Batter Licker

January 4, 2012

project wedding dessert bar: part 14 (moroccan-spiced crispy chickpeas)

I’m a crispy chickpea addict. A year and a half ago, this snack ushered me through weeks of studying for the bar exam during Summer 2010, and (especially after passing the exam) I’ve felt indebted to it ever since.

So in some weird way, it made sense to include this snack – which stood by my side in my mouth during some of my more miserable moments – in the dessert bar I created for family and friends to enjoy on an evening celebrating one of the consistent sources of happiness during the past decade of my life: my relationship with Jay. But the inclusion of chickpeas also made sense from another perspective.

In retrospect, I realized that the desserts I chose to serve at my wedding very much reflected a sugary timeline of my life and development.

Fudge and toffee represented the beginning, when I learned my mother’s precision and the importance of following candy recipes exactly. Sometimes, my mind would wander, my wrist would ache from stirring, and I would lose focus. That’s code for: I burned and threw out quite a few bad batches along the way. But if I hadn’t learned then, I probably would have scorched a lot of chocolate instead of melting it into delightfully rich truffles.

Quite a few years later, I began experimenting with caramels, and after quite a bit of testing, I finally came up with my own basic recipe. Eventually, that recipe blossomed into the fleur de sel and bourbon spice caramels friends and family enjoyed at our wedding.

In the past year or two, I have taken more risks – in life and in the kitchen – which was reflected in the more innovative cashew-bacon brittle and s’mores brownie bites that disappeared so quickly.

But back to making crispy chickpeas … (more…)

August 4, 2011

tomato, summer squash and quinoa party

In the wake of last night’s employee fiesta and on the eve of the BlogHer ’11 Conference in San Diego, I thought it only appropriate to commemorate my first annual conference with another, seasonal kind of party: a tomato party.

Tomatoes are perhaps the single piece of produce whose season I most look forward to. So when I came across Yottam Ottolenghi’s tomato party recipe in Plenty, I felt inspired.

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This dish highlights tomatoes in all their glory, from the gorgeous variety of bright red, yellow and green colors to the wide range of raw, slow-roasted, and partially-roasted flavors. It truly is a tomato celebration.

But for me, a cheese-less tomato gathering is akin to a cocktail-less dinner party. Something had to be done to liven the mood. (more…)

May 17, 2011

how to cook dried beans

Aren’t these beans beautiful? They should be showcased in a mason jar to bring some color and warmth to my ugly, scratched, white laminate countertop (it’s okay; I rent). Or used instead of rocks or glass marbles in the bottom of the vase on my dinner table. But I boiled them up with some onion and cilantro, and ate them instead.

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Clearly, interior design is not my strength, unless decorating the lining of my stomach counts. (I have a feeling it doesn’t.)

But cooking dried beans? That I can do. Especially when they are beautiful, relatively fresh dried beans. Not those sad ones that have been sitting in a bag on a grocery store shelf for 10 years. Even bulk bin beans, which are usually in more optimal shape than the plastic bagged variety, aren’t quite as good – although they’ll do in a pinch. But colorful beans with fun names like Rio Zape and Midnight Black! Exclamation point-worthy indeed! And check out these multi-colored Zarco beans! Are you excited about cooking beans yet? I am. (more…)

May 5, 2011

mexican tortilla lasagna with chorizo, kale and beans

Whenever I have extra tortillas sitting around after a night of mango-salsified and pink chipotle-sauced fish tacos, I typically insist on using them as is (pretending not to notice that they’re stale and ripping when I fold them for a taco or burrito), or during slightly more logical moments, I chop them into wedges, toss with olive oil, salt and cumin, and bake them into chips. This time, I pretended they were lasagna noodles.

Some might define insanity as repeating the same thing over and over, and expecting different results. But I bet a few of you are reading this and thinking that indulging my admitted illusion that tortillas can work as noodles is just another type of crazy. And you would probably be right.

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But I love an excuse to make Mexican food, and the miniature stack of leftover tortillas provided me with exactly that. (more…)

April 27, 2011

sprouted bean coconut curry soup

Several friends of mine have been singing the glory of Heidi Swanson’s Coconut Red Lentil Soup for over a year. Now that I finally saddled up and made a variation of that soup, I’m inclined to join their joyful chorus.

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Truth be told, I’m a sucker for anything containing coconut milk and curry. But the beauty of this soup is that its complex and addictive flavor comes together in a relatively simple process – even simpler if you have leftover sprouted (or unsprouted) beans or lentils on hand. (more…)

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