My Spanish colleagues kindly contributed a couple of traditional recipes to The Lab Cookbook, and I made them both on a Sunday afternoon. Guru & José shared their method for making a Spanish tortilla, while Esti and Luis illustrated a recipe for gazpacho.
I was especially keen to try the gazpacho while the weather was warm and tomatoes were in season. The method is easy: simply blend everything together and strain it! My strained soup was silky-smooth, but I'd also be tempted to make this unstrained in the future (the prep would be even easier and feel a smidge less wasteful). It was so summery and refreshing, with the flavours of capsicum and cucumber complementing the principal tomato.
The Spanish tortilla seemed like a suitable side dish to add a bit of heft to our meal. The ingredients are short and simple - potatoes, onion, eggs, olive oil - but it takes time (and a lot of olive oil!) to cook the potatoes and then some care to form the omelette. I cooked the potatoes and onion in advance to minimise dinner-time stress, and we heartily enjoyed the result: it's dense, rich, works well both warm and at room temperature, and it extends to several meals.
Both recipes used simple ingredients, yet challenged me to take on new approaches in my kitchen that I wouldn't have otherwise. Better yet, there's a high chance I'll revisit both.
(a recipe shared by Guru & José in the Lab Farewell Cookbook)
1 kg potatoes
salt, to taste
extra-virgin olive oil (lots!)
Peel the potatoes and slice them thinly; peel and roughly chop the onion.
Heat a generous amount of oil in a frypan over moderate heat; you need enough to completely cover the potatoes. Fry the potatoes and onions until the potatoes are tender (I did mine in a small cast-iron pan in several batches). Strain the oil from the potatoes and onion, and place the potatoes and onion in a large bowl. (I strained and reserved the oil for future cooking.)
Thoroughly beat the eggs, then pour them over the potatoes and onion. Add salt, and gently stir everything together.
Heat a little oil in a small pan, and tip in the omelette mixture. Cook it over a moderate heat, using a spatula to shape the omelette into a thick cake. When the base is very well cooked, invert the omelette onto a dinner plate and slide it back into the pan to cook on the other side. You can invert it again a couple more times - if it's not too delicate, this might help with the shaping.
Slide the omelette onto a plate to serve warm, or at room temperature.
(a recipe shared by Esti & Luis in the Lab Farewell Cookbook)
1 kg tomatoes
1 green capsicum
2 cloves garlic
50mL olive oil
1 cup water
30mL balsamic vinegar
Roughly chop the tomatoes, capsicum, cucumber and garlic and place them in a blender. Pour in the remaining ingredients and blend until as smooth as possible. Strain the liquid and discard the solids. Serve the liquid gazpacho cool, garnished with croutons.