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.
Simple or dressed up, I love potatoes. As the fall harvest ends, I placed a bulk order of root vegetables from a local farm, including a 10 pound bag of gold potatoes and a pound of garlic. When I read through this week’s recipe for Cook the Book Fridays, I was excited I could enjoy my local vegetables in Scalloped potatoes with blue cheese and roasted garlic by adding only a few more ingredients: cream, sage from my garden (instead of chives), and the wedge of Jasper Hill Farm’s Bayley Hazen Blue in the fridge.
First, a few cloves of garlic are roasted until they are soft and mellow, then mashed into a paste. The garlic is infused into some cream (which I lightened with some half-and-half). Layers of thinly sliced potatoes are seasoned, then scattered with chopped sage and chunks of the blue cheese: three layers of potatoes in all. The fragrant garlic cream covers it all. The casserole is then baked for an hour until the potatoes are tender.
The potatoes were delicious. They reminded me of the Pommes Dauphinois we made for French Fridays with Dorie back in 2010. I served this one night with sous-vide turkey thighs confit that Howard and the next with roasted chicken thighs. Both were a nice foil to the potatoes. However, this one was a little rich for a weeknight dinner, probably more appropriate for a meal shared with company.
As a side note, I’ve been working my way through the approximately 3 gallons of green cherry tomatoes I harvested before our first frost last week. I love this recipe I found for Tiny Fried Green Tomatoes. They are so cute and quite delicious. Also loved this seasonal cocktail, Autumn Margaritas, with apple cider, fresh squeezed lime, and tequila served in a cinnamon-sugar rimmed glass.