Tortilla al Horno

In Madrid's tapas bars you could be served this simply in 1-inch squares with toothpicks for picking up, while in other parts of Spain the squares might be presented on bread slices.

Tortilla al Horno

Recipe Summary
Difficulty: Easy
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Yield: 12 servings (4 pieces per person)

olive oil
1 large garlic clove, crushed
4 scallions, white and green parts chopped finely
1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded, and diced finely
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and diced finely
6 oz. potato, boiled, peeled, and diced
5 large eggs
generous 1/3 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups freshly grated Spanish Roncal cheese, or use Cheddar or Parmesan
3 tbsp. chopped fresh chives
salt and pepper

Line a 7 x 10-inch shallow ovenproof pan with foil and brush with the oil; set aside.

Put a little oil, the garlic, scallions, and bell peppers in a skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring, for about 10 minutes until the onions are soft but not brown. Remove from the heat and let cool. Stir in the potato.

Beat the eggs, sour cream, cheese, and chives together in a large bowl. Stir the cooled vegetables into the bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Pour the mixture into the shallow pan and smooth over the top. Bake in an oven preheated to 375ºF for 30-40 minutes until golden brown, puffed, and set in the center. Remove from the oven and let cool and set. Run a spatula around the edge, then invert onto a cutting board, browned side up; peel off the foil. If the surface looks a little runny, put it under a medium broiler to dry out.

Let cool completely. Trim the edges if necessary, then cut into 48 squares. Serve on a platter with wooden toothpicks, or secure each square to a slice of bread.

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Zuccotto

May as well start off with the best part of cooking… desserts!

Zuccotto is a rich alcoholic cake from Florence. The word "zuccotto" is Tuscan dialect for a cardinal's skull cap and is also the nickname for "il duomo" in Florence. This dish was originally prepared to honor a guest at a marital festival during the Renaissance. There are many versions of the delicious dessert, usually using ice cream, chocolate and nuts. This one is "lighter" and uses whipped cream. Recipe modified from original recipe by Giada De Laurentiis of the Food Network.

Zuccotto

Recipe Summary
Difficulty: Easy
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Inactive Prep Time: 3 hours
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Yield: 8 to 10 servings

Nonstick cooking spray
1 (12-ounce) loaf pound cake
1/4 cup brandy or Chambord
6 ounces white chocolate, chopped
2 cups chilled whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted, coarsely crumbled
Raspberry sauce (optional)

Spray a 1 1/2-quart bowl with nonstick cooking spray. Line the bowl with plastic wrap. Cut the pound cake crosswise into 1/3-inch-thick slices. Cut each slice diagonally in half, forming 2 triangles. Line the bottom and sides of the prepared bowl with the cake triangles. Brush some of the brandy over the cake triangles lining the bowl. Reserve the extra triangles.
Stir the chocolate in a large metal bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water until the chocolate melts. Allow the chocolate to cool slightly. Using an electric mixer, beat 1 cup of cream in another large bowl until it is thick and fluffy. Fold 1/4 of the whipped cream into the chocolate. Fold half of the remaining whipped cream into the chocolate mixture. Fold in the remaining whipped cream. Spread the chocolate cream over the cake, covering completely and creating a well in the center. Cover and refrigerate if not assembling cake right away. In another clean large bowl, add the remaining 1 cup of cream and almond extract. Using an electric mixer with clean beaters, beat on medium speed and gradually add 1/4 cup of the powdered sugar. Beat until firm peaks form. Fold in the nuts. Spoon the cream mixture into the center of the well of the filling.Brush the remaining cake slices with brandy and arrange them, brandy side down, over the cake, covering the filling completely and trimming to fit, if necessary. Cover the cake with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 3 hours and up to 1 day. Invert the cake onto a platter. Remove the bowl and the plastic wrap. Drizzle raspberry sauce, sift the remaining powdered sugar over and serve.

Optional: add some of the raspberry sauce to the whipped cream/almond extract mix for some extra color and flavor.

Broccoli Quiche

Broccoli Quiche

Recipe Summary
Difficulty: Easy
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 60 minutes
Yield: 4-6 servings

1 9-inch pie shell
10 oz frozen chopped broccoli, about 3/4 cups
8 ounces fresh mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon Olive oil
1 cup milk
3 eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 to 1 teaspoon pepper
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake pie crust about 10 minutes or until bottom is slightly brown. Let cool. Cook broccoli until tender; drain well. Saute mushrooms in a 1 Tbsp olive oil until they are about half their original size. Combine milk, eggs, butter, flour, salt, pepper and 3/4 cup cheese; whisk until well blended. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup of cheese over crust. Layer broccoli and mushrooms on cheese. Pour milk and egg mixture over all. Bake at 375º for 60 to 70 minutes or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean.
4 to 6 servings.

Pecan Pumpkin Pie

Modified from a recipe by the Krusteaz company. I made this last year for Thanksgiving, and it was such a hit that it will be holiday tradition from now on. I don’t like the Krusteaz crust (it’s too much like shortbread), so I substitute a 9-inch deep dish pie shell.

Pecan Pumpkin Pie

Recipe Summary
Difficulty: Easy
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: approx. 1 hour
Yield: 8 servings

1, 17.5 oz package Krusteaz Pecan Bar Mix (1 pouch each pecan filling mix and pecans)
1 9-inch deep dish pie shell
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
3/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 cup water

Preheat oven to 350ºF. In medium bowl, whisk together pumpkin, sugar, 1 egg and pumpkin pie spice until blended. Spread evenly over pie crust. Sprinkle pecans evenly over pumpkin filling. Set aside. In medium bowl, whisk together full pouch pecan filling mix, water and 1 egg until blended. Immediately after stirring, pour gently over pumpkin and pecan layer. Bake 50-55 minutes or until center does not jiggle when lightly shaken and top begins to brown. Cool completely before cutting. Garnish with caramel sauce and fresh whipped topping, if desired.