Spanish Tortilla with Gazpacho

Whew, summer has rested her warm hands upon us. It’s always every year around the 4th of July that I really feel it and think summer’s almost over! Need to take advantage of the warm breeze out the car, the beads of sweat that grace our foreheads, and the blanket of warmth that we often write off until we yearn for it come January.

June 1, we moved across town into a bigger space. A partially finished Beltline in our backyard, a park in our front, I can’t complain. We’re still getting settled. After a month and a half without a washer and dryer, we are finally getting one installed. Every day I’ve had to give my sweaty yoga clothes a soak in the tub. I just finished a load. As I rung them out and hung them on the line, the penetration of the sun took me back to my first trip to Spain. Our very first day, our host Mati made us come up to the roof to help her hang the sheets on the line. The terra cotta colored roof was hotter than blue blazes. Growing up in a house with a laundry shoot and ample appliances, I remember naively groaning in my head, we have to do housework? Ha, and now here I am 10 years later using all my might to ring out my clothes for the line.

That summer turned out to be a good one. We did have to work, and get accustomed to things like crunchy air dried towels and no A/C on the 7th floor of an apartment building. It was a summer of discomfort, big adventures, and growth.

Mati cooked most of our meals. She was aware of my roommate Leslie’s vegetarian diet and would attempt to make 2 batches of everything. “Carne,” she’d say, pointing to mine. “No carne,” she’d say, pointing to hers. It was quickly clear that she’d cooked all the food together in meaty broths and gravies and then would just pull the big meat pieces out to make a “vegetarian” meal. It most always had tiny residual meat chunks in it. Poor Leslie would pick through and try to tell Mati that there was still meat in it while the Simpsons played in Spanish on the small TV in the background. I think I gained a few pounds that summer making it look like Les had eaten her food–we felt rude being wasteful.

Fortunately, we did have a favorite meal that we could both eat and enjoy together: Spanish tortilla. Similar to a frittata, the egg and potato dish is a staple in most Spanish households. It is fairly simple to make. The trickiest part is flipping it onto a plate from the pan and then sliding it back into the pan to cook the other side (see below). Paired with a side of gazpacho (a tomato based cold soup), you’ve got yourself a memorable Spanish lunch. Before Summer whistles her last call for departure, you might as well sneak a siesta in there, too. ¡Que aproveche!

Spanish Tortilla

4 potatoes, peeled and sliced into ¼ inch pieces

1 white onion, chopped

6 eggs

½ jalapeno, seeded and chopped (optional, I had some from the gazpacho so I decided to throw in there)

salt and pepper

olive oil

2 or 3 skillets

1 large plate

Directions: Lightly coat a medium pan with oil and cook the potatoes until tender, about 20 minutes. While that’s happening, in another pan, do the same with the onions (these won’t take as long).

When tender, set each aside to cool for about 10 minutes. Then put in a bowl, add the jalapenos if going that route ( or really whatever extra you would want to throw in) and then add the eggs. Stir the mixture and then pour into in an oiled skillet on medium heat.

Slowly let it cook, around 10 minutes, but BEWARE! The next step is the trickiest part. Pay attention to the sides. The object is to get the sides and bottom cooked enough that you will be able to flip it onto a plate. If you cook it too long, it will burn and stick to the pan. If you don’t cook it long enough and try to flip it before it’s ready, its a eggy mess (think omelete). The top surface will still be runny but it will all hold together with the bottom and the sides cooked enough.

FLIPPING: When you think it’s ready, and this takes some practice and maybe another person to help, put a large plate over the skillet and hold it firmly, then flip the skillet over to transfer it to the plate. Then, put the skillet back on stove and gently slide the tortilla from the plate into the skillet to cook the other side. Probably won’t take as long on this side. When done (golden to your liking), let cool and serve at room temperature with a bowl of gazpacho (see recipe below).

Gazpacho

5-6 ripened tomatoes, blanched, peeled, and chopped

2 cups of tomato juice

1 Bell Pepper (your color of choice)

1 medium red onion

1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded, and chopped

2 green onions, chopped

1 garlic clove, chopped

2 ½ tsp balsamic

1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped (optional- add more or less for desired spiciness)

1 tsp cumin

salt and pepper, to taste

1 lemon or lime juice, to taste

¼ cup olive oil

Cilantro or basil to top it off

Directions:

This recipe is great because you can really modify it to your liking without changing the gyst of what you’re doing. Basically, put all the ingredients in a large bowl. From there, you can decide how fine you want it pureed. I like mine a bit chunkier so I only puree maybe half of it in a food processor and then combine it all back together. Again, you can make it as fine or chunky as you like! Top with cilantro, basil, or herb of your choice. Chill and serve.

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Hats Off to the Bluegrass

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Mint Julep


I’ve been nostalgic about Kentucky this week. Partly because I’ve never been gone this long. But also it’s the way the mid-morning sun nestles on the leaves outside my window. I’ve seen the sun perch like this before on old trees back in Louisville. I’m reminded of brisk, silver cast walks to school and sweaty, sunny walks home, with the relief and excitement of a summer almost ripe. The sun has a particular way of shimmering just so at the dawn of May, and that can only mean one thing: it’s Derby week in the Bluegrass.

I can see my Dad at the kitchen table with his racing form, handicapping the horses. Today’s copy of The Courier Journal—filled with thoroughbred facts and hat histories– resting close by. The local news anchors chattering about specialty cuisines, fashion, and celebrity sightings. Like many, my Dad doesn’t attend the derby anymore, but you don’t have to actually go to feel the spirit of the city. It’s alive, and you can pick up on its pulse from anywhere. The season kicks off with a spectacular fireworks display, a hot air balloon race, and includes a marathon, a parade, and the Belle of Louisville swaying down the Ohio in the Great Steam Boat Race.

If ever there’s a time to feel the spirit of Louisville, it’s now. I bet even the weatherman has a pep in his step. The forecast for the first Saturday in May (because yes, I’ve checked) shows sunny and in the 70’s. This means a dry racetrack, oddly patterned sunburns, and copious amounts of mint juleps. I can see Louisville grinning all the way from Georgia. Cheers!

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Mint Julep

Ingredients

KY Bourbon

Simple Syrup (equal parts water and sugar, boiled ’til the sugar dissolves)

Ice

Fresh mint leaves

Coarse sugar (optional)

Directions:

Put the leaves in the bottom of the glass (or shaker) and pour an oz. of the simple syrup in. Muddle the leaves. If you don’t have a muddling tool, improvise. I used a spoon to mash the leaves down. Add in the ice, then Bourbon to taste. Mix. To jazz it up, put some sugar around the rim. 

Balance

IMG_7073When delivering lunches last week at Suntrust, a client that normally buys a sandwich ordered the grilled chicken salad instead.

“ Do you want your grilled chicken on spinach or field greens?” I asked. He wrinkled his forehead in thought.

“ I want to be healthy, but not too healthy…I’ll take the field greens,” he replied.

I chuckled, thinking that’s the spirit! Yes, spinach is packed with vitamins and minerals, but when the heart wants a lighter, crunchier, albeit less potent lettuce, listen to it. More importantly, I liked the essence of his decision making process—balance. Eating healthier doesn’t have to be a sacrificial ritual; you can have your salad and eat it, too.

Today I give you an easy salad recipe that’s healthy, but not too healthy.

Ham and Brie over Mixed Greens (Makes 4 servings)

3 cups mixed greens (or spinach/ lettuce of your choice)

2 large apples, chopped into ½ inch pieces

4-5 slices of deli ham, pieced into small squares

6 oz. brie, sliced into small squares

Fresh berries (optional)

Rosemary vinaigrette (see below)

Rosemary Vinaigrette

¼ Cup olive oil

1/3 cup honey

1 TBSP Fresh rosemary

ENJOY!

A Lighter Side

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Asian Slaw

Someone told me before I moved here that Atlanta is really just a big forest.  I thought he was exaggerating, but this past week,  I’ve witnessed the forest bloom into existence. I wake up to bird babbles and pollen soaked everything. Spring has taken over the city.  I’ve even spotted some forest dwellers on their back patios sharing food and drinks, a sure indicator of warmer weather, longer days, and lighter fare.  Last week, I made an Asian inspired slaw–a delightful companion to any barbecue or sandwich.

You can use bags of pre-chopped slaw, or you can buy a head each of red and green cabbage. I prefer the latter for a few reasons. 1. It just tastes better. 2. The road to freshly chopped cabbage is much more exciting. If you take this route, PLEASE remember to stop and marvel that a red cabbage cut in half looks like a Van Gogh painting, even more than his own cabbage still lifes.  Here is the recipe!

Asian Inspired Slaw

1 head Red cabbage

1 head Green cabbage

OR a bag of pre-chopped slaw (the boring shortcut)

2 carrots, chopped or shaved

3 large scallions, sliced

2 tablespoons cilantro (chopped as  garnish)

Dressing

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup lemon juice

1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

2  tablespoons brown sugar

2 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil

Salt and Pepper to taste

Optional ingredients:

1/2 red onion, chopped

1-2 tablespoons sesame seeds

1-2 teaspoons chopped Jalapeño, if you’re feeling hot

Directions:

Chop the vegetables and whisk the dressing separately, then unite in a big bowl. Garnish with cilantro.

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