Spinach and potato torta
“How long ago was Halloween?” I do rapid fuzzy calculations in my head and provide a believable answer. “And my birthday, how long ago was my birthday?” Another quick and unreliable response. “And how many days till Christmas?” Isaac is curious about time passing, particularly as it relates to holidays and birthdays. It doesn’t seem all that long ago that he was mastering the complicated concepts of last night and tomorrow, and now he’s trying to put it all in context. Several snowy blocks after the impromptu calendar-math test, he asked, “Why is Clio always so curious?” Well, I said, she doesn’t watch TV or read (at least while we’re looking), so this is how she learns about the world. She sniffs, and she knows who was here before her. She knows about dogs who have walked this way, about cats and squirrels and people. “So this is their way of sharing non-fiction stories?” (I swear to god he said this!) And I said, Yeah, they pee all over the snow and that’s their newspaper. This got a giggle because of the ever-popular word “pee.” (Know your audience!) Then he asked how old of a smell Clio would recognize, how many months or years old a smell could be that Clio would be able to identify, and I obviously didn’t know the answer to that one, but I said I’d always thought of dogs as historians, because they can unearth layers of events. Then he said he wished he could talk to dogs, so he could ask her. And I said that she might have a completely different concept of time passing, so that when she tried to describe how old a smell was, and how much time had passed we might not be able to understand her. It seems like dogs must have a different feeling of time going by, it would be cruel otherwise, but time does seem cruel sometimes. Dogs sleep most of the day, so maybe for them it’s like a dream, with its own strange logic and chronology, with bright spots and flashes of sun and shadow. And meals, of course, she has an uncanny ability to tell when it’s her mealtime. And then Isaac, master chronicler of a little boy’s sense of time passing, said, “I think she’d say, ‘these mammals,’ (I doubt she’d say “people”)’These mammals get it all wrong.'” We probably do. We probably do.
Spinach and potato torta
So, as I mentioned in yesterday’s bratty confessional, I wasn’t feeling too wonderful. I didn’t even feel like cooking that much, which is odd for me. But around dinner time I started to mull it over. What’s comforting to me? I’ll tell you what is! Potatoes, spinach, eggs, and cheese. Melty cheese. So I decided to combine them all, and then I decided to call it a torta, as if it was a real thing. Maybe it is! I vaguely remember eating an omelette with sliced potatoes in it when we were in Spain. Maybe it was called a tortilla? Who knows? It was all long ago in my dream-like memory.
Here’s Chet Baker singing Time After Time live in Belgium
4 or 5 smallish yukon gold potatoes (or whatever kind you have!) peeled and roughly chopped
2 T butter
1 clove garlic, minced
2 t rosemary, minced
1/2 cup artichoke hearts, drained and roughly chopped
4 or 5 oz baby spinach (2 or 3 very packed cups)
2/3 cup milk
1 cup grated mozzarella
salt and plenty of freshly ground pepper
olive oil for the pan
Boil the potatoes until tender but still firm, turn off the burner and remove from heat. Drain, and return to the hot burner to dry out for a minute or two. Mash roughly–some lumps are okay, you don’t want it to be as smooth as mashed potatoes.
In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the garlic and rosemary and sautée for a minute or two, until the garlic starts to brown. Add the artichoke hearts and stir and fry until they’re quite dry. Add the spinach, and stir until wilted but bright. Let cool for a few minutes.
Meanwhile, combine the eggs and milk in the food processor or blender, and blend until very smooth and frothy. Add the cheese. Add the spinach, artichoke and garlic mixture, and blend briefly, just to chop everything up. You don’t want it to be perfectly smooth and green. Just as chunky as you like it.
Preheat the oven to 425.
Generously coat a cake or tart pan with olive oil (not the kind of tart pan with a removable bottom!) A small pizza pan would work as well. Pour/spread the batter in.
Bake until golden brown and sizzling, about 20 to 25 minutes.
Serve with simple tomato sauce with lots of smoked paprika added.