Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Polenta with Spuntature e Salsicce (ribs & sausages)

Years ago, when I lived in Rome, I'd order polenta with spuntature at a restaurant in my neighborhood of Trastevere. But only in winter. It's a rare restaurant that features it at other times of year, and if it does, it's likely to be a place devoid of Romans.

Even though you can certainly make polenta in spring, summer or fall, to me, it's strictly winter food. And now that winter is in full swing, polenta is on my mind.

I've made it a few times this season already, but not with spuntature.

Since I was going to be making a ragù, I thought I'd include some sausages too, and put together some meatballs to enrich the sauce even more.

As long as you're going to the trouble of cooking something for several hours, you might as well make enough to put in the freezer for a few meals later on, right?

So I pulled out my biggest stainless steel pot to get it going.

While the sauce was simmering away, I fried some meatballs. 

I know, frying foods isn't the best thing for you, and I do broil meatballs occasionally too. 

But there's nothing that brings back memories of my childhood like the scent of meatballs frying in hot oil. 

As children, we'd stand by the stove while my mother drained a few on paper towels, eagerly waiting to snare one and take that first bite into a crunchy, meaty ball, with steam still spewing out of it. 

After sampling one or two, the rest went into the pot with the sauce.

When the sauce had simmered for a couple of hours, I started on the polenta.

I've made polenta with a slow cooker, (using Michelle Scicolone's recipe below). I've made it in the oven in an "almost no-stir" method (America's Test Kitchen recipe below). I've made it with my nifty automatic polenta stirrer (the paiolo).

And I've made the instant type polenta too. They're all good, but to me the best tasting polenta is made the old fashioned way - with good coarse grain cornmeal and by constant stirring for 45 minutes while you stand over the pot.

The polenta transforms to a creaminess that's just begging for a good sauce to slather on top.

That's where the ribs and sausage come in.

And they could find no better place to rest - except in your stomach of course.

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Ragù with spuntature e salsicce

(Tomato sauce with ribs and sausage)

printable recipe here

2 1/2 - 3 pounds Italian sausage (hot or sweet)

2-3 lbs. pork spare ribs2 T. olive oil
1 large onion, minced
8 - 10 cloves of garlic, minced
2 carrots, minced
2 stalks of celery, minced
6 - 23 oz. cans imported Italian tomatoes
1 cup dry red wine
2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
2 T. dried basil, plus fresh basil, if available
1/4 tsp. dried red pepper

about 3 dozen meatballs (recipe below)

Place the sausage in a pot and cook over medium flame until browned, and some of the fat has been rendered. Remove the sausages from the pot and set aside.

Place the ribs in the pot and brown them all around. Remove and set aside.If there's a lot of fat in the pot remaining from the sausages and ribs, drain most of it, but leave a little for flavor. Add the olive oil to the pot. Finely mince the onion and garlic in a food processor and saute in the olive oil. Do the same with the carrot and celery. Cook the vegetables in the olive oil until softened.
Add the remaining ingredients and put the sausage back into the pot with the sauce. Add the spare ribs.

Add the fried meatballs to the sauce, if desired.
Cook everything together for at least two to three hours on a low flame, stirring periodically.

My mom's meatball recipe

I sometimes broil these, and they're good that way, but oh-so-much better when deep-fried. 

2 1-2 - 3 pounds of ground meat (I use a mixture of pork, veal and beef)
about 1/3 of a large loaf of sturdy white Italian bread, preferably a day old
about 1 cup milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2/3 cup onion, finely chopped
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup minced parsley
1 t. salt
1/4 t. black pepper

oil for frying 
Trim the crusts off the bread. Put the bread in a low temperature oven for a short while or leave it out for a few hours to dry out. Save the crusts to make bread crumbs for another recipe.
Tear the bread into chunks and place into a bowl with the milk. Let the bread soak for at least 15 minutes or until it has absorbed the milk and softened. Squeeze as much milk as possible from the bread and discard the milk (or give to the cat). Squish the bread pieces with your fingers into a bowl with the ground meats until there are no big lumps. Add the remaining ingredients and blend well with your hands. Shape into round balls. Fry in a heavy pan with ample oil, or if you want to be healthier, place on a baking sheet or broiling pan and broil or bake at high heat (450 - 500), watching carefully so they don't burn. When they have a nice brown crust, turn them over and brown on the other side. Drain off the grease and add the meatballs to the sauce.

Basic Polenta

1 cup cornmeal

2 cups milk

2 cups water (or use all water and eliminate the milk)

salt, to taste

a couple of pats of butter

grated parmesan cheese, as desired

Pour the cornmeal and the milk and water into a heavy-bottomed pan. Stir over a low to medium high heat for about 30-45 minutes or until the mixture looks creamy. Add salt and taste the polenta. It will taste "raw" if it needs more cooking and may still have some grittiness. In that case, cook longer. If it becomes too thick, add more liquid. When it's done to your liking, turn off the heat, add a couple of pats of butter and parmesan cheese, as desired.

Slow Cooker Polenta - Michele Scicolone, "The Italian Slow Cooker" (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2010)

Serves 6

1 cup coarsely ground cornmeal, preferably stone-ground

1½ teaspoons salt

5 cups water (or half water and half broth)

Additional water, milk, broth or cream, optional

In a large slow cooker, stir together the cornmeal, salt and water. Cover and cook on high for 2 hours. Stir the polenta. If it seems too thick, add a little extra liquid. Cook for 30-60 minutes more, until thick and creamy. Serve hot.

Almost no-stir Polenta

From America's Test Kitchen

Why this recipe works:

If you don’t stir polenta almost constantly, it forms intractable lumps. We wanted creamy, smooth polenta with rich corn flavor, but we wanted to find a way around the fussy process.
The prospect of stirring continuously for an hour made our arms ache, so we set out to find a way to give the water a head start on penetrating the cornmeal (we prefer the soft texture and nutty flavor of degerminated cornmeal in polenta). Our research led us to consider the similarities between cooking dried beans and dried corn. With beans, water has to penetrate the hard outer skin to gelatinize the starch within. In a corn kernel, the water has to penetrate the endosperm. To soften bean skins and speed up cooking, baking soda is sometimes added to the cooking liquid. Sure enough, a pinch was all it took to cut the cooking time in half without affecting the texture or flavor. Baking soda also helped the granules break down and release their starch in a uniform way, so we could virtually eliminate the stirring if we covered the pot and adjusted the heat to low. Parmesan cheese and butter stirred in at the last minute finishes our polenta, which is satisfying and rich.

Coarse-ground degerminated cornmeal such as yellow grits (with grains the size of couscous) works best in this recipe. Avoid instant and quick-cooking products, as well as whole-grain, stone-ground, and  regular cornmeal. Do not omit the baking soda—it reduces the cooking time and makes for a creamier polenta. The polenta should do little more than release wisps of steam. If it bubbles or sputters even slightly after the first 10 minutes, the heat is too high and you may need a flame tamer, available at most kitchen supply stores. Alternatively, fashion your own from a ring of foil. For a main course, serve the polenta with a topping or with a wedge of rich cheese or a meat sauce. Served plain, the polenta makes a great accompaniment to stews and braises.

7 1/2 cups water (I like to use a combination of milk and water - proportions are up to you.)

 1 1/2 teaspoons table salt 

pinch baking soda

1 1/2 cups coarse-ground cornmeal
2 tablespoons unsalted butter 

4 ounces good-quality Parmesan cheese , grated (about 2 cups), plus extra for serving
ground black pepper 

1. Bring water to boil in heavy-bottomed 4-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in salt and baking soda. Slowly pour cornmeal into water in steady stream, while stirring back and forth with wooden spoon or rubber spatula. Bring mixture to boil, stirring constantly, about 1 minute. Reduce heat to lowest possible setting and cover.
2. After 5 minutes, whisk polenta to smooth out any lumps that may have formed, about 15 seconds. (Make sure to scrape down sides and bottom of pan.) Cover and continue to cook, without stirring, until grains of polenta are tender but slightly al dente, about 25 minutes longer. (Polenta should be loose and barely hold its shape but will continue to thicken as it cools.)

3. Remove from heat, stir in butter and Parmesan, and season to taste with black pepper. Let stand, covered, 5 minutes. Serve, passing Parmesan separately.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The Farm Cooking School

My son Michael and daughter-in-law Beth gave us a gift certificate at Christmas to the Farm Cooking School, a wonderful enterprise run by two former editors from Gourmet Magazine, and located at Gravity Hill Farm in Titusville, N.J., about 1/2 hour from my home.

Shelley Wiseman and Ian Knauer run the school and offer classes in everything from Mexican cuisine to cheese making to venison butchery and lots more. 

Shelley was Gourmet's travel food editor and a recipe tester for 12 years. She's the author of two cookbooks, including her latest, Just Tacos.

Ian, who founded the school, worked in Gourmet's test kitchens for more than a decade, before returning to his family's farm in Pennsylvania where he wrote The Farm: Rustic Recipes for a Year of Incredible Food. 

We were enrolled in an "experimental" class, intended for people already comfortable in the kitchen, since we were given basic recipes but had to come up with our own creations, ones that would be judged by each participant. 

Shelley gave everyone a basic recipe for pastry crust, for a quiche filling and for a sweet frangipane filling. We were then charged with making either a savory or sweet quiche or tart, choosing from the following ingredients: 

one tray of vegetables, an array of cheeses as well as bacon and raw salmon.

And a tray containing a variety of fruits, chocolate, and mascarpone cheese for use in a sweet tart.

 Each person was required to make one tart or quiche, and my husband Ron ( a neophyte in the kitchen, but a quick learner!) and I worked as a team on one savory quiche and one dessert tart.

The school had ample room for us all to roll out our crusts, mix ingredients and bake our quiches (there was another stove/oven not visible in the photos.) 

The school's batterie de cuisine was impressive, with all kinds of knives, bowls, pans and other kitchen equipment you could want.

(The guy at the stove's not too shabby either!)

 This is the savory quiche we made with mushrooms, caramelized onions, bacon and gruyere cheese. as it came out of the oven.

Another person chose salmon, asparagus and dill for his quiche.

And someone else chose to use goat cheese and chives as main ingredients.

 I lost my notes, so I can't really recall what the dominant ingredients were in this one. 

I do know that they were all really delicious.

 Now it was time for dessert, and only two people chose to make a sweet tart, including us.

One participant made this lovely concoction with a delicate flaky crust, filled with pastry cream and topped with blueberries and caramelized pineapple.

For our tart, we started by making a chocolate crust, incorporating some cocoa into Shelley's basic crust recipe, while eliminating some of the flour. 

We followed Shelley's recipe to the letter for the almond frangipane filling, and nestled poached pears atop the filling, brushing them with some apricot preserves before popping the whole thing into the oven.

After eating all the quiches and tarts, and taking notes, we were asked to vote on our favorites. 

It wasn't easy to choose, because they were all so very good and it was hard to compare the four savory quiches to the two sweet dessert tarts.

But in the end, we were thrilled when the most votes went to our pear tart!!! 

The prize was a certificate for one of us to attend another class at The Farm Cooking School. 

I'm already thinking about that cheese making course... or maybe that wine class...or maybe we'll sign up for one of those farm to table dinners at the school. 

Or maybe we'll do all of the above.

One thing's for certain -- we'll be back again more than once.  I'm looking forward to driving there in the daylight next time, to soak in the beautiful view of the countryside along the route, and the farm property itself.

If you're in the Southeastern Pa/Central New Jersey/metropolitan New York area of the U.S., take at look at the school's website  and enroll in one of the classes offered. 

There are also culinary vacations offered at the Farm Cooking School in the beautiful Delaware River Valley, or even in sunny Provence, France. Click here for more information.

Meanwhile, here is the recipe for our winning tart, using our variation of Shelley's tart shell recipe and her sweet frangipane filling:

Want more Ciao Chow Linda? Check out my Instagram page here to see more of what I'm cooking up each day. 

You can also connect with Ciao Chow Linda here on Facebook, here for Pinterest or  here for Twitter. 

Pear Frangipane Tart with Chocolate Pastry Crust

adapted from a recipe of The Farm Cooking School

for the tart shell:

1 cup all purpose flour

1/4 cup cocoa

2 T. sugar

1/4 t. salt

1 stick (4 oz.) semi chilled butter

1 large egg yolk

ice water - 2 T. 

For the filling:

2 pears

1 cup water

1/2 cup sugar

Frangipane Filling

1/2 cup almond flour or 1/2 cup whole or slivered blanched almonds, toasted and cooled completely

3/4 cup sugar, divided

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/8 t. salt

1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened

2 large eggs

1 t. vanilla extract

1/2 t. almond extract

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add butter and work in with fingers until mixture is like coarse crumbs with some pea size pieces. Add egg yolk and chilled water and toss with a fork to evenly distribute. Squeeze a handful to see if it holds together in a moist dough. If not, add another tablespoon liquid and try again. Squeeze dough together. Chill in a disk wrapped in plastic wrap 30 minutes to 1 hour to rest.

Roll out the dough and fit it into a tart pan. Prick the bottom all over with a fork. Line the pastry with foil or parchment paper and fill with dried raw beans or rice. Bake on a rimmed baking sheet until the sides are firm and the edges are brown, about 20 minutes. Remove the weights and foil or parchment and bake another 10 to 15 minutes more.

While the crust is baking, poach the pears. Peel the pears and cut in half, removing the core and trimming out the stem. Place 1 cup water and 1/2 cup sugar into a saucepan and heat until sugar dissolves. Add the pears and simmer, covering the pan with a lid. Turn once and keep an eye on the liquid, adding more if necessary. Poach until a knife pierces easily into the pears.

Remove from the water and cool. Slice thinly along the short end of the pears. After you have made the frangipane filling and put it in the tart crust, fan the pears over the filling in a decorative fashion, using a long knife to transfer the pear slices so they stay intact, but splayed out.

Spread a little apricot jam over the pears and bake the tart until puffed and golden, about 45 minutes. 

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Friday, January 20, 2017

Almond Pound Cake With Dried Fruits

A gift of dried fruits is always appreciated, adding a "somewhat" healthy option to the plethora of cookies, cakes and candies usually consumed during the holiday season. I've been snacking on some of the dried fruits out of hand, and using them in my morning oatmeal, but the diverse array included in the lovely tray from my brother-in-law and sister-in-law got me thinking that they'd look (and taste) wonderful in a pound cake.

Not that I needed more desserts now that the Christmas treats were gone. 

Well, maybe precisely because the Christmas treats were gone was reason enough to bake these cakes. 

So there they were, fresh out of the oven, waiting to be eaten. 

If I can't fit into my jeans any longer, I'm blaming it on my brother-in-law Joe and sister-in-law Jan. 

They made me do it.

Dust the top with powdered sugar. If you're feeling creative, cut a stencil of pears (or whatever else you can dream up) and hold it in place with toothpicks before you sprinkle with the sugar.

Remove gently so you don't smear the design.

Slice and admire the jewel-like studs of dried fruits, but most importantly, enjoy a piece of cake.

Almond Pound Cake with dried fruits

3 cups flour

1/4 tsp. baking soda

1/8 tsp. salt

2 cups sugar

1 cup butter, softened to room temperature

1 1/2 tsps. vanilla

8 ounces almond paste, room temperature

6 large eggs

2 cups dried fruits, diced or minced (I used dried apricots, prunes, pears and peaches and next time would use even more)

Sift flour, baking soda and salt together. Place butter, sugar, vanilla and almond paste into a mixing bowl and beat until everything is blended, three or four minutes.  Add eggs, beating in one at a time. Slowly add flour mixture and beat until blended. Fold in dried fruits and spoon batter into two buttered and floured 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" loaf pans. 

Bake at 350 degrees about one hour and 10 to 15 minutes.

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Monday, January 16, 2017

Beer Braised Pot Roast

Funny how inspiration for a meal strikes you sometime. This one started with half a dozen bottles of beer that had been sitting in my fridge for six months - bottles of beer left by my kids during a visit last summer. Bottles of beer taking up space and needing to be used. Oh, I like the occasional beer on a hot summer's day, or even with chili in the winter, but I'm partial to a glass (or two) of wine most of the time.

So the beer needed to be drunk, or used in a recipe. And when I thawed this hunk of beef from the freezer, the light bulb went off. Why not make beef a la carbonnade - the classic Belgian beef stew with beer?

But instead of carving the roast into cubes, as in the traditional recipe, I wanted to leave it whole, and serve slices of beef in a rich gravy.

Start with a roast - this was a top round roast - not an especially tender piece of meat, but braising for three hours takes care of that. Season mightily with salt and pepper and sauté in olive oil until brown all over.

Remove the beef from the pan, then fry some bacon (always a good thing) in the same pan. Remove the bacon and the grease, then sauté some diced onions in butter until nearly golden. 

Put the beef and everything else in the pan. Cover and let it cook on low heat on the range for three hours. I would have just popped it in the oven for three hours instead of cooking it on the range, but I had a cake baking and couldn't disturb it.

The beef will have shrunk and you'll have lots of liquid with a fair amount of fat on the surface. Skim off as much as you can. Remove the meat and use a stick blender to make the sauce more homogeneous. It doesn't have to be a purée, but I didn't want to eat bites of once-crisp bacon that had now turned flabby. 

Besides, a smoother sauce caresses those noodles you'll serve it with oh-so-much better. 

If you prefer, serve it with mashed potatoes, or even rice.

Even after two dinners and one lunch, there was still plenty of leftover beef and gravy. How to refashion it into something new?

 Cut it into strips, add some sautéed mushrooms, then a little water and sour cream into the gravy and you've got a poor man's beef stroganoff.

Again, it's delicious over noodles (especially if they're home made.)

Want more Ciao Chow Linda? Check out my Instagram page here to see more of what I'm cooking up each day. 

You can also connect with Ciao Chow Linda here on Facebook, here for Pinterest or  here for Twitter. 

Beer Braised Pot Roast

1 4-5 lb. top or bottom round roast

2 T. olive oil

salt, pepper

4 slices bacon, cut into large pieces

3 sweet yellow onions, diced (@3 cups)

6 cloves garlic

1 T. butter

2 c. beef broth

2 c. dark beer or amber ale

1 T. tomato sauce or tomato paste (I had some leftover in the fridge, but you can omit if you like)

a couple of bay leaves, rosemary sprigs and fresh thyme.

Use a sturdy, oven-proof pot.

Salt and pepper the roast heavily, then sauté in the olive oil until browned on all surfaces. Remove from the pan and fry the bacon until crisp. Remove the bacon and set aside, then drain the bacon grease. Sauté the onions and garlic in the butter until nearly golden. Add the meat back to the pot, along with the broth, beer, tomato sauce and herbs.

Cook at low heat on top of the stove for three hours, or in the oven at 325 for three hours.

Remove the meat from the pot, then using a stick blender, smooth out the sauce.

Slice the meat and serve with the gravy, over noodles, rice or mashed potatoes. 

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Monday, January 9, 2017

Spanish Flan

You've probably eaten Spanish flan before - crème caramel's kissin' cousin. So often it's too "eggy" tasting with no other flavor, or the texture's filled with too many holes. This recipe from Bon Appétit, however, gets it just right. 
The flavor is rich in vanilla and cream, but not too heavy. The texture is silky and practically melts in your mouth, and the caramel sauce oozes all over this luscious custard.
I added a topping of a Spanish confection called "turrón" - an almond candy that comes in many textures - from a crumbly one I bought at a local Spanish restaurant/store, to a hard-as-rock one that's similar to the Italian torrone. It's totally unnecessary, but adds another texture to the smooth custard. 

This flan was the sweet finale to a delightful evening spent with my book club (and husbands) discussing a book set in Spain (The Telling Room) and noshing on tapas and Spanish wine.

And because you can't have too much beauty in your life, here are a couple more photos of paintings of one of my favorite artists - the Spanish impressionist Joaquin Sorolla.
As I mentioned in my last blog post, many of his works are on view at The Hispanic Society of America, in New York City, but the museum closed for renovations starting January 1, 2017. If you're interested in seeing more of his work, but can't get to Spain (where you can visit his actual studio), or don't want to wait two years or more until the renovation is complete, click here for a link to more information about the painter and photos of his work: 

Want more Ciao Chow Linda? Check out my Instagram page here to see more of what I'm cooking up each day. 
You can also connect with Ciao Chow Linda here on Facebook, here for Pinterest or  here for Twitter. 

Spanish Flan

The recipe calls for individual flans. I doubled the recipe and baked it in a large ring mold, placing it in a water bath, or "bain marie" and baking for 40 minutes.

From Bon Appetit magazine May 1992

via Epicurious.com

printable recipe here


1 3/4 cup whipping cream

1 cup milk (do not use low fat or nonfat)

pinch of salt

1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise

1 cup sugar

1/3 cup water

3 large eggs

2 large yolks

7 tablespoons sugar

      1. Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Combine cream, milk and salt in heavy medium saucepan. Scrape seeds from vanilla bean into cream mixture; add bean. Bring to simmer over medium heat. Remove from heat and let steep 30 minutes.Meanwhile, combine 1 cup sugar and 1/3 cup water in another heavy medium saucepan. Stir over low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to high and cook without stirring until syrup turns deep amber, brushing down sides of pan with wet pastry brush and swirling pan occasionally, about 10 minutes. Quickly pour caramel into six 3/4-cup ramekins or custard cups. Using oven mitts as aid, immediately tilt each ramekin to coat sides. Set ramekins into 13x9x2-inch baking pan.
      2. Whisk eggs, egg yolks and 7 tablespoons sugar in medium bowl just until blended. Gradually and gently whisk cream mixture into egg mixture without creating lots of foam. Pour custard through small sieve into prepared ramekins, dividing evenly (mixture will fill ramekins). Pour enough hot water into baking pan to come halfway up sides of ramekins.

      3. Bake until centers of flans are gently set, about 40 minutes. Transfer flans to rack and cool. Chill until cold, about 2 hours. Cover and chill overnight. (Can be made 2 days ahead.)
      4. To serve, run small sharp knife around flan to loosen. (I also put some hot water in the sink and let the metal ring mold sit in the hot water for about 30 seconds to loosen the caramel. Don't let it get inside the mold. You won't succeed in loosening all of it however. Much of it will remain inside the mold.) Turn over onto plate. Shake gently to release flan. Carefully lift off ramekin allowing caramel syrup to run over flan. Repeat with remaining flans and serve.

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Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Spanish Tortilla and Sorolla

If you've never had a Spanish tortilla, then dispel any thoughts of the thin, flat disk that's served with enchiladas and  tacos in Mexico and Central America.
A Spanish tortilla is more closely related to an Italian frittata, but there are differences there too. Whereas a frittata is usually puffy and light from the eggs, a Spanish tortilla is densely filled with potatoes, and the eggs are merely what holds it all together.
A Spanish friend of mine made one for me decades ago, and I never tried to make one myself until a couple of weeks ago, when my book club met over an evening of Spanish tapas and talk. 
We gathered (with husbands this time) to talk about "The Telling Room," a book set in Castile, Spain, about a cheesemaker and a feud over an expensive cheese called Páramo de Guzmán.

Naturally, we had to search for the cheese, and I found it for sale at La Tienda, an online store selling Spanish foods..
It wasn't made in an artisanal way, as originally created by the protagonist in the book, but as with the original cheese, it's made from sheep's milk in the Castile region (Guzmán) of Spain, has a sharp flavor and is preserved in a tin filled with olive oil. 
Aside from the tortilla, other Spanish wines and foods filled out the menu for the evening, including olives, garlic shrimp, chorizo, jamon de Serrano, manchego cheese and quince paste, and homemade olive bread. 

But back to the tortilla. You start by cooking potatoes and onions in olive oil - a lot of olive oil. Use good quality extra virgin olive oil, since it's an integral part of this dish. I used extra virgin olive oil from Casale Sonnino, made by my friends George and Claire Treves. 

At a certain point, you remove most of the oil and cook the eggs and potatoes together. They will look slightly like scrambled eggs. Keep shaking the pan to prevent sticking on the bottom.

The whole thing goes into the broiler to brown the top, and then gets flipped over.

It's great eaten hot, warm, or even at room temperature, which is why it makes the perfect do-ahead food for a night of tapas, or to take on a picnic.

We finished the evening with a Spanish flan for dessert, the subject of my next blog post.
But while we're on the subject of Spain, I must share a few photos with you of the work of a too-little known Spanish artist named Joaquín Sorolla.
His work can be found in Spain, of course, but also at the Hispanic Society of America in New York, a much under appreciated, under visited museum in the northern reaches of Manhattan. The museum was founded in 1904 by the stepson of a railroad magnate, Archer Huntington.
The museum and library contain rare books, letters and documents pertaining to Spanish and Latin American culture, in addition to a stunning collection of decorative arts and paintings.
 I have visited the museum several times in the last forty years since first finding out about it, and even though Velazquez, El Greco and other Spanish masters are represented there, I am always mesmerized by the Sorolla paintings.
The photos below are panels from his mural series depicting the various provinces of Spain, painted expressly for the museum in the early part of the last century.
Sorolla is a master of depicting the light, as you can see below in these glorious examples below.
Enjoy the photos, because it'll be a while before the public can view the real paintings again in person. The museum closed on January 1, 2017 for a two to three year renovation,

A portion of the murals that cover four walls.

Seville: The Dance

Ayamonte - The Tuna Catch

Castile - The Bread Festival

Galicia: The Cattle Fair
Want more Ciao Chow Linda? Check out my Instagram page here to see more of what I'm cooking up each day. 
You can also connect with Ciao Chow Linda here on Facebook, here for Pinterest or  here for Twitter. 

Spanish Tortilla

from Bon Appetit magazine September 2012

printable recipe here


8 servings

1 1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil

2 pounds large Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, quartered, cut into 1/4 inch slices

1 onion, quartered, thinly sliced

2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

8 large eggs, beaten to blend


Heat oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add potatoes, onion, and salt. Use a heatproof spatula to coat potatoes with oil. When oil begins to bubble, reduce heat to medium low and cook, turning frequently, until potatoes are tender but not browned, 20-25 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer potatoes and onion to a large heatproof bowl. Add eggs and stir gently to combine; do not break up potatoes. Strain oil into a glass measuring cup; wipe out skillet.

Heat 3 tablespoons reserved oil from measuring cup in skillet over medium high heat. Add egg-potato mixture and cook, stirring constantly but gently to keep potatoes intact until eggs begin to set (eggs will look scrambled), about 2 minutes. Spread mixture in an even layer; reduce heat to medium low. Preheat broiler to high. Cook tortilla, shaking pan occasionally to prevent it from sticking, until eggs are nearly cooked through, about 12 minutes. Transfer skillet to oven and broil until top of tortilla is just cooked, about two minutes.

Remove from oven. Invert a large plate over skillet. Using oven mitts (skillet and potatoes will be very hot; use caution), hold plate firmly over skillet and flip, releasing tortilla onto plate. Let sit at room temperature for at least 20 minutes and up to 2 hours before serving.