The title needs an explanation. But first, here is my kitchen print in its new home. The owl clock, which I received for my birthday is from Decoy Lab. I love how the fabric makes the owl pop…makes those owly eyes even more buggy.
The title refers to this quote from the late, the wonderful, the rather witty Julia Child: “You should never apologize at the table. People will think, ‘Yes, it’s really not so good.’”
Today’s luncheon adventures made me think about this quote. I have not been able to cook regularly since I’ve been pregnant. Food has been often repellent to me, a lot more things make me feel sick, and I’m completely wiped out physically and mentally after teaching. This has been a great point of sadness for me because I get so much joy out of cooking. I also often have apologized to my more than understanding husband about what feels like a failure on my part. Silly perhaps, but I don’t think I’m along among women who feel inadequate from time to time. Feelings aside and feeling physically good today, I decided I’m going to make lunch…really make lunch. What follows requires a bit of background…
A couple of years ago, I stopped using teflon pans after an incident that involved toasting chiles in what turned out to be a superheated teflon pan…the combo of the teflon fumes and the chile gas that resulted was a noxious, painful situation that certainly would have killed any canaries in the vicinity had there been any. Since then, I’ve not really missed my non-stick pans with one exception…for making Tortilla Espagnola–Spanish Omelet. It involves cooking potatoes in oil until they are soft and a little brown and then mixing them into eggs. You pour the whole contents back into your pan and cook until the bottom of the tortilla is set. Then you flip it and slide it back into the pan and cook the bottom side. This is not an easy operation without some non-stick help.
But Spainards have been making this dish since the dawn of time–or at least a long time before teflon, so what to use? Thankfully, Nathan bought me a paella pan on a business trip a couple of years ago. This pan is lightweight and very capable of holding seasoning much like a cast iron skillet (which is unfortunately too heavy for the flipping process). So this morning, I went about seasoning it. It looked pretty good and black by the time that I finished, so I proceeded.
Tortilla Espagnola–adapted from My Kitchen in Spain by Janet Mendel–serves 4 for a light meal or 2 if you’re like me and don’t particularly feel like sharing at the moment
2 lbs potatoes, peeled and sliced about 1/8″ thick
1/2 cup olive oil (okay, it’s a lot of oil, but trust me, you want all of it)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp smoked Spanish paprika–sweet or hot
1/4 onion, chopped in small dice
Warm the oil in a non-stick pan over medium-low heat. Add the potatoes and cook, stirring occasionally for 15 minutes.
Things are going well so far.
Add 1/2 tsp of the salt, the onion and paprika. Continue to cook the potatoes until they are tender throughout and if you like as I do, have some brown crispy edges to them. Scrape the bottom of the pan really well with a wooden spatula to release any potato particles.
Beat the eggs with the remaining 1/2 tsp salt in a large mixing bowl. Using a slotted spoon, remove the potatoes and mix with the eggs. The remaining oil in the pan should coat the bottom of your pan. If it doesn’t, add a little more. Pour the egg mixture back into the pan and cook until the edges are set–about 5 minutes. Shake the pan as you do this to avoid sticking. If you’re a little hesitant, run a long spatula under the omelet before you do the next bit.
Take an inverted pizza pan or cookie sheet and flip the tortilla out onto it so that the cooked side is up. Slide the tortilla back into the pan and cook until the bottom is also set. If you’re lucky, you will have quite a pretty omelet. But it’s okay if, like me today, your omelet looks like this:
The truth is is that all the love you put into letting those potatoes cook all that long time will still shine through in the final flavor of what now looks like a pile of hash. If your tortilla also looks like a pile of hash, remember Julia and don’t apologize. Plunk it down on a plate under some parsley and your family will still enjoy it. You can work on your flipping technique later (or season your pan better).
As for me, I ate like 1/2 of the thing for lunch. It was delicious.