Mother’s Day is so close to Cinco de Mayo this year that the aroma of Spanish food will still be in the air. Why not continue the celebration (on the table, at least) when honoring your mother?
- A menu of tortillas, tomato salsa and fresh fruit, all washed down with the sparkling crispness of cava is the perfect way to say “I love you.”
A Spanish tortilla, not to be confused with a Mexican one, is similar to an omelet, except it has potatoes and possibly bits meat and/or vegetables cooked in it. The convenience factor is huge because tortillas are served at all temperatures, from hot to cold. In fact, wedges of tortilla are popular tapas all over Spain. Just cook it and put it on a platter to keep while you make the salsa and arrange the fruit – it is that easy!
While traditional recipes for tortilla de patatas call for sliced potatoes, a friend and Spanish cookbook author, Janet Mendel, told me that the best were made with diced potatoes. The key is to remember that you are not frying the potatoes; you are poaching them in olive oil so that they cook, but do not brown.
Simply peel and dice some (preferably Yukon Gold) potatoes, chop about half as many onions, some chorizo (or ham and ¼ tsp McCormick paprika) and whisk five or six eggs together. Poach the diced potatoes in oil until they can be easily pierced, then drain off excess oil and add onions and meat to pan. When meat is heated through and the onions are wilted, add the eggs. Cook until the bottom is set, then turn the tortilla over to cook the other side.
Turning can be tricky. I’ve seen chefs with fancy cookware flick their wrist and have the job easily done. I’ve also seen the egg mix splashed all over the stove! Don’t fret! There are tricks I will share.
One is that instead of flipping the tortilla, once the bottom is cooked simply put it under the broiler until the top is done. Another is to put a plate on top and quickly turn it out onto the plate, then slide it back into the pan to cook some more. Either way has much less potential for making a mess!
Many people have their own recipe for salsa. Here is a basic one with all the elements necessary for a good, fresh-tasting condiment:
2 lbs tomatoes, seeded and diced. Unless it is tomato season, I’ve found that the plum tomatoes have the best flavor and texture.
1 small red onion, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeds removed, diced (can substitute jarred slices to taste, or ¼ tsp McCormick chipotle)
2 cloves of garlic, chopped and mashed with a tsp of coarse salt
Juice and zest of one lime
Bunch of cilantro, coarse stems removed, chopped
1-2 Tbls olive oil
Freshly ground McCormick pepper to taste
Mix all ingredients and allow them to come together for several hours before using.
Strawberries, while not particularly Spanish, will be in season for Mother’s Day, if not in your neighborhood, then from a nearby state. A simple mix of strawberries and cream, or a more complex (but easy) Strawberry Ice will elegantly complete the meal.
Freeze 1 lb fruit, add ¼ lb sugar and 1 egg white, blend aggressively. Add to an ice cream maker and follow manufacturer’s directions to prepare. Serve as you would ice cream.
That’s it! You can celebrate a leisurely Mother’s Day with the flavors of Spain, both enhanced with quality McCormick spices.