For the Curry:

Serves 4

2 tbsp oil

1 garlic clove, minced

250 g lean ground beef

2 cups chopped long beans, in 1 inch pieces

3 tbsp fish sauce

4 tbsp ketjap manis

1 tsp red curry paste

1 tbsp sugar

1/4 cup sliced green pepper

1/4 cup sliced red pepper

5-8 thai green chili peppers, sliced (optional)

For the red curry paste:

1/2 cup chopped onions

8 garlic cloves

10 dried red jalapeño chilies

4 thin slices fresh galangal

2 tbsp chopped lemongrass

1 tbsp chopped cilantro/coriander root stems

1/2 tsp cumin

1 tsp shrimp paste

1 tsp salt

3 tbsp oil

Heat a large skillet and add the oil and garlic.  Add the ground beef and sauté on medium-high heat until done.

Add the beans and all the other ingredients, including chilies if desired, and cook for about 2 more minutes or until beans are tender.

To make the curry paste:

Combine all the ingredients except the oil in a blender and process until smooth.

Heat a small skillet on medium-high heat and add the oil.  Slowly fry the curry paste for 5 minutes until it is fragrant.  Remove and store in a jar for future use.  (Makes 2 1/2 cups)

Serve with some steamed Jasmine rice.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

Yogurt and Parsley Pesto Lamb Kebabs with Feta, Watermelon and Dill Salad

When summer rolls around, your body just naturally craves lighter, fresher foods.  That means chilled soups, salads and grilled meats.  Of course, when I lived in the States and had a nice backyard, that would mean grilling and eating outside.  But I changed countries, and therefore living space, and now I am stuck with a tiny stove top grill and the closest I can get to outside dining is to open up all the windows and let that lovely noise of cars and traffic become the soundtrack to our dinner.  Sounds idyllic, right?

Well, to tell you the truth it isn’t that bad.  But I do miss having a backyard.  Or front yard.  Heck….a porch would do.  But, I don’t.  So, anyhow, my body still craves these types of food, and today I satisfied that craving.  I wanted to use up the Parsley Pesto that I made for the Nicoise Salad the other day.  But, I also wanted to take it down a notch, so I added some greek yogurt to have that wonderful creamy, cooling effect.  So I marinated the lamb in that, it smelled divine.  It really reminded me of green goddess dressings, but with a gorgeous garlicky smell.  And I had some watermelon in the fridge and leftover Feta from those Feta and Walnut Cheese Coins I made a while back.  I have seen in all these magazines the birth of the watermelon salad.  I’d never gotten along to try or make one, but tonight seemed the perfect night for it.  I thought some fresh dill from my garden, balcony would be perfect, although I admit I was a bit scared because I had never actually made it before, it could have turned out to be a disaster!  But it wasn’t thankfully!  The whole meal was really refreshing, healthy, and delicious.  I especially loved the salad.  Who knew watermelon, feta and dill could become best buds?

I pulled out my little cast iron grilly-thing, and made some skewers with the lamb, zucchini and onion.

I thought they looked really nice, all green!

So here’s what you’re going to need:

Serves 4

1.5 kilos of lamb leg, cut into cubes

1 Zucchini, sliced in half, then cubed

1 onion, sliced thickly

Parsley Pesto

1/2 cup greek yogurt

For the Salad:

1/4 of a small watermelon, cubed

1 small package of feta cheese, cubed

2 dill sprigs, chopped

Juice of 1 lemon

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Salt and Pepper to taste.

Mix the parsley pesto with the yogurt, and marinate the lamb and vegetables for about an 1.  Pre heat your grill.  Thread onto skewers, and then place them on your grill.  I prefer my lamb a bit charred, you might like yours less, so mine took about 20 minutes…..I’m sorry I can’t give you more precise times, but that’s the fun of grilling right?

In the meantime, mix the watermelon, feta, dill with the lemon juice, oil, and seasonings.  Set aside until your kebabs are ready.

In the end, I think it was a pretty perfect meal!

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

Green bean and Chickpea “Stew”

Chickpeas to me is comfort food.  My father’s side of the family being Egyptian/Syrian/Turkish, I have grown up eating this grain and it is a staple in my diet.  A couple of months ago I received my favorite magazine in the mail, Saveur, and I came across this recipe.

Initially, I wasn’t sure that I was going to like it.  Generally I like my vegetables barely cooked, fresh and crispy.  But this article praised slow cooked veggies.  I figured I would give it a try, thinking that I wasn’t going to be that thrilled with it.  What a surprise!  I fell in love with it.  It is really simple, flavourful, and the one word that comes to mind, is comforting.  It was so reminiscent of the flavour profiles that I grew up with, that instantly I knew I was going to make this dish again and again.

It is quite heavy on the cumin, which I love, but the original recipe calls for an hour of cooking time.  I reduced that to 35 minutes, because I wanted more tomato sauce than Saveur’s.  This is a perfectly simple and delicious meal that can be enjoyed on it’s own with a loaf of crusty bread, à la girl in a food frenzy’s.  But you can always have it as a side dish as well, with something simple, like grilled fish or steak.

So here’s what you’re going to need:

Adapted from Saveur Magazine

SERVES 4-6

INGREDIENTS

¼ cup olive oil

2 tsp. cumin seeds

4 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1 tbsp. paprika
1 ½ lb. green beans, strings removed
1 28-oz. can whole, peeled tomatoes with juice, crushed by hand
1 15-oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Heat the oil in an 8-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat; add cumin seeds and cook, stirring often, until fragrant, about 1 minute.

2. Add the garlic and onion, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring often, until soft and lightly browned, about 12 minutes.
3. Add the tomato paste and paprika, and cook, stirring occasionally, until tomato paste is lightly caramelized, about 2 minutes. Add the green beans, tomatoes, chickpeas, and 3 cups water, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until very tender, about 35 minutes. Let sit for at least 15 minutes before serving to allow the flavors to meld.