Feb. 10, 2010

10 Feb

10:30 am

1 bowl of Honey Bunches of Oats cereal

1 pm

1 can of Campbell’s chicken dumpling soup

1 bowl of rice

1 glass of water

7:30 pm

1 wedge of tortillas de patatas

side salad with marcona almonds, manchego cheese and quince dressing

1/2 foccacia bread

3 bottles of Corona beer

1 bottle of Newcastle beer

1/2 Trader Joe’s eclair

1 scoop mint chocolate chip ice cream

This is the second Wednesday in a row where I cooked for friends. Since I had a surplus of potatoes and onions, tonight’s dish was a Spanish tortilla de patatas. If frittatas and omelets are like boxing and wrestling, then the tortilla is like MMA. It requires one nerve-wracking move that will leave a big mess and rain shame upon you if you fail. I won’t mention what this move is until later in this post. To go further with the Spanish theme, I also made a salad with quince, manchego cheese and marcona almonds. That salad would’ve been a lot easier if my neighboring stores carried membrillo, or quince paste. But they didn’t, so I half-assed a quick quince dressing. For this one meal, I’ll call it a membrillo. Sure, why not? I’m not Spanish, so I can claim ignorance.

Tortilla de Patatas recipe

– Heat a good amount of olive oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add 3 cloves of crushed garlic, then add either three large or five medium potatoes. They should be peeled, quartered, sliced thinly and seasoned with a good amount of salt. Stir constantly so the potatoes don’t brown. If they start browning, turn down the heat.

– Once the potatoes become translucent, add 1/2 chopped onion and cook over low heat until soft (but not brown). Remove from pan and drain. Try to reserve about a tablespoon or two of oil in the pan. If not, just add a bit more and turn to heat up to medium-high.

– While the potatoes and onions are cooking, whisk six eggs (more if you want a thicker one) in a large bowl with salt and pepper. Add the cooked potatoes and onions and stir to coat. Let the potatoes-egg mixture sit for 10 minutes.

– Pour the potato-egg mixture back into the non-stick skillet and pat down into an even layer. Once the tortilla starts setting, shake the pan to loosen it up. Take a thin spatula and run it around the side to make sure it doesn’t stick and to even out the edges.

– Cook for 10 minutes or so, until the sides is set. Now here comes the tricky part, you have to invert the tortilla and slide it back in the pan. This is done by putting a plate larger than the pan over the tortilla, holding both together, flipping it onto the plate in one fell swoop, then sliding the tortilla back into the pan. I think the best way to describe it is with this drawing from the Spanish food blog Lobstersquad, who makes flipping tortillas look simple with a very pink illustration.

Source: Ximena Maier

I highly recommend you do this over a sink. Since the egg will still be runny, there will be drippage. Also, use an oven mitt, because the plate will be hot and there might be oil that drip out and burn you. Don’t let my warnings scare you from trying this. Just do it quickly and you’ll be fine. I should say that my friend Lucy wanted to do the flip. And she did a fine job with that.

– Cook the tortilla for 10 more minutes until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out cleanly. You can also make a small hole in the middle to cook the eggs in the center. Once it’s done, slide the whole thing onto a plate.

Isn’t that a beaut. Unfortunately, I underseasoned it, so remember to salt and pepper all your ingredients. Otherwise, I thought it turned out really well.

Note: Ferran Adria, the Spanish chef who helms El Bulli, the restaurant with the most difficult reservation in the world, actually uses potato chips in his tortillas. His reasoning? It’s a pain in the ass to peel potatoes for what’s supposed to be a quick, simple meal. That is true. I hate peeling potatoes. It’s nice to know that one of the great chefs in the world also gets lazy and cuts corners with junk food. If only I could charge $150 euros per diner. I served my friends for free and used real potatoes. That’s not efficient.

Membrillo recipe

I didn’t exactly make a membrillo due to time constraints. Here’s the full recipe though.

– Cut 2-3 quinces into cubes and boil until their fork tender.

– Puree the quince with an equal amount of sugar. If you have 1 cup of quince puree, add 1 cup of sugar. Stir in the juice of one lemon after the sugar dissolved.

Right now, you have apple sauce made with quince. I only got to this point due to time constraints and made a dressing with it. This quince sauce is very tasty right now, but don’t be like me and refrain from eating it. The rest of this recipe is to get a proper Spanish membrillo and I highly think you should go the rest of the way.

– Simmer quince puree over very low heat for 1-1 1/2 hours until the color turns dark orange.

– Line a baking pan, about 8×8, with parchment paper that’s been lightly buttered. Bake at 125 degrees (yes, a very low temperature) for an hour. Let cool and eat.

Membrillo dressing recipe

– Take a couple of tablespoons of membrillo (you’ll probably have to soften it a bit), red wine vinegar, salt, pepper and some lemon juice. Whisk in olive oil until the taste suits you.

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