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…)

May 2, 2012

marinated asparagus and lime-coconut milk hollandaise

Every few months or so, my friends Bill and Rebecca host a “Top Chef” dinner competition that’s actually more in line with “Iron Chef.” A secret ingredient is unveiled, and two teams of friends brainstorm to devise a menu featuring that ingredient in each dish before venturing out to the local grocery store.

Upon return, kitchen chaos ensues. Each team scrambles to grab the kitchen tools they require or, as often is the case, improvising when those tools – or stove burners or even counter space – are already in use.

Most recently, the teams tackled coconut. Although plantain and coconut crusted fish wowed its way to the top of the judges’ list, I walked away obsessed with marinated grilled asparagus (Bill’s genius) dipped in a lime-coconut hollandaise (I made it, but have no idea who on my team came up with the idea). (more…)

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…)

February 8, 2012

bacon fat pan-fried brussels sprouts

Unless it’s boiled to death, I absolutely adore cabbage. The same adoration does not apply equally to Brussels sprouts.

Although, like bananas, I keep trying to like them; I just haven’t had much success. Then I experienced a duck fat fried epiphany at Perbacco. The sprouts had been cooked until tender on the inside and fried to crisp, browned perfection. I couldn’t get enough of them.

So when I saw some Brussels sprouts on sale, I recalled the bacon fat I had lingering in my freezer and thought I’d try something similar – but much cheaper than an evening at Perbacco.

A couple tablespoons of bacon fat, a few pinches of salt and pepper, a sprinkling of Parmesan, and about 7 minutes later, these pan-fried Brussels sprouts came together as a decadent, quick, and easy little side dish for a date-night-at-home dinner with Jay. (more…)

January 23, 2012

zucchini, onion and potato latkes with chive sour cream

Too late for latkes now that Chanukah is about a month behind us? Nonsense! That would be like saying it’s too late for baked potatoes – or soup.

Seeing as frigid, rainy winter weather is just starting to renew itself after a dry heat spell here in San Francisco, I can’t believe any of those could possibly be out of season just yet.

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New Year resolution-makers might huff and puff a bit about the pan-fried in oil factor. But if the oil is hot enough, these veggie-laden pancakes will not absorb ridiculous amounts of oil. Instead, they’ll do exactly what makes them so irresistible: (more…)

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