There is a lot of work to do on the farm at the moment as the season is changing. We have had the early September rain that signals the end of the summer. The Christmas potatoes needed to be already in the ground ready and waiting before the rain comes. They are just starting to show through now.
The greenhouse contains hundreds of little pots of winter vegetable seedlings that have been hiding from the heat and will need to be planted out quite soon. There are Mange Toute Peas, Purple Sprouting Broccoli, Cima Di Rapa, a huge selection of salad greens,chicories and endives, Artichokes,Florence Fennel,Beetroot……..
Then there are the crops that are ready and need picking and/or processing. I have been making Preserved Tomatoes in White Wine and Chilli Jam this week which is one of the most popular products in the farm shop. Fifty Jars of the Chilli Jam and fifteen of the tomatoes, plus ten of Sun Dried Tomato Pesto which is one of my favourite sauces for pasta, or spread on toast and topped with mild cheese for breakfast.
Picking and curing the olives will be next week, closely followed by the quince which are looking swelled and golden yellow since the rain. I don’t have enough olives to send for oil, so they will all be for eating and the quince will be made into jelly and a mustard conserve, which again is popular in the shop. There are only two jars left from last years crop, which looks like perfect planning.
Because of all this activity, quick nutritious lunches are needed that centre on the vegetables from the farm.
The spanish tortilla is a thick savoury cake that is golden brown on the outside and soft and eggy in the centre. Although the best know version is made from just potatoes, any vegetable of solid texture is used in combination with small amounts of meat or fish to make sucessful tortillas. Peas, broad beans with ham, asparagus and prawns, or green garlics and prawns, spinach and bacon, chickpeas, peppers, onions or any combination thereof. There is even one made from dates and ham which I had to try when I saw it on a menu. I have to say that it was not the most successful food combination that I have tasted.
Today I have some lovely dark green chard and some smoked streaky bacon. Spinach or green cabbage can be used for this in place of the chard. The following recipe is for one person.
Warm some olive oil in a large frying pan or wok.
Finely chop a small onion and add to the pan. Cook for a couple of minutes.
Cut the bacon into lardons and add to the pan. Cook for five to ten minutes until lightly browned.
Wash the chard and cut the green leaves only into strips. Add to the bacon and toss. Cover and cook for two to three minutes, then toss again. Keep doing this until the volume of the chard is much reduced and it tastes cooked.
Break two eggs into a bowl and beat enough to mix the yolks with the whites. Add the chard and bacon to the eggs and mix thoroughly. Check if it needs salt. My bacon was quite salty so I didn’t need to add more. Season with freshly ground black pepper.
When you come to cook the tortilla the size of the pan used is very important. It wants to be of a size small enough that when the egg mix is poured in you get quite a thick cake.
Put a good amount of olive oil in the frying pan and heat. When the oil is hot slowly add the egg mix. Cover and let it cook slowly for a few minutes.
With a spatula gently tease the tortilla away from the pan around its perimeter to plump up the edge. Cook a couple more minutes and then check if it is ready to be turned over. The tortilla wants to be just solid enough to hold together as it is turned over onto a plate and then slid back into the pan. If it seems to watery still, cook it a bit longer. I gently tease the spatula under the tortilla all the way round to make sure that it is not stuck in parts. If you shake the pan and the tortilla moves then that is good.
Take a plate that is a good bit larger than the pan and away from the heat place it over the pan and hold it there. Flip the pan over so that the tortilla is on the plate. Put the pan back on the heat and add some more olive oil to it. Give it a couple of minutes to heat up before gently sliding the tortilla sideways into the pan.
With the spatula tease the sides of the tortilla in as before. This side of the tortilla will not need as much cooking as the first side. Lift up a side of it with the spatula to see if it is golden underneath.
Invert onto a plate as before and enjoy. I had mine with a simple salad of tomatoes annointed with good olive oil and salt.