The pressure was on! We had an invite to a brunch that would bring together some of the contributors to the new Edible Long Island magazine (launching first edition digitally in July, and then print editions starting in September). And everyone was to bring something.
A brunch full of food writers focused on local, hand-crafted food is a brunch full of people who know their way around a kitchen and know good stuff when they taste it. So this called for a dish that features seasonal ingredients, preferably locally-sourced, and perhaps expressing something about who I am and where I come from.
A Spanish-style tortilla was the only logical solution. This is not the corn or flour tortilla wrapped around beans that you get in a Mexican restaurant. A Spanish (from Spain) tortilla is a stovetop egg cake carrying delicious seasoned and sauteed vegetables and/or meats. Similar to a frittata, it makes for a nice tapas dish or a satisfyingly hearty yet light meal. It is also marvellously portable and a go-to for me at many potlucks. Regular readers have tried my version of the classic Tortilla española (onions and potato); Tortilla Torcal (chorizo, ham, and peas); Campstove Zucchini Tortilla (self-explanatory); Tortilla with Peas and Potatoes.
This version, invented for the occasion, The eggs were from Garden of Eve, so that’s my local sourcing. The rest, sadly, was from the supermarket, as this week’s asparagus extravaganza used up my local supply from Sang Lee, but one does what one can.
Since great foodie minds think alike, our hostess, Cristina Cosentino, made nestled eggs, cozied up in a lovely crust and wrapped in thick-cut bacon (Leandro’s fave), while dear friend, fellow blogger, and Restoration Farm buddy T.W. Barritt (heretofore known as T. Dubbs – thank you Cristina!) did a beautiful egg and ricotta bake with asparagus.! Kerrian Flanagan Brosky (author of Delectable Italian Dishes) headed in a different direction, with delicious fig, caramelized onion and gorgonzola crostini, and editor Betsy Davidson supported local food, by bringing some fantastic bakery cookies (a decision wholeheartedly supported by my son, who ate entirely more than I really wanted, but he was being such a good boy….)
It was a terrific afternoon. Thanks so much to the Cosentino family for providing such a beautiful setting (and especially Edward keeping Leandro so busy playing!) Mille grazie….
Springtime Spanish Tortilla
½ Cup olive oil
1 small onion halved and sliced thin into crescents (about 1/2 Cup)
½ Cup sweet peas (frozen is fine; I don’t even thaw them before putting them in the pan)
½ Cup asparagus, sliced thin on the bias – a few crowns reserved
10 fresh eggs
½ Cup ham, cut into ¼”squares
1 Tbs scallion, chopped
¼ tsp salt (or two generous pinches)
Several gratings black pepper
2 Tbs grated Grana Padano or other high quality grating cheese
(Be ready with the equipment: 8” omelette pan (oven-proof if you don’t plan on flipping); colander; bowl to catch oil; spatula; flat plate larger than the pan for flipping)
Heat olive oil in an 8” pan until fragrant and loose. Add onion, stir to coat, then add peas and asparagus. Cook at medium until vegetables are very tender, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, crack eggs into a large bowl and beat lightly until yolk and whites are combined.
Drain the vegetables through a sieve or colander, reserving the oil in a bowl underneath. Add vegetables to eggs, stir to coat. Put reserved oil back in the pan, add ham and scallions and cook until scallions are tender. Once again, drain through a colander, reserving the oil. Stir ham and scallions into egg mixture, add salt and pepper and let rest for five minutes.
In the meantime, clean the pan, and heat 1 tablespoon of the reserved oil in it on high. Pour the egg mixture into the pan, cook on high for under a minute, then lower heat to medium low and cover. Cooking times will vary here, depending on the thickness of your tortilla. You can speed things up by pulling the tortilla away from the sides occasionally, and allowing egg mixture from the top to seep to the pan’s surface. Shake the pan occasionally to prevent sticking.
When the top is fairly dry, use a flat plate that is larger than the pan to flip the tortilla and then slide it back into the pan. Flipping this way a few times gives the tortilla a nice shape, and lets you choose which side you want on top when you serve. This is when you stick the reserved asparagus tops in for looks. The Spanish like to leave the center wet; I find Americans prefer their tortillas cooked through.
If you are afraid of flipping, you need to use an oven-safe pan. Let the tortilla cook through completely, then finish under the broiler for a minute.
In all, the tortilla should take 10-15 minutes to cook through.
Allow to cool at least ten minutes before slicing and serving. Tastes great at room temperature. To keep overnight or for a day or two, allow to cool, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate.