Tortilla Española-ish

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This is decidedly not a summertime recipe. It involves multiple stove-top burners going at once and cranking up the oven broiler. But I had it for the first time during the summer six-ish years ago so I always associate it with summertime. I was in Spain for World Youth Day with a group of hilarious and wonderful girls and we shared lots of good conversations over buttered baguettes stuffed with jamon serrano, cold glasses of agua fresca, churros dipped in chocolate, and wedges of tortilla española.

If you’ve never had Spanish tortilla, you’ve been missing out on one of the great standards of homely world cuisine. It’s nothing like a Mexican tortilla. Rather, it’s a potato and egg pie served at room temp as tapas.

The ingredients are: potato, onion, egg, and olive oil. I strayed off the beaten path with this version and loaded it up with a few inauthentic ingredients (red wine vinegar, smoked paprika) to give it a punchier flavor.

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6-8 medium yellow potatoes, peeled and diced
1 small yellow onion, diced
olive oil (or butter)
4-5 eggs
2tbs red wine vinegar or more to taste (optional)
2tbs paprika or more to taste (optional)


In a cast iron skillet or frying pan with higher edges heat olive oil over medium heat and add potatoes. Season the potatoes with salt, pepper, and some of the paprika. Cook potatoes in batches or in multiple pans so as not to overcrowd and burn them.

Stir the potatoes often and cook until they’re slightly crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Set them aside in a bowl.

Next add the diced yellow onion to the skillet and cook in olive oil until translucent. Then add the potatoes back in and mix with the onion. The mixture should fill up the skillet a good ways up the sides.

Beat the eggs and add the red wine vinegar and remaining paprika and mix it all together. (Sometimes I add a 1/2 c of crushed tomatoes to give it an even punchier flavor) Pour the mixture over the potatoes and onions.

Cook over medium heat until the egg seems set on the sides and bottom. Place until broiler for five minutes until golden and crisp on top. If you use a non-stick skillet and the bottom was well-oiled, it should flip out easily on a serving plate. Serve warm or at room temperature.

I like paring this with gazpacho (green grape and cucumber pictured). And to further round out your Spanish feast, you could serve it with a tomato-olive salad, manchego-melon-jamon serrano skewers, and of course, a pitcher of sangria.

Buen provecho!

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Tortilla Española-ish

Brandy Plum Syrup and Notes on Namedays

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August 4th has always been a favorite day of mine. This might make very little sense considering how hot it always is (and you know I hate the heat) and how close to the beginning of the school year it is (and trust me, I can give you an earful about how much I hated public school). But August 4th, despite its drawbacks, happens to be my nameday.

I don’t know if I was specifically named after St. Dominic Guzman (ahem, Mom?) but according to Slovak rules, I get his feast as my nameday. His feast is technically August 8th on the General Roman calendar, but in Slovakia, namedays are based on the Tridentine calendar on which his feast falls on the 4th. (Does all this sound like calendaristic gibberish? To me too. As much as I want to live by the liturgical year to a t, I don’t understand all the calendar discrepancies. Jessica is your girl for that.)

Slovaks, all of them–practicing Catholics or not at all, celebrate namedays with equal import as birthdays. You get cake and presents and kisses and well wishes. But I had a very Americanized upbringing, so every August 4th, I’d just get something small: roses or a fancy chocolate bar or a pretty little knick-knack to add to my collection and to form me into the recovering maximalist that I am now.

Once, I actually got to celebrate my nameday in Slovakia. I ate my weight in langos (fried dough slathered with butter and garlic and cheese) and happily received all the aforementioned nameday glories. Yesterday afternoon, as I was about to leave my parents’ house, I mentioned that my nameday was today so my mom put a book (that she’s lending to me) in a gift bag and we basically had to drag the rest of my family down from their various activities to eat ice cream together. I don’t know which nameday celebration I prefer. (No, I actually do but the ridiculousness of the latter does make me laugh.)

There’s no connection to St. Dominic in this recipe for brandy plum syrup. You can google St. Dominic feast day food ideas and get boatloads of those I’m sure. I just happened to have very ripe plums that needed to be used up fast and this ended up being the most simple and luxurious way to do so.

Today for my nameday, I’m going to say a rosary and I’m going to have a bowl of cinnamon vanilla ice cream topped with biscoff cookie crumbles and drenched in this brandy plum syrup. I hope for your nameday you do something equally as simple and luxurious.

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Brandy Plum Syrup

2 cups water
2 cups sugar
5 very ripe black plums
2 tbs brandy or cognac

Chop your plums up into large pieces. Stir water and sugar together over medium high heat until dissolved. Add the brandy and the plums and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer for at least 25 minutes or until fruit is completely soft. Once cool, pour through a strainer into a container. Store in the fridge.

Tip: Give the leftover plum pieces a whirl in the food processor and eat as a compote over yogurt or oatmeal.

Some other ideas for using your syrup:

Over spiced meatballs with goat cheese mashed potatoes

Drizzled over french toast and warm vanilla custard
Mixed with sparkling water and garnished with a sprig of rosemary
Poured over a hazelnut sponge cake
Thickened by simmering longer and used as a dip on a cheese board
Stop me or I’ll keep going…


Brandy Plum Syrup and Notes on Namedays