This past spring my sister Kathy took her students to Spain for two weeks and stayed in the picturesque northern city of Burgos, a place known for its stunning and compelling cathedral, churches, palaces and other buildings from the medieval ages.
Kathy stayed with a young woman named Nuria, her husband Eduardo and their two small children and was fed quite well. I of course insisted Kathy keep me posted on every morsel of food she was eating and she did a fine job via text and email. The first food items Kathy mentioned in her text started with the larger than life anchovies (I’d kill for them) and of course the Spanish Jamon Iberico, tuna, hake, quail eggs, mussels, octopus, olives, Paella and a chocolate dipping party at the school her students were attending. I read Kathy’s updates daily with blissful enthusiasm.
Kathy especially enjoyed the potato frittatas in Spain and this morning I woke to the smells of her making one. I followed my nose to the kitchen and there she was, the five foot-two Senorita standing over the stove frying potatoes in an inch of olive oil. Although Kathy was making this frittata with only potatoes and eggs, she said the restaurants and bars sold a variety of these pies that had an assortment of other ingredients inside such as vegetables (red peppers!) and meats (spicy sausage, cured ham) and to my utter delight, Kathy told me she had one with anchovies! –What could possibly be better than potatoes swimming in olive oil, eggs and anchovies?
Here is how Senorita Kathy did it:
In a non-stick pan heat an inch of olive oil and place a bunch of slices potatoes inside and cook them until they become soft; this takes about half hour or so. (The potatoes didn’t look as if they were being deep fried but rather simmering in water.) When the potatoes become soft, strain them through a sieve and save the excess oil. Return the potatoes to the pan, adding some saved oil if needed and put on low heat, add six beaten eggs, salt and pepper, and cook slowly until the eggs become firm working the sides with a small spatula. When set, slide the pie on a plate and flip the right side up and down into the pan and cook the other side. Please note, this was how Kathy was taught to do it by Nuria who I am sure made plenty frittatas in her day, and those who have sisters know its best never to question them, and so with that said, I personally wouldn’t get involved with all that wild plate flipping stuff, I would simply place the pan under the broiler to cook the top part. –Either way, making a pie like this on a stove top, without any doubt, takes skill and practice, therefore, if it falls apart when you plate it, do what my *best friend Julia Child taught me to do years ago, kind of shape it, make it look pretty and cover it with plenty parsley or flowers or chives and never apologize.
*I was only best friends with Julia Child in my foodie mind, she didn’t know me at all, however, I did see here once in Harvard Square when I was in High School and I shamelessly admit I stalked her for a block or two… or fifteen…