Basque Stage Candidate Video!

Well this seems a little familiar…..

Here is my (second and hopefully last ;] ) Basque Stage Candidate Video!

I am no means, a film maker or video editor or screen writer or actor, so please bare with me people. I know the tacky transitions between clips is pretty unbearable, but hey…. I tried my best to make it a little bit more enjoyable for you guys! I always find it pretty hard to talk about myself, letalone, record myself, so this is me trying my hardest to get my point out. Point being…… I have never wanted or worked so hard for something in my life. Getting to stage in Spain under some of the greatest chefs would be a dream come true for me. Spanish food is something real dear to me and it has become a huge part of who I am as a chef. I have so much more to learn and all I want in the end is to open peoples’ eyes (and mouths!) to the greatness of Basque Cuisine!

So here it is…..

 

Thanks for your time and wish me luck!

-Justin

P.S. If my video were a drinking game, ya’ll would get super drunk off of how many times I say “Basque” and “Spain”

P.P.S. Peep the ‘NorthWest‘ Shirt I’m wearing at 0:18 secs. I love my city! Have to show the 206 some love.

P.P.P.S. Special Shoutouts to Irbille Donia for being a great camera man! And Minus the Bear (more 206 love) for making such a dope song that I needed to use it in my video.

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All About Eggs!: Tortilla Española

Egg cookery has always been something that interested me. One of the many lessons I have learned in my early culinary school days is that cooking eggs will be one of the toughest jobs someone will have in a kitchen…..

Really?!? How could something as simple as cooking an egg be that difficult? Well….. Since I’ve started working brunch, I now understand what they say about eggs.

So this portion of my blog is dedicated too all things eggs! Something that is so easy to make, yet so hard to get right that it could be seen as an art form.

Working brunch at the Harvest Vine has taught me many new preparations of eggs and more importantly, how to properly cook eggs. My first All About Eggs! post is on one of the most traditional dishes of Spain, the Tortilla Española. I have chosen the Tortilla because it holds a large amount of importance to how I work in the kitchen. I have made it a goal of mine to perfect the art of cooking the omelet ever since I’ve had my first taste of one at Txori. It was perfect. A small wedge cut out of the disc shaped omelet served on toasted bread rubbed with garlic oil and then dabbed with 3 perfectly round dots of alioli. It doesn’t get any simpler than that, but simple has never tasted so delicious. It took me about 2 years in the making and over hundreds of tortilla but I have finally figured out the ways of the Tortilla Española. There are so many variables that can make or break your tortilla from the batter you make with your potatoes and eggs to the heat control under your pan.

(Photo taken from The Kiwi Project)

Tortilla Española is essentially a potato and onion omelet but the fillings of ingredients can be countless from diced chorizo or ham to various vegetables like peas, artichokes, or roasted peppers. Basically, you can make a tortilla with any ingredient you want. Get creative  and have some fun (check out one of my favorite renditions by Ferran Adrià, the egg and potato chip tortilla)!

To make Tortilla Española, it is preferred to use a potato that is not as starchy. At my work, we use regular russet potatoes and find that it works perfectly fine. Traditionally, Tortillas start with thinly sliced potatoes and onions being cooked down in a pan with oil to cover until the potatoes are tender. At our work, we use reheated panadera potatoes that we add to our eggs so it cuts the time in the kitchen.

We start with 2 quarts of panadera potatoes and slowly reheat them until they are hot to the touch. We then add them to 14 scrambled eggs whisked with a good amount of salt; this makes about 2 full sized Tortillas or around 9 mini Tortillas. The next part is one of the most critical parts of the Tortilla making process, which is to let the batter sit for 30 minutes to an hour. This lets the heated potatoes gently heat up the eggs (but not cook the eggs) to make a very thick batter. I find that the thicker the batter, the faster that center of the tortilla cooks all the way through. If the batter is too thin and water, then it’ll take you longer to cook the tortilla all the way through and also, I find that it makes it easier to brown the outsides of the tortilla. Which is what we don’t want!

Next comes the frying. The key to the frying is to make sure you have the right pan. I prefer deep, heavy skillets that keep an even heat throughout the pan. Now for the oil, you got to make sure that you use enough oil so that the Tortilla doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan and also, you need to make sure that the oil is heated up pretty hot. I usually heat it up until right it starts smoking before I add the potato and egg mixture so it instantly sets the bottom of the omelet. After adding the eggs, I return the pan to the stove and set the heat on medium low and carefully watch the omelet by running a spatula around the outside of the rim and scraping the bottom of the pan, making sure it doesn’t stick. When the outer edge of the omelet is thick and the center of the uncooked side looks like its no longer liquid its ready to be flipped!

Known as “la vuelta”, which means the flip, is probably the hardest part of the Tortilla making process. First, run a spatula around the rim again to make sure there is no sticking, then place a flat plate over the pan holding it firmly with your free hand thats not holding the pan handle. Then using both hands, carefully flip over the pan and carefully lift it from the plate, releasing the omelet from the pan. The cooked side of the tortilla should be a golden color with very little browning.

Next, reheat the pan with oil until barely smoking and then carefully push the omelet back into the pan, making sure to tuck in all around the tortilla to form the disc shape. From here on out, it is all about making sure that you watch the heat under the pan isn’t too hot that it browns the omelet. After every 4-5 minutes, I flip the tortilla until the center of the tortilla feels cooked all the way through. A toothpick can be inserted and should come out dry too show you whether or not the tortilla is done.


Even after making a couple hundred of these, I find myself finding new ways to perfect my Tortilla Española. It is always a great feeling when you flip out your Tortilla for the last time and let it sit before you cut into them and indulge in the light and fluffy texture of Tortilla!

Tortilla Española Wrapped in Jamon Serrano then seared until crispy!

Basics: Panaderas Potatoes

Every cuisine has their “basic” necessities. From mother sauces to spice blends, there are just some basic recipes and fundamentals that are foundation of a dish. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned working at The Harvest Vine is the importance of knowing the basics before going on and trying to create your own dish. There is a reason that certain dishes have become what we know it as today and to know the foundation of that dish will help you understand how and why that dish was created. This now opens up a whole new world of possibilities because since you know how the dish works, you are able to put your own twist on them, making it your own while keeping it true to the original.

This post is about Panaderas potatoes. Panaderas is something that we always have on deck in our walk-in because we use it for a countless amount of ways. Essentially, Panaderas are round, thinly sliced (about 1/4″) potatoes that are sauteed in a good amount of oil until they are golden and soft. At my work, since we use it so often, we have found a good way to make a large batch by slowly confit the potatoes so we can use it whenever we need it.

My Panaderas Kit! (Pototatoes, Onions, Oil)

Using a mandolin (very carefully!), we thinly slice whole, peeled russet potatoes at about 1/4″. We then also do the same with onions and julienne them to the same thickness. And then layer the potatoes and onions in a half hotel pan until 3/4th filled. Then pour on olive oil to cover.

Layers of potatoes and onions create layers of flavor!

Pouring on that liquid gold!

The next step is to take a piece of parchment paper and to put a cartouche (Oh! Vocab word!), or to put it over the potatoes, onions, and oil to help ensure that steam doesn’t escape to help preserve the color of the potatoes and onions. This helps keep the potatoes and onions from carmelizing and turing brown. We then cover them with foil and place them into an oven set at 325F  to confit for about an hour until potatoes are tender.

Cartouche!

When the potatoes are all the way tender, we take them out of the oil making sure we strain and SAVE all the oil for future panaderas making! We let them cool and then they are ready for use!!

Now we can heat up some panaderas and throw it in some whisked eggs to make a tortilla espanola  or we use it as the perfect side dish with some Grilled Fresh Cut from the Iberican Black Footed Pig. All we do is saute some garlic with these panaderas potatoes and then just season with salt and parley so we don’t take away from the focus of the greatest piece of pork you’ll ever have, but compliment it in only the best ways!

Tortilla Espanola Extravaganza!