Potato Chip Scrambled Eggs with Chorizo

Breakfast in Spain tends to be a simple affair of coffee with maybe some toast and a slice of ham or a pastry. It's a small, low-key kind of thing that can be a bit frustrating for the American tourist used to starting his day with a hearty feast of eggs or waffles or pancakes or bacon (or all of the above!). 

And so there is Brunch & Cake--a cute little restaurant in the L'Eixample neighborhood in Barcelona that serves American-style breakfast food with a Catalan touch and is popular with locals and tourists alike.


Eugene and I ate there our first morning in Barcelona, having arrived from Lisbon late the previous night. Tired and hungry, we appreciated the mix of familiarity and local flavor.


It was there that I first tried the awesomeness that is eggs with potato chips

Served scrambled with chives and Iberian ham on the side, they were a riff on the potato chip fritata created by culinary master Ferran Adrià. Adrià's version was itself a riff on the classic tortilla de patatas (also known as tortilla española), and a genius shortcut that replaced freshly cooked potatoes with crunchy potato chips.


For my homemade version of potato chip scrambled eggs, I add diced onions and Spanish chorizo along with the crispy potato chips.

I recommend using thick kettle-style chips in your favorite flavor. Plain is awesome, of course, but think about other flavors that would work well with the eggs. Something spicy with hints of jalapeño would be awesome. Or black pepper chips. Or sour cream and onion--already two things that go well with eggs.

(This time, I used a bag of chips that taste like spicy dill pickles. For reals. They're ridiculous and after tasting them for the first time last weekend, I promptly went back to the store and got two more bags. Freaking love.)


Regardless of the chips you use, these might become your new favorite breakfast thing.


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Potato Chip Scrambled Eggs with Chorizo
Serves 4

Ingredients
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 Spanish onion, diced
3 cured chorizo links, sliced (about 1/2 pound)
8 large eggs
1/4 cup heavy cream
5 ounces kettle cooked potato chips (about 2 small or 1 medium sized bag)
1/4 cup loosely packed parsley, minced
Kosher salt, black pepper, and red chile fakes to taste

Directions
Whisk together eggs and cream.

Heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.

Add the onion and chorizo, and saute for 5 minutes until onions are soft and chorizo is slightly charred.

Add the potato chips, tossing to coat with the onions and chorizo. Add the eggs and lower heat to the lowest setting. Stir continuously until the eggs cook completely.

Divide into plates, and garnish with a sprinkle of parsley, salt, black pepper, and chile flakes. Serve immediately.





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Pop Bark! (Corn Nut & Popping Sugar Chocolate Bark)

Have you ever tried quicos?

They're toasted and popped dried corn kernels that are served salted as a bar or party snack. Commercially, they're sold as "Corn Nuts," though the good ones are the kind you can buy at gourmet markets or in the cheese section at Whole Foods, which taste fresher and miles better.

It's a Spanish snack, and absolutely wonderful if you're the sort of person who loves salty, crunchy, toasted corn-flavored things.

Sometimes quicos are also sold covered in chocolate and rolled in cocoa, and that's when I go absolutely wild for them.

Because salt + chocolate? Best thing ever.

I've been wanting to do something with quicos on this blog for a while now, and it wasn't until this past week that I figured it out.

Meet my Pop Bark! A dark chocolate bark filled with crushed quicos (or corn nuts) and sprinkled with popping sugar (ahem...also known as Pop Rocks).

Crunchy, toastey, salty, sweet, and POPPING!

Ahh...so fun. A few notes...

If you can't find the popping sugar or Pop Rocks...just skip them. It's good with just the corn, too. If you want, though, you can totally find the popping sugar (sometimes called popping crystals) on Amazon. Link is in the recipe below.

You can use whatever chocolate you prefer, but the darker stuff just seems to work nicely with the salty corn.

You can get quicos or corn nuts at Whole Foods and online (Amazon carries them, but other places do, too). You can also just use the original flavor Corn Nuts that you can probably find at the grocery store.

This is super fun snacky treat food.

This is movie-watching food.

This is friends over for a party food.

This is munch on while you wait for dinner to be ready food.

This is so-good-you-can't-stop-till-it's-gone-food!

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Loved this recipe? Here are three other easy candy recipes you might like:

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Pop Bark (Toasted Corn Nut & Popping Sugar Chocolate Bark)
Serves 6

Ingredients
2 cups salted toasted nuts (also known as quicos; buy them here)
2 cups bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon flaky sea salt (such as maldon)
1 tablespoon popping sugar (unflavored Pop Rocks --you can buy it online here)

Directions
Line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper.

Place corn nuts in a food processor and crush slightly (you can also place in a bag and crush with a meat tenderizer or rolling pin).

Place chocolate in a heat proof bowl, and microwave at 30 second intervals, stirring in between, until smooth and melted. Keep stirring to cool down slightly, then add the corn nuts.

Spread out on the prepared baking sheet, then let cool at room temperature for about 10 minutes before sprinkling with salt and popping sugar. Place in fridge and let chill until hard--about 20 minutes.

Remove from fridge and break into pieces. Serve immediately, or place in an air-tight container and store in refrigerator. (Keep chilled to keep it from melting.)





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Strawberry Chocolate Chip Granita (the cheater version!)

I used to eat fruity ice pops for breakfast.

At the time, I was living in the former swamp known as Washington, DC, where the summers are thickly humid and impossibly hot. My office was about an 8-minute walk from my apartment, which doesn't sound too bad, but in that thick damp weather it was a challenge trying to find a way to get from my home to my desk without turning into a puddle.

I started out by styling my hair up and wearing the lightest clothing possible. I would forget about putting on make-up until I arrived, since it would all melt off en route anyway. And, instead of coffee, I'd grab an ice pop for the road...enjoying the icy coolness while I walked down the street.

I no longer eat them for breakfast, but as the days heat up, ice pops have become a favorite snack around our home.  A few years ago, I did a sponsored post for Outshine Fruit Bars featuring some fun ways to serve them, and since then, they have become a mainstay in our freezer.

Made with real fruit juice and minimal amounts of additional sugar, they're light and refreshing to cool down at any time of day. Eugene, especially, is a big fan, asking for them the minute there is a hint of warm weather. When I was given the opportunity by Nestlé and ElMejorNido.com to work with them again this Spring, I jumped at the chance.

The only challenge? Keeping Eugene away from the freezer until I could finish my recipe and photographs. I was actually working in LA last week, during which I kept checking in with him via FaceTime.

"You haven't eaten the Outshine bars, right?"

"Ugh...no. They're still there."

While awesome served as-is, I also came up with a fun idea for this summer. Whisked up in a food processor with a few ice cubes, they make for an easy "cheater" version of granita that can be enjoyed with a spoon while watching TV or hanging out in the sunshine.

I stirred in a few of my favorite mini chocolate chips for a chocolate-covered strawberry feel, though you could totally have fun with your favorite mix-ins and flavors. Maybe mango with grated coconut? Or tangerine with chopped pecans.

So many things you can do. Have fun it's (almost!) summer.

GIVEAWAY!
To give you a head-start on your summer fun planning, I'm also giving away a $50 VISA gift card to cover ingredients.

To enter to win, leave a comment below telling me your favorite thing about summer.

Contest ends at 5PM EST on June 1, 2015. US residents only. No purchase necessary. One winner will be randomly selected via random.org, and notified via email.

For additional optional entries (leave a separate comment for each extra entry):

1. Follow me on Instagram (@alwaysalejandra) and leave a comment here saying you did.

2. Share this contest on Twitter, and leave a comment here saying you did. Sample text: "Giveaway! Enter to win a $50 VISA gift card from @nandita and @elmejornido: http://bit.ly/1FdscAC"
3. Share this contest on Facebook, and leave a comment here saying you did.
 4. Pin one of the images from this post to Pinterest, and leave a comment here saying you did.

This post is sponsored by Nestlé and ElMejorNido.com, but all recipes and opinions are 100% my own. For more great recipes and ideas, visit ElMejorNido.com.

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Flourless Fennel Almond Cake

Flourless Fennel Almond Cake (Gluten-Free)
I've been hanging onto this Flourless Fennel Almond Cake recipe for a couple months. I first was inspired to make it a couple months ago, when all my best college friends and I gathered in Cincinnati for our friend's wedding.

We all live scattered around the country, so any reason to come together is always also a reason to eat together and drink together and shop and laugh and dance and basically cram in a year's worth of activities in the short time we have together.

On our first night during this trip, we made plans for a big group dinner at an awesome Cincinnati restaurant called Metropole. They seated us at a big communal table right by the kitchen, and we proceeded to order nearly the entire menu (both food and drinks!).

Flourless Fennel Almond Cake (Gluten-Free)
We drank and ate and laughed and probably annoyed all the other patrons with our volume (sorry, folks!).

Among the many good things we ate that night, one of my favorites was the flourless fennel almond cake that I ordered for dessert. Just a few bites into it and I was already determined to recreate it as soon as I got home.
Homemade Fennel Syrup

And here it is!

Flourless Fennel Almond Cake (Gluten-Free)
I based this recipe on one of my favorite flourless cakes, which is made with pureed boiled clementines.

I basically swapped in an equivalent amount of pureed roasted fennel, then topped the whole thing off with an anise and fennel-infused syrup. If you're a fan of licorice and anise-flavored things, you will probably love this--let me know if you give it a try!


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Loved this Flourless Fennel Almond Cake recipe? Here are three other flourless cake recipes you might like:
 
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Flourless Fennel Almond Cake
Serves 10

Ingredients
1 large fennel bulb with fronds
6 large eggs
1 cup granulated white sugar
2 1/4 cups of ground almond meal
1 1/2 teaspoons anise seeds, lightly toasted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon pure anise extract
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 heaping teaspoon baking powder

For the syrup

1 1/2 cups water
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon anise extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Directions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter and line a springform baking pan (this is a sticky cake; you NEED a springform pan).

Remove fronds from fennel bulb (reserve) and chop bulb into thick wedges. Drizzle with oil and roast for 20 minutes, or until tender and slightly caramelized.

Transfer to a food processor or blender along with the eggs and sugar, and puree until smooth. Pour into a large bowl.

Lower oven heat to 350 degrees.

Stir in the almond meal, anise seeds, extracts, salt, and baking powder into the fennel and egg mixture and stir well until evenly combined.  Pour into the prepared baking pan and bake 50 minutes to 1 hour or until set. Let cool in pan 20 minutes before removing sides and letting cool completely.

While cake bakes and cools, make the syrup: Combine the reserved fennel fronds, 1 1/2 cups water, and 1 cup sugar and bring to a boil. Lower heat to a gentle simmer and let cook for about 20 minutes or until liquid thickens into a syrup. Strain syrup (discard fronds), and stir in anise extract and salt.

Brush warm syrup over cooled cake, allowing it to soak in. If desired, garnish cake with a few sprigs of fennel leaves or some additional toasted anise seeds.

Serve cake at room temperature.
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Pig Candy Popcorn w/ Bacon & Chocolate

bacon chocolate popcorn recipe
Some of you may have seen me post a preview snap of this tempting Bacon & Chocolate Popcorn on my instagram a few days ago, and I'm excited to finally share it with you.

This past weekend, I went up to Vermont to co-host a food and wine retreat with a few chef friends. We ate amazing food, went on local excursions, relaxed in the hot tub, and stayed up late into the night sipping wine and eating s'mores by the bonfire.

Well...at least the guests did. I was in charge of making lunch and brunch each day, after which I usually hung out in the kitchen mixing up cocktails and helping the other chefs with dinner prep.

(Though I did get to sneak away for a couple massages and some much-needed hot tub time, so it wasn't all work!)

bacon chocolate popcorn recipe
I was also in charge of snacks for the ride up to Vermont from NYC. There were 11 of us traveling together in a small private charter bus, and I wanted to make sure all were well-fed for the 6-ish hour drive.

I made several gallons of super boozy daiquiris, baked brownies, whipped up a creamy black bean dip, and popped up a huge batch of this totally addictive Pig Candy Popcorn with Bacon, Chocolate, and Spices.

Homemade popcorn with fun additions is one of my favorites for big groups. This was the hit of the trip, with all the guests passing the tin around the bus. I made about 30 cups of it and it all disappeared by dinnertime.

And no wonder why! The popcorn is popped in rendered bacon fat, then tossed with the crispy bits of bacon, smoked paprika, a bit of cayenne, salt, pepper, and chocolate chips. I like to add the chocolate when the popcorn is still warm so that it melts a bit.

bacon chocolate popcorn recipe
This is messy good deliciousness, and just the thing for summer movie nights or casual parties (seriously...this + champagne is SO perfect together!).

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Loved this recipe? Here are three other snack recipes you might like:

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Thanks so much for reading!


Pig Candy Popcorn with Bacon & Chocolate
Serves 4-6

Ingredients
1 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil
6 slices bacon
1/3 cup popcorn kernals (unpopped)
1 teaspoon smoked spanish paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne (optional)
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
Kosher salt
1 1/4 cups mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions
Place a large and deep heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the oil and the bacon and cook for about 7-10 minutes until all the fat is rendered and the bacon is crisp (but not burned). Remove bacon to a paper towel-lined plate and let cool, reserving the fat in the pan.

Raise the heat to medium-high, and add 5 popcorn kernels to the pan. Cook for a minute or two until they pop, then add the rest of the popcorn kernels. Cover and cook, shaking the pan constantly until the popcorn stops popping. (Don’t be tempted to peek while the popcorn is popping—you’ll end up with popcorn everywhere!)

Transfer the popped corn to a large bowl and add the paprika, cayenne, and black pepper. Crumble or chop the cooled bacon, and toss that in, too, along with some season to taste. Toss to coat all the kernels evenly, then add the chocolate chips. Some will melt a bit because of the heat—this is good!

Serve immediately, or let cool and store in an air-tight container for up to 24 hours. (Longer than that and it tends to get a bit stale.)

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Mixed Berry Vodka Party Punch #Punch4Everybody

I'm not sure why it is, but Memorial Day kind of catches me by surprise every year. Obviously I always *know* it's coming in some kind of vague end-of-May-ish kind of way, but it still always feels like a treat. After just a few weeks of spring...and roughly 37 months of brutal winter (give or take), the idea that summer is (un)officially starting is basically too exciting for my brain to believe.

You guys, let me just reiterate this: it's practically summer!

I come alive during this season. Gorgeous weather, sunny days, and endless excuses to get together and celebrate with my favorite people. And Memorial Day? It's the start of all that fun.


I've once again teamed up with Smirnoff to inspire you with recipes and ideas for the upcoming summer party season.

And this year? It is ALL ABOUT the punch recipes. I've been kind of obsessed with punch for a while now, and think that you should be, too. It is the ultimate summer party beverage.

Partially because it gives me an excuse to pull out my vintage punch bowls and beverage dispensers (no shame...I love my props!), but even more so because it takes a lot of pressure off the host (aka...me).

There is nothing better than putting out a gorgeous punch, and letting guests help themselves. It gives them something to do as they arrive, and leaves you to finish up those last-minute party tasks.

(In my case, that's usually my make-up...)

First up, this bright and gorgeous Mixed Berry Vodka Party Punch, which gets that gorgeous color from real pureed berries, and an added boost of flavor from Smirnoff Raspberry.

Some fresh lemon juice, a bit of sugar, and fizzy lemon-lime seltzer round out the super simple ingredients. It's tart and refreshing, and absolutely perfect for all those warm weather celebrations. Garnished with fresh berries, it's an elegant, but super easy signature drink that will please a crowd.

Happy Memorial Day, friends!

Follow Smirnoff on Instagram and Facebook, or hop on over to their Pinterest page for more recipes and summer party inspiration!

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Loved this recipe?
Let's connect so you can find out the next time I post! Follow me on Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest, become a fan on Facebook, or sign up to receive my once-a-week e-mail updates

 
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Mixed Berry Vodka Party Punch Recipe
Serves 12

Ingredients
2 pounds mixed frozen berries, partially thawed
1 1/2 cups fresh lemon juice
1 cup superfine sugar
2 1/2 cups Smirnoff Raspberry Vodka
6 cups chilled lemon-lime seltzer
2 lemons, sliced, for garnish
Fresh mixed berries, for garnish

Directions
Combine the partially thawed berries, lemon juice, and superfine sugar in a food processor or blender, and puree until very smooth. Pass through a fine sieve to remove the majority of seeds, then pour into punch bowl or beverage dispenser. Stir in the vodka and chill at least two hours.
Just before serving, pour in the seltzer and add the lemon slices. Serve chilled with fresh berries on the side for garnish.


This post was written by me as part of an ongoing sponsored collaboration with Smirnoff and IZEA. All opinions and recipes are, of course, 100% my own. Please remember to always drink responsibly!


Visit Sponsors Site
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Chopped Asparagus with Pancetta & Garlic

I got a lost on the way to meet a couple friends for lunch yesterday (long story), so by the time I finally arrived, the appetizers were already being placed on the table.

This restaurant offers up a variety of vegetable appetizers, and they selected a few simple ones--broccoli, cauliflower, and green beans--each prepared in a different way.

It was the kind of thing I probably wouldn't have thought to order myself, which I loved, because it reminded me just how impressive good, in-season vegetables can be when prepared well.

At home, I've been doing things with vegetables a lot lately. It always happens around this time. After months of cold, dreary weather and not much in terms of seasonal offerings, the burst of Spring warmth gets me excited to be back in the kitchen.

Asparagus, chopped into small-ish pieces, and sauteed with pancetta, garlic and chilies is a new favorite of mine. I cook them briefly--just until a bit tender, then scoop onto a platter and shower with fresh lemon zest and freshly grated parmesan cheese.


I love this on its own as a side, or topped with a fried egg or two for breakfast (or any meal, actually). You can also toss this with cooked pasta or rice for an easy veggie entree.

Simple, yet satisfying, because that's what Spring cooking is all about!

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Thanks so much for reading

Chopped Asparagus with Pancetta and Garlic Recipe
Serves 4, as a side

Ingredients
2 large bunches asparagus
3 oz pancetta or bacon, diced (about 1/3 cup)
3 large garlic cloves, sliced
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes + more for garnish
Kosher salt and black pepper
Zest of 1/2 lemon, freshly grated
1 tablespoon freshly grated parmesan cheese

Directions
Trim the woody ends off the asparagus, then chop what remains into about 1" pieces.

In a heavy-bottom pan over medium-high heat, cook the pancetta or bacon until the fat is rendered. Add the garlic and saute for one minute until fragrant. Raise the heat and add the asparagus pieces and red pepper flakes. Season with salt and pepper, and saute for about 5 minutes or until pieces are slightly tender, but still bright green.

Serve on a large platter, then sprinkle with the fresh lemon zest and parmesan. Sprinkle with a few additional chile flakes before serving.
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Savory Ramp & Cheddar Muffins

For the past two mornings, Eugene has forgotten to bring his savory breakfast muffin to work. I baked him a batch on Monday, wrapped them up individually, and then put them in the fridge for him to grab-and-go.

Except that he's just been go-ing, without grab-ing.

If you decide to make these Savory Ramp and Cheddar Muffins, I urge you not to make the same mistake. These wonderfully buttery little cakes are packed with loads of freshly grated cheddar cheese and lightly sauteed ramps, and are WAY too good to leave behind.

Ramps are a wonderful thing, but they're rare and only available for about 5 minutes a year, so please feel free to substitute scallions, chives (leave them uncooked) or even sauteed shallots. A touch of something onion-y is all you need!

For the cheese in my muffins, I used a gorgeous Alehouse Cheddar from Vermont Farmstead--a small company that produces some truly beautiful cheese and crackers. They're providing some of the snacks for the Memorial Day Culinary Retreat I'm co-hosting later this month, and were kind enough to send me some to play around with while I plan my menu. This sharp cheddar with just a touch of beer flavor is fantastic in all kinds of savory dishes. These muffins, of course, but also grilled cheese sandwiches and soup.

If you get a chance to try out their products, I highly recommend them! (BTW, we have a few open spots left in our retreat, so perhaps you should join us?)

Oh and back to these muffins. These come together quickly--no need for a mixer--and can be enjoyed hot out of the oven with tons of butter, or later on at room temperature. I called them breakfast muffins, but they honestly would be amazing served along with a soup and salad, or in place of a roll with dinner. I'm also tempted to split one in half and add a bit of ham for a muffin sandwich.

(Yeah. That's a thing.)

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Loved this recipe? Here are four other savory bread recipes you might like:


And let's connect so you can find out the next time I post! Follow me on Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest, become a fan on Facebook, or sign up to receive my once-a-week e-mail updates.

Thanks so much for reading! 




Savory Ramp & Cheddar Muffins
Yields 6 giant or 12 standard muffins

Ingredients
1 tablespoon butter
2 bunches ramps, trimmed and sliced (about 1 1/2 cups--substitute scallions)
1 large egg
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground mustard powder (or use 1 tablespoon dijon mustard)
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 cups freshly grated cheddar cheese (if you can find a beer cheddar, use that!)

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease a 12-cup muffin pan (or a giant 6-cup muffin pan).

Heat 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat and add ramps. Saute for 2-3 minutes, just until slightly wilted. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together egg, milk, broth, olive oil, sugar, salt, and mustard. Add flour and baking powder and stir gently until evenly combined.

Fold in grated cheese and cooked ramps.

Divide into prepared muffin pan, and bake about 20 minutes, or until puffed up, golden around the edges, and a tester inserted in center comes out clean.

(Giant muffins will take about 5-7 minutes longer.)
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Crispy Salty Roasted Baby Artichokes

I confess that as much as I love to eat artichokes, I've never really been entirely convinced that they're worth the fussy prep. I love to cook, but I'm admittedly kind of lazy in the kitchen, usually going for the easiest (but still from-scratch) option.

But the sudden burst of spring weather and produce has gotten me excited to play around with veggies I typically ignore.

Quite literally, actually. This is what happened when I was putting away groceries the other day...

Totally normal day around here.

When I finished making food art, I decided to tackle those adorable baby artichokes first, peeling and roasting them until crispy with a simple dressing of fresh lemon juice (lots of it!), olive oil (the good stuff!), salt, and chili flakes.

Roasted at high heat until super crisp, then served with a lemony mayo for dipping, they're a super snacky treat to enjoy this Spring. Crunchy on the outside and tender on the inside.

Absolutely perfect!

And for those of you who, like me, are loathe to tackle artichokes, you'll be pleased to know that the babies are a tiny bit less fussy. Simply peel off the outer leaves, cut through the ends (one quick swipe with the knife is enough), and then shave the stem down a bit.

No need to scrape out the fuzz, and the majority of the leaves are already tender enough that you can tackle the whole pile in about 5 or so minutes.

As I snacked my way through this salty, crunchy, spicy, tangy plate I was like, "yeah, OK. They're worth it."

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Loved this recipe? Here are three other vegetable recipes you might like:



And let's connect so you can find out the next time I post! Follow me on Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest, become a fan on Facebook, or sign up to receive my once-a-week e-mail updates.

Thanks so much for reading

Crispy Salty Roasted Baby Artichokes 
Serves 2-4 as an appetizer

Ingredients
8 baby artichokes
Extra virgin olive oil
1 lemon, juiced
Kosher salt
Red pepper flakes

For dip
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
1 pinch red pepper flakes

Directions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Remove outer leaves of artichokes and use a knife to trim off the sharp ends. Use a vegetable peeler to shave the stems. Cut legnthwise in half and place in a bowl.

Toss prepared artichokes with a generous amound of olive oil, the juice of one whole lemon, and season with kosher salt and red pepper, to taste.

Place cut side down on a baking sheet and roast 20 minutes, or until crispy and slightly charred.

Whisk together dip ingredients and serve along with hot artichokes.


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