Tortilla or frittata? You can go on for hours debating over the correct name for this dish… still, my strong recommendation would be to eat it straight away from the over with a bit of toasted bread and a dollop of yogurt.
Pea Tortilla with Mint and Yogurt (adapted from a recipe by Francis Mallmann found in Food and Wine magazine)
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 250g of frozen baby peas—thawed, drained and patted dry
- 1 1/2 cups (=350 mL) plain Greek-style yogurt
- 8 large eggs
- 1/2 cup coarsely chopped mint
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Preheat the griller.
In a large, ovenproof, nonstick skillet, melt the butter. Add the peas and cook over moderate heat until warm, about 3 minutes.
In a large bowl, beat the yogurt with the eggs, mint, salt and pepper until smooth.
Pour the eggs over the peas and cook over moderately high heat until set on the bottom and around the edges, about 4 minutes.
Transfer the skillet to the oven and broil 20cm from the heat for about 3 minutes, until the top of the tortilla is set and lightly golden in spots. Slide the tortilla onto a plate, cut into wedges and serve with the remaining yogurt.
Seriously, no need to buy special spices mix in expensive packages with a kilometer long list of ingredients. Making guacamole is as easy as this…
Guacamole with tortilla chips (adapted from Ferran Adrià’s The Family Meal)
Ingredients (for 6)
- 2 ripe tomatos, peeled and diced
- 1 small onion finely chopped
- 3 avocados
- 1 onion very finely diced
- 4 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh coriander
- 4 tablespoons of olive oil
- Salta and pepper to taste
- Tortilla chips
Start by peeling the tomatoes. Put the tomatoes in boiling water and leave for about 10 min. Put them in iced water to quickly cool them down. Pull the skin out of the tomatoes with a small knife. Dice them into very small cubes.
Finely chop the onion.
Pick the leafs out of the coriander stalks and chop them very.
Cut the avocados in half and remove the stones. Remove the flesh with a spoon. Put them in a bowl in mash them with a fork until you have a coarse paste.
Add the tomato, onion and coriander to the avocado paste and mix everything with a spoon until incorporated into the mix.
Finally, add the lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste.
Serve with the tortilla chips.
No matter how much effort, love and care you put into it, someone mother’s tortilla will be always better than yours. And don’t even mention the supreme interpretation of this Spanish classic done by all Mothers-in-Law – specially yours. To stay away from trouble, I use the recipe I found in the book: Tapas: Simple Flavours, Striking Combinations by Carlos Horrillo and Patrick Morcas, and call it potato and caramelized onion omelette.
Tortilla de patata [Spanish omelette]
- 1.5 Kg Desiree red potatoes (I use 1Kg of parboiled roesti potatoes. Most Spanish Mothers and Mothers-in-Law would be horrified if they knew).
- Olive oil
- 1 large Spanish onion (always a controversial topic. For some, a proper tortilla de patata has nothing but eggs and potatoes; others would call the thought an heresy).
- knob of butter
- 10 eggs (no typo: it is indeed ten eggs you are going to need).
- Salt and pepper
Peel the potatoes, cut them in half, and then cut each half into slices 1.5cm thick. Place in a pan of cold, salter water ad bring the to the boil. Parboil, or until just tender enough to pierce with a knife. Drain and leave to one side.
In a large, non-stick frying pan, around 30cm in diameter (preferably with slopping side because it will make turning the tortilla easier later on), place 12 dashes of olive oil and put on a low to medium heat (this is liberal quantity of olive oil – enough to cover the bottom of the pan with a thick film). Toss in the sliced onions and a generous pinch of salt and pepper, and start to fry them. Once the onions start to sizzle, turn the heat down to low and add the knob of butter. Cook the onions until they are soft and golden, and then remove them with a slotted spoon and place to one side.
Return the pan to medium heat, and add the par-boiled potatoes, a generous pinch of salt and a small pinch of pepper. Fry gently for 2 minutes, turning frequently or until the potatoes are lightly crisp and and golden on the outside while soft on the inside. Just before they are done, return the onions to the pan, stir them well and cook them together for about a minute. When done, remove everything with a slotted spoon and place in a bowl to one side. You will need the oil that was left at the pan for later.
Crack the eggs into a large bowl, add 2 generous pinch of salt, a small pinch of pepper and beat lightly together. Add the cooked potato and onion mixture and still well. Leave to stand for a few minutes, to allow the ingredients to marry.
Return the pan to medium to high head, add 6 more dashes of olive oil (again, until you have a thick oil film that covers the surface of the pan. Tilt the pan until the bottom is well coated. Do not forget to do is, or else you have parts of the tortilla firmly sticked to the bottom of the pan. Not a nice tortilla technique…). Heat the oil until smoking hot, then poor in the egg mixture, moving the pan in a gentle, circular motion to distribute the ingredients evenly and prevent the eggs to stick and burn. Cook for about 30 seconds, then turn down the heat to medium low, and cook for further 4 minutes, shacking the pan gently every so often. Do not stir! (Seriously, do not! If you stir, it will be a completely different dish). When the tortilla start to bubble on the side, it is time to turn over. If this the first time at doing this, prepare for a mess (let’s face the facts – it will get messy. It took a few times before Mr Burntsugar got the hang of it, but now he is an expert. I am more on the supervision and management side of things).
Find a suitable plate, large enough to cover the face of the pan with space to spare, and sit it face down on top. Hold firmly onto the handle of the pan with one hand and use the other hand to press down firmly the plate. Now, in one fast move, lift the pan of the stove and flip it over onto the plate. Remove the pan (hopefully, there’ll be little, if anything, left stuck to the base, and not a horrible mess to clean in the kitchen). Clean thoroughly the pan with kitchen paper roll. It is very important the bottom of the pan has no egg leftovers and burnt egg stick to it. Set down the pan while you add 12 more dashed of olive oil and tilt the pan to make sure the bottom is coated with a thick film of olive oil. When the oil is smoking hot, carefully slide the half cooked tortilla into the pan to cook on the other side. You might need to shake the pan gently and tuck in the sides of the tortilla with a wooden spatula because they will probably look a bit jagged. Allow the tortilla to cook in hight heat for about 30 seconds, then reduce the heat to medium low heat and cook for further 4 minutes. This should leave you with a tortilla moist in the middle (when the tortilla is this cooked to its point is another heated controversy). If you are the ones who prefer it firmer, cook it for a few minutes more, preferably before carbonization. When the tortilla is cooked to your taste, slide it onto a clean plate to cool down slightly. Serve it warm, at room temperature, cut in slice, in little cubes…
“Oh” said the mobile calorie intake unit my friend. “You made tortilla for brunch?”. “No, I haven’t”, I answered. “This is a frittata”. “Like an omelette?” asked a confused mobile calorie intake unit friend. “No, no….” was the only possible answer “It is a frittata… just eat it, will you?”. Thankfully, he did. Otherwise I would have to start a lenghty on the specifics of omelettes, tortillas and frittatas. A tortilla can never be baked and it is always done in a two step process (indeed a process, until you learn how to turn it around without a mess of epic proportions). An omelette is normally made with 2 or 3 eggs and folded. A frittata is baked – or fried and baked… And, let’s not forget tortillas are Spanish, omelettes are French and frittatas are Italian. But, all of them, a perfect dish for a festive brunch.
Pea, goat cheese and bacon frittata ( adapted from Gordon Ramsay’s Ultimate Cookery Course)
- Olive oil to fry
- 8 slices of smoked bacon, chopped
- 2 medium leeks
- 150g peas, thawed
- a few basil leaves, roughly sliced
- 8 large eggs, beaten
- 4 tablespoons of parmesan cheese grated and enough to sprinkle all over the frittata
- 150g soft goat’s cheese, thickly sliced
- sea salt and black pepper
Preheat the oven to 180oC oven and the grill on its highest setting.
Heat oil in a non stick ovenproof large frying pan over medium-high heat. Fry the bacon for 2-3min.
Add the red pepper. Continue to cook for another few minutes until the bacon is golden brown and crisp. Add the leeks, and let it sweat until everything is tender.
Toss in the peas and cook for another minute or two, then add the basil roughly missing.
Cut the goat’s cheese in chunks and scatter half of it over the top.
Break the eggs into a large bowl and beat them. Add the parmesan cheese. Season with lots of black pepper.
Poor the beaten eggs over the vegetables and gently shake over medium heat. As the omelette begins to set at the bottom, grate the remaining goat’s cheese on top and season with pepper.
Place the plan under the hot grill in the oven for a few minutes until cooked through and golden on top.
Slide the frittata out of the pan and cut into wedges to serve.
Another Spanish classic… Very much like the tortilla de patatas [potato omelette], there are many versions and interpretations. And, as you might guess from previous posts, the best empanada is going to be the one cooked by the proverbial Mother-in-Law… Actually, at some point, I had scribbled down a recipe that had been in someone’s family for generations. But hélas!, I lost it during one of my many moves. I ended up to use the one Carlos Horrillo and Patrick Morcas have on their Tapas: Simple Flavours, Striking Combinations book.
All in all, it is not exactly easy to get this dish right. The filling is relatively straightforward, but the pastry requires a certain level of skill and commitment. Although this might sound like scratching a chalkboard with nails to some, I ended up using pre made pastry, to avoid any culinary catastrophes… In any case, it is an awesome combination of flavors and textures, which reminds me of home and many bohemian nights out.
Savory tuna parcels (empanadillas de atún)
For the filling
- Olive oil
- 2 medium onions finely sliced
- 1 large red pepper, finely chopped
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- 225g tomatoes coarsely chopped
- 350g of good quality tuna (in olive oil), drained
- 8-10 good quality black 0lives, stones removed
- Small pinch of saffron strands. soaked in 2 tablespoon hot water
For the pastry
- pack of ready rolled puff pastry
- 1 beaten egg
Place a large heavy base, non stock frying pan (or wok) on a low heat with 8 dashes of olive oil. Add the sliced onions and pepper, a pinch of salt and pepper then sauté gently until soft and tender.
Add the chopped tomatoes and give everything a good stir, then simmer gently until all the ingredients have reduced to a thick sauce.
Add the tuna, olives, saffron and another pinch of salt and pepper, Summer everything together, stirring regularly until you have a tick, rich sauce. Set aside to cool, and then refrigerate for 2 hours.
Preheat your oven to 200oC/400oC/gas mark 6
Lightly flour your work surface and place the rolled puff pastry on top. Using a sharp knife, cut the pastry into 12cm squares and arrange them on several greased baking sheets. You will need 8-12, depending on how many people you are going to serve. Gauge it so you have enough pastry to wrap the filling. If the pastry is too thin the parcel will burst and all the ingredients will spill out. Some spillage is fine. If the pastry is too thick, it will not allow the flavours of the filling to come through.
Put a dollop of the tuna mixture, a ball shape roughly 5-6cm, in the middle of the square, and then dab the edges of the suare with eaten egg, Bring up the corners of the pastry to the centre and press them together to form a peak at the top. Glaze the tops with beaten egg, and then in the oven for 20min, or until golden brown. Serve hot, warm or cold.
Alternatively, you can put the pastry in the a rectangular or square baking tray, allowing the wall to be coated about 5cm. Put the tuna mixture on it, and put another sheet of pastry on top. Close the edges, sealling with beaten egg. Glaze the top with beaten egg.