Batter Licker

January 9, 2012

roasted chicken, cabbage and bosc pear

This might be the easiest dinner ever. Prep takes mmmmmmmm … maybe five minutes, involving only a little basic slicing and the rubbing and sprinkling of spices. Then the oven works its magic for 45 minutes or so while the scent of roasted chicken wafts through the air, tickling noses and taste buds alike.

And have you ever had roasted cabbage before? It’s heavenly. You should try it. Especially if you think you don’t like cabbage. The sweet cabbage develops this nutty, charred flavor and crispy edges that drive me so absolutely bonkers that I make brilliant decisions. Like roasting an entire, giant cabbage for just two people’s dinner. Operation Super Awesome Lunch Leftovers: Complete.

Thick slices of cabbage get layered across the bottom of a casserole dish, then topped with bosc pear halves and sprinkled with spices. Think of this as the platform for roasting the chicken legs.

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Chicken gets the spice rub-down. I chose a mix of coriander, ginger and just a little garlic to go with the pears. (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…)

October 7, 2011

project wedding dessert bar: part 7 (chili lime peanuts)

The nut parade continues with chili lime peanuts because, in my opinion, variety always makes things a little more fun.

While the curried cashews and brown sugar, rosemary, bourbon-brined almonds were fairly easy to manage, these peanuts manage to be even simpler.

I threw peanuts into a bowl, but on a lazier day, I strongly believe these nuts could mix up quite nicely with the spices directly on a rimmed baking sheet. That’s right. One less thing to clean up.

But I didn’t think of that until after the peanuts had already made their way into the bowl. So I went ahead and zested a lime straight in there.

These limes were particularly attached to their juices. After rolling them around, halving them, and squeezing with all my strength, I yielded maybe a drop or two. Things were not looking good.
(more…)

October 5, 2011

project wedding dessert bar: part 5 (curried cashews)

This whole baking-a-lot-by-myself-in-my-kitchen thing is starting to make me go a little nuts. Not because I don’t enjoy it, but just because it’s a lot of time spent measuring, mixing, scooping, and waiting.

So I’ve been trying to find ways to keep the redundant work at least moderately amusing, which largely seems to entail inner – and occasionally outer – dialogue, mostly baking related, mostly looking deeper into things that I’ve always found odd about one baking ingredient (why is “evaporated” milk not called regular condensed milk?), or fascinating about another (how is baking soda so uplifting?).

In other words, I’ve embraced the nuttiness. Speaking of which, spiced nuts are some of the easiest and most delicious treats to make for any affair, and multiple internet sources tell me that they hold well for weeks. They’re also ridiculously easy to store and transport, so welcome to my nut house.

I started with cashews, a nut that I can eat raw, roasted, plain, salted, whole, and in pieces. But curried? Somehow, I had never gone down that road, and as a curry lover, it was about time. Gotta jazz it up for the wedding, right? (more…)

June 1, 2011

grilled pineapple with cinnamon-bourbon glaze

Over the three-day weekend, I partook in no less than three barbecues. Barbecuing being the most quintessentially American method of food preparation, I figured it was the least I could do to honor U.S. servicemen who make sacrifices so much braver and more meaningful than me clumsily sacrificing a pineapple slice to the ground while using wonky tongs to transfer fruit from grill to plate.

Sole pineapple loss aside, I enjoyed celebrating my freedom in the company of beloved friends and family as we stuffed ourselves full of charred food and chilled booze.

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When it came time for dessert, it only made sense to marry the black and booze flavors and watch them dance sloppily all over the pineapple. (more…)

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