Tortilla Espanola and Come Home to Mama

The leaves have fallen, the weather is getting chilly and November is here. It seems I count the days the kids have been gone and then like magic, before you know it, I’m on the countdown until they come home. I am so ready. Time flies when they are here, so like a good mother, I must be prepared. The house must be clean before the suitcases are dropped upon it. The coat hooks must be emptied so there is more room to hang their coats and I must make a new spot in the garage for the extra car. I also must put away the stuff that has not been put away since their last visit, where it was ceremoniously dumped on me. And I still have a box to send to my daughter, of stuff she wanted me to send. One box for another, huh? Thanks goodness she hasn’t nagged me.

Before the day of arrival (we know our daughter’s date, but my son’s date is not quite so exact, though he assures me he will be here by Thanksgiving) we must get out to Philadelphia to see my daughter run her first marathon. I’m not quite sure how that works, but we will be there and hopefully the weather will be good. And hopefully, I will actually see her leave the start line and cross the finish line. I am short, so I don’t do well in crowds. And I have a hard enough time when there aren’t any crowds, picking someone out in the distance. I hope she wears a bright color and a BIG number. And maybe she can grow, like a foot, so I can easily spot her above the other crazy runners!


In the meantime, my son will be arriving from California after working the wine harvest. He is officially a wine intern, though I think that means operating a fork lift (of which it apparently took four years of college to prepare for) and working a press and wearing those tall rubber boots. He went out there to be a concierge in a golf club, which really didn’t keep him busy enough and ended up working the wine, which satisfied him. He’s tasted a lot of good ones and met other interns from around the world.  Now he can add wine skills to his brewing skills. He  also can add, “I know how to get a bed anywhere in the world skills” to his incredible resume. It appears that wine interns travel the globe going from one grape harvest to the next.

His goal is to make it to China where he hopes  to work in the wine industry, while perfecting his Chinese skills. Sometime soon he will put his college degree to work, but in the meantime he heard it’s going to be a great snow year, so he is coming back for one more season in Vail. What a life, huh? But he’a  hard worker with a good work ethic, and takes pride in whatever he does. Makes me happy. But how will I prepare myself when he finally does leaves for China? OK. Don’t have to worry about that-yet!


Though he just left at the end of June, it feels like forever. And though my daughter was just home in September, it feels like forever, too. Anyway enough of forever. Before he who can find a bed anywhere left, I made this Tortilla Espanola. We were watching Anthony Bourdain in Morocco where my son once traveled  and Anthony Tony visited a little hole in the wall where he ate this. Of course he also ate it in Spain, too. I’ve always wanted to make one so I finally crossed that off the bucket list!

Being a potato lover this satisfied all my inner cravings. Soft and crisp at the same time, and slathered with garlic aioli and my favorite Heinz ketchup, my inner being was feeling warm. And happy. Potatoes put me in a happy place.These would taste great with a big bottle of red or a cold bottle of beer. And a nice side of crisp bacon. I think I’d be happy eating them in Spain. Or Morocco. But as long as my son is next to me, I’m happy just eating them here, in my green kitchen.

Here’s a link to another version of tortilla espanola that I’d like to try. It features my favorite ingredient – potato chips! Maybe I’ll make this one when they come home. And since my daughter will have just run 26 miles, I don’t think she will mind! Especially if I follow it with donuts!


Tortilla Espanola
(Serves 6-8) Cooking time about an hour. Active time about 15 minutes.



1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 c olive oil
3 lbs medium sized potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1/4″ slices (I used Yukon golds)
6 beaten eggs
1 1/2 t salt

Preheat oven to 350. Saute onion in 1/4 cup of olive oil until very soft and sweet. In a small roasting pan, toss potatoes with remaining oil, cover and bake for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes,uncover and spread the onion evenly over the potatoes. Cover and bake for an additional 20 minutes. Remove pan and pour off the oil, reserving it.

Heat a few tablespoons of the reserved oil in a well seasoned cast iron skillet or a nonstick pan over high heat. Season the eggs with salt and stir the eggs into the potato mixture. When the skillet is hot, carefully add the egg mixture. Allow the eggs to set on high heat for a minute while gently swirling the pan, so the eggs don’t stick to the bottom. Reduce heat to the lowest temperature and cook for 15-20 minutes or until the mixture is firm. Place plate on top of skillet upside down and flip the tortilla on to the plate.  Reheat the skillet over high heat and carefully slide the tortilla back into your skillet. Tuck sides back into skillet if necessary. Reduce heat to low and cook the other side until it’s done, about 8 minutes or until it feels warm to the touch. You can keep this warm in an oven and also run it under the broiler if you want the top crisper. However, it you cooked it enough on the bottom it should be crisp enough.

Serve warm or at room temperature cut into wedges. Slather with aioli or ketchup or both!

Garlic Aioli
1/2 c mayonnaise
1 t Dijon mustard
2 crushed garlic cloves
1 T olive oil
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/4 t black pepper
1/4 t salt

Mix all together. I love this stuff!


More to try:
Hash Brown Spud Cups
Patatas Bravas and Aioli
Two Latkes
Potato Kugel
Cajun Potatoes

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  • Shelley @ Two Healthy Kitchens
    November 8, 2013 at 1:09 pm

    You must be so excited to have your babies coming back home! Good luck to your daughter (and to you trying to pick her out in the crowd)! What a wonderful, simple yet utterly delicious recipe – and just gorgeous, too! Thanks, Abbe! 😀

  • shannon weber
    November 6, 2013 at 10:30 pm

    i absolutely LOVE tortilla espanola: you just kicked up a major craving as i sit here trying to be good and low-carb it out for a few weeks prior to thanksgiving (vanity pounds). 🙂 AND it's rainy and cold today, which means this would be probably the world's most perfect meal. Lovely.

  • Laura Dembowski
    November 6, 2013 at 6:08 pm

    You son sounds like he has a very cool life! I can relate, trying to find happiness and what suits me best. I love fritatas and have always wanted to try a tortilla espanola – looks delightful!

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      November 6, 2013 at 8:50 pm

      I think he does have a cool life, but he works hard, too! I think you should do some discovery while you can and he may as well do it now! I always wanted to make this and it was worth it!

    November 6, 2013 at 1:01 pm

    Amazing recipe

  • Sharon
    November 6, 2013 at 6:30 am

    This is such a heartwarming post. I am excited for you, Abbe ❤

    Oh, and I love potatoes! I've never tried it this way before. This is so yummy-looking.

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      November 6, 2013 at 8:48 pm

      Oh, Sharon. I get excited, too! These are good potatoes. Especially with the ketchup and aioli!

    November 6, 2013 at 2:34 am

    I bet you're going to love all of the commotion that is sure to accompany your kids' arrivals. Mom always did. Your tortilla sounds delicious, Abbe, and the kind of dish that will keep them coming back for more — as if you didn't know. 🙂

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      November 6, 2013 at 8:33 pm

      Oh, John-you clever guy! I love the commotion! And the digs do too! Though I have to admit that I'm usually ready for a break after a week or so. But then the very next day, I'm ready for them to be home!

  • Zoe
    November 5, 2013 at 11:22 pm

    Hi Abbe,

    Time can fly so quickly… My son is four now and I can't imagine the day that he will tell me that he leaving home… sob sob!!!

    Nice that your delicious cooking has always remind your kids of you and HOME 🙂


    • Abbe Odenwalder
      November 6, 2013 at 8:32 pm

      Oh, Zoe. Don't worry yet. Just make lots of good memories so they will want to come home!

  • Denise [email protected] Brazil To You
    November 5, 2013 at 8:12 pm

    This tortilla espanola looks fantastic, Abbe! I could eat it all.

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      November 6, 2013 at 8:31 pm

      It's a good one, Denise. Do they have them in Brazil?

  • Angie Schneider
    November 5, 2013 at 5:20 am

    This is a great dish for the family get-together!

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      November 6, 2013 at 8:28 pm

      It is and it goes a long way!

  • Nazneen Hamilton
    November 5, 2013 at 4:16 am

    I am sure it's hard to be without your kids, and you must miss them terribly when they're gone. I'm not there yet, mine are ALWAYS here 🙂
    This tortilla, I love, it is one of my favourite breakfasts and when I'm feeling energetic I make it! I never had it in Spain back in the day, but a friend married to a Spanish lady made it for me for the very first time. I've loved it since.
    And I like mine with ketchup too and hot sauce.

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      November 6, 2013 at 8:30 pm

      Hot sauce -very good addition! I know what it is like when they are always around. But trust me Nazneen-time flies. There is no holding bak the clock!

  • Kitchen Riffs
    November 5, 2013 at 1:19 am

    Glad you'll be seeing your kids soon! Being a wine intern sounds like fun, particularly the fork light part (boys do like their toys). This is such a great dish, and one I haven't made in forever. In my youth I was lucky enough to sample it in Spain, and was instantly smitten. Never saw it when I lived in Morocco, but I lived in the part that used to be under French rule, not the Spanish part. Fun post – thanks.

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      November 5, 2013 at 2:41 am

      You know Mr. KR, the more you write, the more we get to know you. I really hope you are writing a book because I think you must have one in you! I don't think there is any place you haven't been. Maybe you should also write a travel blog. In any case, I wish you were in Denver. I'd love to hear your stories!

  • Bam's Kitchen
    November 5, 2013 at 12:38 am

    You better stock the refrigerator as when the kids come back home they are going to pack it away as they always miss mama's cooking. I know a very hard part of letting our kids go is having them live very far away. However, what I have learned is that the world really is a very small place. If your son does ever move to China, I am in HK so very close in case of emergency. Take care, BAM

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      November 5, 2013 at 2:38 am

      Oh Bam, that is soooo nice. We actually are trying to get him to consider Hong Kong but he wants to go back to Beijing where he studied. And the Napa Wine Association is in Shanghai, so he has a lot to figure out. Maybe though, our paths will cross. My manservant used to do a lot of work fin Shenzhen.

  • Eva Kosmas
    November 5, 2013 at 12:36 am

    This looks and sounds delicious! A wonderful comfort food 🙂 And he'll be back before you know it, in the meantime there is always skype!

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      November 5, 2013 at 2:36 am

      Yeah, we do Skype but boys are different than girls. She calls every day, sometimes, usually more than once! He calls quite a bit but isn't always as talkative as she is. He has to be in the mood! You would enjoy this Eva.

  • Pamela @ Brooklyn Farm Girl
    November 5, 2013 at 12:31 am

    This looks like a great recipe to enjoy in the upcoming months! It sure is getting chilly here too!

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      November 5, 2013 at 2:34 am

      Pamela, have you grown potatoes? I do every so often and they are so much fun to grow. You can do them in a garbage can and layer them up. And they taste so good! Enjoy!

  • Liz Berg
    November 4, 2013 at 9:40 pm

    I'll take aioli on mine and Bill will grab the Heintz! Yeah, I'm ready for a full house, too 🙂

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      November 5, 2013 at 2:33 am

      I love aioli! But I love ketchup, too so I do both! I LOVE a full house.