the not quite chef

it's a messy kitchen

Eat like a Spaniard

While in New York, I happened to land upon the most amazing discovery (at least in my opinion). Right in Soho, there exists a tiny little place called Despaña, which is a Spanish grocery and eatery that sells and serves traditional Spanish food and ingredients.

There’s chorizo, Serrano ham that gets sliced right off the bone, and authentic bottles of olive oil and wine. There’s a little cafe area in back that serves tortilla and bocadillos, and you can even find Cola Cao, turrón, and – NOCILLA!

When I studied in Spain my junior year, I lived with a host family, and we ate Nocilla for breakfast every single day (along with a cup of Cola Cao).

Nocilla is similar to Nutella; it’s basically just the Spanish version. It’s quite a bit sweeter too, as half is chocolate and half is hazelnut, instead of them both mixed together. This type of spread is typically eaten for breakfast (never dessert), served spread on top of a toasted piece of baguette or whatever slice of bread you have on hand.

While I didn’t have this for breakfast – at least not yet – I couldn’t wait to dig into it. I picked up a demi baguette at Trader Joe’s, spread a little Nocilla on it, and happily reminisced about all things Spain.


April 5, 2012 Posted by | Favorite Foods | , , , | Leave a comment

Soyrizo potato chuckwagon

I discovered my beloved Soyrizo after eating a chorizo potato chuckwagon from Trident Booksellers and Cafe (which, if you live in Boston, is an absolute must try). When I discovered Soyrizo at Trader Joe’s – and preferring the vegetarian option – I knew I had to make it.

For those who don’t know much about chorizo, there is a BIG difference between Spanish chorizo and Mexican chorizo. Spanish chorizo – which you’d find in Trident’s chuckwagon – is more like a sausage or salami. Mexican chorizo is crumbly – you can’t cut it or slice it, it will just fall apart in your hands. So if you’re looking to cook with Soyrizo, be careful; it’s best to dump it into a bowl first, because it’s crumbly and messy.

Soyrizo Potato Chuckwagon
– Frozen, shredded hash browns
– Pepper and onion
– Trader Joe’s Soyrizo (I would say the whole package serves at least 4)
– Olive oil
– Eggs
– Shredded Mexican cheese

1. Chop up the onion and pepper to taste to make as much or as little as you want. Cook the veggies in a teaspoon of olive oil for about 5 minutes, then add the Soyrizo.

2. As the veggies and Soyrizo are cooking, start the hash browns. Again, make as much or as little as you want, and simply cook according to the package directions.

3. A minute before everything is done cooking, fry an egg – make sure the yolk stays runny!
4. Layer a bowl with the shredded potatoes first, top with the Soyrizo and veggies, then the egg. Finish off with desired amount of shredded cheese and mix well. Prepare to be amazed – the Soyrizo is slightly spicy, totally flavorful, and everything is better topped with melted cheese!

March 21, 2012 Posted by | Favorite Foods, Recipes | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

When life gives you overrripe bananas

Judging by a few posts before this, banana bread is becoming my thing. But that’s easy to explain: I end up with a lot of bananas.

Bananas are cheap (hello, 19 cents a piece at Trader Joe’s!), but I absolutely hate when they start getting all spotty and overripe. Thanks to my mom’s genius, she told me to just peel them, throw them in a plastic bag, and pop ’em in the freezer. Then, make banana bread when I feel like it! So I guess the moral of this story is… when life gives you too many ripe bananas, make banana bread?

I used the below recipe, which is from my mom’s Betty Crocker cookbook. Her version must be ancient, as I can’t find the same recipe anywhere – not on, nor in the new edition Betty Crocker cookbook I have myself. So I stuck with what I grew up with – because it’s also super easy, and doesn’t require things like buttermilk or Bisquick, which I don’t have on hand. I substituted the milk for vanilla almond milk this time (because I never have real milk in my fridge), and it came out spectacular.

Betty Crocker’s Banana Nut Bread
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/3 cup milk (or vanilla almond milk, if you prefer)
1 egg
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 1/4 cup mashed bananas (original recipe says 2-3 medium ones, but I would say 4)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease bottom only of 9-inch loaf pan (unless using a non-stick silicone pan). Mix all ingredients. You can use a mixer and beat batter for 30 seconds, but it works just as well with your own arm strength and a wooden spoon. Pour into pan. Bake about 65-70 minutes until top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool slightly. Loosen sides of loaf from pan; remove. Cool completely before slicing.

March 15, 2012 Posted by | Favorite Foods, Recipes | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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