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Recipe: Tortilla Espanola

7 Mar

Tortilla Espanola is a Spanish tapa (bar snack). It’s made with potatoes, onion, olive oil, and egg and is CRAZY delicious. It’s relatively easy to cook, but the execution can be tricky. You see, you cook the whole mess in a frying pan and then you have to finagle it out by flipping it onto a plate. I think I’ve FINALLY mastered the technique but I have definitely destroyed a few in my day. But, as Julia Child said, if you’re alone in the kitchen, WHO’S GOING TO KNOW? No one, that’s who. So it rips in half. You’re cutting that bitch into slices anyway. Nom.

6-7 medium sized potatoes

5-6 eggs

1 medium-large onion

Lots of olive oil

salt and pepper

Cut the potato and the onion in half lengthwise and then slice thinly. The slices will be in half-moon shapes.

Mix the potatoes and onion together in a bowl and salt liberally. Heat olive oil in a frying pan and add the onions and potatoes. You want enough olive oil to barely cover the veggies-maybe 1/2 a cup? Fry the vegetables until the potatoes are tender, but make sure they don’t burn. You’ll know they are ready when you can break a potato in half with a spatula.

Crack the eggs into a large bowl and whisk them together. Pour the potatoes and onions into the egg and mix. Add a tablespoon more oil to the frying pan and then pour the potato-onion-egg mix into it and spread it evenly around.

Allow to cook until the edges of the egg are slightly browned. The egg will still be runny, but the bottom will be cooked.

Now you can do one of two things to cook the other side. If you have a frying pan that is oven safe, turn the oven to 350 and cook the tortilla for 10 minutes to set the top. You still have to brown the top, though, so you’re going to need to flip the tortilla.

Grab a large plate and put it on top of the frying pan. Put your hand firmly on the plate and quickly flip the pan over so that the tortilla ends up on the plate. Put the frying pan back on the stove with a little more olive oil and allow to heat for a few seconds, then slip the tortilla back into the frying pan and brown for 2-3 minutes.

If you don’t have an oven safe frying pan, you’re going to have to flip the tortilla without the time in the oven first. This will work it just might be a smidge bit more messy. It’s ok though. It will be delicious either way!

When you’ve browned the other side, slip the tortilla onto a plate and cut into wedges.

Serve.

Yum yum yum.

❤ stef

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How To: Creme Fraiche.

30 May

Alrighty. Creme fraiche. So it turns out creme fraiche is ridiculously easy to make. All you need is some heavy cream, culture, and a warm-ish windowsill. Emphasis on the warm-ish windowsill. I made this stuff in early May and Boston was still dealing with some shitty weather, so although I left my jar out for almost two and a half days the creme fraiche did not thicken correctly. I ended up sticking it in the fridge and then leaving it out for again for about an hour when the sun finally showed up, and it thickened almost immediately. Bacteria yay?

It is very fun to make. Very. It doesn’t involve much active process, but you feel triumphant anyway. Like an ass-kicking pioneer woman who is about to blow your bloody MIND.

1 container heavy cream

1 TB buttermilk or 2 TB yogurt – I used yogurt

jar

This picture makes me believe that the cream is ready to conquer the WORLD.

So. Pour all of your cream into a jar and add the buttermilk or yogurt. I used 2TB of greek yogurt. I had read that the cultures in yogurt aren’t as “strong” as the ones in buttermilk so I doubled the recommended amount. The yogurt you use will impart a slight flavor to your finished creme fraiche. For example, I used a tart greek yogurt and my creme fraiche was likewise slightly tart.

Stir in the yogurt/buttermilk and leave it (preferably uncovered, unless you’re worried about bugs) at room temperature for 24-48 hours. Keep in mind that it will continue to thicken slightly once you move it to the fridge.

I left it out longer (2.5 days).  On a warm day I would probably leave it for 12 and then check on it to ensure that it is thickening correctly, but you likely won’t need to leave it out for so long. Mine, even after 2.5 days, was initially very thin. I then left it out in the sun for maybe an hour and it thickened right up.

This is how it looked after 2.5 days.

As you can see, it wasn’t coagulating correctly. It still tasted good, it just didn’t quite have the texture I was after. If you end up with runny creme fraiche, remember that you can always whip it like whipped cream if you wish. I was actually planning on doing that until the sun finally showed up.

You can use the finished product in so many ways, just be sure to use it up in a week-ish. (I’m a little lax with expiration dates…I basically use something until it starts to smell.) (TMI?) Things I made:

Scrambled eggs

Pancakes

Creme fraiche/nutella strawberry dipping sauce (you just swirl the two together).

Enjoy!

❤ stef

How-To: Hard Boiled Eggs

13 Mar

Oh, hard boiled egg. You are a mysterious beast.

I never know when you’ve become successfully hard-boiled. It’s not like I can crack you open to check. Do you like to hide your secrets from me, egg? Hm?

That’s not very neighborly.

Fortunately, I have found a way to DEFEAT you! Muahaha!

The secret lies in bringing the water to a boil then turning off the heat and allowing you to slowly cook in the heated water.

Yummy yum yum.

You can be used in all manner of ways, hard boiled egg. I can turn you into deviled eggs, or egg salad, in meatloaf, plain with salt and pepper, as ramen garnish, with toast for breakfast…the list goes on.

Today I think I’ll turn you into egg salad.

Hooray egg salad!

Hard Boiled Egg/Egg Salad

Cover your eggs with cold water. Bring the water to a boil, then shut off the heat and cover. Let sit for 15 minutes. Rinse with cold water and peel off the shells. You may need to let them sit longer if your eggs are huge or you are hard boiling a very large quantity, but I always let them sit for 15 minutes and they always turn out great.

Egg Salad

Roughly chop up your eggs. Add about 1TB mayo, 1 tsp mustard, 1TB chopped pickle, 1/2-1 tsp assorted herbs (I like dill and thyme), sprinkle of paprika, salt and pepper, teensy bit of pickle or lemon juice, maybe some capers.

Mash about until it looks good. Taste and add salt if you think it needs. I like my egg salad with tomato if I have it, but I didn’t. I ate it with cabbage and some havarti cheese. However you eat it, spread on some bread or crackers and enjoy!

 

❤ stef

Recipe: Pepper Cheese Ball

21 Nov

I am a vair vair bad food blogger. Keeping up with posting really shouldn’t be as difficult as I make it. I cook EVERY day. Yesterday I made some nom-tastic eggplant parm, without a recipe (which I’m still sort of amazed I can do). Today I’ll probably make some butternut squash soup. I should take pictures, but I probably won’t start until it’s dark and then the pics will be crap (I prefer to use natural light) and I’ll be annoyed. To be perfectly honest, I’m probably only getting around to posting today because I have a paper due tomorrow and I am diligently procrastinating. La de da!

A few years ago my friend Nisi got me a copy of I Like You by Amy Sedaris. It’s one of the most perfect gifts I’ve ever been given. I heart Amy Sedaris, and I heart cooking, and I heart weird humor. Perfecto. There are many different recipes in this book and lots of different ideas for party themes and for party food. (Not to mention a recipe contributed by Stephen Colbert! Squee!) One of the items that is usually always included in a party menu is a cheese ball. First reading the book, I’d never seen a homemade cheese ball before. It was one of those weird retro items I’d only seen strangely prepackaged and sad looking, like fruitcake, and it had never occurred to me that a cheese ball could actually be good. You probably know why. You’ve seen the shrink wrapped monstrosities sold in supermarket deli departments and lurking in holiday gift baskets.

I decided to try making one for a New Year’s Eve party at a friend’s house, and the lucky cheese ball was Cluster Haven’s Pepper Mill Cheese Ball, chosen because of a friend’s nut allergy. I didn’t want him to be denied the cheese-y delicious. All went exceptionally well, and hey, turns out cheese balls are AMAZING. Since then (NYE 2006) I’ve made the same cheese ball for almost every party I’m invited to. Once I bring it that first time, people request it! Basically, you want to make this cheese ball. It makes you popular and everyone wants you at their parties. In fact, I am doing myself a great disservice by giving you the recipe at all, but it’s a risk I’m willing to take. Because I Like You.

Cluster Haven’s Pepper Mill Cheese Ball

1 stick of butter

1 8 oz package of cream cheese

1.5 C grated cheddar cheese (though really, you could use anything)

2 T grated onion (I usually use 1 tsp onion powder and 1/2 tsp garlic powder)

2 T coarsely ground pepper

The pics in this post are of a cheese ball I made for a Halloween party, so I tried to make it scary. He’s supposed to be some sort of Cthulhu/Octopus hybrid. Mostly he just looks cute. If you want to give you cheese ball a face like I did here, you need some pimiento olives and some carrot shavings.

Make sure your butter and cream cheese are at room temperature, or you’re going to hate your life.

Combine the butter and cream cheese.

Add the grated cheese and the onion (and garlic, if using). Mix thoroughly.

Pop the whole mess back into the fridge to firm up a bit, maybe 20-30 minutes, then take it out and form into a ball. The original recipe says to roll it in the pepper, but that’s never worked exceptionally well for me because I always end up with one side coated in pepper and the other bare. I’ve started just using my regular pepper mill and cracking pepper on one side of the ball, turning, cracking some more, until the whole thing is coated. It really helps if you have someone help you with this, but I live alone and I usually manage so I have faith in you.

Awwww!

If you want to give your cheese ball a face, use two whole pimiento olives for eyes (I used a teeny knife to make two hollows before I inserted the olives) and three olives for the tentacle things. Cut three olives in half and use three halves for each side of the cheese ball. Then, use carrot shavings for the nose and mouth.

I think he looks hilarious in the fridge.

Serve at room temperature with crackers.

❤ stef

How To: Pumpkin Puree

4 Oct

Alright ladies and gents. It’s that time of year again, the time when most Americans begin to experience uncomfortably desperate pumpkin cravings. You know who you are. You’re the one in the corner mainlining pumpkin spice lattes. Don’t try to hide! YOU’VE BEEN SPOTTED.

Ahem.

Sugar pie pumpkins and all manner of squash are currently on sale at Whole Foods for 99 cents a pound, which is what made me want to buy one. That and “sugar pie” pumpkin is such a cute name. Don’t you want to go buy one now? Sure you do. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

I’ve never actually been a fan of pumpkin pie (one of the only pumpkin incarnations I am aware of, I’ll admit) and I’ve recently decided that this might be because my grandma uses canned pumpkin. I know, I know, apparently there are really awesome and good quality canned pumpkin products out there, but this is just my THEORY. I really want to like pumpkin pie. I feel like I might be missing out on something.  In any case, making your own puree is really easy, and if you get the pumpkin on sale it is SO CHEAP. My pumpkin cost me about $1.50. You’re welcome.

The first step is to grab your pumpkin. Hello pumpkin! He is a sugar pie pumpkin, one of the smaller, sweeter varieties best for dessert making, and he weighs approximately 1.5 pounds. Aww.

Now, wash him. Cut off his stem and then cut him into quarters. This is his better half.

Use a spoon to scoop out all of his insides-seeds and stringy pulpy bits. Put it all aside because you can use the seeds for roasting, or making pumpkin brittle.

Put the quarters on a baking sheet, cover with foil, and roast in a 400˚ oven for 35-40 minutes.

My pumpkin has battle scars.

When it’s done, the pumpkin should be soft enough for you to scrape the shell off with a spoon. I left mine for 35 minutes and it was perfect.

Allow the pumpkin to cool for 10-20 minutes, then take a spoon and scrape the shell off.

Using some sort of mixing or mashing device, puree your pumpkin! I used my very favorite immersion blender that I use for everything. You might prefer a cuisinart, or a fork. I just don’t know.

The puree will keep for a few days in the fridge. I am still trying to decide what to so with mine. Right now, I’m thinking either pumpkin cheesecake or pumpkin pavlovas. I’ll decide in the next few days and post the results next Monday. In the meantime, happy pumpkin making!

❤ stef

Recipe: Fiddleheads, Fiddleheads (Pasta…)

6 Jun

Oh, the fiddlehead. What a strange little veggie. I had literally never seen them until a few weeks ago when I walked into Whole Foods and they were situated right in front of the produce section. I thought they were very cool looking, and the sign said that they tasted like asparagus. Plus, they were LOCAL! Hooray! I bought about 1/2lb ish.

I read a few articles about how best to prepare and cook them. I don’t usually have to do this but these little buggers are baffling. Plus the Whole Foods sign had warned about them being slightly poisonous if eaten raw, and I didn’t want to take any chances.

At least one of the articles said to trim the outer stem up to the coil, and then to cook them it was recommended that you steam them first, then stir fry in butter or olive oil and herbs, garlic, what have you.

Trim. If your fiddleheads have long handle-like stems, cut them to just where they begin to tightly coil. Discard the stems.

Rinse the coils with some water, because they can have little particle bits caught in them.

Steam them using a veggie steamer if you have one. If you don’t, that’s ok. You can just put them in a frying pan with a very little bit of water-let the water boil then put in the fiddleheads and cover with a lid. If you’re using a veggie steamer, fill a pot with an inch or two of water, put your fiddleheads in the steamer basket, put the steamer basket in the pot and set the pot at medium-high and cover.

Veggie steamer! So Sci-fi.

I steamed them for about 10-12 minutes, and I think that was too long. I would go for 7.

I made them into pasta, and it was quite delicious. If you want to go this route, have some water boiling for pasta. Boil whatever kind of pasta you like according to the package directions, but shave 2-3 minutes off of the cooking time.

When the fiddleheads are done steaming, put them in a big frying pan with about 2 TB olive oil, 1-2 tsp garlic, some parsley, about 1tsp lemon, and salt to taste. Stir fry them around for a minute or so, then add the cooked pasta and 1C chicken broth (or veggie broth if you want to keep it vegetarian-friendly). Keep it on medium-high heat and cook until the broth has reduced to about 1/2-1 inch.

Serve with lots of parmesean cheese and pepper.

Yummy yum yum!

❤ Stef

Recipe: Cheesy Stuffed Acorn Squash

20 Dec

I know I talk about this all the time and you probably want me to shut up, but I’m a recent west coast transplant.
In California, we get produce all year round. It’s awesome. The local variety changes, so in the winter we get lots of root veggies and greens, but the produce is there so eating local is easy. In Massachusetts it’s a little harder! I recently moved next to a Whole Foods, and they make it really easy for you to see where all of their produce comes from, ie, they label it with country/state of origin, and if it is local they tell you the city or farm/co-op if applicable. I love it. So the point is, nearly all of the veggies, even the winter ones, are from California.
And yes I’M from California but I think eating local is so important,  so for the last few weeks I’ve been eating squash and turnips, the only veggies I could find that are from Massachusetts. Adventure! Danger!
Surprisingly, turnips are really good! I bought a variety that claims to be a variant grown only in Massachusetts, and they were super-cheap and super-delicious. Who knew?
But the subject of this blog is squash. Specifically, acorn squash.
I don’t normally cook with winter squash (summer squash is totally different. I LURVE summer squash). It’s a curious vegetable, hard skinned and tender fleshed, I associate it either with soup or with overly sweet baked dishes. In fact, most of the recipes I found when looking for acorn squash inspiration involved sugar or maple syrup. I understand that this is a popular way of cooking squash, but I don’t usually like sweet-savory main dishes. I don’t eat turkey with cranberry sauce either. It’s weird.
So the recipe I decided to use has you baking the squash, and then stuffing it with cheesy orzo. Um, YUM. It’s like mac and cheese for grown ups! With veggies! SCORE.

Chessy Orzo Stuffed Acorn Squash (recipe from epicurious.com)

I halved this recipe because there is only one of me.

1 acorn squash, halved and seeded

1/2 C orzo pasta

1/2 C milk

1/4 C veggie broth (I used chicken. Just used whatever you have).

1/4 C parmesean cheese

(The original recipe calls for a combo of 1/4C sharp cheddar and 1TB parm, but I didn’t have cheddar. Feel free to make it any way you wish).

Cracked black pepper.

Preheat your oven to 400˚. Then ready your squash for the baking by cutting it in half (please don’t cut off your fingers.) and scooping out all of the seeds.

Now you are going to bake these guys by placing them cut sides down in a baking dish. Add about 1/3C of water to the baking dish and cover it with foil. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes.

Take the squash out of the oven, discard the water, and turn right side up. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Keep the oven on.

Now you’re going to make the orzo! Bring a small pot (like 3 C of water) to boil and add the orzo. Let boil for 5 minutes and drain. Add the milk and broth to the orzo and bring back to a boil. You want the liquid to thicken up and the orzo to become tender, which should take 5 ish minutes. Remove from the heat and add the cheese, whichever you’ve decided to use, and the cracked pepper. Add salt to taste. Stir until everything is melty and combined.

Now you’re going to stuff the squash, muahaha! Divide the cheesy orzo into the squash halves and sprinkle with some more parmesean.

Bake at 400˚ (you should have just left the oven alone) for 12 minutes. Remove.

Serve!

Very satisfying.

❤ Stef