This afternoon’s texts (all sic) …
Mr. Brooks: “Do you need anything at the store?”
(Geez, that would be great. He’s already at the grocery store and that would save me a trip after work. But let’s check how many ingredients I need — I don’t want to overwhelm him.)
Me: “How dedicated are you feeling?”
Mr. Brooks: “Well i am here… That in its self is a miracle”
(This should be easy. But I’ll explain the unknowns, just in case. Do we have vegetable oil? We had that old bottle but it was gross and sticky. Did I throw it away? Nah.)
Me: “1.5 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes (waxy, not starchy like russets). a dozen large eggs. 1 small onion. 4 scallions (green onions)”
Mr. Brooks: “Ok”
I didn’t pull those ingredients out of thin air — I had brought the August 2009 issue of Cooks Illustrated to work with me, expecting to hit the grocery store on the way home to pick up the ingredients for Spanish Tortilla with Chorizo and Scallions. (And the accompanying garlic mayonnaise, too.) So it was a nice break to head straight home after work, rather than fend with the late-afternoon crowd at Safeway.
There was a slight snag: Mr. Brooks didn’t find Yukon Gold potatoes, but he did happen to see a bag of baby Dutch yellow potatoes — which was exactly 1.5 pounds, so he decided that must be the right thing. And it wasn’t off by too much — but the recipe called for peeled potatoes. So instead of three or four big ol’ Yukon Golds, I ended up peeling dozens of wee ones. The smallest was the size of a nut; interpret that how you want, because either way is true. After 30 I decided the rest were so small, I’d risk the peels and consider it an experiment.
Here’s what I love about Cook’s Illustrated: They’ve done all the legwork for you. They tested all the kinds of potatoes, and they tell you what went wrong with the bad ones, so you know that if you follow the instructions, you’re fairly guaranteed that your end result will be good. Now, as long as my potato switcheroo didn’t ruin the formula, I’d be set to go. …
Cost of ingredients: $12.11. (Just over a pound of chorizo was $6.16 at Schreiner’s; I’m reserving the rest of it for a weekend omelet.)
Substitutions: Well, the potatoes, of course. Also, it turns out that I did indeed throw out the old vegetable oil, so when it came to making the garlic mayonnaise I used a mix of 2/3 peanut oil, 1/3 (non-extra-virgin) olive oil. Then I tossed in a little extra garlic powder, to make sure the mayo had enough kick.
As easy as they said? Some people might not find the final step of the cooking — flipping the omelet by using two dinner plates, then sliding it back into the pan — very simple. Mr. Brooks, upon seeing the instructions for this process, was so entranced by the possibility of disaster that he stayed in the kitchen to watch. Luckily, my skillful sleight of hand saved the day, even though I was using a pan that was 2 inches larger than the plates. I’m a pro, people!
How’d THAT go over? Well, I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that anything would taste good with that garlic mayonnaise slathered on top* … but this dish was good on its own, as well. Those who aren’t familiar with the dish (as I wasn’t) might be misled by “tortilla.” Mr. Brooks compared it to a quiche, but since it’s not truly baked, or in a custard, truthfully it’s more like the child of an omelet and scalloped potatoes, without the cheese. P.S.: We never even noticed the peels.
Would I make it again? With the right potatoes, yes. Cook’s Illustrated points out that this is a light tapas-style entree usually served at room temperature, but we decided warm was better. I’m going to try the leftovers chilled tomorrow and see how I like it.
* I had never made my own mayonnaise before. It’s delicious, but the amount of oil used is a little disturbing.
|WHAT SAM WORE: 12-21-09|
|The sweater: Dark-dark-dark green
silk/cashmere V-neck from Banana Republic.
|The shirt: “Fashion-fit” cotton dress shirt by Ted Baker Endurance,
from the Ted Baker store in New York. (No, it’s not white. It’s off-pink.)
|The pants: Flat-front khakis from Banana Republic.|
|The shoes: Tumble loafers by J Shoes, from goclothing.com.|