TORTILLA ESPANOLA + RIOJA = A MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN

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//This post is in collaboration with Honest Cooking and Rioja Wines #matchmadeinheaven. All thoughts and opinions are my own//

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Tortilla española, or a Spanish omelette, is just about the most quintessential common Spanish fare. It can be found in the most grimy cervecería (bar) or upscale restaurant. History documents la tortilla española as dating back to the discovery of the Americas, although it was initially only made with eggs.

In a letter from the conquistador Hernán Cortés to the emperor Carlos V, Cortés explains how the Aztecs sold omelettes of cooked eggs in the markets of Tenochtitlan. The potato, native to South America, was later added to the recipe.

The most traditional recipe simply calls for eggs, olive oil and potatoes, although just about any other ingredient may be added to make it your own. This is a classic preparation of tortilla española, as I learned it from my host mother or señora, Cota, while living in Madrid.

Sip a glass of bright and fruit-driven rioja as you cook, like Marques de Riscal Proximo Rioja 2009. A silky, soft prologue to dinner, this plummy rioja is also a wonderful complement to drink with the humble tortilla española – and affordably priced (<$20).

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Kitchen Notes: This trifecta of pantry staples quickly comes together to form a fast and easy breakfast, lunch, dinner – or post-party snack. It is like pizza in that it is perfect a day old and cold. Make a couple of tortillas at once – one to eat now and freeze the other for later (it keeps very well wrapped tightly in tin foil).

Tortilla Española a la Cota: (Serves 2)

Ingredients

- 2 medium sized potatoes

- 1 medium sized onion

- extra virgin olive oil

- 4 medium eggs

-salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Peel potatoes and cut into thin slices width-wise; place into a bowl and mix with a little salt.
  2. Peel and cut onion into long, thin slices.
  3. Heat about 1/4 to 1/2 inch of olive oil into the large frying pan on a medium level flame.
  4. Slightly  brown the onions, separating the slices using a wooden spoon. Tip: The oil is ready when you throw in a little slice of onion  and bubbles form around it.
  5. Once the onions are slightly browned, add potatoes; stir often.
  6. Cook until potatoes soften and are semi-transparent; remove from heat.
  7. Beat eggs in the medium-sized bowl.
  8. Using a slotted spoon, scoop out the onions and potatoes, draining them of the olive oil; place in bowl with the beaten eggs and  mix until just combined with a few dashes of salt.
  9.  Thoroughly coat a separate small to medium frying pan using some of the leftover olive oil from the potatoes and onions; heat on a medium level flame.
  10. Pour the potato, onion and egg mixture into the pan, forming it into the round shape of the pan with a fork.
  11. Cook for 3-5 minutes or until bottom of tortilla is golden brown (use a spatula to lift up the bottom and check).
  12. Once the bottom is cooked, cover the pan with a lid, flip the tortilla over onto the top and gently place back into the small pan to finish cooking the other side, 3-5 minutes.
  13. Serve warm with bread or sliced chorizo and add salt to taste. And of course, a glass of rioja.

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CINNAMON ROLL WAFFLES

Cinnamon roll waffles

I love cinnamon rolls. I love waffles. So I made a cinnamon roll waffle. It was too easy. It was too tasty.

CINNAMON ROLL WAFFLES

INGREDIENTS

  • Cinnamon roll dough in a tube (comes with icing)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat and spray a waffle iron with cooking spray.
  2. When iron is hot, place one cinnamon in the center of iron and bake until golden brown. Repeat with remaining rolls.
  3. Squeeze icing over waffles and eat.

PAPRIKA SPICED RED BELL PEPPER HUEVOS RANCHEROS W/ GUAC

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These paprika spiced huevos rancheros are teeming with vegetables – red bell peppers, tomatoes, onions, garlic, cilantro and avocado. Plus, you can make it pretty much in a single skillet (minus the guac – you probably want to keep that away from the heat, duh). You even cook (poach) the eggs in the skillet as the veggies soften – just shove them to the side to make their own little hole and they’ll cook up just fine. It’s a pretty visually appealing presentation too; perfect if you’re having guests over for breakfast, lunch or my fave, brunch. It’s all a bit of chopping, sautéing, mashing and presto change-o, you’ve got a pan of red hot deliciousness. Plus, this dish has a ton of vitamin C, lycopene and healthy monosaturated fats.

PAPRIKA SPICED RED BELL PEPPER HUEVOS RANCHEROS W/ GUAC

HUEVOS RANCHEROS INGREDIENTS

  • 1 medium diced onion
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin coconut or olive oil
  • 2 red bell peppers, sliced into strips
  • 2 cans whole peeled tomatoes or 10 medium tomatoes
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • lime juice to taste

GUACAMOLE INGREDIENTS

  • 1 large ripe avocado
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • 2 tablespoons diced fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

DIRECTIONS

  1.  Sauté the onion, garlic, spices and bay leaves in olive or coconut oil for 5 minutes or until softened but not browned.
  2. Add the red peppers and sauté for another 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in the  tomatoes. Add water and bay leaves. Season with paprika, salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer for 10 minutes or until you have a thick sauce. Stir occasionally.
  4. While the sauce thickens, scoop out your avocado flesh into a bowl. Mash the rest of the guacamole ingredients together and season. Set aside.
  5. Make 4 holes in the tomato sauce with a spoon and crack an egg into each one. Eggs will poach in 4 minutes (yolks will be runny – cook 1-2 minutes longer if you prefer). Remove from heat.
  6. Add spoonfuls of guacamole between the eggs. Season with a dash of cilantro and squeeze of lime juice.

 

SWEET SPOT

the sweet spot 500

dessert souffle sweet spot 500

custard sweet spot 500

passion fruit dahn taht 500

chocolate sweet spot 500

I’m completely loving The Sweet Spot: Asian-Inspired Desserts by Pichet Ong. It’s got fruity, light sweets, perfect now that we are in full spring weather. Although I completely adore a good bread pudding, it’s a bit heavy for the luscious weather we’re having. Ong’s Passion Fruit Dahn Taht is creamy, light and fruity sweet. The Sweet Spot also has tried and true Asian dessert classics like Mango Sticky Rice (so easy to make, don’t hate). Not sure if you want to throw yourself into the decadent waters that are Asian sweets? That’s cool – The Sweet Spot also has traditional American go-to’s like Banana Cream Pie and Creme Puffs. You can transition into Asian desserts from there – like with Ong’s Ginger Raisin Oatmeal Cookies.

Cut out the butter (gasp, I know!). Instead, fruit and flower flavors and essences take center stage. Think jasmine, lychee, orange blossom water, passionfruit, yuzu, etc. Reading Ong’s cookbook is just as tasty as the recipes.

Also, check out some sites and articles that I’ve been loving recently. They are hilarious:

THUG KITCHEN: When you need to get gansta with your home cooking. http://thugkitchen.com/

 BANANA HACKS: Probably the most classic American fruit (even though it’s from the tropics), here are 4 ways to jazz up the foundational banana. Banana sushi anyone?

DIJON TUNA SLIDERS

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Sometimes, I really do have the most successful kitchen sink meals. I came home STARVING from an hour-long cardio boxing class and was desperate to gulp down a lot of water and EAT. Something. NOW. In a flash, I whipped together a very lucky dijon, garlic and spices seasoning mixture and added it to a couple of cans tuna I had and tossed in some chopped red onion for extra body and flavor. Fingers crossed, I threw the patties into the oven until they were nice and crisp on the outside, moist on the inside. And they tasted great – bold and fragrant. Looks like extreme hunger is a funny form of culinary inspiration.

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CHAI STEEPED OATS

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Oatmeal is the perfect canvas for flavor creation. It’s a solid, stick-to-your-ribs meal that’s a cozy start to the morning. There are endless possibilities with it, and I’ve really taken to this “tea method” lately. Adding depth of tea flavor is easy: simply steep a bag of Indian spiced tea (chai) or your your favorite brew into a mug of almond or soy milk and use flavored, scented liquid to cook oats as usual. Or, if you’re a Johnny Cut-Corners like I am,  just immerse the tea bag straight into your pot of water ( or milk)  and oats, and allowing it to brew as you cook your oats on the stovetop or microwave. Add toppings to your heart’s content. I like freshly ground flax seed, a trickle of soy milk creamer and a sprinkle of stevia. I can’t wait to try this with my new box of Earl Grey tea.

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CHOCOLATE CHIP SEA SALT COOKIES

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Recently, I was invited to a fancy potluck party on the Upper East Side, well-attended by professional chefs and a handful of culinary school graduates. I’ve never been to culinary school. So of course I foolishly asked what I could bring to a party filled with masters of cuisine. The host asked me to bring my “best baked good!”

chocolate sea salt cookies on plate cropped

In a fit of terror, I scoured recipe after recipe of the “best” for the best – pies, tarts, cakes, sweet breads – anything within my power and skills to make to impress these decorated guests. Fingers flying across my keyboard, I discovered a food lab tested, best chocolate chip cookie recipe ever. What makes the “best” chocolate chip cookie? Is it the chips, the flour, the butter, the process? Serious Eats tackled the task of making “the best chocolate chip cookie.” Every part of the cookie process was dissected and tested – and what it boiled down to for me was THE BUTTER.

It’s all about the butter.

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For starters, God help you if you use margarine instead of the real thing. You will never achieve the cookie of your dreams that way. Real butter gives cookies that delicious tender mouthfeel we all seek. More butter = wider spread and tender cookies. It gives cookies so much flavor, superior to other fats like shortening, lard or margarine. How you use the butter in your cookies is super important. If you like cakier cookies, cream your butter. If you like denser, chewier cookies, melt the butter. Brown the butter to give cookies nutty, caramelized flavor.

Yolks are a must. Don’t skip your yolks and use just whites. If your trying to eat a low-fat cookie, you should really be eating a piece of celery instead. Extra egg yolks make fudgier cookies ( oh god, oh yum). And don’t sub white sugar for brown just because you don’t feel like running to the store to get it – brown sugar yields moister cookies.

But if you like dry, crumbly, tall cookies well….don’t do any of the above. Not sure why you would. It’s not like your eating a cracker. Recipe + what I’m reading this week ——->

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