Batter Licker

March 29, 2012

twice-baked butternut squash halves

Searching for butternut squash: that’s what I’ve preoccupied myself with while everyone else is anxiously leaping into spring, baskets overflowing with the first bundles of asparagus and green garlic.

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It’s the one piece of Fall and Winter produce that I keep a tight grip on for as long as possible, reluctant to let it go and dismayed to go without it for another six months, even if that same time period brings delightful indulgence in strawberries and, eventually, nectarines.

I love butternut squash. Its sunny, bright orange flesh ushers me through months of bleak greyness. I live for butternut squash. When strawberries turn sour and nectarines disappear from the market and all produce stands point to cabbage and kale,** the appearance of butternut squash brings a smile to my face and puts the spring back into my steps. I have a serious butternut squash addiction.

** I do enjoy eating more than my fair share of both cruciferous veggies, but I don’t feel overwhelmingly excited when they’re all I see at a farmers market. (more…)

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…)

November 29, 2011

raspberry zinfandel sorbet

You already know I’m an ice cream girl. To clarify, when I say “ice cream,” I mean it in the broadest sense, including sorbets, frozen yogurts, semifreddos, popsicles, granitas and mostly any other soft, scoopable, meltable, spoon- or lick-worthy frozen treats.

So when it was hinted that maybe I could bring a dessert for Thanksgiving dinner, in addition to my updated, real cheese-including, non-”cheese product” version of my family’s traditional cheesy broccoli dish, which I totally botched because it turned out way more mushroomy than cheesy in flavor; although I love mushrooms, so that’s not entirely a tragedy; in fact, I’m using the leftover cheesy, mushroomy sauce, which I made four times too much of, for a lasagna this week … anyway, where was I?

Oh, right! I had a dessert brainstorming breakdown.

And a totally unjustified sobbing fit. I wouldn’t normally cry over a lack of dessert ideas, but I was sick! And I had a feeling my standard, easy go-tos – toffee and fudge – were out because my mom was likely to make a surprise batch or two.

I might have settled on baked goods. But the weekend before Thanksgiving, we had Friendsgiving, and I had baked some incredible butternut squash cupcakes with maple-sage goat cheese frosting. For some reason, I didn’t feel like baking more of them for Thanksgiving – probably because I had eaten the handful of leftover cupcakes over the past few days.

They were rich. They were savory-sweet. And I was a horribly selfish person because I didn’t think any other baked good could ever top them, and yet I refused to make them for Thanksgiving. They could have been perfect for it – they were so chock full of Fall flavors that they were practically made for Thanksgiving. But in retrospect, after a day of feasting and several platefuls of stuffing, cupcakes would have been way too much.

But sorbet was juuuuuuuuust riiiight (à la Goldilocks and the Three Bears). (more…)

August 17, 2011

marinated roasted mushrooms and zucchini

I have noticed a lot of complaints lately on Twitter and the rest of the interweb – from foodies more fortunate than me, in that they actually have outdoor space – about overabundant zucchini and summer squash littering their gardens. And I have a solution: drop some off at my apartment. I would be ecstatic to help relieve the burden.


However, being mindful that some of these poor, unfortunate souls may not live in the Bay Area, I recommend roasting the prolific veggies (or grilling – for those living in places that actually have hot summer weather; not San Francisco). But don’t stop there. (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…)

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