Spanish Tortilla with Red Peppers, Chorizo and Manchego

Spanish Tortilla with Red Peppers, Chorizo and Manchego (c)2013 La Domestique

I’ve got a real thing for Spain (I told you this before).

The language, the small plates and brash flavors, the artisanal meats and cheeses, afternoon siesta, eating late- I love it all.

Lately I’ve been obsessed with roasting red peppers. Maybe it’s a  yearning for the sultry heat of high summer? The weather has been quite pleasant here in Ireland, but it doesn’t feel like the blistering hot summers I’m used to. Whenever the sun breaks through the clouds I sprint outside and roll up my jeans to soak up a few rays and it feels like heaven.

I’ve never been crazy about roasted peppers, but the craving struck me and now I’m preparing them a couple of times a week. I slather the capsicums in oil and toss onto a baking sheet placed as close to the broiler as I can get it. In minutes their heady aroma escapes the oven and fills my kitchen, making my mouth water. Occasionally I open the door, turning the peppers so their skin blackens and blisters evenly. After about 20 minutes I pull them from the oven and drop into a large glass bowl, covering the peppers in plastic wrap so they steam. This makes it easier to peel the thin skins after the peppers cool. There’s something meditative about gingerly removing the outer casing to reveal their soft, meaty insides. It’s a fiddly task, like peeling a hard-boiled egg, but I take my time and marvel at the beauty of it while carefully scraping out the seeds. When I think of roasted red peppers I think of Spain. I think of Grilled Spring Onions with Romesco Sauce, marinated red pepper salads, and gazpacho. If you follow La Domestique on Instagram you may have noticed I cook a Spanish tortilla about once a week. From what I understand, this large, flat skillet “omelet” is traditionally made with just onions and sliced potatoes, but it occurred to me that roasted red peppers would be delicious in a tortilla with smoky Spanish chorizo and savory Manchego cheese.

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First Day of Fall in the Rocky Mountains and a Recipe for Roasted Potato Salad

Fall Colors in Rocky Mountain National Park (c) 2012 La Domestique

We sat in our car, parked at the edge of Upper Beaver Meadows in Rocky Mountain National Park. A waxing crescent moon rose in the black sky, dotted with stars. It was cold. I was dressed in layers: long sleeved shirt, sweater, down vest, scarf, and knit cap, but wished I had thought to bring my winter coat and a pair of gloves. Mountain peaks surrounded us, and a misty layer of cool, damp air settled into the valley. Car windows rolled down, engine turned off, we just listened to the grunts, blows, and rustling of large bodies through tall grass. Elk congregated right in front of us, gathered in the meadow, but our eyes were rendered useless in the absence of artificial light that is the wilderness. It was the first day of autumn, and we had come for the rut, when the elk move down to lower elevations to mate. I cupped my hand around my ear, in the hopes of amplifying the subtle sounds. On the very fringe of my senses I picked up the clatter of horns, two bucks fighting for dominance somewhere out there. My husband and I exchanged looks of excitement, remaining quiet so as not to let our presence be known. The erie song of a bull elk’s bugling carried across the valley, echoing against the walls of the Rocky Mountains. A call to the left, an answer to the right, as bulls declared their intentions, each seeking to dominate the rest. Describing a bull elk’s bugle is difficult, since this haunting call is like no other familiar sound. It begins as a deep guttural groan and culminates in a screeching, high-pitched scream. We sat in silence for hours, and it felt good to be quiet and listen. Living in the city exposes us to the same sounds of cars and people over and over again. We are visually stimulated by a barrage of movement and color. Sitting in the darkness listening to the elk, I felt relieved. It felt good to let go of one sense that I rely on constantly (sight) and cultivate an under stimulated one (hearing). Listening to the wild is not like listening to your iPod, controlling the volume with the press of a button. I marveled at the difficulty of picking up soft sounds, like the distant clatter of horns, and rejoiced in catching the quiet lapping of water against 1,000 pound bodies as elk moved slowly through a nearby pond. The strange and wonderful bugle ricocheted off my eardrums, and my brain struggled to comprehend this new sensation. Visiting the wild with my husband was a rejuvenating way to welcome fall, and I left a bit quieter, more thoughtful, and connected to nature.

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This Past Week at La Domestique: Potatoes

Potato (c)2011 LaDomestique.com

This past week at La Domestique we welcomed autumn with the humble potato. Whether roasted, boiled, baked or fried, potatoes are always comforting. The creamy, earthy flavor takes us back to mom’s cooking. Potatoes come in several varieties, and this week week we looked at purple, red, golden, new, russet, and fingerling potatoes. Farmers markets are a great place to find unusual potatoes. I hope you’re inspired to try something new!

In case you missed anything, I’ve got a recap:

Monday:  Announcing potatoes as the ingredient of the week and some recommended reading.

Tuesday:  10 Ways Tuesday! Creative ideas for cooking with potatoes in autumn.

Wednesday:  Check out my column at Whole Foods Market Cooking Boulder. I shared a recipe for Potato Galette, a stunning but simple potato cake.

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Roasted Fingerling Potatoes with Shiitake Mushrooms, Leeks & Thyme

 

The book, One Potato Two Potato is an excellent resource for everything you need to know about potatoes. Reading this book, I learned that a roasting potato should be low in starch and waxy. A few examples include: Yukon Gold, long white, and fingerling potatoes. For this recipe I went with La Ratte Fingerlings I picked up from Cure Organic Farm at the Boulder Farmers Market. No need to peel them, the thin skin adds earthy flavor and rustic texture to the dish. Leeks bring their buttery, mild flavor to the dish and shiitake mushrooms add a smoky meaty character. Thyme is my favorite herb for roasted vegetables. The pungent, savory aroma fills the kitchen as the potatoes cook. Roasted Fingerling Potatoes with Shiitake Mushrooms, Leeks, & Thyme is a satisfying autumnal dish without being too rich- perfect nourishment for these cool days when our appetites crave something hearty.

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Storyboard: Potatoes

Potato Storyboard (c)2011 LaDomestique.com



This quote from The Produce Bible describes the potato perfectly:

“Dependable and adaptable, with the ability to move between dressed-up glamour and simple, satisfying understatement…”

Potatoes are comforting, with their earthy, rich flavor and hearty texture. They are affordable, filling nourishment. The potato is a versatile vegetable that can feed us in endless meal renditions. Rather than mindlessly enjoying the occasional baked or boiled potato, I encourage you to try the different varieties at the farmers market and experiment with new preparations. Maybe this week you’ll try something new? Often times we are intimidated by a new technique, only to find that it’s so easy, we’re kicking ourselves for waiting so long. Even the fanciest potato galette or the precarious Spanish tortilla is surprisingly do-able.

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