Traditional Gazpacho (gluten free)

Twenty years ago this summer I lived in Madrid, Spain. While the actual event in and of itself is fairly significant, what’s even more so, for me, is that Spain was where I learned to cook and truly fell in love with cuisine. I was nineteen, and had come to Madrid from a small suburban Colorado town, where everyone knew each other. The kids in the apartment I was staying in were slightly younger than me and still in school. So for the first few weeks of my stay I was largely on my own during the day.

You can only imagine the shock and horror I experienced  my first day exploring the city when I was propositioned by someone my grandfather’s age! After a few episodes like this, and in an effort to avoid the constant cat calls that young women walking alone can receive in Latin countries, I did what any self-respecting teenaged girl did- I hid!

Enter Marisol the housekeeper. To this day I can still see Marisol’s short, wiry, frizzy, curly hair, cigarette tinged fingers, large round glasses and the light blue striped housecoat she wore when working at our apartment. Milagros, my mother for the duration of my stay, was a single parent, and Marisol helped keep the house working smoothly. She’d clean, hang the wash, prepare dinner, and while I was hiding out, sitting on a stool in the tiny galley kitchen, make me practice my spanish by recounting my previous day’s adventures and memorizing the dinner recipes. By the end of my stay I could make many of the traditional spanish dishes, all without measuring. I learned to taste and add seasonings along the way, I learned what spices worked together, and I learned that I loved to cook! Not bad for a girl who’d set the grilled-cheese sandwiches on fire a few months previously!

So Milagros, Marisol and all my dear friends from Madrid who I remember with love and fondness, this recipe’s for you: Gazpacho y Tortilla de Patata.

For ease of direction I have included measures for 4 people. Usually when I make this I make a lot more, and I confess I still don’t measure, I taste. But this will be a good starting off point for you, and then you can add or subtract flavors to your heart’s content. I have also included a chipotle mayonnaise recipe. I didn’t learn to make this in Spain, but it’s really tasty with the tortilla, so I included it. Lastly, and my apologies to Marisol who would probably be horrified that I do this, I did not call for peeling the tomatoes. When I learned to make this, I had to peel the tomatoes (no food processor). If you have a food processor, then there’s no need to peel the tomatoes. If you only have a wand mixer, then you’ll want to peel the tomatoes. It’s time consuming, but worth it. Also, if you can find them, try and use an acidic tomato, like a good beefsteak variety. The more acid types tend to impart better flavor to this dish. I always peel the cucumber, because the skin imparts a bitterness that I don’t care for. The amount of garlic you use is purely up to your taste. I toned the garlic down slightly for this recipe, usually I add more. The pique from the garlic is one of the key parts of this recipe. It’s not tomato soup- the garlic is very important. However, recognizing that raw garlic doesn’t sit well with many, I did tone it down slightly. So if you’re like me, bring on the extra cloves! Enjoy and feel free to post your own favorite food memories!

Gazpacho – Gluten Free

serves 6 as an appetizer, or 4 as a main course

Ingredients

4 very ripe, medium sized tomatoes (about 2 cups)

1 medium cucumber (about 1 cup)

3 large garlic cloves (for this proportion I would use 4 or 5- it’s up to you)

1 small onion or 1/2 a medium onion (about 1/3-1/2 cup)

1 slice of bread (I prefer Udi’s Gluten Free) soaked in ice water

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tbs red wine vinegar

salt to taste

Directions.

Peel the cucumber, garlic (smashing it with the side of your knife then peeling skin away is easiest) and onion. Divide cucumber and onion into large chunks and place in the food processor. Add the peeled garlic and the tomatoes. Process for about 2 minutes. Gently squeeze the water from the bread and add to the food processor, along with the olive oil and red wine vinegar. Process another 2 minutes or until soup is smooth and a little shiny. Depending on your taste you can add a little more olive oil and vinegar. Season with salt, and process for another 30 seconds.

Pour into a pitcher or mason jar and refrigerate, or serve immediately. Soup will keep a few days in the refrigerator. When you’re ready to serve, give it a shake or a stir and pour into bowls.

* for a sea-food flare, add a large spoonful of lump crab that has been squirted with lemon to the center of your bowl.

Tortilla de Patata with chipotle mayonnaise  

Makes 8 2-inch slices

Ingredients

1 3/4-2 lbs potatos (wax or starch- whatever you have on hand)

1 large or 2 medium onions

2 tbs + 1/4 cup olive oil (if using stainless steel, you may need more)

2 tsp salt- more to taste

6-8 eggs

For Mayonnaise

1/3 cup mayonnaise

chipotle seasoning or powder to taste. (you will use less powder than seasoning- mix & serve)

Directions

A note about your cooking pan: The cooking pan you use is very important to the success of the tortilla. I learned how to make this using a large non-stick pan- about 10-12 inches wide. This is best because keeping the potatoes from sticking to the bottom is very important. Since I don’t use teflon, and I haven’t yet purchased a fancy enameled non-stick pan, I tend to use my cast-iron fryer. It’s not ideal- the sides are really to high- but I’ve managed to compensate. If you have stainless that you like, use it, but you will end up using more oil. I will include directions for the non-stick pans, as well as the short-cut I use with my cast-iron fryer.

 

Slice the potatoes and set aside. On medium, heat approximately 2 tablespoons of oil in the bottom of your pan. Add the potatoes, onion, and salt. Allow everything to cook down until the potatoes are thoroughly softened and can be broken with the edge of the spatula, about 20 minutes. Keep adding oil as you go so that the potatoes do not stick to the bottom of the pan. (The potatoes will absorb oil as they cook, so you will need to add more as you go- it helps soften and flavor them) Taste for seasoning. The salt should enhance the flavor of the potatoes and onion, and depending on the variety of potatoes, you may want to use a little more salt. It’s entirely up to you. Mix the eggs in a separate bowl and set aside. The first time you do this use 6 eggs. It makes for a dryer tortilla and is slightly easier to flip. This is really a potato dish, not an egg dish. When the potatoes have softened, pour the egg mixture on top and smash the potatoes down with the back of your spatula. As the eggs cook, run your spatula along the side of the pan, loosening the mixture and allowing for more of the liquid to run off to the sides. Do this several times until the mixture begins to dry out, and the sides are looking cooked. The center will still be wet. At this point run the spatula along the sides and if possible, the bottom of the pan to help loosen the tortilla.

For non-stick pans: If you’re using a non-stick pan, give the pan a brisk shake to help disengage the tortilla from the sides and bottom. Grab a large plate and set it next to the stove. Very carefully, tip the pan up and encourage the tortilla to slide off the pan and onto the plate. Do Not move the tortilla if the bottom hasn’t set up- it will break. Next, put the palm of your hand underneath the plate, and with your other hand, turn the skillet upside down over the plate. Make sure the skillet is fully touching the plate. Very quickly, flip the whole thing over so that the plate is now on top and upside down. The tortilla should have flipped back into the pan. Give the pan a few more brisk shakes to help the tortilla settle, and cook for another 6-7 minutes, or until the egg is cooked all the way through. You can check this by placing a knife in the center of the tortilla and taking a peek. Once it’s cooked. Gently slide it back onto the plate and allow to cool. This dish is meant to be served chilled or at room temperature. Garnish with a little chipotle mayonnaise.

For cast-iron skillets or fryers: Once the bottom and sides of the tortilla have been cooked and loosened, turn the oven on to broil. Keep the oven rack at the second highest level- if it’s too high the dish will burn. Cook for approximately 5 minutes, or until the top of the tortilla is nice and golden brown. Check for doneness by inserting a knife into the center of the tortilla- eggs should be thoroughly cooked. Allow the pan to cool- the dish will shrink slightly, and this will help you remove the tortilla in once piece. With a flexible spatula loosen completely around the sides and bottom, and gently slide onto a plate. Serve at room temperature or chill. Garnish with chipotle mayonnaise.

When I lived in Spain, we would make bocadillos de tortilla (tortillas de patata on poorboy buns) and take them with us for lunch on our day trips. (yes, this was prior to the gf days) No mayonnaise needed. They keep very well in the heat and are very filling as a sandwich. We would use the spanish equivalent of bbq sauce with them this way. Delicious!


Garden Frittata and Quiche (gluten free)

Eggs are so wonderful and versatile. They are a complete protein, and unless you’re one of the few that are allergic, they are an excellent canvas for all sorts of flavors. And, they’re great for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner. I find that if I’m struggling to come up with something delicious for a given meal, a frittata or a quiche is always an easy choice. It’s a great way to use up extra summer produce and leftovers, as well as a safe place to experiment with new spices. There’s not much difference between a frittata and a quiche- at least in this kitchen. The main difference is that quiche has crust, whereas a frittata has no crust, meaning it’s naturally gluten free. The frittata is always started on the stove but finished in the oven allowing for direct heating from the bottom and sides of the pan while it’s baking. What’s the determining factor in this kitchen about whether to choose the frittata or the quiche? There really isn’t one, except maybe the presence of pie-dough in the refrigerator. I’m posting 2 recipes here today. You’ll see they are very similar- both contain eggs, milk and cheese in varying proportions, and 3-4 feature ingredients. This type of recipe screams for experimentation- use what you have on hand, what inspires you or makes you smile. See what flavor combination you can come up with and post back to me. Happy Eating!

Gluten Free Garden Frittata

makes 6-8 slices

Ingredients

1 tbs bacon grease, butter or olive oil

1 cup chopped red onion (about 1/2 medium onion, or 1 small onion)

3 cups spinach pieces

1  1/2 cup chopped mushrooms

2 cups milk

2 cups shredded cheese (type of your choice)

8 eggs

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 375. In a pitcher or small bowl combine the eggs and milk and set aside. In an oven proof saute pan (I use my trusty cast-iron) melt the bacon grease and add the chopped onions. Stir gently until they have softened. Quickly add the chopped spinach and mushrooms and stir until spinach just begins to wilt, about 1 minute. Spread evenly across the bottom of the pan and add the egg mixture. Add the cheese to the top of the pan and pat down with the back of a fork or spatula. If you want to lightly season, add a little salt and pepper or your favorite seasoning mix at this point. Transfer the pan to the oven and cook for 35 minutes or until the center is just slightly shaky when you move the pan. Serve with a fresh, green salad, or if you’re enjoying this for breakfast, pair it with hashbrowns!

Garden Quiche  (gluten free)

Makes 6-8 slices in a 9 inch pie pan

Ingredients

Gluten Free Pie Crust

2 tbs butter

6 garlic cloves, chopped small

3 cups chopped beet leaves

1 1/2 cups shredded cheese

6 eggs

1/2 cup half-n-half

1 cup milk

1 cup goat cheese crumbles

hot sauce (to taste)

Directions

Preheat oven to 400. Roll out the chilled pie crust and transfer to the pie plate. Crimp (or moosh) the edges with your fingers until the top edge is uniformly even. Spray a large piece of parchment paper with canola or some other unflavored oil (do NOT use olive oil as it will flavor the pie crust). Place the greased side down on the crust and fill the paper with uncooked beans. Make sure the paper goes to the edge of the crust and that the beans are even with the top of the crust.

Cook for 10 minutes and remove the paper and beans. Prick the bottom and sides of the crust with a fork and bake an additional 5-10 minutes, until the top of the crust is beginning to brown. Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack. Lower oven temperature to 375.

In a pitcher or small bowl, combine eggs, milk, and half-n-half. Set aside. In a saute pan, melt butter and add garlic. Stir until garlic becomes aromatic, but has not yet browned- about 1 minute. Add beet leaves and saute until greens just begin to wilt. Add the mixture to the cooling pie crust and top with shredded cheese. Pour on the egg mixture and gently press down on ingredients until they are barely covered by the liquid. Add goat cheese crumbles and sprinkle hot sauce across the top. The heat of the sauce gets easily absorbed by the milk and cheese, so if you like a little heat, be prepared to use a lot of hot sauce.

Cook for 35 minutes or until the top has puffed and browned, and the center just barely jiggles when pie is shaken. Serve with Arianwen’s Arugula Salad with fresh blueberries.

Pesto Deviled Eggs

Easter has come and gone. The chocolate bunnies and jellybeans have all been consumed, and the remaining decorated eggs have been forgotten. Left to languish in the refrigerator door, waiting for someone to take pity on their pastel shells and consume them. Fortunately, for me, those multi-colored ovules just cry out to be transformed into more than egg salad- something fitting their beautifully decorated stature. A little deviled egg anyone? A little pesto deviled egg?

The first time I ever enjoyed a pesto deviled egg was almost 10 years ago at a party in Albuquerque. I had just enough self-control to not gobble down the entire plate. At the time, I didn’t have the presence of mind to seek out their creator and beg for the recipe. I’ve waxed poetical about those delicious green-filled eggs ever since. This year, I took matters into my own hands and figured out how to make my own. The first batch I tried was a disaster. I used way too much pesto, and, as I freeze my own, it had started to oxidize and the result was an egg filled with brownish-green gunge. Somewhat tasty, that is if you like eating only pesto, and not tasting the egg, and rather unappetizing to the eye. Second time around, I got the proportions right, used fresh pesto, and the result was a delicately flavored, lovely looking, creamy mix of pesto and egg. Devilishly delicious.

Pesto Deviled Eggs  

makes one dozen

Ingredients

6 eggs

3 tbs mayonnaise

3 tbs very fresh pesto

Directions

 

Place 6 eggs in a small saucepan and cover with cold water. Place a lid on the saucepan. Bring to barely boiling (bubbles streaming up, but not a rolling boil) Turn the heat to the lowest setting and set timer for 15 minutes. When time is up, place pan in the sink and run cold water over the saucepan until all the water has been replaced with cold water (do not pour out the boiling water, let the pan overflow. Eventually the hot water will be replaced with cold water) Let the eggs sit in the cold water until cool to the touch- about 20 minutes.

When the eggs are cool to the touch, peel them and slice them in half lengthwise (longitudinally). Pop the yolks out into a small bowl and set the whites on a plate. Don’t worry if there’s a tiny bit of yolk left in the hollow. When all 6 yolks have been placed in a bowl, add 3 tablespoons of mayonnaise and begin mushing everything together until a nice creamy paste has formed. At this point, if you want to make your own pesto (recipe below) do so. Or, add 3 tablespoons of fresh (from the refrigerated section) store-bought pesto. Mix until uniformly light green. Feel free to add more pesto if you desire a stronger flavor, but keep in mind, you don’t want to eclipse the egg taste.

Spoon filling back into egg hollows and garnish with a dot of pesto or a basil leaf. If you’re feeling really fancy, spoon filling into a pastry bag and squeeze out.

Best Pesto

 

6 good sized garlic cloves, peeled  

4 cups firmly packed basil leaves (I prefer spicy globe or greek basil as they’re the most pungent. Sweet basil, which is the most common, is also nice)

1 cup shredded parmesan cheese

1 cup extra virgin olive oil

3/4 cup pine-nuts

In a food processor, pulse garlic until reduced to tiny bits. Add basil, cheese, nuts and olive oil. Blend until a smooth paste has formed. Add salt and pepper to taste. This is a very garlicky recipe and requires little, if any, salt. If raw garlic isn’t your cup of tea, use less and adjust the salt and pepper accordingly.

Paste should be brilliant green. Basil oil is very volatile, and you will see signs of oxidation almost immediately. If you are not going to use all of it right away, you may freeze or store in the refrigerator.

To freeze, place contents in a 1-gallon ziplock bag and cut off one of the bottom corners. Squeeze out into ice-cube trays, cover with plastic wrap and freeze until solid. Then remove squares to a 1-gallon freezer bag for storage. Squeeze all the air out of the bag and place in a second gallon freezer bag. I’ve found this prevents freezer burn and I can enjoy the fresh flavor of summer for 8-9 months.

For refrigerator storage, place fresh pesto in a non-reactive bowl, add a little olive oil to the top and press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface. This helps prevent oxidation. The pesto will still turn brown around the edges, but underneath it will still be bright green. Re-stir prior to serving. Pesto will keep in the refrigerator for well over a week. Even if it has oxidized, it will still taste good. It just doesn’t look as good.