January 24, 2010

Spanish omelette

And now time for a "pincho de tortilla de patatas".

It's so simple, yet so nice...Like Ferrán Adrià often comments, whoever ever created the first omelette was a genius. It can be altered with so many ingredients, it can be cooked so many different ways...like a fritatta, an eggah, a japanese fine omelette...But definately one of my favourite omelettes, the one that I dont get tired of, is the traditional one with potatoes AND ONION (though I must admit a good bacalao omelette is also a pleasure to the palate!).

I emphasize onion because Spain is divided: those who like onion in the "tortilla" and those who don't. To me, it's a must! It's what gives it the magic, that sweet caramelised onion is what converts a nice omelette into a delicious one!That and, again to personal taste, that it's juicy!It is sadly more often than not overcooked in most bars and restaurants, so it looses all it's charm!

But there's not such thing as "the best" spanish omelette...There are thousands of ways to make a delicious omelette (here in Spain, there's a gastronomic guide named "Lo Mejor de la Gastronomía" that even tests for the best places around Spain in which to eat one. In some, you even need to order ahead to have it done!). So, probably each person has a favourite one. The recipe that follows is my last version of what I consider to be a good omelette, the one I think I'll stick with until I find better and it's like I've said before, JUICY and WITH ONION. Hope you like it!

Spanish omelette

(for two hungry people)

1 medium onion
3 medium potatoes
4 (M) eggs
pinch of salt
some olive oil for sauteeing the potatoes

Here is a picture so you get an idea of the sizes, since medium is a relative term!

First, cut the potatoes into small pieces with a pairing knife, look at the image below to know how I mean. And cut the onion into a fine julienne leaving a small piece aside. You see the small piece left on the right...save it for my mom's secret step!

Mix the cut potatoes and onion together in a bowl and salt them. Then add that to a wok-style pan that is big enough to let you sautée them heated with some olive oil to just cover the surface. I forgot to mention that most people fry the potatoes and onions is a generous amount of oil, closer to deep frying but at lower temperature. That's how I used to do it and the result is very good too. But I was a bit tired of using up so much oil and filtering and dirtying more pans. So I decided to try it this way and it's how I do it now. It's less messy plus LESS FAT!!!:-)

Now, cover the pan with a lid, just to keep the vapours in to cook the potato. I have induction that goes from 1-11, and I set it to about 8 sometimes 7 for this step. So, you want medium heat to let the potatoes cook through and get some golden colour on the outside and give time for the onion to caramelise. You should keep sauteeing it fairly often to let the potatoes brown evenly or else the ones at the bottom will darken too much and make something more like a rosti! It takes about 15 to 20 minutes. But rather be guided by the look of it and how soft your potato feels, it should end up looking like this:

While the potatoes and onion are cooking prepare the eggs. Put 2 of them into a bowl...and now MY SECRET (well actually my mom's, I learnt it from her and I wonder, never asked, if she learnt it from my grandma). This to me makes a great difference. I must admit that like I said before I like my omelette juicy...Well, it's half true. I like it VERY juicy, so juicy it's rather on the runny side. As you can imagine, it doesn't make for a great picture, so the one I cooked for you is juicy but to the liking of most people, I'm the unusual one! I'm saying this because being that the case, the onion blended into the eggs takes the eggy taste out, and to me it's delicious even raw! Yuk you must be thinking...But ever since I was small, I'd run to the kitchen when my mom was preparing spanish omelette to sink the just fried potatoes into the egg and onion mix and eat it!

So, the secret is that, to blend that little piece of onion you saved at the beginning into the two eggs (I use two because one isn't enough for the blender to completely desintegrate the onion and I like to add in the next just by fork as the blender froths it up). Then, you add in the other two and beat them in.

Keep the egg mix nearby so when your potatoes and onion are ready, you can add them directly into the bowl. Give it all a good mix, nevermind the potato breaks up, even better. Remember you added salt to the sautéed potato and onion so try it after well mixed before you add in salt, as it may not need any. So, adjust to taste.

Finally just left to cook it!

Heat a frying pan, I use a 20 cm diameter one for this, so with this recipe it's end up being about 2 fingers thick. But you adjust the saucepan depending on how thick you want your omelette to be. Obviously if you decide you want a fairly thick one, you ought to cook it for longer at lower heat. But always start heating up the pan very well, that way, there's less of a chance that it will stick, so when you decide to turn it, it stays in there and you end up with scrambled spanish omelette!

When the pan is hot, add a spoonful of olive oil and swirl it to make sure it coats the bottom. Now add in your mix. What I do is to keep swirling it as it cooking to 1) make sure it's not stuck and 2) to get a more even cooking. If your omelette is thick, you can cover the pan while you make this side and as soon as it's formed the bottom layer, you can lower the heat.

And now the tricky part to many: turn it! I prefer to use a flat lid that I have, with no rims, so it doesn't get stuck anywhere and slides softly into the pan as I return it. But any dish bigger than the frying pan will do. Though it's a bit trickier to be quick in the turn and make sure you have dry hands and a steady pulse so it doesn't slide and your omelette ends up on the floor. It's really not that complicated...but it happens!:-)

Et voilà there's your omelette...

See how juicy it is!

¡Que aproveche!

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Hot thick chocolate for "churros"

Today was my due date. Today I was supposed to start my blog and publish my first post (my boyfriend decided on the date for me, so I stop procrastinating and instead of just reading other great food blogs, I start my own, as well).

I thought about what would my FIRST post be…and with so many possibilities, I decided on a recipe that is my ultimate comfort food (amongst others) and that represents my roots…spanish omelette (I actually thought it as a fun title for a blog).

But it just happened that last week Linguini and I went out for “chocolate con churros” for breakfast to a traditional Churrería and the chocolate was a big disappointment. So I promised this morning I would make the hot chocolate while he would go to get Churros (this is one of the few things I buy rather than make….First, at home you don’t usually have fryers that reach the right temperature nor the “churrera” to shape them and get all the air trapped in the dough out. Second….they explode!!! and I already got my share and burnt really, I mean really bad when I dared try it, so I recommend that you don’t make them at home).

As to the hot chocolate,I thought of sharing the recipe with you too! Linguini wasn’t so keen on the idea of eating his breakfast cold as I needed to take the pictures. But he ended up being patient enough to let me take some quick shots…

So, for a traditional spanish day I leave you with a delicious thick hot chocolate recipe for breakfast and later will come tortilla for lunch!

Hot thick chocolate for “Churros”

(Enough for 2 people)

300ml milk
100g dark chocolate (I used Lindt desserts 70% cocoa)
5g maizena
20g sugar
Pinch of salt

Chop the chocolate into small pieces, so it will melt better in the hot milk.

Dissolve the maizena in about 25 ml of the cold milk and set aside.

Bring the rest of the milk to a boil and take off the heat.

Add the chocolate and with a silicon spatula incorporate it until fully melted. A trick I use (since commercial chocolate doesn’t melt as couvertures sold to restaurateurs which contain extra cocoa butter) is to give it a whiz with a hand blender at minimum speed so it doesn’t foam. The result: a perfectly smooth chocolate.

Add the sugar to taste. I used 20g for this chocolate but your chocolate may be sweeter or more bitter, so try. Also, I’m not very fond of overly sweet things, so I keep sugar to a minimum, just to get the bitterness out.

Add the pinch of salt. I find that to all sweet things it brings out the taste…even in chocolate!

Now it’s time to thicken it. Pour the dissolved maizena into the melted chocolate and bring slowly to a boil as you constantly swirl it scraping the bottom with a silicone spatula. This is an important step so it doesn’t stick to the bottom too quickly and you end up with blobs of thickened paste floating in your chocolate.

I’ve got to say that how thick you like your chocolate is also to personal preference. Here in Spain they make it really thick! I like it a bit more runny (I think you can tell from the photos) but really chocolatey!!!


Make ahead

If you want you can also make this ahead. The only important thing to do is to place a piece of cling film directly over the chocolate as you pour in into a container (Tupperware). It will obviously stick to it, but it’s the only way to keep it from forming a skin, like in bechamels, so it will be smooth when you reheat it. When ready to use, scrape ALL from the tupper and film into a saucepan and heat through. If you find it has thickened a bit for your liking, just stir in a bit of milk or cream....Et voilà!!

Some suggestions

I like to twitch the recipe a bit and add in some flavours. My favourite: coffee. I find it’s even better than plain chocolate. To make it I just substitute a cup of expresso for the same amount of milk. Or even simpler, add a teaspoon of soluble coffee (about 5 g) to the dissolved maizena. That easy.

Feel free to add flavours you like. You could infuse the milk with half a cinnamon stick or some orange peel, or it’s delicious to infuse it with chili! Have you seen “Chocolat” starring Juliette Binoche…she makes a Mayan hot chocolate with chili that really warms you up!!!

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