New Year’s Eve” Sos band What do you give the person who adores food? This can be quite a daunting task, but rest assured there is always something out there to delight a foodie friend. A quick skim of the annual Zingerman’s catalog makes me swoon and start dropping not-so-subtle hints. I become downright shameless in my attempts to secure esoteric chocolates and obscure condiments.
Saturdays from But, 9pm I was to completely 2am! undone when some friends of ours recently gifted us with a large package of well-selected Spanish meats from LaTienda.com. Seriously, what says that you care like a big Styrofoam-container-Saturday- UPS-delivery-box of jamon Serrano, jamon Iberico, and chorizo? Uh, nothing—except maybe some Benton’s bacon, but that’s love story for another time.
Such largesse demanded to be shared, so we phoned the givers, inviting them over to partake in the bounty they’d provided. My husband had plans to slice open a package or two, do a quick taste test to compare flavors and then go out for dinner. Not me. I saw this as an opportunity to put out a full-on Iberian spread, complete with all sorts of Spanish specialties.
I’ve had the opportunity to live in Spain not once, but twice in my life. Once was during a long summer in high school and then again for a junior year abroad in college. Both experiences changed my life like nothing else. Total immer- sion in a culture tests your mettle while demanding independence and spontaneous flexibility.
You also get the chance to taste a lot of incredible food along the way.
As a teenager, living with a widow in a small village outside Madrid, I took a lot of day trips to explore the country. My Spanish mother would make me bocadillos—huge crusty loaves of bread, stuffed with chorizo and slices of the Spanish omelet I would come to love—wrapped in aluminum foil that would keep all day. Coupled with a big bottle of water and an apple, these were inexpensive but fill- ing meals that could be eaten on a train or in between museum visits. It was this feeling of boundless exploration and culinary adventure I longed to recreate after breaking the seal on the box from La Tienda. I read a half-dozen recipes for Tortilla Espanola before combining a few, creating my own potatoand-onion-filled-omelet. While I cooked, I sent my husband to Whole Foods Market to pick up some Manchego cheese, some red wine, and a variety of olives, roasted peppers and garlic.
Our friends arrived just as I was slicing into the warm omelet. We filled our glasses and raised them high, toasting our good fortune in knowing one another and the pleasures of a good meal.
1 pound new potatoes
1 large yellow onion
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups olive oil
Wash and slice the potatoes into 1/3” thick half-moons. Place in a
large glass bowl. Cut onion into equally thick pieces and toss with
potatoes and salt.
2. Heat olive oil in a large cast-iron or non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Slowly add the potatoes and onions to the hot oil, making sure there is enough oil to cover and bubble but not overflow.
3. Poach the potatoes and onions in the oil for approximately 20
minutes, keeping constant watch to make sure they don’t brown and the
oil does not spill over the sides of the skillet. Adjust the heat as
needed to maintain a barely-there bubbling.
Set a colander in a large bowl and use a slotted spoon to remove the
cooked potatoes and onions. Let stand five minutes to drain any excess
oil and to cool a bit.
5. Drain all but 2 – 3 tablespoons of olive oil. (Note: This leftover oil may be reused.)
6. Crack eggs into a bowl and whisk until combined. Slowly add in the
cooked potatoes and onions, being careful not to break up the pieces.
Pour this mixture into the same cast-iron or nonstick skillet set on
medium heat. Use a wooden spoon to equally distribute the potatoes in
the egg mixture. The edges will begin to set after a few minutes. Use
the edge of a knife or rubberspatula to make sure the mixture is not
sticking to the pan.
Continue cooking the tortilla for 12 minutes or until it appears to be
about three-quarters set. You can’t rush this part as it may result in
burning the tortilla. When the tortilla is almost set, place a
heat-proof plate on top of the skillet and SLOWLY flip it over. Then,
GENTLY slide the tortilla back into the pan to finish cooking, about 5
8. At this point, you may invert the tortilla back onto a plate and serve immediately or let cool. Cut into squares and serve with warm crusty bread and sofrito (see ChristianasKitchen. blogspot.com for this recipe).
Christiana Roussel lives in Crestline and is a lover of all things food-related. You can follow her culinary musings on-line at ChristianasKitchen.blogspot.com or on Facebook (ChristianasKitchen) or Twitter (Christiana40).