Torta and chicken golly

When people ask what my favorite comfort foods are, I often include my mom's cooking as one list item, although she cooked dozens and dozens of dishes that fall independently fall into this category.

One of my favorites of all the favorites are tortas. Mom just called them eggplant, and when we needed clarification, she'd extend: eggplant with egg. Her recipe was basically eggplant broiled to really soften it up and get the skin off, some browned ground beef, green onions, garlic, and beaten eggs. Call it an omelet, Spanish tortilla, frittata, or torta, as it's often called in the Philippines--it's all part of the same family. And just like with lumpia, every family, or even family member, has their own torta recipe. I often simplify mine to include just grated zucchini, since I love zucchini and often tend to have it on hand. It's a good dish for pantry cleaners, though, and this recipe included some basil I wanted to use up. It's quick and easy to make, and tasty hot or even at room temperature.

Torta with salad
torta with salad

Pour the batter

Pack the edges in if the egg bleeds out

Mom would cook tortas in her well-seasoned cast iron skillet. I once asked if she could just flip it, like on TV. Although she's small, she's also strong. She hefted the skillet, flicked her delicate wrist, and flipped it easily. We both yelled, we were so excited! I tried with the much-lighter nonstick. The first few didn't come out so well, but I finally got one to not fold up. Just shove it out, flip it into the air ...

Aaaand ... WOOT!!! I flipped it! Scream with glee!

And yeah, I eat them with ketchup. Very Filipino.
torta with salad

Then I pack the leftovers in tupperware. Um, I mean "American bento."

Another family favorite wasn't a dish I necessarily grew up with. It showed up at the table one day when I was in my teens. I thought it was just a pot of red, red tomato sauce, but Mom fished out some chicken wings (as in "buffalo style"). As we ate all our meals, we ate it over rice, and it was so delicious. When I asked my parents what they called it, they said, "Chicken golly!" I always laughed when I'd ask that she make it for dinner. We'd all laugh. Now, I laugh even harder when I realize that she must've seen the dish on TV, recreated it in her own style, and forgotten that it was called chicken cacciatore.

My version is simple--just start up your favorite homemade tomato sauce (I used undrained canned tomatoes), add your wings, and stew it until the chicken is cooked and the sauce is a bit thicker. I used wings because ... I like them! But you can use any chicken bits you'd like. I served it over brown rice. Mmmmm, tasty, and it reheats really well!
chicken golly

Sometimes, I worry that I'm embarrassing my friends when I eat my chicken served bone-in, down to the bone. In my household, we didn't waste a single edible bit. What was edible? Everything that wasn't the bone. Okay, I'm much more low-key when I'm eating out, but at home, I don't like to waste a single bit if it's still edible. It's why I enjoy my pantry cleaner meals--it's a challenge to turn the leftover ingredients into a nice dish, and it prevents waste.
chicken bones


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