Carrie's Kitchen: A trio of recipes from 'The Family Meal'

While casually walking through the cookbook aisle at the Westminster branch of the Carroll County Public Library, a cookbook the size of a school yearbook, with a simple picture of a fork, butter knife and two spoons on the cover, caught my attention. So did the title, “The Family Meal.”

A sticker on the front claimed that this is “The first and only book on home cooking from the legendary elBulli restaurant,” which I had never heard of, but flipping through the pages, I found the book fascinating and checked it out.


elBulli is apparently a legendary restaurant in northern Spain, run by Ferran Adria. Or rather, it was. The restaurant closed in 2011, and the owner and one of the head chefs decided that it would be a shame to not share their recipes for “the family meal” with other restaurants before they closed.

What is “the family meal?” It’s what they called the dinner eaten by the 75 staff members each night! Wow, I thought, what an endeavor, and probably a huge morale booster for the staff. Anyway, the book is divided into 31 meals, each with three courses, all of which the chefs considered to be simple and affordable food. Each recipe is sized to be made for 2, 6, 20 or 75 servings.


Some of the recipes are very European and unlikely to ever make it to my home’s family meal. You know, things like black rice with squid, lamb necks with mustard and mint (where do you find lamb necks?) or some of the whipped puddings or yogurts that required a siphon with N2O cartridges. But others could easily be made, and the recipes include photographs of each step, along with a cartoon-like bubble within the photo with simply worded directions of each step that match the photo.

The first recipe I wanted to share was this potato chip omelet. The idea of it made me smile, and I have to think my children would love this curious addition to their morning eggs. He suggests using “good quality” chips, which looked like kettle chips in the photo. You leave the chips in the whipped eggs for a minute before starting the cooking, so they soften and lend their salt to the eggs. What a funny dish to cook and remind yourself that you’re eating the same thing they served in a fancy pants Spanish restaurant!

Second, I found the recipe for osso buco very straightforward and appealing. I never knew exactly what osso buco was, besides some type of veal. Apparently it means “bone with a hole” in Italian, and refers to the cut of veal used, where the meat surrounds a thick piece of bone, which is full of marrow. As it cooks, the marrow comes out and enriches the sauce, leaving the hole in the bone. The cooking method is no more complicated than other browned and then slow-roasted meats, and you make a gremolata out of parsley, garlic, orange and lemon zest that you sprinkle on as you serve it, allowing those citrus oils to be warmed and released by the hot meat, teasing your appetite in a new way if that beefy smell isn’t already enough for you.

And finally, for a super simple dessert that I never would have thought of, banana with lime. You make a simple syrup with water and white sugar, adding lime zest and juice, let it cool, then put sliced bananas in it and let them soak up the flavor for an hour before serving.


There were a lot of interesting recipes in there, but I only had room to share three this week. Feel free to check it out yourself—once I return it.


Potato chip omelet

6 eggs

2 ¾ ounces salted potato chips

1 ½ tablespoons olive oil

Break the eggs into a bowl and beat with a balloon whisk until very frothy. Add the chips, being careful not to break them, then let soak in the egg for 1 minute.

Place a 10-inch nonstick frying pan over medium heat, then add 2 teaspoons of oil. Pour the mixture into the pan and stir gently with a rubber spatula.

Use the spatula to loosen the omelet from the edge of the pan.

After 40 seconds, when the bottom of the omelet has set, cover the omelet with a plate. Hold onto the pan with one hand, then carefully turn the pan over, so that the omelet slides onto the plate.

Remove the pan and return it to the heat. Add another 2 teaspoons oil.

Slid the omelet from the plate and into the pan, so that the uncooked side is in contact with the heat. Cook for another 20 seconds. Serve the omelet on a plate.

Serves 2.

Osso buco

1 ½ tablespoons carrots, chopped

2 tablespoons celery, chopped

2 onions, chopped

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

6 veal shank pieces, 9 ounces each

¼ cup flour

7 tablespoons butter

1 cup white wine

4 dried bay leaves

2 tablespoons tomato sauce

6 ¼ cups beef stock

For the gremolata:

2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

3 lemons

3 oranges

Cut the carrots into sticks, about ¼-inch thick, then cut into ¼-inch cubes. Repeat with the celery. Coarsely chop the onion. Finely chop the garlic.

Season the veal with salt and pepper. Dust the meat with the flour. Pat away any excess flour.

Put a large pan over high heat, then add half of the butter. When the butter foams, add the veal. Brown the veal on both sides, then remove from the pan.

Turn the heat to medium, then add the carrot and the rest of the butter to the pan. Stir for 1 minute. Add the onion, celery and garlic, then cook gently for 10 minutes, stirring often, until the vegetables have softened. Pour in the white wine and loosen any sediment from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

When the wine has almost evaporated, add the bay leaves and the tomato sauce. Cook over medium heat for another 10 minutes, until thickened. Put the browned veal into a roasting pan. Spoon over the vegetables, then pour in the beef stock or water. Cover the pan with foil and cook in the oven for 2 hours, until the meat is very tender.

Meanwhile, prepare the gremolata. Finely chop the parsley and garlic, then mix in a small bowl. Finely grate in the zest of the lemons and oranges, then mix well.

Sprinkle the gremolata over the osso buco just before serving. Serves 6.

Banana with lime

6 tablespoons sugar

2/3 cup water

6 bananas

2 limes

Pour the sugar and water into medium pan. Heat gently until the sugar has dissolved. Pour the syrup into a shallow dish and let cool. Finely grate the lime zest into the syrup. Squeeze the lime juice into the syrup and stir.

Peel, then thinly slice the bananas. Put the banana slices into the syrup and marinate in the fridge for 1 hour before serving.

Serve in a small bowl with a couple of spoonfuls of syrup.

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