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October 25, 2006

Revisión médica

Last week Tyler took advantage of socialized medicine by taking part in the annual check-up on-site at the University. He nearly passed until it came time for the eye test. The doctor unveiled a typical eye chart at which point Tyler realized that he'd have to say the letters in Spanish. It could be worse, it could've been Japanese…

October 23, 2006

Tortilla de Patatas


~3-4 large Yukon Gold potatoes
1-2 yellow onions, diced
1 small (or 1/2 large) zucchini, sliced
1/2 Italian red pepper, cut in half and then sliced.
olive oil
3/4 tsp. salt
10 eggs
1 Tbsp white flour (optional)
2-3 Tbsp milk (optional)

1. Peel and cut the potatoes in half lengthwise and then lengthwise again into 2 or three more pieces per half. Then cut crosswise into 1/4 to 1/8 inch thin pieces. Dice the onions. Slice the zucchini and red pepper.

2. Using a 12 inch non-stick fry pan (or if you are scaling down the recipe, an 8- or 10-inch pan), sautee the onions in some olive oil over medium heat for 5 minutes. Turn the heat to low, add more olive oil and add the sliced potatoes. Cook the onions and potatoes for a long time (~ 1/2 hour). Regulate the heat to make it just hot enough to cook well but not burn the potatoes. Add more olive oil if necessary. When the potatoes are getting softer and almost ready to fall apart, add the vegetables and cook them until soft. Add salt and pepper. The potatoes should readily break apart with a wooden spoon.

3. Beat the eggs in a large bowl until fluffy. (Optionally, make a slurry of white flour and milk and beat it into the eggs. This can make the tortilla a little lighter, but it may be more difficult to flip.) Add the 3/4 tsp of salt. Add pepper to taste. Add the potato-vegetable mixture (you do not need to let it cool – it should be hot or at least warm) and let it sit for 10 minutes. There should be enough egg to easily cover the potatoes. Too much potato and the tortilla will fall apart.

4. In the same pan, heat several more tablespoons of olive oil over low heat. Add the egg potato mixture to the pan and slowly cook (as slow as possible so as not to burn the eggs). When it’s cooked about halfway through, start to occasionally run a spatula underneath it to unstick it and give it a few shakes now and then. When it has cooked about 3/4 of the way through (all the way through on the edges) and is an uneven brown color on the bottom, unstick it with a spatula and shake it back and forth to make sure it moves freely. Slide it onto a large plate, or even better, a flat metal baking sheet. Turn the pan upside down on top of it and holding the plate (or sheet) to the pan, flip it back over. You are very likely to make a mess and spill some egg here or there so move stuff out of the way first. Cook it on the other side, shaking occasionally, until browned on the bottom and cooked through (you can test with a butter knife). Turn off the heat and slide onto a serving plate.

Serves 4-6 people

NOTE: It is sometimes difficult to flip a 12-inch fry pan. It also takes more patience to cook this much tortilla. If you use a couple less eggs and less potato, you can use an 8 or 10 inch non-stick fry pan and the process will be much smoother. Once you get the hang of it, go ahead and try the 12-inch.

October 12, 2006

Family, family and more family


Columbus Day 2006 was a day for celebration of both new and old worlds. Tyler and I passed on the Pinta and instead chose to take Ryan Air from Girona (near Barcelona, Spain) to Pisa, Italy. Mom and Dad (Jan and Santo) left from San Francisco to meet us in Italy before embarking on what would be their very first adventure on the high seas. We spent 2 days with Isabella and Claudio before moving into the perfect room at the Piccolo Puccini overlooking the piazza.

We arrived at Galileo Galilee airport late Wednesday night and cousins Isabella and Massimo were there waiting for us. Isabella and family (Claudio, Robin and Gretel) graciously hosted us for 2 nights - all the while reminding us of how lucky we are to have distant relatives so close at hand.

On Thursday night, we offered to cook and ended up making Tortilla Española (Spanish Omelette) for the entire Pierucci clan (Jan or Anna's aunt "Zia" Tina's children, Paoletta, Vincenzo and Francesco and grandchildren were all there). We also made green beans with coriander dressing and Isabella supplied the bruschetta. Graziella wasn't the only one who enjoyed the coriander dressing on just about anything but the green beans; however, the biggest hit by far were the Cinnamon Snaps (thanks to Didi Emmonds and the Vegetarian Planet cookbook!) that we baked in Spain and brought over with us. While the rest of the relatives feasted on cookie after cookie, "golosos" Vincenzo, Gina and Tyler finished off a small vegetable torta in under 10 minutes.

On Friday afternoon, we met Mom and Dad for a walk through town followed by a gelato at Venetta. Luckily, we had saved room for a typical Pierucci dinner complete with several courses, dessert, coffee and the traditional digestive glass of Limoncello.

Saturday mom was feeling under the weather, so dad, Tyler and I headed to Marameo for the best Caprese in town. We browsed the antiques fair in the afternoon and spent the rest of the day on a long leisurely walk until dinner. Mom unfortunately still wasn't very hungry for dinner, but Tyler, dad and I enjoyed a great meal at Giglio. We met Isabella and clan for ice cream that night.

Sunday was another leisurely day that started with 4 laps around the walls of Lucca for me. We had another great meal at Da Leo (my homemade pasta i funghi was wonderful) before saying our goodbyes. Despite Isabella's certainty that he'd be late, Massimo picked us up and swept us off to the airport right on time. We savored one last cappuccino and we were on our way home.

October 01, 2006

Tyler's Mom and Dad visit Barcelona

060924 Mom and Dad's visit to BCN
Gina and I were delighted to have my parents come stay with us in September. Their timimg couldn't have been better -- they were here for the Mercè Festival and got to experience many of Catalunya's cultural activities: gegants, the correfoc, and the Castellers. Despite a few showers and the occasional downpour, the weather was pretty nice and they were able to see quite a few of Gaudi's architectural masterpieces. Throw in some tapas at the Txakolin, some wine tasting down on the Moll de la Fusta (Port Vell), some cheese tasting at La Seu and my homemade tortilla de patatas and I'd say they had quite a gourmet experience as well.