When I (briefly) lived in Spain, the woman who owned the house where I stayed made all my meals for me. Unfortunately we weren't really allowed in the kitchen. I would have liked to have learned how to make some of the more tasty meals. For the most part however, I just wanted to be able to cook for myself.
There were some definite highlights, for which I haven't been able to find a good recipe. And some disasters which I choked down as quickly as possible. Lentejas (lentil soup) was unbearable until she told me that they put cider vinegar on it as a condiment. Another time I was trying to get out of eating this sickening magadalena cookie/cake for breakfast when I saw her eating bread dipped in olive oil and I asked for that instead. She told me she never saw a North American who like that and couldn't believe I wanted that for breakfast (and that's what I had for the rest of the semester with my cafe con leche). Several times she couldn't describe what we were having in specific enough terms, so it wasn't until I went to the grocery store and looked around that I found the ingredient she simply described as "verdura" or vegetable. It turned out to be an Italian flat bean (or runner bean) in the mysterious "tortilla de verdura". I still pine over the tortilla de gambas (shrimp fritters). The gazpachuelo (mayonnaise soup) still makes me want to gag.
While I was in Spain one of the most popular tapas or dinner meals was the tortilla de patatas, known also as the tortilla espanola. Unfortunately for me, we ate it so often I started having to spread some Laughing Cow Cheese (La vaca que rie) on my tortilla. Now that I am home I sometimes crave the foods of Spain. This meal is a combination of several things. I knew J wouldn't just eat tortilla for dinner so I made chorizo (not the Spanish variety), I also made pan y tomate, which is just bread with tomato rubbed over it and a little olive oil. I think this was possibly the best tortilla I've made to date.
Tortilla de patatas
4 medium potatoes (waxy is best), very thinly sliced
1 onion (I prefer sweet onion), chopped
salt and pepper
- Heat approximately 1/2 inch of olive oil in a large frying pan.
- Gently fry the potatoes until almost soft. The potatoes should be more boiling in oil rather than frying to crispy. Stir so the potatoes don't stick to the bottom of the pan.
- Add the onion and continue frying until soft.
- Drain vegetables to remove excess oil (it is possible to start with less oil but the result is sometimes burn potatoes).
- Beat the eggs and season with salt and pepper. Add eggs to potato mixture and mix. Heat a little oil in frying pan on medium heat (you can also just spray pan liberally with oil to make sure to coat it evenly).
- Pour in egg mixture and shake the pan periodically to keep tortilla from sticking.
- Once the bottom is set and the sides are started to pull from the edge a bit you have two choices: either move the oven safe frying pan to the broiler and finish the top in the oven (this is the method I used this time) or place a flat plate over the pan and quickly invert, then slide the tortilla back into the pan and continue frying, again shaking from time to time.
- Serve hot or room temperature cut into wedges.
I prefer the method I used here, because there is less room for kitchen disaster.