Sunday, September 30, 2012

Tortilla Española

I'm a sucker for Spanish food.  I've been to Spain a number of times, and I love the flavor-rich tapas you can get at a corner café.  Even at home, I love the smell of Olive Oil and Garlic filling the house.  A Tortilla is one of my favorite tapas to eat and to make.

When you say to most Americans "Tortilla", the first thing to come to mind is a flour or corn flatbread that is indigenous to our continent - south of the border.


The word "Tortilla" means "Little Cake", and in most countries refers to what I'm going to show all of you today.  A Tortilla or Tortilla española (Spanish Tortilla) is like a potato omelet.


2 lbs. Potatoes - any kind
*About 6 or 7 small potatoes, or 3 or 4 large potatoes.

1 small Onion - any kind

4 Cloves of Garlic

6 Eggs

1/2 c. Milk

1/4 c. Olive Oil for sauteéing

2 - 3 T. Olive Oil for the platter
*I'll explain later

Salt to taste


1.  Slice the Potatoes into 1/8" slices.  Some slices should be halved or quartered, so that they're about 1 - 2 square inches in area.

2.  Chop the entire Onion.    Mince the Garlic or use a garlic press later.

3.  Heat the 1/4 c. Olive Oil in a 10" Teflon skillet on medium heat.

4.  Put the chopped Onion and minced Garlic into the oil.  Let them sauté for about 1 minute.

5.  Put the sliced Potatoes into the oil.  Salt the mixture.  Stir the potatoes and Onions together until the Potatoes are completely covered in oil.  Cover with a lid and let the Potatoes cook, uncovering occasionally to stir until the Potatoes are soft and slightly browned - about 30 min.

6.  While the Potatoes are cooking, beat the Eggs and Milk together.

Just in case you didn't know what beaten eggs look like.
7.  When the Potatoes are soft and slightly browned, pour the Egg Mixture into the Potato Mixture.  Then, cover the skillet.

8.  When the eggs are beginning to cook, run a rubber spatula around the edge to just separate the eggs from the edge of the skillet.  Cover again and cook until the egg is completely cooked on the top.

9.  While the eggs are cooking, spread the 2 - 3 T. of Olive Oil on a large, round platter (12" + dia.).

10.  With this step, you're going to have to be very careful.  Uncover the skillet, and place the oiled platter on top of the skillet.  Now, holding the platter to the skillet, carefully turn the skillet upside down over the platter.  If you need, shake the skillet a little to make sure the Tortilla is completely unstuck from the skillet, and onto the platter.  Remove the skillet, and place the skillet back onto the stove.  Now, carefully slide the Tortilla back onto the skillet, slowly pushing it with a spatula.

11.  Cook the Tortilla uncovered on its flip side for another 5 minutes.

12.   While the Tortilla is finishing cooking, wash and dry the platter.  When the Tortilla is ready, slide it from the skillet onto the platter, using the spatula.  Slice the Tortilla like a pie to serve it.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Butternut Squash Soup

So, last week I took a little hiatus.  As the program year started, things got a little busy for me to post.  To make it up, I'm doing what is quite possibly my favorite fall recipe.

Fall has officially started, and with it comes fall produce.  Squashes abound this time of year.  You can pick them up at the grocery store and at farmers markets.  The question is what to do with them. 

Making a soup is a great way to make Butternut Squash, especially on a chilly day.  This soup is actually a cream soup.  It's totally an invention of mine, and one that I've made for a few years.  It is always a favorite at potlucks and dinner parties.  The recipe is pretty simple.


1 Butternut Squash

1 sm. or med. Yellow Onion

6 oz (about 6 cu. in) of Fresh Ginger Root

2 c. of Vegetable Broth
*If you use vegetable bouillon, just add 2 more cups of water and throw the cube into the pot at the beginning.

8 c. Water.

1 block (apx 12 oz) of Tofu

Salt - to taste


1.  Peel the and chop the Butternut Squash into 1" - 1 1/2" pieces.  You will have to scoop the seeds out of the squash.  I find it's helpful to cut the squash into larger pieces first.  Once you've done that, scoop the seed out, and peel the larger pieces.  Then, you can cut it into smaller pieces.

2.  Peel the Ginger Root and chop it into 1" pieces. 
*When handling raw ginger, make sure you wash your hands immediately, thoroughly and frequently.  Raw ginger is very acidic and can do some damage to your skin.  

Do as I say, not as I do!
3.  Quarter the Onion and take off the skin.  With your hands break it up the onion layers a little.

4.  Put the Squash pieces, Ginger Root, and Onion into a very large pot.  Add the Water and Vegetable Broth (or Bouillon).  Put the pot with all the ingredients (no tofu yet) on the stove top and bring to a boil.  Cook on high head until the squash pieces can easily be stabbed with a fork (Apx. 20 min.)

5.  Remove the pot from the heat and let the mixture cool at least until you can touch the sides with your bare hands.

6.  Separate the liquids from the solids into large bowls. Set some of the Squash pieces (about 2-3 c.) aside. 

7.  Put the Tofu, and solid pieces into a blender until the blender is nearly full.  Add the liquid to just cover the solids.  Blend on any setting until the mixture is completely pureéd.  Pour the purée back into the large pot.  Then, put the rest of the solids into the blender, cover with the liquid again, and blend the rest together.  Pour that into the pot with the rest of the liquid.

8.  Cut the Squash pieces you set aside into 1/2" cubes and add them back into the pot.

9.  Stir everything together and cook uncovered on med-low heat until it reaches the desired thickness (Apx. 1 hr.)  Stir occasionally so that the soup does not stick to the bottom. 

10.  Salt to taste and serve.  I find this soup is really good served with a dollop of Plain Yogurt (As shown above).

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Sunflower Butter

A few weeks ago, when I posted how to make Tahini, it occurred to me how similar it is to making a nut butter.  Almost everyone's familiar with Peanut Butter, but unfortunately a lot of people are allergic to it.  There are plenty of alternatives, but they can be hard to find and expensive. 

Being from Kansas, I've always had a fondness for Sunflowers.

(If you're from the East Coast, Kansas is a State in the middle of the country.)

The Sunflower is the State flower, and as you can see, there's even a sunflower on the State flag.  

Not only do I like the flower, but I like Sunflower Seeds.  What guy doesn't like swooshing them around in his mouth to take the shell off, and spit it out?  Obviously, it's much easier to eat the kind that are already shelled.  A few years ago, I tried for the first time, Sunflower Butter.  It's basically like Peanut Butter, but tastes better.  The downside is that, as I stated above, there's a cost and availability problem.  

So, after a few attempts at making it with some trial and error, I finally got a good recipe for it.  

Here it is!

2 c. Shelled, Unsalted Sunflower Seeds

3 T. Sunflower Oil (Preferably Unrefined)

1/2 t. Salt

1 T. Agave Nectar (Or any sweetener, really)
*Agave Nectar is very low glycemic, which is why I chose this as a sweetener.  It's also becoming very common and easy to find.

You won't need nearly this much.


1.   Put the 2 c. of Sunflower Seeds into a blender.

2.  With the lid on, turn the blender on a high setting and grind the seeds until they become a fine powder.  You will probably have to stop the blender and scrape the sides with a rubber spatula once or twice.

3.  Switch the blender to its lowest setting (Stir), and very slowly drizzle in the Sunflower Oil.  Again you will probably have to scrape the sides a couple of times.  

4.  When the mixture reaches the desired consistency, add the Salt and Agave Nectar.  Turn off the blender, and stir a couple of turns with a spoon.  Then, put it in a jar for storage.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Yogurt Dill Dip

It's Labor Day Weekend, and who wants to go to a lot of work making something?  Chances are that you'll either be going somewhere or having someone over.  Here's a simple and good recipe to go with any hors d'oeuvres. 

A few months ago, Kristen got me a starter kit with cucumber and dill seeds for a pot garden.  I think she may have had something in mind with cucumbers and dill.  

Unfortunately, the cucumbers haven't done so well.  We've gotten two of them off the vines, and neither were that great.  The dill, though, has done great.  So, I've been trying out different things with it.  This dip is a delicious way to use that dill, and it's healthy too!


1 1/2 c. Plain Nonfat Yogurt

1 T. Fresh Dill - Finely Chopped

1/2 t. Garlic Powder

1/2 t. Salt

Hot Sauce


1.  Put the Yogurt in a small to medium sized mixing bowl.

2.  Add in the Dill, Garlic Powder and Salt.  Add a few drops or one good shake of Hot Sauce.

3.  Stir together, and refrigerate for an hour before serving.