I spent the better part of last week in bed. My birthday came and went, I slept through Valentine’s Day (sorry, Adam!) and I finally crawled out of bed Friday morning, a bit feeble and restless. I haven’t had this seasonal malady since sixth grade as I’ve been one of the lucky ones who has kept it at bay for so many years. But I suppose my number was up. In all honestly I’ve been burning the candle at both ends for far too long, existing on 5 hours of sleep every night and waking to do it all over again. Lest I become one of those people who talk about how sick they were or how bad they felt let’s just say I thoroughly enjoyed the rest and feel much more connected to Oprah and Martha. And it goes without saying…the birthday wishes from you really gave me a happy jolt and had everything to do with a speedy recovery. I know this.
By the time I crawled out of bed and joined the land of the living I felt the need to reengage myself with familiar tasks. I cleaned out my spam folder, returned neglected phone calls and also rummaged through the kitchen for something to eat that didn’t involve broth or acetaminophen disguised as lemonade. Blech. I needed something simple, flavorful, and restorative, and I needed it to include the few things we had on hand.
I found eggs, a few small yukon gold potatoes, a handful of remaining mache, and some Cara Cara oranges tucked away on the counter. Tortilla Española! If this didn’t sound like a recipe-to-make-matt-feel-better then nothing would have helped, absolutely nothing.
I whisked and sliced, slowly feeling the energy return to my weary bones. But I also noticed how quiet things were in my kitchen which is normally a construction zone of recipe-testing, iPod blasting at full volume, every burner fighting for oxygen. But not that day. That day it was still and serene, the only noise being an occasional sizzle of eggs cooking in a skillet and the whistle of a tea kettle reminding me that yes, it’s ok to slow down on occasion and no, you mustn’t let the flu be the only thing to allow you to recharge and reenergize.
Just slow down.
Years ago while in Barcelona I begged my friend Ramon to ask his sister if she’d let me hang out in her kitchen to observe her expert tortilla technique. Jelou obliged and quickly put me to work. I made many mistakes, and being sternly corrected in Catalan quickly taught me that a Spanish tortilla is at once easy and difficult, simple and complex. Perhaps it’s why there’s no correct way of doing it and each one is unique. While I make mine from memory (and please note it’s certainly not as pretty as Jelou’s) I’ve included a recipe here from Steven Raichlen and Food & Wine Magazine.
2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick
1/4 cup olive oil
2 large onions, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
6 large eggs
Freshly ground pepper
1. In a large saucepan, cover the potatoes with cold water, add 1 teaspoon of salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to moderate and simmer until the potatoes are just tender, about 7 minutes. Drain the potatoes and rinse under cold running water to stop the cooking; drain again. Spread the potato slices on paper towels and pat dry.
2. Preheat the oven to 400°. In a heavy 12-inch ovenproof skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the onions and cook over moderate heat, stirring often, until golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes.
3. In a large bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Gently stir in the potatoes and onions and season generously with salt and pepper.
4. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in the skillet. Add the egg mixture and cook over moderate heat undisturbed until the bottom of the tortilla is lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake the tortilla for about 20 minutes, or until the eggs are set and the potatoes are very tender. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes.
5. Loosen the tortilla from the pan by running the tip of a knife around the edge. Place a round platter over the pan and invert. Cut into wedges and serve.
And it’s absolutely no coincidence that the tableware elevated my mood, too. Look at it! How could one not smile? Muschisimas gracias to Lenox for this beautiful pattern called Chirp from their Simply Fine line of china. You can find out more about it as well as gorgeous other patterns here.