Mother Nature Gave Me A Speeding Ticket

by Matt on February 18, 2008


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.

Spanish Tortilla
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.

{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

Lito S, February 18, 2008 at 8:26 am

Awww Sorry you got sick, mijo.

This is very weird. I been thinking this past week I should look up recipes for tortilla espan~ola. Been in the mood, and voila, u get better and oblige me. Yayyyy!

tulip February 18, 2008 at 8:53 am

Only you could take a post about the flu and make it sound restful and restorative! :)
Good to hear you are feeling better!

helen February 18, 2008 at 9:45 am

It’s great that you’re back on your feet, and happy belated birthday!

I just love, love, love the tableware. The website doesn’t seem to offer any information on shipping to Canada. Sigh. It may be time to open up that Blaine, Washington mailbox…

chanelle February 18, 2008 at 9:55 am

yay! i am SO happy you are better! welcome back to the land of the living. they have better tableware.

and i’m coming to you for breakfast next time i’m sick, haha!


Mel February 18, 2008 at 12:29 pm

Found your blog through HouseBeautiful and it is just that – beautiful! Am especially eager to try your recipe for Tortilla de Papas…just thinking about it brings back memories of my trip to Spain this past fall. And really. The china? So gorgeous.

StickyKeys February 18, 2008 at 12:42 pm

I’m glad you’re feeling more restored, Valentine’s Day can be whatever day you and your honey make it.

That tableware is lovely!

Bron February 18, 2008 at 2:19 pm

Now that definitely looks worth getting out of bed for! So pleased to hear you are feeling better!

Amy Sherman February 18, 2008 at 4:00 pm

Good to hear you’re feeling better. We had a couple of weeks of chicken soup around here too.

180/360 February 18, 2008 at 10:02 pm

I love that china! And the food looks yummy, too! Glad you are feeling better.

lobstersquad February 19, 2008 at 12:40 am

boiling potatoes for tortilla? no wonder nature gave you a speeding ticket. some would consider that punishable with community service at the very least.

Leah Greenstein February 19, 2008 at 10:14 am

Love the spring pea design, Matt. It looks fabulous! And thanks for the tortilla recipe; it’s one of my favorite comfort foods and it’s been forever since I’ve had any. Can’t wait to try it out.

Us vs. Food February 19, 2008 at 11:44 am

spanish tortilla is one of those things i just can’t seem to get quite right. i’m inspired to try again, although boiling the potatoes runs counter to everything i thought i knew about tortillas (admittedly, very little).

i *love* the peas.

adriana mullen February 19, 2008 at 3:56 pm

Good to have you back Matt, those photos look awesome does not matter what you cook.

Rebecca February 19, 2008 at 4:20 pm

Beautiful tortilla! It (along with the pretty china simplyFine, indeed!)make mine look pathetic! I’ll have to try your recipe-I’ve never boiled the papas before. Glad you’re feeling better!

JEP February 19, 2008 at 5:51 pm

Mmm…looks like you’ve found a good recovery theory! Belated Happy Birthday to you!

White On Rice Couple February 20, 2008 at 12:18 am

So glad you mention Cara Cara oranges! They are so delicious ! Your plates are pieces of art and so is your fabulous new header! You da man Matt!

Maryann February 20, 2008 at 1:18 pm

We call this a frittata in my house. Am I the only one who thought a tortilla was a thin flat bread? Either way, yours looks delicious and I’m glad you are feeling better :)

nicola February 20, 2008 at 8:45 pm

i have been hanging on desperately to my beautiful and increasingly chipped mugs – it’s breaking my heart. but i opened your post and oooo’ed. and i ain’t one to oooo easily matt.

thanks for the moment…i’m so glad you’re back on your feet.

shelley February 21, 2008 at 8:01 am

Dave and I had commented just last week that its been several years since of either of us has gotten very sick. Yes, the irony hasn’t been lost on either of us.

Glad you’re up and about, that sounds like a very nice, gentle way to get back into the swing of things.

Lauren February 21, 2008 at 10:01 am

Happy belated birthday! So sorry to hear you were feeling crappy for your birthday. Hope you’re all better now! I had cedar fever over Xmas and a friend recommended boiling some water, remove from the heat, add a few drops of peppermint oil and breathe in the steam. Works wonders.

P.S. Wish I could take photos that beautiful when I’m well!!

All Things Cupcake - Jess February 21, 2008 at 10:17 am

Matt. I absolutely love your new header. Of course, it’s not a cupcake.. but (I can’t believe I’m saying this…) it looks JUST as delicious!!

superluckykitchen February 22, 2008 at 8:46 am

this looks beautiful, im ready for spring, cherry blossoms, and something to do with the bag of potatoes sitting in my pantry! thanks for the beautiful inspiration

Tiina February 24, 2008 at 12:05 pm

What a beautiful tortilla, and the tableware is simply gorgeous!

Snehal February 24, 2008 at 8:25 pm

I could lick those plates .. ahh well have to mind my manners, but they are so gorgeous!! It was nice to read about you slowing down, we should do it everyday, shouldn’t we? Love the recipeas well:)

Philippe February 25, 2008 at 4:38 am

Glad to hear that you are better. I just love those china ware of yours and those looks really yummy. =)

kellypea February 25, 2008 at 5:45 am

Can’t remember how I ended up here, but jeez it’s beautiful. And I LOVE Spanish tortillas.

Cakespy February 25, 2008 at 6:19 pm

Love the china, but even more the RECIPE. That looks so tasty!

L February 26, 2008 at 2:38 pm

Gld you are feeling better! Is it a coincidence that your lovely Chirp plates are also in this month’s Gourmet? I was flipping through and said, Hey! I’ve seen those birds before!


Nicole February 27, 2008 at 9:10 pm

I am confused– I thought the potatoes for a spanish tortilla were supposed to be fried not boiled? There was no mention of this being an out of the oridinary/healthy method, so am I mistaken?

Tudor-Diva March 29, 2008 at 6:46 pm

Oooo, I haven’t had a torilla in ages. LOVE them.

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