Le cul entre les deux chaises

An American Spaniard in France or: How I Learned to Make an Ass of Myself in Three Cultures


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Bachelor Food: tortilla for one

A Spanish tortilla is simple to make but not easy to get right. It’s also a lot of food for one person, but one cold December day, I cracked the case. My solution was to make individual tortillas in muffin tins.

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This recipe is very easy and more fool-proof than a traditional tortilla.

Ingredients

potato (I buy a bachelor-sized variety called pompadour)
egg
salt
pepper
olive oil
butter (optional)
muffin tins

Steps

  1. Peel and thinly slice potato.
  2. Fry in batches. (Don’t crowd the chips or they’ll get soggy and won’t crisp.)
  3. Remove from oil and drain on paper towels. Salt.
  4. Layer the cooked chips into a muffin tin, forming a base, then prop chips along the side to create a tower / cone around the center. Continue to fill in with chips until the tin is almost full. (The tin can be buttered to ease the removal of the finished tortilla, but isn’t necessary.)
  5. Beat one egg in a small bowl, season, carefully pour over the potatoes. One egg should be the right amount for a standard muffin tin.
  6. Place tins in a pre-heated toaster oven and cook until egg is done to your liking. (If the top is still raw, blast the broiler for a minute, keeping an eye on the tortilla the whole time. Broilers are serious heating elements.)
  7. Let cool for a few minutes and unmold.
  8. Dig in.

They dun got me

Even though I’m no longer in the news biz, I still get annoyed when I get scooped. One would think that a recipe wouldn’t be scoopable, but the week after I had my bachelor tortilla brain wave, Melissa Clark, the New York Times’s way-too-perky food writer did a whole thing about tortilla. I was at least pleased that they made a very basic and telling mistake right in the first line: in Spanish, nationalities aren’t ever capitalized so if you’re going to go through the trouble of making an ñ, you should at least make sure your other punctuation is correct.

Melissa Clark tortilla FAILThe less said about the sentiment of her lede the better. I’m hoping it was some kind of attempt at being cutesy and not a display of out right ignorance since a professional food writer should know that often the simplest foods are the best ones.

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Bachelor Food: garlic shrimp

This almost couldn’t be easier to make or taste better.

Garlic shrimp

Ingredients

  • cooked shrimp
  • minced garlic
  • oil
  • flat-leaf herb like cilantro, parsley, etc.
  • ripe avocado
  • corn tortillas

Directions

1. Warm some oil in a non-stick pan, low- to medium-heat. Dump as much garlic as you like into it. (I like lots and loads, like five or six cloves just for me.)

2. Devein shrimp (optional) and roughly chop, about three pieces per prawn.

3. Throw shrimp into warm oil. Mix around and let sit on the stove.

4. Slice avocado in the peel and, using a spoon, scoop it into a bowl. Sprinkle with good salt.

5. Turn the heat up on the pan a bit until the shrimp achieve the color you like. (Remember that they’re already cooked so this whole process is basically to heat them up, infuse them with garlic and maybe toast them a bit.) Remove from heat and place over avocado.

6. Throw corn tortilla into pan with the garlic oil and heat until crisp, flipping once. Remove from heat and place on a paper towel for a moment to drain while you dust some salt over it.

7. Strew torn herb over the shrimp.

8. Dig in, using broken up pieces of tortilla as a shovel.

Total cook time: like 8 minutes, less if you buy minced garlic and deveined shrimp.


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The Adjustment Breakfast

Since most of the American food I bought didn’t make the trip, I had to buy something to eat when I arrived back in France. This super annoyed me but I still treated myself well. Behold! The newest take on Gordon Ramsay’s eggs (first, second), now with fresh spinach!

Eggs + creme fraiche + Ranch powder + spinach

Eggs + crème fraîche + Ranch powder + spinach


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Eggplant that doesn’t taste like cardboard!

eggplant 1

My reflection is camouflaged because I am all in purple.

Eggplant (which is actually a fruit!!!) is a thing I’ve tried to get behind for many years, primarily because it’s one of the few purple foods out there. There’s something oddly appealing about having my outsides match my insides. (I wear a lot of purple because life is a lot easier if you don’t have to think about whether your clothes matches, a tip I picked up from Albert Einstein. And purple is clearly the best color, obviously.)

But, try as I might, I couldn’t ever find a way to eat the stuff that made it even vaguely taste good. Then I saw this video about how some place in Brooklyn makes their eggplant sandwiches and I realized that the secret was double-frying.

Sadly, I don’t have a frier at home (though I remember one apartment I looked into renting in Barcelona had one as a built-in, something I never got over), so I did something more reasonable. I cut my lovely round eggplant into thick slices which I placed on a bed of kosher salt on a paper towel and then sprinkled with more salt. I let the slices rest for a good while and then wiped them dry. Next, I quickly fried them in medium-hot oil and patted them dry again. Another quick fry, in much hotter oil this time, and they were good to go.

Placed on good toasted pain de campagne with a smear of Saint-félicien (my new favorite cheese), some spinach and a dusting of freshly ground pepper… this is a fruit-masking-as-a-vegetable that I could eat all the time.

eggplant 2


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Mini-poivron

orange peppers 1

They’re so mignon!

These brightly colored peppers are sold at my green grocer along with some banana-yellow ones and some brick-red ones, but the orange are my favorite. They are really small (shorter than a finger) and have a sweet yet hearty flavor and they’ve become my new shallots.

orange peppers 3

Mini-peppers with chicken and lentils.

orange peppers 2

Mini-pepper and cheddar quesadilla with guac.