We were happy to have Avi teach a tapas style cooking class last month at the At Home Store! It was lots of good food, lots of garden vegetables, and lots of fun!
Here are some pictures along with the class handout Avi wrote.
Light Dishes for Summer
Cooking with Avi
– Torilla de Espana – New Potatoes Caramelized Onions and Chilies
– Summer Stew of Fresh Beans and Tomatoes served with toast
– Ragout of Fennel – with fresh peas carrots and caramelized shallots
– Seared seasonal vegetables with Garlic Aioli
– Sauté of summer squash and sweet corn with Savoy cabbage
These dishes, inspired by Spanish tapas, represent my favorite ways to prepare some of the bounty of summer. The flavors are clean and light but full of depth due to the browning and caramelizing of many of the ingredients. This menu is ideal for a backyard cocktail party. Any of these preparations would be a good side dish to accompany a main meal or simply as a delicious snack.
Tortilla de Espana – A potato omelet served hot or cold. This version includes caramelized onions as well as spices and chilies to give the classic dish a southwestern flavor.
Brown potatoes on medium high heat with plenty of olive oil. Add thinly sliced onions garlic and shallots. After the onions show color turn to low and cover for seven to ten minutes. While the potatoes cook soak 3-4 mild chilies in warm water. Once soft add to the potatoes and stir. Salt to taste.
Transfer potatoes to a large mixing bowl. In a separate mixing bowl mix six to eight eggs. Add to the cooked potato and mix well. Clean the potatoes cooking skilled of any large particles add plenty of olive oil a tablespoon or more. Heat to medium high. Pour in the potato eggs and shake pan to settle the mixture.
Cook for 4-5 minutes on medium high while slowly swirling the pan to allow the liquid egg to fill in the spaces at the edges of the pan. Turn to medium low and cover for twelve to fifteen minutes.
Take a flexible spatula and slowly loosen the underside of the omelet. Jostle pan to make sure it does not stick. Put a large plate over the skillet and in one motion turn the skillet upside down onto the plate. Slide omelet back into skillet and cook for 8 – 12 more minutes.
Chop two large cloves of garlic.
In a mortar and pestle crush the chopped garlic with a large pinch of salt. Once thoroughly smashed add the egg yolk and mix until the mixture turns slightly lighter in color. Add two or three drops of lemon juice and stir for a few more moments. Taste and add salt if needed. While continuously stirring add olive oil one drop at a time – very slowly. The mixture should thicken and make a sucking sound. This is when you know the emulsification as happened. If the mixture is too thick add a few more drops of lemon juice and stir in some more oil. Sometimes I mix safflower oil with the olive oil to lighten the flavor and conserve the expensive ingredient. Serve with just about anything.
Thin aioli to make a salad dressing. Mix in chopped herbs or capers for a herb sauce.
(A picture of Avi making aioli. Sorry it’s so fuzzy)
Important terms and Concepts:
Umami- a Japanese concept which roughly translates as deliciousness. Umami is described as the fifth flavor along with salty sweet, sour, and bitter. Many foods have umami – it is often associated with mushrooms, ripe tomatoes, browned meats, soy sauce and other fermented foods such as cheese.
Maillard Reaction-The Maillard reaction is a form of nonenzymatic browning similar to caramelization. It results from a chemical reaction between an amino acid and a reducing sugar, usually requiring heat. This reaction results in the brownness of toast, seared vegetables, caramel and any really good tasting food. In the process of breaking down the sugars and proteins under high heat – at least 310 degrees Fahrenheit – savory and complex flavors are created. For this reaction to occur properly the food should be relatively dry and free of acids.
Sauté- from the French to jump. Sautéing is a cooking technique where food is cooked in a hot pan and is mixed or flipped frequently. A good sauté will result in fresh clean flavors.
Emulsion – a suspension of water droplets in oil. Mayonnaise, aioli and hot dogs are all emulsified foods.
Searing- Browning food on high heat.
Deglaze- To dissolve the flavorful remnants of a sear or sauté from the pan using a liquid – often wine or stock.