Batter Licker

May 25, 2012

gabi moskowitz’s brokeass gourmet cookbook and broccoli-kale gratin

I remember first meeting Gabi Moskowitz serendipitously at an Indian food-themed dinner hosted by our mutual friends, Rebecca and Bill Kee. While in the middle of preparing dal (a spicy lentil dish), she paused to introduce herself in a very warm and welcoming manner before putting me to work chopping onions. As I began that task, Bill casually mentioned that Gabi had a food blog too.  Soon I learned that she was not just any other kitchen maven named Gabi, but was The Gabi of Brokeass Gourmet, a recipe site with a monthly readership of over 30,000. I can guarantee the consistency of my onion cuts suffered as a result of being dorkily starstruck.

Thankfully, her fun and sassy demeanor disarmed my intimidation before I did too much damage in the kitchen. And I was happy to have shared a stove and chopping board, albeit briefly, with such an incredibly talented woman.

A few years’ worth of mostly social media exchanges later, I was excited for Gabi when I discovered she had procured a cookbook deal. When her PR rep sent me a complimentary copy of The Brokeass Gourmet Cookbook** to review, I could hardly contain myself upon its arrival. I can neither confirm nor deny whether I Gabi-vangelized the delivery person.

For those unfamiliar with this kindergarten-teacher-turned-cuisini√®re’s food blog and general background, I highly recommend you hop on over there, even if it’s just for a cursory visit. Once you bounce around her site a bit, you’ll see that Gabi’s cooking philosophy is grounded in accessibility and flavor.

These values carry over into her 116-recipe cookbook, where she starts with advice that will make meal-making much easier to manage no matter your skill level: how to stock a pantry with essentials like flour, olive oil, and salt for merely $50. And if you’re a bit of a lush like me, you’ll appreciate her subsequent input on how to smartly stock a budget bar.

Continuing to flip through the pages, I found that Gabi often takes dishes that might ordinarily be intimidating, such as Pakistani Butter Chicken (pictured above, although I deviated slightly by cooking the chicken thighs whole) or Sun-Dried Tomato Gnocchi, and simplifies the techniques involved without sacrificing flavor. She transforms the seemingly complex recipes such that beginner and immediate cooks alike can appreciate the time, steps and stress she’s saved them. (more…)

December 29, 2011

bacon fat-roasted fingerling potatoes stuffed with beet horseradish ricotta

I realize stuffing fingerling potatoes sounds a little … crazy. And it totally is. I admit it. But don’t freak out and leave yet! I have a solution. Just because I’m nuts doesn’t mean you can’t maintain your sanity while still enjoying the delicious benefits of this recipe.

In other words, this would work equally well for stuffing a potato the size of your closed fist. Or even those mini potatoes that are bigger than fingerlings but not quite as big as your fist – you know, the ones that would still be appetizer friendly but also wouldn’t drive you mad trying to stuff them.

The only other fussy component is the beet horseradish, but there’s a way around that too if necessary. I’ve never seen the beet version in a store in real life, although I probably wasn’t looking because I didn’t even know it existed. But it was among the several gallons of pickled items my friend May shipped me from The Pickle Guys in New York as a wedding present. Aside from being slightly sweeter than regular horseradish, the beet horseradish had an incredibly bright pink fuchsia color, which I thought would be fun to punch up this otherwise brown and white dish. If you can’t find some, substitute regular horseradish, or make your own beet concoction.

Whatever you decide, procure some bacon fat. It makes a difference. (more…)

November 22, 2011

butternut squash cupcakes with maple-sage goat cheese frosting

My butternut squash bonanza continues! Think of this as a play on pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. Except way better.

Honestly, I thought these up a year ago and never got around to making them. But they haunted me through spring and summer, and now that we’re back to peak butternut squash season, I had to make it happen.

So when last weekend’s Friendsgiving dinner got scheduled, it was a no-brainer. I knew exactly what I wanted to try.

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That’s the beauty of Friendsgiving. My friends and I officially launched the make-whatever-you-want concept last year, after decades of being told by our families that, no, we could not make butternut squash soup as an appetizer instead of Bopop’s bowl full of grapefruit tradition, and no, we could not make a cornbread, sausage and peppers stuffing instead of the rustic bread, sausage, apple and onion standard. (more…)

November 21, 2011

turkey dripping pear farrotto

About four years ago, my aunt offered to pack up the Thanksgiving turkey’s carcass in a trash bag for me to haul home to San Francisco. I crinkled my nose in response. Why would I take that nasty thing with me on the 4+ hour drive home, especially when my largest pot was no more than 4 quarts?

Last year, I hosted Thanksgiving in my tiny, one-bedroom apartment and had finally acquired a sizable stock pot. Entirely different story. The next morning, I broke down the carcass a little, and shoved it into the giant pot with some water, leftover onion ends and herbs to simmer for a few hours. After straining out all the odds and ends, I froze a third of the stock in ice cube trays for smaller uses and the rest in 2-cup tupperware for soups and other bulk uses.

The most awesome part? I had stock for months. And all because I threw some turkey bones and onion end pieces into a pot on a day that I otherwise spent watching movies, enjoying a roaring fire and playing games.

Even more awesome part? After using some of the turkey drippings for Turkey Day gravy, I froze the rest in cubes and used those as “stock starters” once I ran out out actual stock. Just dissolved a few frozen drippings cubes in hot water and magical flavor resulted.

The lesson I learned was to save and freeze (in reasonably small portions) all those seemingly yucky byproducts of turkey roasting. It saved me a ton of money and prep time for several months’ worth of future meals, and cost only minimal time to preserve the drippings and stock since I froze it all almost immediately. (more…)

November 17, 2011

roasted butternut squash, caramelized onion and goat cheese tart

Hi, my name is Kristen, and I’m a butternut squashaholic. When those beautiful, light orange gourds start showing up at the market, I can’t help myself. I pile them into my shopping bag, week after week. And when Trader Joe’s offers up pre-cut squash, I stock up, knowing that makings for a quick, satisfying soup will be waiting in my fridge.

Sometimes, I just roast cubes of squash and pop them into my mouth straight out of the oven. Other times, I turn them into soup, lasagna, pizza, and gnocchi. I’ve even taken to converting my pumpkin curry to a squash curry. As if that weren’t enough, for this coming weekend’s Friendsgiving dinner, I’ll be bringing not one but two squash dishes: a poblano pepper and butternut squash soup, and butternut squash cupcakes with goat cheese frosting.

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But what I really want to share right now is a tart so good that I actually made it twice last week. The tart made its debut at girls’ night last Thursday. Although it emerged a success, I had admittedly rigged the game by serving it to two goat cheese- and caramelized onion-loving friends. (more…)

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