The New Convivialist

Tag: vegetarian

A Better Potato Salad (mayonnaise-free)

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Both potato salad and egg salad, in their traditional senses, have always left me cold. Potato salad recalls a sweltering August afternoon, an enormous Tupperware container of gooey white mass, hanging out somewhere between the gas grill and the Dr. Pepper. And egg salad, even worse: grade school lunch. Smushed between two slices of white bread, mummified in plastic wrap, the sickening smell divulged all at once, as the thermo-bag in which it has been fermenting for five hours is unzipped. Read the rest of this entry »

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Pad Thai: Recipe for the Original Street Food

tofu pad thai recipe

Having never travelled to Thailand myself, what little experience I have had with Thai cuisine has been stir-fry dishes from your average, “westerned-down” restaurant. No doubt there are some excellent ones out there: one of my favorites from my New York years is Sripraphai, a renowned Thai eatery hidden away in Woodside, Queens. But in Germany my usual experience is that even among decent quality Asian restaurants, there is a frustrating lack of spice and surprising flavors, a dumbing-down to palates that are accustomed to blander foods. Though there are a couple of great Vietnamese restaurants and one or two Korean places that are passable, authentic Thai restaurants in Berlin remain elusive.

This is precisely why I had been trying to find an excuse to visit the Thai Food Market in Wilmersdorf ever since I heard whispers of it through various food-loving friends. Admittedly it’s no big secret, having appeared on countless ‘insider guides’ and blogs to Berlin food and culture. That said, it always felt a bit off my own worn and beaten weekend path of Mitte-Kreuzberg-Prenzlauer Berg’s ternion. The excuse came the last two weekends in a row: the unmistakable dread of winter setting in, what feels like just a few weeks too early. There’s something special about the fleeting days of autumn, when the only really pleasant times to be outside are the sunny hours of high noon. It becomes that impetus that pushes you out of laziness or routine, in an effort to gulp down a few last outdoor adventures before winter conquers indefinitely.

I was surprised by how low-key the Thai Food Market was. I knew it was outdoors, but had expected something a bit more established, similar to how food trucks operate in Los Angeles, perhaps. When I arrived in the small, but quite green Preußenpark, however, if I hadn’t known to look out for the group of Thai vendors, I might have mistaken the ‘market’ for a series of private picnics. Because basically it is just that: the Thai ladies actually began selling their savory and sweet dishes as a result of interest in homespun picnics that would take place with their friends and family every weekend in Preußenpark. Each ‘stand’ is merely a series of colorful tarps, umbrellas, tupperware, hot plates and pots spread out to a varying degree, with two or three seated ladies gently hawking their wares to passer-bys. Which brings me to my nagging question of how these vendors actually slip by the health regulators!? Don’t get me wrong, I found the operations all to be exceedingly sanitary and overall clean-looking. Kind of like being in your grandmother’s house. If your grandmother had a habit of schlepping her entire kitchen to the park every weekend and cooking for you cross-legged on the ground. Regardless, I would guess that half of the restaurant kitchens or cafes in Berlin are not nearly up to snuff with the cleanliness standards of these women cooking on tarps spread out over the grass.

thai market berlin

My favorite stand was that of an older Thai lady, tiny and weather-worn, with a sizable line in front of her impressive spread. Sitting on her tarp with socked feet, surrounded by tubs and containers of fresh ingredients and bottles of sauces, it became apparent that she was making something to order. This was in contrast to most of the vendors who tend to have large pots of stir-fry already made or fried dumplings churning consistently out of a magical cast iron cooker powered by god-knows-what. The Little Thai Lady didn’t need to hawk. She was queen of her kingdom, taking in orders, single pan in hand, calm and focused, despite the ever-growing line in front of her. She was making Pad Thai, with either chicken or tofu, fresh per single order.

I had the opportunity to watch her in action during the course of a few rounds, as I waited to order my own dish. It was astonishing to observe how easily the Pad Thai came together when all the ingredients were ready and prepared, sitting in tubs waiting to be tossed in. A good dose of oil into the frying pan, and crack! a whole large egg straight on top. Let it sit, no need to be fussy. Pivot over to the enormous vat of cooked rice noodles, grab a handful or two on a plastic plate, reserve for later. Pivot back to hot plate. Break up the egg slightly, not quite a scramble. Grab handful of bean sprouts, another of green onions. Throw ‘em in. Noodles, yes, toss those in now too. Squirt, squirt: lots of lime juice. Now some tofu or chicken, pieces pre-cooked. To the left is a large vat of thick, brown sauce- pour two ladles over the noodles. Stir again, more furiously this time. Maybe another squirt of lime. Stir stir stir. Scrape out onto plastic plate. Top with more green onions, plus a slice of fresh lime and some cilantro leaves. Finally a couple good spoonfuls of finely ground peanut. Done. Repeat. And, mind you, all while never leaving a seated position.

Since Pad Thai is a classic street food in Thailand, I think the unfussy way Little Thai Lady cooks her version is probably pretty close to authentic. It was certainly delicious, with the perfect ratio of savor to sweet, plus a good dose of sour from the plentiful lime juice. And at five euros for a heaping plate, you can’t really go wrong. As we happily ate on the grass behind her ‘kitchen’, we continued to watch her frying away, guessing at how much profit she makes in a day. Probably not much, we gathered. Even with a steady stream of patrons, her preparation time must be significant. Although she had two able-bodied young grandsons on the side, to whom she would occasionally beckon for reserve green onions, they for the most part just lounged on a blanket, playing with their space phones.

Little Thai Lady was a true force. She was out there cooking in the elements – sure, to make a living – but also, I think, out of passion for her food and her culture. She does what she does well, and with care. What I saw was not a woman at work but an act of generosity, of bringing real Thai spice to some unsuspecting Berliners.

thai food market berlin wilmersdorf

After observation, I attempted to re-create Little Thai Lady’s tofu Pad Thai. It is my own humble recipe, but do give it a try. Feedback welcome!

 

Pad Thai with Tofu

For two large servings

-Pad thai rice noodles (Banh Pho)

-3 Tbsp. neutral oil

-1 package firm tofu

-1 cup roasted peanuts, crushed

-2 eggs

-2 small shallots

-2 big handfuls of bean sprouts

-1 bunch of Chinese chives, cut into 2-inch lengths

-Juice from 1-2 limes, plus extra wedges for garnish

-Fresh cilantro leaves

For Sauce:

-1 Tbsp tamarind paste

-1 1/2 tsp. fish sauce

-1 Tbsp. soy sauce

-3 tsp. brown sugar

-1 tsp. rice vinegar

-1-2 Tbsp Sriracha sauce (to taste)

-2 Tbsp. water

-1/2 tsp. chili powder (to taste)

1. Prepare tofu: I like to slice the block into three pieces, widthwise, and squeeze out water by leaving for 20 minutes or so between layers of paper towels, a plate on top to weigh it down. Remove paper towels and dice into bite-size pieces. Heat non-stick pan or wok to medium. Thinly slice one shallot and fry in a Tbsp. of neutral oil. When soft, add another Tbsp of oil and the tofu pieces and fry until golden. When about half-way cooked, you can sprinkle in some soy sauce if you want an extra flavor kick. Set aside over paper towels to drain oil.

2. Prepare sauce: in a small saucepan on very low heat, combine all ingredients and whisk together. Taste and adjust spice as desired. Remove from heat and let cool- it will become thicker as it cools.

3. Cook noodles according to package directions, immediately rinsing with cold water. Drain and cool in a colander.

4. Chop Chinese chives and slice the thicker white part in half lengthwise. Separate the very green ends from the lighter green/white parts. You will use these as garnish later. Wash bean sprouts and set aside. Squeeze the juice from 1-2 limes and set aside in a small bowl.

5. Now you are ready to put together the stir-fry. Depending on the size of your frying pan, you will need to decide whether to cook one serving at a time or two at once. While Little Thai Lady first cracked the egg into the oiled pan, I chose to pre-cook first a sliced shallot in the remaining 1 Tbsp of oil, and then the Chinese chives and sprouts.

6. After a minute or two, push vegetables to one side of the pan and crack the egg(s) into the other. Let sit for about 30 seconds and then break up with a spatula or wooden fork, incorporating into the vegetables. Add tofu, one spoonful of the Pad Thai sauce, and stir again. Grab rice noodles, by the handful, and toss into the pan. Add lime juice and stir together a little bit. Pour in Pad Thai sauce and stir well with spatula and wooden fork, until everything is incorporated.

7. Turn Pad Thai out onto plate(s). Top with reserved green parts of Chinese chives, a few cilantro leaves and a wedge of lime. Spoon two heaping tablespoons of crushed peanuts over top. Serve with fork and spoon.

tofu pad thai recipe

 

 

thai lady in wilmersdorf food market

convivialist food blog

tofu pad thai

Seasonal Salsa – A Recipe from Maine and… France?

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Everyone was talking about my aunt Nancy’s strawberry salsa when I was home visiting Maine a couple weeks ago. Strawberries are perfectly in season there now, and though I would have preferred being in Maine a month later for blueberry picking, I was not in any position to turn down these perfectly-ripened berries. The strawberry is never something I had considered for a savory dish. When freshly picked, I think they’re perfect just the way they are and don’t need much fluffing and fussing to make delicious. But strawberry salsa, with tortilla chips. Hmmm, well, why not? Come to think of it, strawberries and fresh tomatoes can have a similar texture, and when a tomato is good, it is in fact also quite sweet. So, matched with something more vegetal and sharp, it might just be a golden summer treat. And it was. Everything I had hoped for. My aunt and sisters matched the salsa with these cinnamon chips, which made the snack more dessert-like, but I found it more satisfying with normal tortilla chips.

When I saw the recipe, I was surprised (confused?) to see a half up of “Catalina Dressing” on the list of ingredients. What in god’s name is Catalina Dressing, I thought. Is that like, a bottle of Thousand Islands or Creamy Ranch, or something equally turn-offish? Where does the name Catalina come from? It sounded vaguely Italian to me. Or from Catalina Island in Southern California? Yes, that must be it.

Like me, you might be suspicious of recipes that include a bottle or a can or a jar of something or other from the salad dressing aisle of the grocery store. “Just add two cans of Campbell’s mushroom soup and bake at 350°- it’s delicious,” you can practically hear a one of the Stepford Wives declare. But the strawberry salsa tasted so perfect and naturally sweet, that I couldn’t believe this “secret ingredient.”

A quick google search yielded a photo of a reddish colored Kraft bottle with the subtitle “Anything Dressing”. Ok, great, but what IS it? I urge you to check out www.kraftfoodservice.com and take a peek under their portfolio of dressings. Yes, portfolio, as if they were works of art and not chemical compounds. Kraft Catalina Dressing is, and I quote: Red French dressing characterized by a sweet, tomato flavor and tomato-red color. Basically, upon researching a bit further, I learned it is a kind of ketchup and mustard salad dressing with a bit of chili sauce. This is apparently what American food giant Kraft considers to be French.

The original salsa I tasted in Maine was exceedingly fresh and, I admit, had no taste of anything processed or Kraft-like. So, if you have access to the above-mentioned in your local supermarket, do go ahead and give it a try, for convenience’s sake. A simulation of Catalina Dressing using fresh ingredients is, however, quite easy and probably cheaper. It should stay fresh in the refrigerator for a few days, so it can be a great way to process strawberries that you may have over-picked. From my experience, though, with a group of eight people on a hot summer day, it won’t stay around for more than a half hour.

(photo above: adorable wooden strawberry – flea market find; odd thing found inside a bell pepper; fresh strawberry)

 

recipe strawberry salsa

 

Recipe – Strawberry Salsa

Yield:  approx. 3 cups

2 l/2 cups or about 500 grams finely chopped fresh strawberries

1 medium sized chopped green or yellow bell pepper

2 Tbsp. chopped green onions

2 Tbsp. minced fresh parsley

1/3 cup “Catalina salad dressing”, homemade version uses the following:

-1 small/medium tomato, halved and seeded

-1/4 cup vegetable oil

-2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

-1 tsp. grainy mustard

-1 1/2 tsp. granulated sugar

-a few dashes of hot sauce or to taste

-salt and pepper

Tortilla chips

1. In a bowl, combine the strawberries, green pepper, onions and parsley.

2. To make the salad dressing, place the tomato pieces in a food processor or blender and process with the oil, vinegar, mustard, sugar and hot sauce. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.

3. Stir the salad dressing into the strawberry mixture.

4. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.

5. Serve with tortilla chips and lemonade.

 

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White Asparagus or Weisser Spargel: A Recipe for Spring

recipe white asparagus spargel

Spargelzeit has descended on Germany, during which a weekend without eating the ‘white gold’ is not only impossible but practically a sin. If you are a German reader, you could probably just skip this post altogether and carry on just the way you have been with your white asparagus. But to a non-German audience, for whom this springtime delicacy is not so ubiquitous, the following might be of interest.

Dear friends Martin, Yvonne and their little one-year old Oskar were visiting over the weekend from New York. Since they both originally come from the areas surrounding Berlin, known as some of the prime Spargel-producing regions in the world, I thought, perfect– they can show me how it’s done. I should have also brought them along for the shopping, since as I learned, not all Spargel is treated alike. Best to look out for when buying white asparagus is that all pieces are approximately the same size and that they are very straight and very white. Also important is that the cuts are moist and appear fresh. If you can, before buying asparagus, squeeze the bottom to see if droplets of water come out from the cut bottom end. If they do, chances are the spears are quite fresh and will taste better. In the worst-case scenario, your stalks of asparagus will be ‘woody’ when cooked, meaning that they are fibrous and too tough to eat. Choosing Spargel directly from your region is always ideal, as it will result in the freshest specimens. This is why it rarely, if ever, pops up in North America.

Martin claims his grandfather actually had a small crop of white asparagus when he was a child, and he learned how to harvest it himself. But after the wall fell and the family got cable television, the crop was left unattended and perished. Too bad. Anyway, Martin remembered a thing or two about how white asparagus was grown– under small mounds of earth, never seeing the sun, to which it owes its albino coloring. Apparently the best Spargel in Germany comes from Beelitz, a small town not far from Berlin. Here, there is even a Spargel Queen named every year. (2013 Spargelkönigen is Miss Michaela Kranepuhl, if you were wondering. Note the color of her light golden locks is EXACTLY the color a good piece of cooked Spargel should be).

To say that the way to cook white asparagus is to boil it is technically correct, but please be gentle. For the best results, the cooking water should be salted and lightly sugared, brought to a boil but kept at a simmer as the asparagus stalks cook. The cooking time will vary greatly depending on how thick the stalks are, so you need to keep an eye on them to be sure they do not turn to mush.

There are myriad sauces and pairings that you can try with white asparagus, depending on which region in Germany you look to for inspiration. Quite classic is hollandaise sauce, but equally popular is serving the cooked asparagus with simple peeled potatoes and melted butter, perhaps with a sprinkling of parsley. Schinken, or ham, also fits well. Basically anything transforming what is essentially a superfood, packed with nutrients and detoxifying agents, into a fatty delight, will work. Our two consecutive failed attempts at hollandaise sauce (we almost had it!) caused us to turn to Plan B: melted butter with lemon, which to be honest I prefer anyway.

 

Recipe: White Asparagus with New Potatoes and Lemon Butter

Serves 4

 

1 kilo white asparagus

1 kilo new potatoes

200 grams butter

juice from one lemon

chopped parsley or other green herbs

salt

sugar

 

1. Rinse asparagus. Trim about 1 inch (2-3 cm) from the tough ends of the spears using a sharp knife. Peel about 2/3 of each spear below the floret using a vegetable peeler, being careful not to break the asparagus. At this point, if you like, you can bind the asparagus in bundles with cooking twine in order to more easily lower them in and out of the water and not to break the tops.

2. Prepare a large pot of water with about 2 tsp of salt per liter and one tsp of sugar. Bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer and drop in either the bundles of asparagus, or gather all at once in your hands and drop at once into the water, heads upright

3. Cook at a simmer until the asparagus can be poked through with a knife. This can take anywhere from 9 – 30 minutes depending on how thick they are. When cooked through, remove from water carefully and dry. (As you pull them out, you can place them on a paper towel, for example.)

4. Meanwhile, prepare potatoes: Rinse any dirt off the new potatoes’ skins and put them in a large pot. Cover new potatoes with cool water and bring everything to a boil. Add a good amount of salt and cook, gently boiling, until the potatoes are fully tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Drain the potatoes, shaking off as much water as possible. Peel as soon as they are cool enough. Transfer to a serving dish.

5. Melt butter in a heavy sauce pan (or make brown butter, if you want to be fancier). Remove from heat.

6. Gently toss potatoes with half of the melted butter to coat and sprinkle with chopped parsley or other green herbs, if you like.

7. Whisk the lemon juice in with the remaining butter. Add a tsp of salt, or to taste, stir and then pour evenly over the asparagus spears.

8. Serve a few spears and a few potatoes on each plate and eat with some Spargel-crazed German friends.

9. Go to the bathroom in an hour or two and know that you have been detoxified.

 

 

Frijoles Negros – Black Bean Soup

I regret to say this is not a visiting kitchen post. None of my Central American acquaintances have yet to step up and offer to divulge Grandma’s standby recipe for frijoles negros. Maybe that’s a sign that I need to simply ask, but now as the Autumn weather has officially descended on northern Europe, I find it just about time for a hearty soup, authentic or not. And mine, if I may say, is buenísima.

It wasn’t always so. I can remember clearly my first foray into cooking with dried black beans. I couldn’t have been more than 19 and, as I was prone to do as a teenager, got a strange fit of fancy to try something utterly new and foreign in the kitchen. More often than not when this would happen, I would wander blindly over to the stove and simply do what I thought was appropriate. Sometimes it worked. Usually it did not. Growing up, my family was not a bean-loving one, so I decided it was high time to take it upon myself to try to imitate a silky and savory black stew that I had no doubt eaten in some restaurant and had thought, how hard could that be? I recalled hearing somewhere that dried black beans took an incredibly long time to cook, so I thought… ok, like 45 minutes or so, boiled with salt. That should do it. That night I choked down a bowl of little rocks, thinking all the while that there must be something wrong with the bag of Goya beans I bought. Too old, yes that’s it.

Supposedly as we age, we learn that the best things in life require time and patience. This little tale of black beans is a prime example. Instant gratification is not something one encounters when presented with a bag of dried black beans. It certainly requires some waiting around and a bit of effort, but if you embrace this – maybe pretend you are a grandma preparing a huge pot for the family to last the entire week – the fruits of your labor can be splendid.

But even if you are a young person whose busy life does not necessarily allow for Mexican Grandma-like cooking schedules, making frijoles negros from scratch is not SO unrealistic. Just soak the beans before you go to bed to make them for lunch the next day, or in the morning before running out the door if you would rather a black bean soup for dinner. Sure, the cooking time itself is not short either, but when left with a colossal pot of black beans that will yield enough for a dinner party plus leftovers, or give a couple something hearty to eat for a whole week, it’s actually not so bad. Plus, it’s not just about the soup! The beans become thicker and the flavors continue to develop after a day in the refrigerator. Try them simply with white rice or maybe with toast, a slice of avocado and a soft fried egg on top for a quick interpretation of huevos rancheros.

 

Recipe – Black Bean Soup – Frijoles Negros

*note that this is a vegetarian black bean soup, but you can also add some chopped bacon for an extra kick of salty flavor.

 

500 grams black beans

1 small white onion, chopped

1 small red onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, crushed

1 small carrot

1 red bell pepper

1 serrano pepper, finely chopped

2 tsp toasted and ground cumin

3 TBSP olive oil

a few whole cloves

2 pinches sugar

sprinkling of red wine vinegar

sprinkling of soy sauce

juice from 1 lime

cilantro (fresh coriander)

salt

pepper

1. Soak black beans for about 12 hours or overnight in plenty of water (they will get larger.

2.  Add 1 TBSP olive oil, the white onion, 2 cloves crushed garlic and a few whole cloves to beans, and bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium and simmer for 1 hour, checking regularly and skimming the foam that forms on top.

3. Meanwhile, take some cumin seeds and toast them in a heavy skillet over low heat. Grind coarsely either with a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle.

4. Make the sofrito: warm remaining 2 TBSP olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the red onion, carrot, remaining 1 clove of garlic (chopped), Serrano pepper and bell pepper, and sauté for about 5 minutes until soft. Add a sprinkling of red wine vinegar, ground cumin, black pepper and salt, and cook for 2 minutes more.

5. Add the sofrito to beans. Stir in a few splashes of red wine vinegar, soy sauce (yes, this is what I mean when I say it is not authentic) and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer and cook, covered, for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours, stirring frequently, until slightly thickened and cooked through. Add sugar, more salt (black beans take a lot of salt), and more vinegar to taste.

6. As you are stirring, crush some of the beans into the bottom of pot or, with a hand blender, partially blend the soup to a consistency you like. Remove from heat and stir in juice from one lime. Add salt and pepper to taste.

7. Serve in a bowl with a spoon of sour cream on top and some finely chopped cilantro (fresh coriander) to brighten the taste.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summer Salad – Everything That’s Good

As August’s late summer tomatoes turn to September’s very late summer figs, I resist the urge to somersault into Autumn quite yet. Thus I present you with a quintessentially summer salad, the kind that doesn’t need any embellishment or flourish of meat, nuts or cheese. Not that these aren’t lovely things to add to a salad. But when you have a balcony full of cherry tomatoes, a farmer’s market and summer’s bounty still within reach, take advantage and keep it vegetal. A light slick of a lemon Dijon dressing and maybe a baguette is all that’s needed in addition. Though a bit of sun can help– to hold on to that innocent denial of summer’s impermanence.

 

Recipe: Seasonal Summer Salad with Lemon Dijon Dressing

– a large bunch of fresh micro-greens, ideally purslane (which is actually considered a “weed”, but has gained popularity in the US as an extremely nutrient-packed salad green, however it is fairly common in Europe in the Summer)

– one large carrot, sliced diagonally

– one yellow or orange pepper

– one avocado

– ¼ kilo cherry or grape tomatoes

– 2-3 scallions, thinly sliced

– a few Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped (optional)

 

for the dressing

– one very small clove of garlic, chopped finely

– ¼ cup good quality olive oil

-1 tsp Dijon mustard

– ¼ tsp sugar

– juice from ½ lemon

– salt and freshly ground pepper

 

1. Wash purslane and remove the most hardy parts of the stems. Tear coarsly and set aside.

2. Wash, trim, peel and/or chop carrot, pepper, avocado and tomatoes into bite-size pieces and place into a large bowl. Add the finely sliced scallions (and olives, if desired).

3. Make dressing: chop the garlic very finely and add a pinch of salt. With the side of the knife, rub the salt into the garlic to create a paste. Put into a small glass or jar. Add the olive oil, Dijon mustard, sugar and lemon juice and whisk together to emulsify. Add salt and pepper to taste.

4. Add purslane over the other vegetables and pour salad dressing over the top. Gently toss together to evenly mix the salad and coat with dressing.

5. Serve with a baguette and some extra olive oil. In the sunshine.

 

 

 

 

 

Tortilla Española with a Twist

I am crazy for Spanish Tortilla. Really, it is one of the most satisfying dishes I can think of, and what’s more, it’s appropriate for any time of the day or season of the year. Now, in Spring or Summer I would never even think about varying the traditional potato, onion and egg mixture, but when Fall rolls around, and those fresh root vegetables are ubiquitous, I inevitably substitute sweet potatoes in nearly every recipe that would normally call for regular potatoes. I’ve been doing it with tortilla española for years, and folks, if I can brag, I honestly feel that I have struck gold with this one. The sweetness of the potatoes beautifully counteracts the intense savor and salt of the olive oil-drenched onions and eggs.

Last week, I cooked up a big meal with friends in order to test some recipes for an aperitivo night we will host later this month. There were five of us, three Germans, one Italian and me as the American contingent, each with different recipes and ideas, but all with big appetites and curiosity for what the others had in mind. We chopped, we bickered, we searched for lemons, we bickered some more. But at the end of a frantic hour and a half, we were left with an incongruous, though lovely mélange of dishes, including a roasted beet salad, meatballs with caper sauce, zucchini torta salata, a pumpkin “bomb” fondue, and sweet potato tortilla española. I’m not sure if we succeeded 100% with our recipe “tests” but as five cooks in the kitchen, we proved that old proverb wrong; we definitely did not spoil the broth.

Recipe

½ cup plus 1 tablespoon of olive oil

3 medium or 2 very large sweet potatoes, peeled, halved lengthwise and sliced into ¼-inch pieces

2 medium yellow onions, chopped

8 large eggs

1 tablespoon coarse salt

salt and pepper to taste

Preparation

Heat olive oil in a 10-inch (or thereabouts) nonstick skillet with straight sides over medium low heat and add onions. Cook onions until partially softened, about 4 minutes, then add sweet potatoes and half of the salt. (Here, if you see that the potatoes need more oil, go ahead and add it- this is no time to be stingy…) Cover and cook vegetables on medium to medium-low heat until tender, up to 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, beat 8 eggs in a large bowl and add the rest of the salt, plus black pepper to taste. Remove vegetables from skillet and allow to sit in a bowl or plate for a couple of minutes. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil into the now empty skillet, coating the bottom. Carefully add the vegetables in to the beaten eggs and stir gently. Pour mixture back into the skillet and press potatoes down slightly so that they are flush with the liquid. Cover and cook over low heat for 12-15 minutes. When it appears that the mixture has set, run a spatula along the edges of the skillet to loosen the tortilla. You can also try to shake the skillet a bit. The key is just to make sure the tortilla is not sticking to the bottom or sides of the skillet.

Now for the fun part. Place a large flat plate or platter over the top of the skillet and invert, flipping the tortilla over and out of the skillet. Now slide the inverted tortilla back into the skillet and continue to cook over low heat, uncovered for another 8-10 minutes. When finished and set, slide the tortilla onto a flat serving plate. Serve immediately hot or at room temperature.

*Note: Tortilla española is also wonderful the next day, cold or re-heated. Often in Spain it is even eaten as leftovers in a sandwich. Just slice a fresh, crispy baguette lengthwise and place slices of tortilla inside. Wow, it really doesn’t get much better than that.

tortilla española with sweet potatoes

 

a dinner for five, thrown together with delicious results