Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Tortilla Espanola

As my readers (all three of you) may already know, I studied abroad in Spain in college. A typical dish of Spain is the tortilla espanola, which unlike tortilla in Latin America, is more like a potato omelette rather than a crunchy cornmeal chip. This dish is often served in slices as a tapa in restaurants, or in my case, at the dinner table of my host family. When I came back to campus after studying abroad, tortilla espanola became my signature dish to share among friends.

My senora taught me a handy trick, which, if done properly, will produce the perfect tortilla. Unfortunately, as I made it today, I did not do it properly and ended up with a gloopy mess. As you can see, only half the tortilla is pictured here because I had to eat the messy half. But these are sacrifices we food bloggers must make.

Once again, I am writing the method below from memory so everything is approximated. In this recipe, you cannot be afraid to use salt and oil. In Spain, they love their olive oil and it is essential in most of their cooking. And the salt is important here or your tortilla will taste like nothing.

2 medium potatoes, or one large potato
3 large eggs (I used 2 whole eggs and the white of one egg)
Lots of oil, enough to cover the pan, and preferably olive oil because it is the signature oil of Spain.
Several pinches of salt

1. Peel and slice the potatoes into very thin slices, between an 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick. I quarter the potatoes lengthwise to get nice bite pieces.
2. Fry the potatoes in a large pan with a very generous coat of oil (several tablespoons). You need a lot of oil or it will stick and burn. Season with a pinch of salt. Cook until potatoes are soft and slightly browned. They will look like slightly undercooked home fries.
3. Drain the potatoes on paper towels. Scramble the eggs with another pinch of salt.
4. Heat oil (yes, more oil - or you can use the leftever oil from cooking the potatoes) in an 8-inch pan. Transfer the potatoes to the pan. Pour egg mixture evenly over the potatoes. Allow it to cook until the bottom is golden brown.
5. The Trick: To flip over the tortilla, place a large plate (one that is bigger than the pan) over the pan and flip the pan with the plate VERY QUICKLY. If you do not do it quickly enough or use a big enough plate, you will end up with a gloopy mess on your stove like I did.
6. Allow to cook for a few more minutes until the other side is golden brown.
7. Serve and enjoy!
8. If you did not do the trick right, clean your stove.
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Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Oops, I meant to post this during finals, but instead I'm doing it now.

Okay, so I cheated on this one and used brownie mix and added semi-sweet chocolate chips. But hey, it's finals, after all...

Still looks good, though doesn't? Go Pillsbury!

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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Eggplant Parmesan

It’s finals time and I am carb-loading so I’ll have energy for tomorrow! Although it turns out that eggplant* is fairly low-carb, I was mostly eating the pasta that goes with it for the carbs. This was also my first hand at writing down a recipe completely from memory rather than copying from one. So the measurements and times are approximates. I also used cooking spray rather than the traditional deep-frying method - this not only saves time, but it makes the recipe a bit lighter.

And since I know most of my readership is fellow students who are procrastinating – good luck with finals!

* Did you know that the average eggplant contains as much nicotine as a cigarette?

Eggplant Parmesan

1 Eggplant – sliced into rounds about ¼ to ½ inch thick
1 well-beaten egg with a splash of milk
A couple of handfuls of bread crumbs
A handful of grated parmesan cheese
½ tsp of dried basil
½ tsp of dried oregano
A dash of red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
Shredded mozzarella cheese

Tomato-Basil Sauce (inspired by Rachael Ray)
1 28-oz can of crushed tomatoes
1 clove of garlic, minced
15-20 fresh basil leaves, torn
1-2 tablespoons of olive oil

1 lb of pasta – I used spaghetti, but you can use whatever long stringy type pasta you like (angel hair, fettuccini etc.)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Prepare pan that is well-greased with cooking spray
3. To make the breading, combine bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, and spices in a shallow plate. You can add more as you go along if it is not enough.
4. Dip the eggplant slices in the egg wash, and then dredge in the bread crumb mixture and place into the pan in a single layer. Spray the top of the eggplant slices with more cooking spray. Place in the oven for about a total of 20-25 minutes. After ten minutes, flip over the eggplant slices and spray more cooking spray. In the last five minutes, add a layer of tomato sauce (method below) and mozzarella cheese on top.
5. While you are waiting for the eggplant to bake, start boiling the water for pasta and prepare the sauce
6. To prepare the sauce, heat the oil in a saucepan with the minced garlic. Once the garlic starts to sizzle (or as Rachael calls it, “speak”), add crushed tomatoes. Be sure to keep the heat on low and cover it because tomato sauce will spatter! At about the same time you add the cheese to the eggplant, add the basil leaves to the sauce. Let simmer until everything else is done cooking.
7. Serve with pasta and enjoy. I am not really sure how many normal people it serves because I already ate half of it by myself. My guess is 4-6.
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