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…)

October 12, 2010

hummus trio – plain, roasted red pepper, and spinach

Filed under: appetizer,beans,mediterranean,veggies — Tags: , , , , , , , — Kristen @ 9:38 pm

Two summers ago, I got a fever. And the only prescription was more hummus. I had just discovered the wonder of quick, easy, delicious homemade hummus, which cost me a mere $1.30 for five servings, and I got a little excited. I went a little overboard. I ate hummus every weekday for lunch for a month straight.

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Hummus on a sandwich; hummus on a salad; hummus as a snack with carrots, cucumbers, or pita bread for dipping; hummus on a spoon. It was crazy. And incredibly creamy, easy-to-make, flavorful, healthy, and cost-effective. It kept me full but energized. Summer 2009 was most definitely the Summer of Hummus.
(more…)

August 5, 2010

oven-crisped chickpeas

Filed under: appetizer,beans,vegan — Tags: , — Kristen @ 11:56 am

Healthy crunchy salty snacks: always an oxymoron, at least until these little protein-packed balls of crunch rolled onto my baking sheet and crisped up in my oven. Would you ever have thought that tossing a can of garbanzo beans onto a baking sheet would create an addictive Corn Nut-like snack? I wouldn’t have, so thank you Anna for enlightening me.

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Oven-crisped chickpeas Words of encouragement received from family and friends were what kept me going during the last few weeks before the California bar exam. But those same words did not keep me awake while studying.

Crispy chickpeas, on the other hand, did their best to wake me up with a satisfying yet guilt-free crunch every time I was on the brink of nodding off. And on all three exam days, crispy chickpeas greeted me with a smile at the lunch break, promised to discuss anything but the content of the morning’s exam, and provided an energizing protein snack that kept me awake, focused, and full but food coma-free during the afternoon portion of the exam.

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As you can probably tell, I’ve become a bit obsessed. But there’s no reason to be ashamed about this snack obsession. (more…)

March 7, 2010

The Olive Press cooking competition: 4 extra virgin olive oils, 4 extra vivacious courses

It’s finally that time. Time for me to unveil the results of a few excited weeks of learning about olive oils of various intensity and brainstorming fun ways to use them, all while recovering from a nasty accident involving an immersion blender and an index finger (but I won’t go into that, except to say that I eventually became remarkably adept at nine-fingered typing, shampooing, and cooking). So when The Olive Press invited me to partake in their cooking competition (please vote HERE), I was incredibly thrilled about the opportunity to experiment with the Sonoma, California-based company’s award-winning oils. The Olive Press sent me four different bottles of their extra virgin olive oils – Arbequina, Mission, Italian Blend, and Blood Orange – and challenged me to create a four-course meal using one of the oils in each course. Drum roll please …

Appetizer: Roasted Tomato and Garlic, Kalamata Olive, and Feta Bruschetta, featuring the robust Italian Blend olive oil.

Any time there’s an excuse to do so, I love coming up with different versions of bruschetta. Yes, it’s a relatively simple appetizer, featuring just a handful of complementary, fresh ingredients that can easily be adapted to use whatever you have on hand. But when done right, each bite packs so much flavor and texture. And crunch. (There’s something infinitely more satisfying (to me) when a dish comes with a little bit of crunch, probably because I consistently deprive myself of those pre-made, boxed-up salty snacks that others inconsiderately munch on during my Commercial Contract Writing class.)

For this version of bruschetta, I went a Mediterranean route because the intense flavors of the roasted tomatoes, Kalamata olives, and feta stood up to and were well-complemented by the incredibly robust (dare I say spicy?) Italian Blend olive oil.

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Main Course: Walnut-Crusted Halibut with Roasted Red Pepper Harissa, featuring Blood Orange olive oil.

This dish is near perfection. The halibut is enhanced but not overpowered by the relatively mild Blood Orange olive oil. Both the walnuts and the panko give the fish’s crust a nice crunchy texture, and the walnuts add a rich, buttery flavor while still keeping the dish healthy. (more…)

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