A revival, with a promise. (Recipe – Torta Española.)

Yes, my dears, I know it’s been a while. Almost three months, in fact. And I have no excuse for my absence – a lack of Internet (old news), but more relevant, a lack of motivation and inspiration. Even beyond that, a feeling of not quite right – maybe I shouldn’t blog, I don’t belong, my blog is useless and the name is all wrong and it doesn’t even match my URL. (that really does bother me more often than not, but it’s my fault.) so I’ve been thinking this thing over in my absence: to be or not to be? Despite the trials of keeping up, I didn’t take long to decide to be. Especially given that my last post was the 100th post on boonie foodie (huzzah!).

Being, of course, requires more organization and discipline and I have considered that as well. And I want to address other areas of my life besides just food, too – other areas that are related to food – or rather, food is related to those areas, like the garden I hope to grow in the backyard, the farmer’s market in town and the eggs I buy from a county local; or the quiet decision to live more sustainably and what that really means for me and mine. The real meaning of words and using them to their best. And of course, bettering my photography skills to something besides “i takez pix.” (Maybe I’ll even build that DIY lightbox that’s floated through almost all blogs, one day.) The point of this creation is not only to share myself with the rest of the world, but to better myself in the process – as it was, I was just writing and posting to post, following an arbitrary internal desire to follow a schedule that never really manifested.

My first desire is to set up a more dependable schedule – one day, food; one day, gardening and green, maybe two; and hopefully Menu Plan Monday. It depends on how much I can find to say. Hopefully my schedule is finally nailed down enough that I can schedule posts on Saturday for the following week. I’ll be working on a buffer in the next two weeks so I can actually get this in effect. In the meantime, I intend to clean up the blog overall: visual design, tags, language – all but the content and the photos. (The really poor posts I can use later for slow-thought days – remake and retry.)

In honor of this revival, here is the first recipe I’ve been inspired to put up in quite some time. It’s not new to many, and it’s not fancy; what it “is,” is filling, cheap and lovely in its own homely way. Many people have made it and loved it; I am now one of those fortunate folks. Torta Española or torta de patatas (or tortilla de papas, or a combination of these as your preference or region dictates) is nothing more than a layer of oh-so-thin potato and onion slices lightly browned, then covered with egg and cooked as an omelet. Simple to make and as versatile as you like it, my only recommendation is that you make it in batches that are manageable enough to flip, or beware that yours may end up as ugly as mine.

Oh, and add cheese.

Torta Española

serves 2-4

ingredients:
1 medium waxy potato, thinly sliced
1/2 white onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp unsalted butter
salt and pepper
5 eggs
2 tbsp water
2-3 oz cheese

directions:
Slice the potatoes and onions as thin as possible, using a mandoline if available. Heat the olive oil and butter in a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat; when the foam subsides, add the potatoes and onions and season generously with a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Stir to coat, then let brown as a single layer for 2-4 minutes on each “side.”

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, beat the eggs with the water and a light sprinkling of salt and pepper. Shake the skillet to settle the potatoe-onion mixture into an even, flat layer. Pour the egg mixture into the pan and turn the pan to distribute the egg evenly. With one hand, stir the eggs in one direction while shaking the pan in the other. Do this until the eggs thicken a little, add cheese, then let cook until the eggs are browned on the bottom. Flip the omelet and let cook until the center is just set. Serve warm with ketchup.

Asparagus and onion quiche.

Last night was a delightfully progressive evening – I went to karate and got a wholly cleansing ass-kicking workout (I was the only ‘low belt’ there, and the only one in a white gi), then came home still on my adrenaline high and went to cooking. I knew I had to do something with the asparagus, and I knew I wanted to make a quiche. (The granola actually went through the baking first, but that’s another post.) Quiches are cheap to make (eggs and whatever else you want? c’mon!), practically foolproof and they look ridiculously elegant. They don’t have to have a crust, and if they do, it’s basically cook’s preference as to what crust it is. They can be sweet or savory, large or tart-sized. They’re great and awesome little creations and if you don’t like them, you can suck my toe. (Or not, ’cause that would be weird.) And I’ve discovered a lot of people who say they don’t like quiches, but they’ll eat breakfast eggs with unpardoned abandon.

Off my soapbox. Onto the quiche.

This recipe was adapted from The Big Book of Easy Suppers: 270 Delicious Recipes for Casual Everyday Cooking by Maryana Vollstedt. I don’t use this cookbook as much (probably pureply for the fact that all my cooking lately has been either adapted from Better Homes and Gardens cookbook or from recipes I’ve printed), but whenever I do look up a recipe in it, I’ve never been disappointed. Vollstedt’s recipe was for a crustless spinach quiche, and while I am a fan of the classic spinach, I had asparagus. And I was damn well going to use it.

On the way home from karate, I stopped off and got some extra groceries: your average-joe pie shells, gouda, shredded Parmesan and a ball of fresh mozzarella. I had some sweet Vidalias pouting at me at home already, eggs in the fridge and the poor pitiful asparagus. I’m not a big fan of crustless quiche – in my experience they can be messy and kind of unwieldy, especially as leftovers, so I stuck with frozen pie shells. Besides, one less dish to wash, right?

The whole dish was kind of a fly-by-your-seat deal, but I enjoyed it thoroughly. I grilled the asparagus and sautéed the onions before I ever whisked anything up, which was a little hasty of me, but the asparagus was a tasty snack while I was mixing and making. And onions sautéed in butter with a little salt – is there a better smell in the kitchen? I tell you what, it’s one of my favorite kitchen smells, as listed:

  1. Olive oil heating up slowly.
  2. Garlic browning in olive oil and a little butter.
  3. Sweet onions sweating and browning in a touch of butter.

I’ll add more to that list later. Anyway, I grated half the moz and the Gouda, so I ended up with about 1½ cups of cheese all told. I thought about whisking the onions and asparagus in with the rest of it, but ended up just topping the egg mixture because I was afraid of the veggies sinking too far. Maybe next time I’ll fold half of it all in and see what happens. As it is, I thought using it for topping made it quite attractive.

Grilled Asparagus and Onion Quiche

adapted from The Big Book of Easy Suppers by Maryana Vollstedt

cooking time: about an hour

ingredients:

small bunch of asparagus (10-13 stalks)

1 small or ½ a large sweet onion

2 large eggs

1 c cottage cheese

½ c (ea) shredded Gouda, mozzarella and Parmesan (or cheeses of choice)

¼ c (½ stick) butter, melted + 1-2 tbsp (for sauté)

¼ c all-purpose flour

¼ c milk

1-2 tbsp olive oil (for grilling)

¼-½ tsp kosher salt

directions:

Preheat oven to 350F. Slice onion into desired thickness and brown/sweat with 1-2 tablespoons butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Trim and wash asparagus, dry with towel, coat with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt. Grill on all sides until vibrant green and tender, then remove from grill and salt again if desired; let cool. Chop asparagus into 1″ pieces and set aside. Whisk eggs, then add milk, flour, cottage cheese, shredded cheese and butter (note: temper with the butter if neccessary). Fold onions and asparagus into whisked mixture and pour into a 9″ pie shell (frozen or fresh OR pour egg mixture into 9″ pie shell and top with asparagus and onion, pressing lightly down into mixture.

Bake at 350F for 50-55 minutes or until completely set and top is golden-brown. Let cool on wire rack for 10-15 minutes. Serve hot or cold.

So, I had this for lunch today (I couldn’t sample last night, because it was midnight before I got the thing out of the oven), and even reheated it was delightful. The asparagus was crunchy but tender, the onions flavorful, the cheeses had melted to perfection and the egg was fluffy. The crust itself was flaky and soft, which is how I prefer it anyway. I would not make this as a crustless quiche, by the way; I don’t think it would hold up quite as well as (I) would want it to. With a crust, you could hold it by hand and eat it if you felt like it, but I ate it with a fork and it was still good. :) Also, I think these would make adorable little tarts; a faux ‘birthday cupcake’ idea popped into my head a moment ago, where you stick a grilled asparagus tip in the middle of the tart like a candle and ‘decorate’ the tops with onion slices… anyway. Maybe another time. When I’m ambitious enough to cut out little tiny tart crusts. Or shortcrust. It’d still be good.

p.s. Before karate, I was still on an asparagus kick but I didn’t have time to make anything too involved, so I grilled up some asparagus, shaved off some Parm and got out the rosemary-olive oil Triscuits. Put ’em together and voila!

Very simple and very little cooking involved. But they sure were tasty! Look at this little asparagus tip, isn’t it pretty?

Hiding behind a stalk like that… like it was gonna hide from me. Ha! :D