Elaine: Spanish Tortilla
Ended with some satisfying rice pudding. Definitely a great meal Mike and I nibbled on while watching Desperate Housewives and Grey's Anatomy.
California - Chicago - Oregon - Belgium
There are certain techniques in the kitchen that, no matter how many times I try to perfect them, I will never master. Flipping a tortilla Espanola in its pan a few times is one of them. As Elaine will attest, I like being in control and doing things as well as I can. I am particularly neurotic in the kitchen and at work – two places where I really can’t stand error. So flipping these Spanish gems always drives my Type A personality crazy.
What am I doing wrong? In my ten plus tortilla Espanola attempts over the years, I’ve tried different sized pans, different sized spatulas and pancake flippers and I’ve worked at varying temperatures. But when I think I’m ready to flip, there is always still too much uncooked egg moisture which causes it to fall apart on the plate. I hesitate for fear of breaking the form. So I inevitably put it in the oven when it’s almost done and finish it off under a broiler (or in a very hot oven). This always does the job but mine are always a little compacted with a tougher texture on the top from the broiling. I dream of the day I can emerge from the kitchen with a soft and delicate pan of egg and potato.
Of all the recipes for tortilla Espanola I’ve tried, this was by far my favorite in terms of flavor and density. In previous attempts I had always cubed the potatoes and pan roasted them with the onions. In this case, I really liked the low temperature cooking of the potatoes and onion slices in the olive oil. The onion infused the oil which infused the potato in ever such a subtle way. I liked how the slow cooking didn’t brown or toughen the potatoes, which in turn created a softer inside than what I’m used to. In spite of my inability to get the flipping part right, the taste and texture was divine and I will stick with this recipe going forward as I try to master the technique portion of this dish.
I served these for lunch on Saturday to my friends Amyra and Nicole who were in town for the long weekend, both of whom really liked it. Served on the side was our standard salad – arugula and parmesan tossed with good olive oil and lemon juice and finished off with fresh ground pepper. We can make this salad in less than 2 minutes and enjoy it a few times a week for dinner. It is the perfect dinner salad for company as it can be dressed in seconds and really takes no effort to prepare (in particular if you buy pre-washed arugula and pre-grated parmesan).
I’ve never really fancied myself as much of a girl’s girl. I didn’t play with dolls. In fact, I think I might have hated them. I’ve never really liked the color pink. In college, I hung out with Julie, and a group of five or so guys. In
So I was at a bit of a loss when I found myself feeling like a true girly girl while making these French macaroons.
Maybe it was the mere act of piping (I mean really, can you picture a guy piping delicate macaroons onto parchment paper). Or the three bowls I had splayed out, each hosting vanilla buttercream in shades of lime green, tangerine orange, and yes, even a bright rosy pink (colors more likely to be seen in a Lily store than anywhere else). Or maybe it was because I had a frilly a-line skirt on with a bright white apron tied June Cleaver style around my waist. Whatever it was, I felt like a girl’s girl when preparing these Easter treats, so girly that I packaged the cookies in plastic bags and tied them neatly with a bright pink bow. Perhaps most surprisingly, I enjoyed my girly self very much, so thank you dear Elaine for the impetus. Also, with all the food coloring spread on the table, I really felt like it was days before Easter, and it’s been a while since I actually “felt” a holiday.
I used a very simple, four ingredient macaroon recipe (almond meal, powdered sugar, unsweetened cocoa powder, egg whites) and an even more simple, four ingredient buttercream recipe (butter, powdered sugar, milk, vanilla). The process was easy and fun and brought out a side of me that I don’t get to see that often.
We had friends over for dinner a few nights ago and we placed a macaroon package at everyone’s place setting as a guest gift. They were a hit!
Part Deux: Ashley's Coconut Macaroons with Lemon Curd
Ashley, you are right, these coconut macaroons with lemon curd have a wonderful flavor. What a combination. Plus I love how the curd uses four egg yolks and the macaroons used four egg whites (no waste!) I enjoyed making this second batch as it allowed me to appreciate the difference between the chocolate macaroons with almond meal (which created a more cookie like macaroon given the meal's flour-like consistency) compared with the coconut macaroons with the toasted and ground coconuts (which created a more meringue like macaroon). I liked the meringue-like texture better for this cookie and the lemon curd was really a nice kicker for the macaroon.
The smell in our kitchen while toasting and grinding the coconut was absolutely out of this world. I think I am going to do another batch of the toasted coconut, grind it to a powder, and use it like panko for some lightly battered fish. I think that flavor will be unique and delicious. I've made coconut crusted shrimp and fish before using coconut flakes, but I think the toasting and grinding brings out an additional layer of flavor that is really special. I'm thinking a good meaty white fish lightly dipped in an egg wash and the rolled around in the toasted, ground coconut then friend until golden brown. And then maybe top with a mango relish/chutney and served with a fragrant jasmine rice. Will let you know how it turns out!
Even though I didn't like my little almond specs you can see in the cookies....these little gems are SO TASTY!! I didn't have high expectations. I thought they would be too sweet for me....I was wrong. I'll definitely make them again.....not that difficult at all.
I have some coconut that I would like to use up before our move. Any suggestions as to a coconut macaroon. I'm a macaroon novice, so what's the difference of those 'haystack' looking coconut macaroons and the french ones? I also have a gazillion egg yolks sitting around from a failed angel food cake over the weekend and these macaroons - any suggestions for those? I was thinking maybe some lemon curd filling?
For birthday cake, we made a classic here in our house – Betto’s Carrot Cake. Betto is one of Pete’s aunts and is famous in the McAniff family for this cake. We don’t know where she found this recipe, but it’s far and away the best carrot cake recipe we have ever tried. It’s our standard birthday cake - so incredibly moist you’ll be sneaking bites out of your icebox through the week. Enjoy!
3-4 small to medium sizes fresh tomatoes
1 can San Marzano whole tomatoes
1 red onion
2 cloves garlic
1/2 - 1 jalapeno chili, seeded and diced
Red pepper flakes
Salt & pepper
Core the fresh tomatoes (but don’t remove skin).
Put all the ingredients in a pot and simmer 30-40 minutes.
Transfer to Cuisineart and process until smooth.
Transfer to wide bottom pot and adjust seasonings.
Take out any chunks and let simmer on low for as long as you have time for.
Chilis (although this sounds like alot of work, it’s fun and so good)
5-8 green pasilla or poblano chilis
Flour for dusting
Cheese for filling: any flavor you like that will melt,
Turn gas stove on and place 1-2 chilis directly on fire.
You want the outside skin of the chilis to char black.
Turn them over and on their side to char all sides of the chili.
When fully charred place in a plastic bag and close bag to steam.
When you’re done charring all the chilis, take a spoon to peel off black charred skin.
Smell. Oh my, the smoky chilis will smell so good you’ll want to eat them right then.
Peel off all black skin with the spoon and then make a slit in one side of the chili.
Use the spoon to scrape out all the seeds and vein.
Drop in a bowl of water for just a second and this allows all the seeds to fall out.
Fill the chilis with cheese or whatever else you might want to put in there.
Shrimp, scallops and crab are often used in chili rellenos (be sure to cook them first).
Put the chilis in the fridge until 30 minutes before you’re ready to serve.
Heat vegetable oil for frying in a wide pan.
Reheat sauce and keep on low while preparing chilis.
Separate egg whites from yolks.
Beat whites until stiff peaks form.
Fold in yolks and salt.
(I found this technique strange when I read about it but found it created exactly the texture you find when ordering these in a Mexican restaurant)
Put some flour in a dish and add salt/pepper/red pepper flakes.
Dust chili in flour and then cover generously in egg mixture.
Fry until both sides are golden brown.
Drain on paper towels for just a few seconds.
Then transfer to sauce and cover completely with sauce.
When done with all chilies, transfer to festive serving platter.
Be generous with the sauce.
I sprinkled some queso fresco and chopped cilantro.
Betto's Carrot Cake
1 1/2C Crisco oil
2t baking soda
1 small can crushed pineapple, drained
3C finely grated carrots (about 1#)
1C chopped walnuts
Raisins and coconut if you like, we don’t add them
Cream eggs and sugar
Add oil, baking soda, salt, cinnamon
Stir in flour and pineapple (alternating)
Fold in carrots and walnuts
Bake at 325 in two cake rounds 30-45 minutes, until done in center
Frosting (I make two batches of this and frost very generously)
1 large Philly cream cheese box (please don’t try fat free)
1 box powdered sugar
1 stick sweet butter
1t – 1T vanilla (I’ve also used lemon extract and this is nice too)
Cream the cheese and butter.
Add in powdered sugar and vanilla.
Beat until consistency is just the way you like it.
Lick the bowl after you’re done frosting the cake.