Spanish Tortilla

Many years ago, and when I say “many years ago,” I mean 15 or so years ago, I tasted a delightful, yet extraordinarily simple dish.  I may even go so far as to say that this dish was so simplistic that it was unforgettable.

The Spanish tortilla is simple, yet elegant.  Common, yet sophisticated.  Local, yet accessible.  The ingredients are lovely in every way, although controversial.  In all of the recipes I’ve read, the Spaniards argue whether onions should be included in this native dish.  In my mind… add onions, a massive amount of garlic, shredded Manchego cheese, and possibly additional herbs, and/or chorizo and/or roasted red peppers.  The more, the merrier.

I attempted making a similar recipe years ago, resulting in a total and epic failure.  In flipping it, the egg frittata/omelet split into may parts.  It was a sloppy attempt, if not embarrassing.  Afterwards, I was determined that I was done trying (even though I was intrigued by this tapas style dish).

Recently Paul and I randomly found ourselves watching an engrossing, entertaining Australian chef (on TV) exploring the beauty & rich ingredients found in Northern California.  In romping through the hillsides with the fat and happy goats, the chef tasted fresh ingredients including lovely feta cheese (which littered the top of the tortilla he made).  His confidence and frivolity inspired me, “If he can do this making it look so easy, why can’t I make it?”  Oh the arrogance…

We rocked it this morning, following this recipe to a T.  We over cooked it (which I preferred to a possible raw center section) so we lost the top layer as a casualty.  However, everything else was in tact and flavors were on point.

But “flavors on point,” meant bland and boring.  I thought Paul would’ve fallen in love with the ingredients in this recipe (eggs, potatoes, onions, and olive oil) but his reaction was, “Eeh?!” Had I added the above additional ingredients, I think Paul would’ve been intrigued.  However, the very traditional tortilla did not excite him.

Go forth and cook with your own creative style recreating this traditional dish.

Spanish Tortilla (recipe care of themediterraneandish.com)

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INGREDIENTS:  10 medium eggs, salt, 1 tsp sweet Spanish paprika, 1 tsp dried oregano, 1 cup private reserve extra virgin olive oil, 1 1/2 lb russet potatoes (peeled halved and sliced cross-wise), 1 large yellow onion (peeled, halved and sliced cross-wise), 4 scallions (trimmed, chopped ~ both white and green portions)

DIRECTIONS:  In a big bowl, whisk together the eggs, salt, paprika and oregano. Set aside for now.  Prepare a 10-inch oven-proof nonstick skillet or a well-seasoned cast iron skillet. Heat the olive oil in the skillet over medium-high heat, watching until shimmering.  Add potatoes, onions and scallions to the oil (don’t worry, at first, they won’t all seem to fit, but with a little stirring, they’ll compress as they cook.) Lower heat immediately to medium-low (you’ll want to control the heat making sure it continues to gently bubble). Cook for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are very tender.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Use a heat-safe strainer over a heat-safe bowl to drain olive oil (keep the oil aside for now). Season the potatoes well with salt.  Give the eggs a quick whisk and add the potato mixture to the eggs, freeing the skillet up.  In the skillet, heat 3 tbsp of the reserved oil over medium heat. Pour in the egg and potato mixture, and gently press to even out the top. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cook uncovered for 2 minutes, then transfer to heated oven for 5 minutes or so to finish cooking, watching carefully. Invert onto a serving plate, or leave to serve directly from pan. I like to add a garnish of chopped scallions. Set aside for 10 minutes or so before serving.  

Super Bowl Half Time

Super Bowl!!!!  Enough said.  Done.  Drop the mike.

Although today’s battle didn’t include the Seahawks, I had complete respect for the teams  at play.  In truth (and I feel a little guilty saying this, please don’t tell my boys), I feel like I can relax knowing that I don’t have to stress over the Seahawks in the Super Bowl.

We were super mellow for the Bowl game today.  Neither Paul, nor I, wanted to go beyond our front door to watch and celebrate this game.  So we stayed in and had our dear friend, Lisa, and her daughter, Olivia, over to watch the epic match.

All in all, slow but very close game.  And SO STOKED the Chiefs beat the Niners!!!  Now I know Richard Sherman is my first NFL love and will always be my #1 NFL boyfriend, but the Niners had to go down!  So sorry Sherman!

When it comes to the food… semi-healthy, semi-guilty treats.  Onion dip with Ruffles, spicy gouda dip, and a homemade artichoke dip.  All of this was followed by pulled pork sandwiches and my “simple” salad.  The intake of salt was extraordinary.  Bags under the eyes and puffiness are on their way!

Notes:  The artichoke dip was yummy but there are definitely some thoughts to make this more successful:  Cut the yogurt in half (16 oz.).  Double up the parsley.  I ran out of parsley so I ended up throwing about a tbsp. of Italian spices into the mix.  I also used the juice of an entire lemon (which you probably wouldn’t need if you use half of the yogurt).  And although the lemon flavor was prominent and fresh, I would definitely back it off a bit.

Artichoke Dip (recipe care of Real Simple)

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INGREDIENTS:  1 32 oz. container plain full-fat Greek yogurt, 1 12 oz. jar marinated artichoke hearts (drained and chopped), 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves (plus more for serving), 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp lemon zest plus q tsp fresh juice (from 1 lemon), 1 tsp kosher salt, 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper, pita, crackers, and/or vegetables for serving

DIRECTIONS:  Mix yogurt, artichoke hearts, parsley, oil, lemon zest and juice, salt, and pepper in large bowl until well combined.  Transfer to a serving bowl and top with parsley.  Serve dip with pita, crackers, and/or vegetables.

Pulled Pork Sandwiches (recipe care of no clue; to whomever created this, thank you!)

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INGREDIENTS:  1 (3lb) boneless pork shoulder (skin and excess fat removed), 1 onion (chopped), 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth or water, 2 cups bottles or homemade barbecue sauce, 2 tablespoons mustard, 2 tablespoons honey, 1 tablespoon soy sauce.

DIRECTIONS:  Trim pork of any excess fat.  Scatter onion over bottom of slow cooker and place pork on top.  Add broth, cover and cook on low until very tender, about 8 hours.  Remove and let cool.  When cool enough to handle, pull meat into shreds, removing all fat and gristle.   Skim excess fat from liquid in slow cooker.  Return puller pork to slow cooker and stir in barbecue sauce, mustard, honey, and soy sauce. Season with salt and pepper.  Cook for 1 hour longer on low.

Sunflower Seed & Red Pepper Rigatoni

Yes it’s not baking, nor is it Sunday.  But a girl’s gotta share when a girl’s gotta share.

This is seriously the easiest weekday night dinner ever!  Paul, who loves (well, maybe adores), pasta was looking forward to this.  This takes absolutely no effort, and very little time.  It’s perfect if you want a home cooked meal after a long work day.

Notes:  As always, I used way more garlic than called for (3 cloves as opposed to 1).  I also forgot to check what kid of vinegar the recipe called for, and did I have red wine vinegar?  Of course not.  So I used white wine vinegar.

Here’s just a few things I’d change…  the sunflower seeds were very nutty, but I think I would try walnuts next time.  I just love the flavors of walnuts.  I would also add about a 1/4 cup of dry white wine to add another layer.  Daringly (not, really) we sprinkled red pepper flakes on top for a bit of heat.

Bon apetit!

Sunflower Seed & Red Pepper Rigatoni (recipe care of rachelraymag.com)

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INGREDIENTS:  12 oz. roasted red peppers, 1 cup 1/2-inch bread cubes, 1 cup sunflower seeds, 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, 1 1/2 teaspoons red wine vinegar, 1 clove garlic, 1 lb rigatoni, chopped fresh parsley and grated parmesan, for garnish

DIRECTIONS:  In food processor, puree peppers, bread, sunflower seeds, olive oil, vinegar, and garlic; season.  In large pot of boiling water, cook pasta; drain, reserving 1/2 cup cooking water.  In pot, stir pasta and sauce over low, adding cooking water if too dry.  Season; garnish.

“Go Nuts!  Sunflower seeds add nuttiness this take on romesco sauce – but any nut you have on hand (almonds, walnuts, pecans, etc.) would taste, too!”

Breakfast Taquitos

Yep, if you read the title of today’s blog and look at my picture you’ll see that I didn’t quite pull off the taquito build.

I have the classic problem of having eyes way bigger than the tortillas.  I always over stuff my tortillas when making taquitos, enchiladas, burritos, tacos… you name it, I overstuff it.  Tends to get me in trouble when I cook.

But with all of that said, the flavors were on point.  As we ate our taquito stack (my new name for these), the sun-dried tomatoes burst with flavor and combine well with the cheese and sausage.  Next time I make these I would sprinkle salt on the avocado just to bring out the flavor a bit more.  Take that comment with a grain of salt (hee hee hee, pun intended), I love salt and always use more than a recipe calls for.

These taquitos would be great to make for guests.  Our fabulous cousins, Kari and JR stay with us when visiting Santa Barbara.  Kari doesn’t eat eggs so this recipe would be perfect because we could make them to order.

Regardless of who you make these for, enjoy them!!!

Breakfast Taquitos (recipe care of damndelicious.net)

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INGREDIENTS:  10-12 corn tortillas (softened), 3 large eggs (scrambled), 6 ounces spicy Italian sausage (crumbled), 1/4 cup julienned sun dried tomatoes (drained), 1 avocado (halved, seeded, peeled and diced), 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

DIRECTIONS:  Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.  Working one at a time, transfer tortilla to a work surface; place eggs, sausage, sun dried tomatoes, avocado and cheddar cheese in the center of each wrapper. Bring the bottom edge of the tortilla tightly over the filling, rolling from bottom to top until the top of the tortilla is reached. Repeat with remaining tortilla and filling.  Place taquitos seam side down onto prepared baking sheet and bake until taquitos are crisp and cheese has melted, about 12-15 minutes.  Serve immediately.

Bakery-Style Chocolate Chip Muffins

Happy New Year!!! 2020?!?!  How is this possible?

I always look forward to making some kind of special breakfast on both Christmas and New Year’s mornings.  Even though we live in Santa Barbara, California with no true winter weather, there’s something comforting about cooking with love on these special holidays.

Paul always wants to go on vacation somewhere during my winter break (teachers are limited in the times that we can get away).  But I always wanna stay here so that I can be in my home with “house pants” on (my nickname for pj bottoms with a t-shirt or sweats), listen to a fabulous pandora station, drink mimosas, and create something lovely for us in our warm and cozy little home.

Today was no different.  Paul got up before me and started recording the Rose Parade (he knows I love it and it’s a tradition to watch it every year).  I slowly crawled out of bed, made myself some hot lemon water, and started organizing ingredients.  Paul headed off to get his regular Sunday/holiday latte, while I dove into baking.

Our Sunday or holiday breakfasts are always a joint effort… he makes bacon and greases the pans for me.  I mix all of the baked good ingredients, and pop them in the oven.  He finishes by making scrambled eggs.

This morning’s New Year Day breakfast consisted of berries, scrambled eggs with green onions, roasted potatoes, and bacon.  Oh, and of course, half of a muffin each with mimosas. Perfect way to start 2020.  Happy New Year to all!

Notes:  These muffins are wonderfully moist and delicious, but not too sweet.  One suggestion:  toss the chocolate chips in a light dusting of flour before mixing them into the batter.  This will keep them from sinking to the bottom of the muffin pan.

Bakery-Style Chocolate Chip Muffins (recipe care of sallysbakingaddiction.com)

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INGREDIENTS:  3 cups (375g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled), 4 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg, 2 large eggs, at room temperature, 1/4 cup (60g) sour cream or yogurt (at room temperature), 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar, 1 cup (240ml) milk, 1/3 cup (80ml) vegetable oil, 1/4 cup (60g) unsalted butter (melted and slightly cooled), 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, 1 and 1/2 cups (270g) semi-sweet chocolate chips, coarse sugar for sprinkling

DIRECTIONS:  Preheat oven to 425°F (218°C). Generously grease a jumbo 6-count muffin pan with butter or nonstick spray or line with muffin liners. Set aside.  Whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg together in a large bowl. Set aside.  Whisk the eggs, sour cream, and sugar together until combined. Then whisk in the milk, oil, melted butter, and vanilla extract. Mixture will be pale yellow. Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix together gently. Avoid overmixing. The batter will be thick and somewhat lumpy. Fold in the chocolate chips.  Divide batter among prepared muffin pan, filling all the way to the top. Sprinkle with coarse sugar (for added crunch, recommended!), if desired. Bake at 425°F for 5 minutes, then, keeping the muffins in the oven, reduce the oven temperature to 350°F (177°C) and continue to bake for 25-26 minutes until the tops are lightly golden brown and centers are set. Use a toothpick to test.  Allow to cool for 10 minutes in pan before removing and serving.  Cover leftover muffins and store at room temperature for 5 days or in the refrigerator for 1 week. Muffins freeze well for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator or on the counter.

NOTES FROM WEBSITE:  Standard Size Muffins or Mini Muffins: For 15-16 standard size muffins, reduce baking time to 18-19 total minutes: 5 initial minutes at 425°F and 13-14 minutes at 350°F. For about 50 mini muffins, bake for 11-12 minutes at 350°F the entire time.

Salted Chocolate-Pecan Toffee

“Auntie, do you still write your blog?”  My ten year old nephew, Flynn, asked as he was excitedly stirring melting chocolate.  “Whoa! I’ve never seen that much chocolate!” When I told him that I am in fact still writing, his response was, “You should write about this. Oh and take a picture.”
Today was “baking day” for my mom and me, and I invited Flynn to join.  He happily walked into the kitchen wearing his bike helmet and eager to show me the new bike that Santa brought him.  He proudly rode around, beaming.
Flynn is one of those amazingly well-rounded kids that is an incredible athlete, but also loves listening to music, dancing, drawing, cooking, and remarkably doing the dishes.  So when I get to bake with him, I’m stoked!
Once he was finished showing off his bike, he came in to join me in the experiment of making toffee.  I say “experiment” because I’ve never made it before, and in truth I’m not very good at making candy.  I’ve tried making fudge a few times and it was kinda pathetic.  I explained to Flynn that this might not work and if it doesn’t, I’m blaming him.  He giggled.
Today was probably one of my favorite baking times with Flynn.  The look of surprise and curiosity and complete awe on his face was priceless.  He loved watching the sugar/butter mixture boil higher and higher as the candy thermometer slowly reached 310 degrees.  “WHOOOAAA!” was his shocked response by the bubbly reaction of adding vanilla to the candy mixture.  He had a blast spreading and smoothing the chocolate on top of the toffee, wondering if it would overflow.  Finishing the whole thing by sprinkling the pecans across the tray by the handfuls was the cherry on top.
Flynn held the tray while I drove us to my house so I could add the finishing touch of the “fancy” salt.  It’s shocking to me that in my mother’s very overstocked kitchen, she does not have the “fancy” salt.  It’s too extravagant for her, which I find hilarious.  Anyway, Flynn and I cracked up as I turned corners and he tried not to let the chocolate spill over the sides of the very full tray. I just adore that kid!
The toffee turned out great!  A little too thick, but delicious none the less.  Oh and super easy!  Have fun experimenting!
Salted Chocolate-Pecan Toffee (recipe care of sunset.com)
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INGREDIENTS:  2 cups pecan halves, 3 1/2 cups sugar, 1 1/2 cups butter, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon vanilla extract, 12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, 2 teaspoons fleur de sel or coarse sea salt

DIRECTIONS:  Preheat oven to 350°. Put pecans on a rimmed baking sheet and cook, stirring occasionally, until toasted, about 8 minutes. When cool enough to handle, chop roughly. Divide into 2 batches; chop 1 batch finely. Set both batches aside.

Put sugar, butter, salt, and 3/4 cup water in a 4-qt. saucepan over medium heat. When butter and sugar are melted, increase heat to medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture is deep golden brown and measures 310° on a candy thermometer, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and carefully stir in vanilla (mixture will bubble up) and finely chopped pecans. Pour into a 10- by 15-in. rimmed baking sheet. Let toffee cool until set, at least 30 minutes. (For even pieces, you can “score” the toffee by cutting it with a sharp knife after it has set for about 10 minutes, scoring into 5 strips lengthwise and 8 strips crosswise to yield 40 pieces. Wipe knife clean with warm water after each slice for easier cutting.) Chop chocolate and put in a medium metal bowl. Fill an 8- or 10-in. frying pan with 1/2 in. of water and bring to a boil. Take off heat and put bowl of chocolate in the water. Let sit about 5 minutes. Stir chocolate until melted. Pour over toffee; with a knife or offset spatula, spread evenly. Sprinkle chocolate with roughly chopped pecans. Let sit 20 minutes, or until chocolate is cool but still a bit soft. Sprinkle with fleur de sel. Chill until set, about 1 hour. To remove, gently twist pan to release toffee, then chop or break into chunks. Store in an airtight container.

 

Christmas Morning

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Merry Christmas everyone!  If Christmas isn’t your thing, happy holidays!  If holidays aren’t your thing, happy winter morning.

For some delightful reason I love to pick “go big or go home” recipes for any dish I make on Christmas.  This started in high school when I would choose the cover of Bon Appetit or Gourmet to create Christmas night’s dessert, which would result in me in complete frustration.  Really?!?  Why do I continue this ridiculous habit?

Actually, in truth, these are both fantastic recipes!  If you’re making them by themselves, they’re quite simple (especially the egg dish).  But in combination with each other, I pretty much used every pan in the kitchen.  Which lead to a massive cleaning session.

But I digress.  I have to admit that even though these two recipes were a bit more than I expected, I would do it all over again.  They are delicious!

Notes:

  1.  The muffins are spot on; excellent recipe!  Cooking Light always has really yummy recipes, and they are very easy to make.
  2. Paul does not like sweet potatoes so I just used regular, old russet potatoes.
  3. I also used full fat cheddar cheese (I like the fat).
  4. I have no idea what Aleppo pepper is and of course I only have regular paprika, not hot paprika.  But as a brilliant substitute, I used red pepper flakes.  They gave a lovely, warm kick; not too much.

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Glazed Apple Crumb Muffins (recipe care of Sally’s Baking Addiction)

INGREDIENTS:

Crumb Topping:  1/3 cup (67g) packed light or dark brown sugar, 1 Tablespoon (15g) granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/4 cup (60g) unsalted butter (melted), 2/3 cup (84g) all-purpose flour

Muffins:  1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter (softened to room temperature), 1/2 cup (100g) packed light or dark brown sugar, 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar, 2 large eggs (at room temperature), 1/2 cup (120g) yogurt, at room temperature, 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract, 1 and 3/4 cups (220g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled), 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 cup (60ml) milk (any kind), at room temperature, 1 and 1/2 cups peeled, chopped apple (2 small apples)

Vanilla Icing:  1 cup (120g) confectioners’ sugar, 3 Tablespoons (45ml) heavy cream (or milk for a less creamy texture), 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS:

Make the crumb topping: In a medium bowl, combine both sugars, the cinnamon, and melted butter. Using a rubber spatula, stir in the flour. The crumb topping will be thick and crumbly. Set aside.  Preheat oven to 425°F (218°C). Spray a 12-count muffin pan with nonstick spray or line with cupcake liners. You may need a 2nd pan as this recipe makes up to 14 muffins, though you can always bake in batches using 1 pan. Set aside. *See note about jumbo size muffins.  

Make the muffins: Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and both sugars together on high speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Add the eggs, yogurt, and vanilla extract. Beat on medium speed for 1 minute, then turn up to high speed until the mixture is combined and uniform in texture. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.  Whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt together in a medium bowl. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, add the milk and apple, and mix on low speed until everything is combined.  Spoon the batter evenly into each cup or liner, filling each all the way to the top. Press a handful of the crumb topping into the top of each; crumble it with your hands to make some big chunks.  Bake for 5 minutes at 425°F (218°C) degrees, then keeping the muffins in the oven, lower the oven temperature to 350°F (177°C) and bake for 15-17 more minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. The total time these muffins take in the oven is about 20-22 minutes.  

Make the icing: whisk all of the ingredients together and drizzle over warm muffins.  Muffins stay fresh stored at room temperature for a few days– then transfer to the fridge for up to 1 week.

Breakfast Hot Dish (recipe care of Cooking Light)

INGREDIENTS:  1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes (unpeeled and cut into 1/8-in.-thick slices), 1 large onion (thinly sliced), 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 tablespoons Aleppo pepper (or 1 Tbsp. hot paprika), Cooking spray, 8 large eggs, 1 1/4 cups whole milk, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, 3 ounces grated reduced-fat white cheddar cheese (about 3/4 cup), 1/2 pound turkey or chicken breakfast sausage (cooked and crumbled), 1/2 cup plain fat-free Greek yogurt

DIRECTIONS:  Preheat oven to 400°F.  Toss sweet potatoes and onion with oil and Aleppo pepper; spread into an even layer on a foil-lined baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 400°F for 20 minutes or until tender.  Place potatoes and onions in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, salt, and black pepper. Pour egg mixture over potato mixture; fold in cheese and sausage. Coat a 13- x 9-inch baking dish with cooking spray; pour in egg mixture. Bake for 30 minutes or until set and browned on top. Cool slightly before serving. Top each serving with 1 tablespoon yogurt.