Sunday, 14 May 2017

Put on a Europe themed spread.

Recipe of the week...
... Tortilla de Española

Ingredients: 1 white onion, 4 tablespoons olive oil, small knob of butter, 500g potatoes, 3 garlic cloves, 8 eggs, and a sprinkle of dried chopped parsley.

Serves: 8 portions.

Time taken: Around 45 mins.

Hi readers,

How’s it going today? Is the sun setting on a wonderful weekend? As I write, it’s a Sunday evening in May, and here in northern England we’ve been treated to a day of splendid sunshine. Aside from the odd spot of rain, and maybe a gust or two of wind, today’s been a good one.

As it’s been such a lovely day out, I’ve been parading round in a vest stop with my pasty arms on display. Soaking up some Vitamin D and hoping to turn a lighter shade of blue. Can’t see that I’ve picked up any colour but it’s been nice all the same to feel the sun on my arms. How about you, readers? Have you managed to get out and enjoy the weather?

Nothing like a bit of British sunshine
especially the unexpected kind

I hope you have, readers, and I hope all is well with you. Things have been a little turbulent this week in the ChefBeHere household and, if your week’s been anything like mine, then I hope you’re getting to enjoy a peaceful Sunday evening to yourself. Well deserved, I don’t doubt, if you’ve been battling the world this week. It certainly feels as though I’ve been battling the world.

But, readers, I’m healthy. Which is the greatest wealth of them all. And if there’s one thing that I come to appreciate, in a time of crisis, it’s my friends and family. The phrase “there when you need them most” couldn’t be more true. If ever I stumble, or if something trips me up, there will be a friend or a family member there to help me back up again. Or there’ll be a whole crowd of them – collectively helping to get me back on my feet and steady me.

They're a good bunch

I’m grateful for my friends and my family. To have strong people there standing by you (from wherever it is they are in the world), and to be reminded how much they care about you and will rally when the chips are down, it’s a wonderful thing. If my greatest achievement in life is to support these people right back, and help them when they need me most, then that will be a great thing to have achieved.

I hope you have people like these, readers. Ones who fight a hangover to call you with legal advice. Ones who tag you in a cute Instagram post at just the right moment. Ones who listen to you and let you talk on with the most boring problem, and they continue listening. The kind who would read a post like this and not even know I’m talking about them, because they don’t think they’ve done anything, in particular, to be there for me. But they have.

They queue for the buffet
and will drink from a Nutella jar

Anyways, readers. Appreciate your people. And invite them over! Why not? When was the last time you had the rabble round? Far too long ago, I bet. Send out an invite and have them all for tea sometime soon, I say. Catch up and see their lovely faces, for a change, instead of just texting them. Go on.

I did just this last night, readers. I had a modest shipment of friends over to celebrate and watch the Eurovision Song Contest together, which proved to be the perfect antidote for my blues. Do you watch the Eurovision, readers? I know it divides opinion! With its shimmer and the shimmying and the terrible, wonderful entries each year… but I love it! Really, I do.

The girl group we all wanted to be in

I love the energy and cheer, the crazy people in the crowd, and the big mix of acts coming from all over the world, with their outfits and their routines. It’s a bit mental, is the Eurovision, but the kind of mental that wins people’s affection. I think it has a certain charm, in its own special eccentric sort of way. And if it that was how people described me, I’d be happy… so I love the Eurovision!

I went over the top and off into space planning an ‘international buffet’, much to everyone’s amusement. But why not? Life is far too short. If you want to put on a Europe themed spread then just do it… PUT ON A EUROPE THEMED SPREAD. I only managed 8 countries in the end, readers, as opposed to the full 26 that were competing. But I think we can safely say it’s the thought that counts. At least, that's what I tell myself.

Sure this guy would agree...
the most chilled out winner in the world

Here’s what I went for:

UK – Crisps, scotch eggs and pork pie
France – Baguette and brie
Australia – Vegemite (disgusting stuff, as it turns out)
Germany – Cocktail sausages and potato salad
Belgium – Sugar waffles, served with strawberries and chocolate sauce
Greece – Olives and feta cheese
Italy – Pizza and tomato pasta salad
Spain – Tortilla de Española

Not bad, right? I was quite proud I pulled this off! The majority was shop bought, I’ll admit, but every buffet needs an impressive centrepiece to draw the eye so I did make one thing myself. In the spirit of cheffing, I decided to take on the Tortilla de Española (Spanish Omelette) and make this from scratch. I used a recipe that I found on BBC Good Food, which you can read here.

This was the aim of the game

And it went well! Aside from the incredible amount of garlic which the recipe called for (I’ve halved it in my version below – you should have smelled us all), the dish was pretty much a success. It got lots of compliments on the night! And I thought it came off really well and tasting good, in the end. Intrigued, readers? Here’s the recipe in just 12 simple steps…

  1. Pour yourself a chilled drink, crack open a window and set some mellow music playing, to guide you through the recipe.
  2. First, peel your onion and finely slice using a large sharp knife.
  3. Then, peel your potatoes, cut into quarters and finely slice each quarter.
  4. Peel your cloves of garlic and then either crush or – if, like me, you lack a garlic crusher – cut up into tiny pieces.
  5. Ready to go! Now heat a large non-stick frying pan over a low heat, with the oil and butter inside.
ChefBeHere Top Tip: When I say ‘a low heat’ I mean literally the lowest heat you can possibly have while sustaining a flame on the hob. Then lower. Go loooow.
  1. Add the onion and gently fry in the oil and butter until soft but not brown – this should take about 5-10 mins.
  2. Add the potatoes, cover the pan and cook for a further 15 mins, stirring occasionally to make sure they fry evenly.
  3. Meanwhile, turn on your grill to warm and crack 8 eggs into a bowl, then them beat together using a fork.
  4. When the potatoes are soft and the onion is shiny, stir in your garlic and beaten eggs.
ChefBeHere Top Tip: Give everything a proper stir together, to be sure that no potato or onion is stuck to the bottom of the pan. Get everything moving until its well mixed together.
  1. Sprinkle chopped parsley over the tortilla, then put the lid back on the pan and leave to cook gently for about 10 mins.
  2. Once the edges and base of your tortilla are golden, and the top is beginning to set but the middle’s still a little wobbly, then take your pan off the heat and turn the heat off.
ChefBeHere Top Tip: Remember to do this – the flame is really small but it could still burn someone or singe their sleeve if you leave it on!
  1. Pop the pan under the grill for 5-10 mins to finish cooking. Once golden brown and cooked through (no wobble!), then turn off the grill and transfer your tortilla to a plate. Serve warm or leave to cool and then refrigerate to eat cold later on.

And that’s all there is to it, readers. What do you think? Because – to me – this recipe calls for very basic, cheap ingredients. And not many ingredients! You only have commit under an hour of your time in the kitchen. And the steps are pretty straightforward and easy to follow. Then you end up with a dish that, really, looks quite impressive and as though you’ve spent lots of time and effort on it! This – to me – makes for a winner of a recipe.

On to a winner!

 Have you tried to make Tortilla de Española before, readers? Or perhaps you’ve eaten it out at a tapas restaurant? Or when you’ve been on holiday in Spain? If you’ve tried this recipe before, readers, then I hope it went well for you in the kitchen. Maybe it’s time to give this a try again?? If this recipe isn’t one you’ve tried before, readers, would you be tempted to give it a go? Have I convinced you that it’s do-able? Because, it certainly is!

I hope you have a go at this, readers. Maybe save the recipe for next time you have friends over? Or next time you’re putting on a buffet? There’s your centrepiece for the table sorted! Whatever the occasion, readers, I hope you get to share this with friends and wow them with your culinary skills in the kitchen (talk it up… you were slaving for hours!).

Until next time, I’m wishing you all a wonderful week ahead. Take care, readers.

And chef safely,


Buffet leftovers enjoyed for lunch today
out in the garden in the sun

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