Friday, August 5, 2011

TBIR: Spain and Portugal

I had big plans to cook paella from the Spain and Portugal section of The Best International Recipe. However, after going on a wild goose chase to find Asian sesame paste (different from tahini) to make sesame noodles from the China section, I needed a quick and easy replacement dinner. Spanish Tortilla (pg 224) was the only thing I had all the ingredients for.

As you probably know, this dish is just potatoes and onions cooked in a pan, then you add 10 scrambled eggs and stick it in the oven to cook for about ten minutes. What's Spanish for "Voila"?

I don't have a whole lot to say about this one. It was good. Exactly what I expected, being a fan of tortillas as an afternoon snack when I was in Barcelona. Matt said it was good, "But tastes like breakfast." I added a little red pepper to it, because I once again realized at the last minute that I'd forgotten about vegetables. Vegetables don't seem to figure much in this book.
These recipes keep reminding me of a Tom Petty concert I went to once. It was good, but it bothered me that he sounded exactly the same live as on CD. The concert was solid and well executed, but not particularly interesting. I don't know if that's really a complaint about the book. It's certainly valuable to have recipes that give you exactly what you expect them to. It's not very exciting to cook from day after day, though.

Conclusion: Liked it.

Yesterday was a Hale and Farewell (welcome new colleagues and say goodbye to old) for one of Matt's co-workers, who is about to head out for a tour in Afghanistan. (On a side note, I love the Navy's phraseology for things. I laugh every time Matt says he has to "hit the head." We're not on a boat, dear. lol) Happy for any excuse to bake, I made Black and White Cookies (pg 192) from Ready For Dessert.

I have a huge soft spot for black and white cookies. They seem to be in every bakery in Brooklyn, but they're often dry cake and bland icing (ahem, stale). Even so, I love them. My first thought when I saw this recipe was, "What the hell does some San Franciscoan ex-pat in Paris know about New York black and white cookies??" My second thought was, "If this recipe works, I'll be the happiest girl in the world."

Well, my friends, the recipe works. Gloriously. These cookies are everything they should be, but exponentially better. I may never be able to eat a store-bought one again. The cookie is a cookie/cake hybrid, but Lebovitz's was moist and buttery. The chocolate icing was rich, but it didn't overpower the nicely balanced vanilla/lemon side. Mmmmmmmm.

My one gripe with this recipe is that, once again, even though I precisely measured out the amount of dough he advises--2 tablespoons per cookie--my yield was half of what he says it should be. That means that I only made 12 cookies. Fortunately, they were intended for a fairly small event, but if I expected to feed a larger group of people, I'd have been screwed. This is the second cookie recipe that this has happened with. Not cool, David. Not cool.

Conclusion: Love. They're even better than the original.


  1. Hmmm, I just purchased David Lebovitz's ice cream book last week, but looks like his dessert book is wining pretty rave reviews from you. I may have to put it on my Amazon wish list.

  2. that Tortilla de Patata looks so yummy!!! I imagine it served up with a glass of rioja or sangria on a lazy sunny afternoon. too bad I don't (I can't) eat such heavy calories/cholesterol/carb laden dishes anymore but I def. appreciate it... vicariously and "virtually".

  3. I liked making the tortillas from Dorie's French cooking book, but they also just reminded me of breakfast. Great post though!