Friday, July 3, 2009

Advice to Young Poets

Never pretend
to be a unicorn
by sticking a plunger on your head

by Martín Espada from The Republic of Poetry

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Tortilla Española For Two

Serves 2 as an entrée or 4 as an appetizer.

Spanish tortillas are often served warm or at room temperature with olives, pickles, and a garlicky mayonnaise (recipe follows) as an appetizer at tapas bars or at a picnic. Sometimes they are even cut and placed in crusty sandwich bread. They may also be served with a salad as a light entrée.

3 tablespoons plus 1/2 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
3/4 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes (2 medium), quartered lengthwise, and cut crosswise into 1/8-inch-thick slices
1/2 small onion, halved and sliced thin
1 minced garlic clove
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 large eggs
Spanish aioli (optional)

1. Toss 2 tablespoons oil, potatoes, onion, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and pepper in large bowl until potato slices are thoroughly separated and coated in oil. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in 8-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Reduce heat to medium-low, add potato mixture to skillet, and set bowl aside without washing. Cover and cook, stirring with rubber spatula every 5 minutes. After 10 minutes of cooking, add minced garlic and continue stirring every 5 minutes until potatoes offer no resistance when poked with tip of paring knife, 22 to 26 minutes total (some potato slices may break into smaller pieces).
2. Meanwhile, whisk eggs and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt in reserved bowl until just combined. Using rubber spatula, fold hot potato mixture into eggs until combined, making sure to scrape all potato mixture out of skillet. Return skillet to medium-high heat, add remaining 1/2 teaspoon oil, and heat until just beginning to smoke. Add egg-potato mixture and cook, shaking pan and folding mixture constantly for about 20 seconds. Smooth top of mixture with rubber spatula. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and cook, gently shaking pan every 30 seconds until bottom is golden brown and top is lightly set, about 2 minutes.
3. Using rubber spatula, loosen tortilla from pan, shaking back and forth until tortilla slides around freely. Slide tortilla onto large plate. Invert tortilla onto second large plate and slide it browned-side up back into skillet. Tuck edges of tortilla into skillet with rubber spatula. Return pan to medium heat and continue to cook, gently shaking pan every 30 seconds, until second side is golden brown, about 2 more minutes. Slide tortilla onto cutting board or serving plate and allow to cool at least 15 minutes. Cut tortilla into cubes or wedges and serve with Spanish Aioli, if desired.

Spanish Aioli
This recipe yields about 1 1/4 cups - far too much for a small tortilla but you will want to refrigerate the aioli and use it for sandwiches.

2 large egg yolks
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 medium garlic clove, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 teaspoon)
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon water
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon paprika

Process yolks, mustard, lemon juice, and garlic in food processor until combined, about 10 seconds. With machine running, slowly drizzle in vegetable oil, about 1 minute. Transfer mixture to medium bowl and whisk in water. Whisking constantly, slowly drizzle in olive oil, about 30 seconds. Whisk in salt and pepper. Refrigerate in airtight container for up to 4 days.

*Tortilla Española means "small torte" but it has nothing else in common with the Latin American staple known as a tortilla.

Adapted by Cristina Paul

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Blah-Blah-Blahg: Food For Nought

Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink...

The average amount of water us Yankees use in a day is more than any other country in the world. People in the States use 151 gallons per person per day whereas the French survive on 71 and Brits use a mere 37!

The good news is that you needn't stop washing and brushing to save a few gallons each day.

Some water saving tips:
1. DON'T hand wash your dishes! If you have a dishwasher, let it do the work - even if it's not an Energy Star it will still use less water. Only run it when it is full and don't go overboard and pre-wash dishes before putting them in the dishwasher.
2. Keep your shower time down to 5 minutes. If you must bathe, use the bath water to water your plants.
3. You can halve your kitchen's flow in a few painless (for the wallet and for the old cranium) minutes. Buy a faucet aerator for less than $10. Just slip the metal collar over your faucet head and voilá - air meet water, water meet air. The mesh introduces air into your water stream to maintain a consistent pressure while reducing the volum of water that you use. Chances are that if you look inside your faucet's nozzle and it tells you the gallons per minute - you already have one. But if you don't they can reduce your use by up to 50%!.
4. Drink tea! Instead of your regular cup of coffee in the morning, have a cup of tea. Most coffee makers require far more water to use and clean up than your average kettle. Moreover, less water is used in the process of growing and harvesting tea leaves than coffee beans.
5. If you live in a rainy place, invest in a rain-barrel. They're about $100 bucks and they can retain up to 35 gallons of water. They are collapsible and can be stored easily in the off-season. Hey, rain is free water!