Posts Tagged ‘holiday traditions’

Father’s Day Brunch Recipe: Tortilla Española

Friday, June 13th, 2014 No comments

Father’s day is almost here! One of my all-time favorite dishes to cook up for a Father’s Day is Tortilla Española, also offered as an appetizer in the Spanish Wine Dinner chapter of Cook the Part. This delicious dish is a staple of Spanish cuisine, consisting of egg omelette made with potatoes cooked in olive oil. I hope you enjoy this dish as much as I do.





  • 4 tablespoons Spanish olive oil, divided
  • ?4 Yukon Gold potatoes, sliced very thin (Note: Use a mandolin (if available) set at 1/8”)
  • 2 teaspoon kosher salt?1 onion, cut in half and sliced very thin?2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 6 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons dry grill rub or seasoning
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Roasted red pepper strips, purchased or homemade

1) Prepare potatoes for Tortilla Española, sliced about 1/8″ inch thin

2) Heat 2 tablespoons oil in large nonstick skillet on medium-high flame.

3) Add potato slices and sauté for 12 minutes, turning to ensure even cooking.

4) Add another tablespoon oil and 1 teaspoon salt. Reduce flame to medium.

5) Add onions and continue cooking until onions are soft and potatoes are tender, about 5 minutes.

6) ?Add crushed garlic and sauté for 2 minutes.

Turn off flame and set aside.

7) ?Beat eggs with 1 teaspoon salt, rub and pepper in a large bowl.

8) Remove potatoes from skillet, add to egg mixture and let stand for 10 minutes.?Add 1 tablespoon of oil to skillet.

9) Pour egg and potato mixture into heated skillet. ?Allow eggs to set, lifting the sides of the omelet to let more egg mixture run underneath.

10) When the omelet can be lifted from the side of the pan, invert the omelet onto a plate and slide it back into the pan to cook the other side.

11) Add ground pepper to taste.?Slide the cooked omelet onto a cutting board or serving plate and cut into cubes or wedges. This can be served at room temperature. Serve with roasted red peppers strips.

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there! Enjoy!


Tamales – A Mexican Christmas Tradition

Thursday, January 10th, 2013 1 comment
Linda with Tamales

Linda with Tamales


By Linda Sierra

I’m happy to report the tamales were a hit yet again this year.  We made more than 6 dozen and it is done in a sort of assembly line where one puts the masa on the cornhusk, the next puts the meat and olives and the next folds them up.  This is a blast.

This recipe has been in my family since I was a child.  My  mother has been using it since I was about 5 years old.  So it is at least 40 years old.

Feliz año nuevo!






Folded TamalesSteaming Tamales


3 lbs – 1 inch chunks beef stew meat
2 cans – 28 oz. enchilada sauce (Las Palmas “mild”)*
2 lbs – 1 inch chunks pork stew meat
2 Tbs – Oregano
4 – Cloves garlic minced
60 – Dried cornhusks (~1 pound)
8 cups – Instant Masa (Maseca brand)
2/3 cup – Vegetable oil
2 2/3 cups – Shortening (Crisco) or lard (I use Crisco)
2 – Medium onions chopped
2 Tbs – Baking powder
2/3 cup – Flour
60 – Black pitted olives cut in half

• In large pot put beef, pork and garlic with enough water to cover. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 1.25 hours until meat is tender and stirring occasionally.
• Soak cornhusks in warm water for about an hour, they will become soft. Drain, keeping them damp on paper towels.
• In large skillet over medium heat cook onion until tender in hot vegetable oil. Stir in flour until blended. Add enchilada sauce, oregano and 2 teaspoons of salt. Drain meat, reserving the liquid. Add meat to the sauce and cook for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally with a fork to shred the meat. The sauce will be very thick.
• Beat at low speed with hand mixer instant masa, 5 1/3 cups reserved meat liquid, shortening, baking powder and 4 teaspoons salt.
• Assembly: place cornhusks tip away from you. Use a small spatula or large spoon and spread 2 Tbs of masa onto center or cornhusk in a rectangle about 5” x 4”. You can paste two corn husks together with a little masa if they are too small. Put 2 Tbs of meat on the center of the masa, place 2 olive halves on top of the meat mixture.
• Wrapping: Lift up right side and fold 1/3 of cornhusk over filling, fold the left side over the last. Fold the tip of the cornhusk backwards, about 1/3 of the way down. Tamale will be open on one end. Place the folded tamale with the folded side down so it won’t open.
• Steaming: In a large pot with a vegetable steamer add an inch of water. Place tamales with the open end up, folded side down, standing up in the pot, over medium-high heat, heat water to boiling. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Be sure to add water if it is evaporated to keep the moisture right for proper steaming.
• Test for doneness: Remove and unwrap 1 tamale. If the dough is firm and does not stick to the husk they are done.
• Yield: 5 dozen. You can cut the recipe in half. I usually double it.
• You can find most of these items in the Hispanic Food section of most grocery stores. Northgate Gonzales has everything you’ll need if you have trouble finding everything.
• *You can also make your own enchilada sauce but run the risk of making the sauce too spicy. I can help you if you want to make it from scratch. That is why I recommend the “mild” Las Palmas enchilada sauce because the flavor is rich and not hot. Be sure it says “mild” on the label or it will be very hot.


Nut Rolls: One for You and Several for Gifts

Thursday, December 20th, 2012 No comments
Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve in 1/2 inch slices.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve in 1/2 inch slices.




If you want to serve a great treat with your Christmas morning coffee, prepare a few nut rolls and even give some away as holiday gifts.  Our Christmas is not complete without a few of these “old country” sweet breads.  Nut rolls are sweet, but not too sweet….they fall into the “kieflie” world of must-have Christmas delicacies.  My mother was noted for her yeast-dough baking and this is one of the many Christmas breads that was a staple in her holiday preparations for over 50 years. This recipe will make four nut rolls, so wrap a few up in saran wrap and tie a red ribbon around them – your friends will be delighted to receive this gift from your kitchen.






Nut Rolls

4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 lb. unsalted butter
2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup warm milk
1 oz. cake yeast (use fresh yeast if you can find it.  If not, this is equal to 2 1/2 teaspoons dry yeast)
3 egg yolks, beaten

Sift flour, add sugar and salt.  Cut in butter.  (I do this in the food processor).
Add yeast to cup of warm milk.  Stir until dissolved.  Add egg yolks.  Combine with dry mixture.
Place in plastic bag and refrigerate overnight.

Separate dough into 4 parts.
Roll out 1/4 inch thick, spread 1 cup filling across dough, but not too close to the edges.  Roll like a jelly roll and let rise 1 hour on prepared cookie sheet or parchment paper.

Roll out dough to 1/4 inch thickness, spread 1 cup filling over dough

Roll out dough to 1/4 inch thickness, spread 1 cup filling over dough

Roll like jelly roll and let rise 1 hour on prepared cookie sheet or parchment paper

Roll like jelly roll and let rise 1 hour on prepared cookie sheet or parchment paper

Brush with egg white before baking.

Bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes until nicely browned.

Bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes until nicely browned.

Filling (Make at same time you make the dough and stir the next day before using)
3 beaten egg whites
1 pound shelled walnuts, finely chopped in food processor
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup milk

Fold nuts into beaten egg whites. Fold in powdered sugar and slowly add milk. Mix thoroughly.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve in 1/2 inch slices.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve in 1/2 inch slices.


Building Traditions: The Gingerbread Village

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011 No comments

My family is all about traditions. Christmas must include Kieflies!
Christmas must also include the same ornaments that we have used for 40 years, the same stockings (received upon the birth of the children), the same small repertoire of Christmas Eve dinners, followed by one of the more elegant choices for Christmas Day dinner. And, Christmas must include Gingerbread houses. This year, our first year as grandparents, included our new granddaughter Kaya Marie in the building event. I got to hold her while her mother, Maria, constructed and decorated. We also had the pleasure of hosting friends with their children in the construction zone. Some beautiful masterpieces resulted. Baking cookies or making gingerbread houses with your children are two wonderful ways to experience “team cooking” and learning the joy of spending time together in the kitchen. On my facebook page, I received two comments from friends/relatives who still remembered the gingerbread houses we made with them 40 years ago. Lifetime memories.

Following is the story from one of our guests, Eric Karpinski, who brought his wife and two lovely children to participate in the event.
The Transforming Power of Savoring by Eric Karpinski

Earlier this week, I took Becca and the kids to a gingerbread house making party with my friend Karin Eastham. Karin, a former biotech colleague of mine, has been pursuing her passions by publishing a cookbook around team cooking. The book is awesome and her blog shares a ton of great recipes and ideas about how to throw a fun cooking party or team building activity in the kitchen.As we settled into assembling the houses, I noticed I was feeling off. I’d had a run-run-run day getting ready for Christmas festivities which had left me feeling a little anxious and cranky. I broughtthat energy with me to Karin’s. Are the kids being polite enough? Did Becca really want to bring the family all the way up here instead of having a quiet afternoon at home? What do these biotechcolleagues REALLY think about my leaving the industry to be a coach? I could feel the negative energy of these questions — the judging and worrying — start to take hold and make me more anxious.

Then I noticed what I was doing. That I was taking what could be an amazing experience and tainting it with gratuitous negativity. Yuck! So I decided it was a great time to turn on my savoring tools. Iconsciously slowed down with a couple deep breaths and became aware of my senses. This helped me notice all the subtle positive things that were happening. How my 9 year-old’s tongue stuck out a little when she was concentrating on her masterpiece. How my 7 year-old was designing his house to maximize how much candy he could fit on it. How proud I felt as my wife talked about her leadership roles at work. How yummy the peppermint bark tasted. How much fun it was to meet some new and interesting people. Savoring brought me out of my worrying loops and into the wonderfulexperience we were having as a family.

Then I focused on building up the experience in my mind and sharing what I was feeling. I expressed my appreciation of Karin for hosting and doing the baking ahead of time. I shared my own memories ofmaking gingerbread houses as a kid at my aunt’s house. I talked about how Piper, the two year old with us, was an perfect stand-in for Cindy Lou Who, with her big blue eyes and brilliant smile. All of this helped increase the joy I was feeling and encouraged the others to share similar stories.

While I’d arrived grumpy and tired, I left Karin’s house energized and happy. Savoring had helped me not only salvage a bad day, but imprint some great memories that I will hold onto for a long time.

Check out Eric’s advice for how to really “savor” the holidays: