Although I grew up around food and tasted almost every dish that was prepared at my parents’ restaurant, I never actually made many of those dishes. I used to help my mom or Lupita (the girl my grandfather hired almost 40 years ago and still works there) with the prep or the cleaning, but only a few times did I cook something all by myself. That’s why when I moved away I didn’t do much cooking. I didn’t have those great women next to me telling me how to do it.
There is a time in everybody’s life, when you reach certain age, when you want to do it just like your mom used to do it, and it is an adventure trying to recreate those old recipes. That’s what I found out when I made, for the very first time, tortas de papa (potato cakes). Her tortas de papa not only tasted great, but they also looked great. They were perfect golden circles while mine were odd shapes that I almost burnt. The taste was very good, though, almost like the ones my mom used to make. How did she do it?
- •1 lb potatoes
- •½ cup queso añejo or queso fresco grated
- •2 eggs
- •¼ cup flour
- •vegetable oil
- •spices (I used oregano, parsley and cumin)
- •salt and pepper
- Peel potatoes, cut in cubes and boil them in water until soft.
- Drain and mash them lightly. Let them cool for 10 minutes.
- Add cheese, eggs, flour and salt and pepper to taste.
- Mashed until all the ingredients are mixed and you have a manageable paste.
- In a large skillet heat about 1 inch of vegetable oil. It will be hot enough when you drop into it a little bit of the mixture and it bubbles.
- With a tablespoon take some of the mixture and carefully drop it in the oil. With the same spoon flatten it to form a round, flat cake.
- Let it fry for about 5 minutes or until it turns light brown and flip it over. Let the other side cook the same way.
- Remove from oil and place on a paper towel that’ll absorb the extra oil.
- Serve as a side dish.
I guess I need years and years of experience to make perfectly round tortas de papa like my mom’s. Until then, I will have to settle with these other weird shapes.