On something of a whim I decided to try out making a tortilla espanola, the traditional Spanish savory pie with just eggs, potatoes, onion and olive oil. The first time I made one it turned out great but the second time around I made it a couple mistakes. The proportion of potatoes was a bit too high and the whole thing stuck to the pan when I tried to flip it. Oh well. Lesson learned. To round it out I also made some fries chickpeas with smoked paprika known in Spain as pimenton. If you haven’t tried smoked paprika you’re missing out. Fried chickpeas are so simple but it’s the smokey depth of the paprika that makes these so addictive.
12:24 pm • 29 June 2012 • 72 notes
A huge thunderstorm rolled through town yesterday and brought the temperature way down. Somehow it seemed appropriate to throw together something a little more hearty. I’ve been toying around with cooking barley in the style of risotto and it seemed like a good match with the huge bunch of red swiss chard that I picked up at Union Square during a lull between the downpours. When given the choice between red and white chard, I find that I generally lean towards red with its vibrantly contrasting colors and mild beety taste. The biggest difference between using a risotto rice like arborio and barley is that while the barley takes longer to cook, it doesn’t require the level of attentive pot stirring that arborio demands. It’s a traditional dish in the Friuli Venezia Giulia region of Northeastern Italy called orzotto. The name can be a little confusing because orzo is the Italian word for barley but in English orzo refers to a type of semolina flour pasta in the shape of a grain of rice. The finished result is a little more al dente with a nice earthy flavor that pairs well with mushrooms. In lieu of using stock I used dried porcini mushrooms along with their soaking water and a squeeze of tomato paste to add a serious umami punch.
1 cup pearled barley
1/4 cup dried porcini mushrooms soaked for 20 minutes in hot tap water
1 small bunch or half a large bunch of swiss chard
2 tablespoons double concentrated tomato paste
1 small onion finely diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
a pat of butter
pecorino romano cheese
salt and pepper
Start off by rinsing the barley and cooking the it in a small sauce pan with an inch of water to cover for 20 minutes. While the barley is cooking put the porcini in a small bowl with hot tap water, dice the onion and separate the leaves and stems of the chard. Chop the stems, slice the leaves into ribbons and wash. Heat a 3-4 quart pot and add the olive oil and onion. Sautee for about 5 minutes and then add the chard stems and tomato paste. Ideally the barley should be reaching the 20 minute mark about this point. Drain the barley and add to the pot with the onions and chard stems. Put the reserved porcini soaking liquid in the saucepan along with a couple cups of water and bring to a simmer. Gradually add the heated porcini liquid to the barley and stir occasionally. This part takes about another 20 minutes to finish but doesn’t require your slavish attention. I used the time to empty the dishwasher while occasionally stopping to stir and add a ladleful of porcini liquid. About 5 minutes before the finish, toss in the sliced chard leaves and stir until they’re well combined. You’ll know that the dish is done when the barley is cooked through and has exuded starch to thicken the ‘sauce’. Make sure it’s a little wet and turn off the heat before adding a pat of butter and freshly grated pecorino or parmesan cheese. As always salt and pepper to taste. Divide among wide and shallow bowls and top with a little more grated cheese.
1:07 pm • 26 June 2012 • 1 note
Radicchio is a vegetable that’s taking a little time to warm up to me. I think I got pretty close with this warm radicchio and bean salad from the Canal House Cooking Volume no. 7. I was really excited to find a head of treviso radicchio for a reasonable price and this recipe suited it really well. It has this distinctive bitter flavor but the recipe offsets it with anchovies, garlic, balsamic vinegar and the creamy beans. The leaves seem so delicate but they hold up really well to heat and I think I probably could have let them sear a little longer to get some more color and carmelized flavor.
6:42 pm • 20 June 2012
The news of a woman in Korea getting her mouth coated by barely cooked squid semen didn’t really do much to deter me from the animal. It might have even given some inspiration. Last time I tried cooking with ink I tried extracting the sacs from a cuttlefish but wasn’t able to get enough ink to make my risotto black. It tasted great but lacked the striking deep black appearance that I was going for. This time I shelled out for a little jar of ink and went to town making fresh black tagliatelle to go with squid and some fresh fava beans that caught my eye while out shopping. I made one large serving with half these ingredients but it it scales up pretty easily.
For the pasta
2/3 cup all purpose flour
1 large egg
For the sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 small fresh squid cleaned and sliced into rings
2 cloves garlic thinly sliced
About a cup dry white wine
1 pound ripe tomatoes peeled
1 pound fresh fava beans peeled and shucked
Salt and pepper
For the pasta, beat the squid ink and egg to combine and mix with flour and a pinch of salt. Combine and knead until the dough becomes elastic. Set aside in plastic wrap to rest. Run the dough through a pasta machine and run through the wide tagliatelle rollers and set on a clean towel.
My squid was whole and uncleaned so while the pasta dough was resting I went about cleaning it and breaking it down. It’s really easy to find cleaned frozen squid so you could probably save the trouble but if you have whole squid there are plenty of videos on the internet showing how to do it.
For the sauce, heat a pan to medium heat and add the olive oil and garlic to brown. Toss in the squid and cook for 5-10 minutes. Add the wine and cook on high until it’s mostly evaporated. Toss in the tomatoes, fava beans and salt and cook for another 20 minutes on medium stirring occasionally. Drop the tagliatelle in a pot of salted boiling for 2 minutes and then remove with tongs and drop into the pan of sauce. Add a little bit of the pasta water to the pan and cook on high until the sauce thickens. Taste for salt and pepepr, divide between two pasta bowls and enjoy.
8:46 pm • 17 June 2012 • 8 notes
Sometimes it’s tough to cook and photograph at the same time. I think my head be a little better at focusing on one at a time. Especially when my task at hand is making mole for a small dinner party. With 26 ingredients and multiple steps of toasting, frying, pureeing and searing. And that’s just for the sauce. I’m not really going to tell you how to make it because Rick Bayless or Roberto Santibanez are much better at explaining it all than I am. With my girlfriend helping out, the mole making itself went really smoothly but we took a little bit of a break and before long realized that we only had an hour left before guests arrived to prepare the rest of the dinner.
Then for lunch today I repurposed the leftover mole for chilaquiles. Just about everything is better with an egg on it. Now I just need to figure out what to do with another leftover quart of mole.
5:12 pm • 14 May 2012 • 1 note
Happy seis de mayo. Yesterday I went to a potluck dinner party and wound up with some leftover tomato chipotle salsa. What better way to use that than to fry up some tortillas and make chilaquiles?
5:52 pm • 6 May 2012