Tortilla, But Not What You’re Thinking

When I lived in Spain, I spent a sort of stupid amount of time trying to explain to the people I lived with that I didn’t eat meat (what kinds of meat? All kinds. Not chicken? No. Not fishes? No. Not pork? No. Well, surely you eat ham. Ham is a vegetable.). This really put a crimp in several of my relationships.

As it turns out, the Andalusian diet is not particularly vegetarian-friendly, so about three weeks in I reverted to my omnivorous state to avoid starving to death. In that time, however, I got a pretty great tour of the six-to-eight meat-free dishes in the  cuisine, some of which remain my favorites. Today, I bring you tortilla española.

This is actually not an omelet.
This is actually not an omelet.

No, it’s not beautiful, but you know, neither was Eleanor Roosevelt and we’re still able to come up with dozens of nice things to say about her. The same holds true for tortilla. It’s good hot, cold, and room temperature, keeps for a couple days, costs less than 50 cents a serving, and makes a great sandwich. If that isn’t the Eleanor Roosevelt of weeknight dinners, I don’t know what is.

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Soba Noodles: For Your Own Good

This recipe comes originally from the Serve Yourself Cookbook, but saying this is an adaptation of Joe Yonan’s original is like saying my parents named me after an actress who had a guest appearance on Family Ties: that’s technically true, but really more of a jumping off point than anything else.

Introducing: The Soba Noodle Thing!
Introducing: The Soba Noodle Thing!

I probably eat this so often it’s a food group unto itself, and it doesn’t really have a name, so we call it “the soba noodle thing.” It’s super tasty, and if it takes you more than 10 minutes to make, you’re doing it wrong.

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Reimagining Brussels Sprout

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Did you hate brussels sprouts as a kid? I know a lot of people did. But look at this. Look at it. How could you hate this even a little? It has all the things you like, takes about 10 minutes, and has four ingredients. You can’t lose.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 2 dozen brussels sprouts (if you’re at my grocery store and they inexplicably only have monster ones, just get maybe 15)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt
  • 1/4-1/3 cup of grated cheese (parmesan and romano both are great choices)

Now, rinse off those sprouts, cut them in half, and peel off the outer layer of leaves. Those are a little gross. Toss them with about half the olive oil. Put the other half of the olive oil into a large frying pan that has a tight-fitting lid over medium heat. Place the sprouts cut side down, like so.

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Cover and cook for about five or six minutes.

After that, you need to take the cover off and see if it’s tender. It’s like a carrot– if your fork goes in really easily, you’re good. If no, cover and cook another minute or two. Crank your heat to medium high and cook until the cut side is a deep and roasty brown. That’ll take maybe two to three minutes. Once you’re there, just move everything around a little to brown the non-cut side a touch. If you’re feeling good, add salt and pepper to taste, then throw the cheese in to brown it a bit too.

Oh, yum.
Oh, yum.

Cook for about 30 seconds, just to get everything mixed up. Put in a bowl and serve really, really quickly.

This pairs really nicely with pasta dishes or as a quick side dish to an unfussy entree. I make it about once a week because it’s so cheap, quick, and unbelievably tasty. If this doesn’t change your heart about brussels sprouts, you’re a lost cause.

Okay, so when are you making this? What did you make it with? Got any brussels sprout recipes I should try? Did you know that the brussels sprout is actually a cabbage?

Snacks on Snacks on Snacks, Part Deux: Poptarts

I thought,” you know? This has been a good week. I love y’all a ton. Y’all deserve TWO snack recipes. Y’all deserve my poptart recipe.”

Get in my mouth, heavenly beings.
Get in my mouth, heavenly beings.

In grad school, there was this amazing bakery that had homemade poptarts sometimes, and whoa, were they good. I would buy all of them when they made those. When I moved away, I just figured out what to do. You can make any kind of poptart your little heart desires. Look after the jump for the starting point.

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Risotto: Not that hard. Stop complaining.

Today, I bring you a dish I make fortnightly at least, and it is nameless. My human garbage disposal calls it “that thing with the sausage and rice and tomatoes”, but that is inelegant, so we’ll just call it Spinach Sausage Risotto.

Again, y'all will be SO GRATEFUL when I take that food styling class.
Again, y’all will be SO GRATEFUL when I take that food styling class.

I adapted this from Smitten Kitchen, and my recipe is after the jump.
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Do I Love You? A guide on how to know.

Maybe you’re wondering if I love you. The answer is a firm “maybe.” A good hint would be that if you get hurt and are feeling kind of bummed and are just hanging around the house alone, I make you a pie and bring it to you and sit on your couch and watch Nashville with you.
A couple days ago, I promised that I would share a few things my grandma taught me how to do. I meant to get this to you yesterday, but, you know, Nashville. The particular coconut cream pie recipe that I will share with you after the jump is well regarded to be the alpha and omega of coconut cream pies. I will let you be the judge.

Sweet, sweet convalescence.
Sweet, sweet convalescence.

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Book of the Week: United States of Arugula

I’m a little too young to have watched Julia Child do her French Chef on PBS. I am actually too young to have watched the French Chef on SNL. My mom always had a copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, but other than that, I was not very aware of the canon of American cookery. My mom was was and is a very good cook, but we lived in midsized cities in the 90s, so it wasn’t like Alice Waters was opening restaurants in our neighborhoods.

But I ended up getting my master’s degree in foodways, and these names became my life. The United States of Arugula is a family album of sorts that brings together all these biographies and styles and shows you how they fit together to inform each others’ recipes and restaurants.

United States of Arugula, by David Camp.
United States of Arugula, by David Camp.

David Kamp has written a lot of books about popular culture (food, wine, rock music), and he has a very direct way of saying what he thinks. I kind of liked that with The Rock Snob’s Dictionary, but…okay, we’ll get back to that.

What’s cool about Arugula is spelled out in the first pages of the preface, namely that the last forty or so years have been a sea change in the way Americans eat. I can vouch for that: people are more interested in knowing where you source your sorrel than they were five years ago. People know what sorrel is, which was not the case five years ago. My mom has a friend whose grandfather introduced broccoli to America. Let me run that by you again: no one was eating broccoli in 1925 in America. It was not something available for purchase. Isn’t that wild?

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