This time of year, I’m barely going to the grocery store. Between the many local farmers’ markets, farm stands, my CSA share, and my own backyard, we are well-fed. This week’s recipe for Cook the Book Fridays fit right into this food procurement system. Except for feta cheese, all the ingredients for the Potato, Feta and Basil Tortilla were already on-hand: potatoes from Dick’s Market Garden, scallions and eggs from Wilson Farm, and basil from my own garden.
In this case, the tortilla is not a Mexican corn pancake, but a Basque version of a frittata. You start out sautéing diced potatoes in a generous amount of olive oil. (The recipe said to peel the potatoes but I didn’t bother.) When the potatoes are almost tender, sliced scallions are stirred in to wilt.
Pour a mixture of eggs, some piment d’Espelette, and loads of coarsely chopped basil on top and sprinkle crumbled feta on top. The tortilla cooks stovetop until it is almost set and a golden-brown crust forms on the bottom and sides. The cooking finishes up for a few minutes in a hot oven.
I originally bought my cast-iron skillet specifically for making frittatas. I’ve seasoned it, but every time I made one, it stuck. Over the years, I’d shifted to making frittatas entirely in the oven in a baking pan. When I read this recipe and saw that the tortilla was cooked on the stove in cast-iron, I was nervous that I’d have the same experience. I was pleasantly surprised as I watched the crust easily separated from the pan when I checked its progress. When I transferred the tortilla to a serving plate, I smiled as it gently plopped out. It worked! I could assume that after all this time, my pan is better seasoned, but I’m giving credit to the healthy amount of olive oil added at the start.
The tortilla was delicious for dinner as well as for lunch. A side of sliced vegetables drizzled with olive oil or a panzanella were welcome accompaniments.
I’d make this again, though I thought the amount of basil was overwhelming. I would prefer just a handful of basil for flavor supplemented with other sautéed greens to provide both substance and color.
My main takeaway lesson from this recipe is that the cast-iron skillet can be restored to its intended purpose in frittata making. I’ll just have to remember to be heavy-handed with the oil when sautéing the vegetables.
Happy New Year! A new start. A new opportunity to reset. A chance to work on a new set of intentions. I’m up for the challenge, though I’ve already gotten behind on some of the projects I started this week.
Spending more time on my blog is one intention I have for 2017. I cook endlessly, I invent new recipes, I record my notes, I sometimes remember to take pictures, but I don’t take time to share the winners.
Other than my participation with the Cook the Book Fridays gang, I seldom write a post. I am glad that as this community of home cooks and bloggers approach a year of cooking through David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen, we’re still at it. So many of these recipes are delicious discoveries. Even when they appear to be nothing special on paper, I’ve learned that simplicity has a lot to offer. This week’s recipe, Fresh Herb Omelette, is the perfect example.
Let’s back up so I can tell you a few egg stories. The first one is about my mother. My mother was an excellent cook. One of the many gifts she gave me (and my sisters) was a love of cooking, eating, and sharing food. As in any family, there were a few things she made that were not my favorites. I only remember a few of them now. One stand-out “not favorite” was my mother’s scrambled eggs. I’m not sure who taught her to make them, but they were FLAT. I longed for the scrambled eggs my friend Cheryl’s mother made, which were fluffy with big curds. I would ask my mom for those, but I still got flat eggs that she cut into pieces with the side of the spatula to mimic curds. Sigh.
I eventually learned to make myself the scrambled eggs I craved. The next logical step after scrambled eggs is an omelette. I’m highly competent at scrambled eggs, but I continue to struggle with omelettes. I keeping with my scrambled egg preference, I enjoy puffy omelettes, filled with cheese and sautéed vegetables. I’ve watched cooking shows and videos on cooking omelettes. As hard as I try, I can’t seem to master the timing for folding the egg over the filling without cracking the egg base. My omelettes resemble sandwiches where the cooked egg stands in for two pieces of bread above and below the filling.
When I saw that we’d be making an omelette for this week’s recipe challenge, I was excited that I might finally crack the code. The recipe is super simple. It called for ingredients that are always in my refrigerator: eggs, cream, herbs, cheese, and butter. The recipe called for a large skillet. As I poured the whisked egg mixture into the pan and swirled it around, I was concerned because the eggs just coated the pan, like a large pancake. It set up quickly. I didn’t need to pull up the edge and let extra egg run underneath what was cooked. I sprinkled a line of cheese down the middle, which melted almost immediately, then quickly folded the omelette in half. The egg was soft and pliable and didn’t tear or break.
One bite took me back to my mother’s kitchen. This time, instead of being disappointed, her scrambled eggs made much more sense to me. They weren’t really scrambled eggs after all, but rather, her version of an omelette. With herbs and cheese, this one was more interesting than her plain one but they were definitely related.
Admittedly, I’m still more partial to fluffier filled omelettes, even if I don’t know how to keep them whole, but David’s omelette makes a pretty great lunch. I liked it enough to make it two days in a row. One day I used the last of some dill plus some parsley matched with Manchego cheese, and the next with cilantro and cheddar. I didn’t bother to warm the plate, as suggested, but should have because the plate (like my house) is on the cold side, so the egg cooled down as I ate it.
The only step that didn’t make sense to me was to position the cheese down the middle of the eggs in the pan, which meant there was cheese in the fold, but nowhere else. Maybe I read the recipe wrong. In the future, I’ll either sprinkle it all over the eggs or fold the eggs in thirds.
These eggs have earned a place in my lunch rotation, and maybe even breakfast too.