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Stop mashing, baking and frying your potatoes and experiment with a classic Spanish tapa, patatas alioli. Spaniards drool over these tender potatoes covered in a smooth and rich mayo-like sauce made by emulsifying garlic and olive oil. Eggs give it extra body and a richness which, when cut by a bit of acid, is delicious. Olive oil, garlic and potatoes just might be Spain’s culinary holy trinity. Make them once and you’ll be eating them religiously.

Ingredients:

  •  6-7 small Potatoes
  • 2 eggs
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, minced (how much do you like garlic)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of vinegar or lemon
  • Olive oil
  • Fresh parsley, chopped

1. Fill a large pot with cold water and bring it to a boil with the skin-on potatoes. Lower the heat enough to stop the boiling and cook until fork tender, approximately 20 minutes.

2. While they cook, prepare the sauce. In a bowl using a whisk, electric hand mixer or immersion blender, mix the eggs, garlic, salt and the vinegar or lemon. The acid serves to stabilize the emulsified sauce’s texture by preventing protein coagulation and, therefore, separation. It also cuts through the richness of the olive oil from a flavor standpoint.

3. Keep the mixer on and add a steady stream of olive oil, slowly at first, until you reach a consistency that is thinner than a store-bought mayonnaise, yet still has body.

4. Peel the potatoes with the back of a pairing knife and cut into bite-size pieces. Cool to room temperature. If you do not cool them, the potatoes will soak up too much sauce and become overly soft. If you cool them too much, they will not soak up any flavor. Mix with the alioli and garnish with the parsley.

Note: While Salmonella does not grow in acidic environments, the egg yolks in this recipe are raw, so use proper caution if it is of concern in your area.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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         The Tortilla de Patatas is integral to Spain’s culinary culture. To this day, the tortilla makes for a quick, cheap, filling, and delicious meal. You can go all over Spain, to local dives or upscale restaurants and, although you will find a myriad of variations served hot, cold, on a toothpick, and between bread, you will not find the best. Ask any Spaniard where to find the best tortilla and he/she will say his mother’s or his grandmother’s house.

My host mother makes a perfect tortilla: tender and moist without being runny, sweet from the onions, and smooth from the olive oil, yet not overly greasy. Although it is not eaten for breakfast in Spain, I think it beats two eggs over-easy any day of the week.

Ingredients:

  • Olive oil
  • 3 Yukon gold potatoes, peeled
  • 1 medium-size onion
  • 3 eggs
  • Salt

Directions:

1. Fill a large pan with sloped sides halfway with olive oil. Cut the onion into thin slices while preheating the oil on medium heat. Add the onions to the oil. They should bubble, but not furiously for about 3 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, with the large opening side of a cheese grater, slice potatoes into thin discs. Add them to the onions and allow to cook, uncovered, for approximately 30 minutes, or until tender.

3. Whisk the eggs and add a few generous pinches of salt. My host mother does it by eye, so I cannot give an exact measurement. Using a spider or some other tool, drain off excess oil from the potatoes and onions and reserve for future cooking. Incorporate them into the eggs.

4. When the pan is empty of all oil, add enough back to coat the pan. Over medium heat, return the mixture to the pan and cook for about 3 minutes. Using a large plate facedown over the pan, invert the whole thing so that the eggs end up on the plate. It may help to slightly wet the plate to prevent sticking. Transfer back to the pan, with a dash more oil to finish cooking for the same time. It does not have to be a flawless.

5. Adjust the shape while in the pan with a wooden spoon, tucking in the egg off the sides of the pan. Slide it off and eat it hot or at room temperature.

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Mint and Rosemary-Encrusted Leg of Lamb with Cinnamon and Cranberry Pan Sauce made me decide that lamb is my favorite meat. The crust was the best part. But the meat alone was perfect without accompaniment. However, the sauce was the shining component. No matter what combination you try, the dish is delicious.

  • 1 leg of lamb (mine was 6 1/2 lbs)
  • 1 bunch of mint
  • 1 package of fresh rosemary (5-6 sprigs)
  • Around 8 cloves of garlic
  • olive oil
  • 1 stalk of celery
  • 5-6 baby carrots
  • 1 white or yellow onion
  • 1 handful of dried cranberries
  • beef stock

1. Preheat the oven to 400º. De-stem the rosemary and mint and roughly chop them. Use more mint than rosemary because it is more subtle in flavor. Grind in a food processor with five cloves of garlic, salt, pepper, and enough olive oil to make a moist paste. Remove some of the tough fat from the lamb, leaving the thinner layer of soft fat. Heavily coat the entire leg with kosher salt and some pepper too. This will pull moisture out of the fat, creating a crust. Slather on the herb paste.

2. Roughly chop the baby carrots, the celery, and the onion. Put these in the roasting dish with the lamb and some dried cranberries, garlic cloves, olive oil, mint—if you have more—salt, and pepper. Dust the lamb and the vegetables with some cinnamon.

3. After 30 minutes in the oven, turn it down to 350º. Add some beef stock and red wine. Cook for about 1 1/2 more hours, but don’t let it exceed 145º. If you like it more rare, take it out around 130º. If you like it fully cooked, go to 160º. Remember that the lamb will continue to cook.

4. In a sauce pot, make a roux by heating two tablespoons of butter with a big five-finger pinch of flour. Mix until you reach a paste and add the sauce. Bring it to a boil and reduce. Slice the meat into thick pieces, against the grain, and serve.

Pseudo-Scalloped Potatoes with Dill Butter and Mayonnaise are a perfect side dish because they look so elegant—like accordions of flavor. They are crispy, tender and even cook faster. The herb butter and mayonnaise make them rich, yet simple too.

  • Small white or red potatoes
  • butter
  • fresh dill
  • fresh parsley (optional)
  • mayonnaise
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • salt and pepper

1. Make thin slices in the potato, going about 3/4 down so it still holds its shape. In the food processor, blend two tablespoons of butter, dill, parsley, salt, pepper, four cloves of garlic, and olive oil. Massage over the potatoes and do your best to get the mixture inside the crevices.

2. Roast in a 400º until they are crispy and soft. The time varies depending on the size of the potato. For the final few minutes, add a dollop of mayo on each and spread it on. It will melt into the niches.

Oven-Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Sweet Brown-Butter and Wine Sauce have a nice nutty flavor from the browned butter

  • half a stick of butter
  • brussels sprouts
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • honey
  • white wine
  • nuts (optional)

1. Coat the sprouts in olive oil, salt and pepper. In a sheet pan, roast in a 400 º oven until they brown.

2. Melt half a stick of butter in a pan and add chopped walnuts or pecans if you have—something for a toasty crunch (I used sunflower seeds). Drizzle in some honey and a splash of white wine. Mix the brussels sprouts with the brown-butter and serve.



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