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 20, 2011

candy cane snowtini

I admit it. I finally succumbed to the infusing-vodka-with-candy madness that’s been going around. I’m not proud, but it was too easy not to do it. There were a few stray candy canes, some lonely vodka and a clean glass jar hanging around, begging for attention.

I justified it by arguing – in my head, of course – that I wouldn’t have gotten around to eating those last few candy canes anyway; the vodka would have sat untouched for another 6 months; the jar needed to serve a practical function or else get tossed into the recycling bin; and a candy cane vodka would really just be peppermint vodka, which wasn’t too bizarre (ahem, candy corn vodka), and had to taste great in some sort of cocktail.

And it did taste fantastic in this one. Like a grownup peppermint milkshake of sorts. Except then I had to go and name it a “snowtini,” which sounds so frou-frou I’m not sure I’d ever order it off a cocktail menu. (more…)

October 26, 2011

project wedding dessert bar: part 8 (fleur de sel caramels; bourbon spice caramels)

Syndicated on BlogHer.comI’m not trying to fool you. I know you’ve seen me make caramel before, and in step-by-step detail. But not with bourbon and Fall spices.

For wedding dessert bar purposes, I kept up appearances by making about 400 of my standard fleur de sel caramels. I had to, or there might have been an Occupy Dessert Bar movement. Seriously. People get passionate over burnt sugar with salt, at least in my family.

But for my own creative purposes, I wanted to try something a little different. Something infused with Autumn. Something boozy. Bourbon spice caramels were born.

After pulling out all ingredients, I re-focused on exactly how much butter was going into this dual caramel candy-making escapade. A lot.

As in that entire stick plus 2 tablespoons of butter below was only one eighth of the amount. Granted, no one was going to eat a butter stick’s worth of caramel in one sitting, but some might come dangerously close.

I looked away from the butter and cream mixture and started working on the separate pot of soon-to-be-burnt sugar.

Instead of the water used in my original fleur de sel recipe, I used bourbon here. I’m not sure if that’s how the pros do it, as I admittedly made this up as I went. And even when I looked online later to validate my in-the-moment decisions, all I found were bourbon caramel sauces. Not helpful since they don’t cook at nearly as high of a temperature.

Anyway, beyond the crazy amount of butter, I also went through two entire 10-pound bags of sugar … (more…)

January 12, 2011

ultimate creamed spinach

Filed under: cheese,veggies — Tags: , , , , , , , — Kristen @ 1:05 pm

Truth be told, I’ve always found creamed spinach a little blah. Why sully healthy spinach with cream when you could steam or saute it and season the wilted greens with exactly the same ingredients used in the creamed spinach?

Enter Parmesan and Emmental, a smooth Swiss cheese, and my attitude towards creamed spinach is transformed as profoundly as the dish’s flavor.

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Yes, the cheeses are rich. But so is creamed spinach, naturally, as it contains heavy cream and, often, whole milk. The difference is that the flavor from the cheeses makes the spinach much more flavorful and creamy and totally worth the caloric splurge. (more…)

December 20, 2010

chocolate ice cream with candy cane swirl

When the holidays rolled around during my childhood, the festive treat I looked forward to most was quite simple: a mug of hot cocoa with a candy cane in it. The candy cane would dangle into the warm, milk chocolaty liquid, slowly melting away. Some sips were more cocoa-intense, while others were gently infused with candy cane flavor, but the mug always seemed to empty sooner than I expected, leaving me anxious for the next evening’s drinkable dessert.

This ice cream is an ode to those candy cane hot cocoa-filled nights of my childhood, bringing that warm drink to a new, delightfully creamy and frozen level.

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Unlike the usual candy cane ice creams floating around there at this time of year, this one is not overloaded with peppermint, which seems to happen when the ice cream base is peppermint flavored or when chopped bits of candy cane are evenly distributed throughout the ice cream.

Instead, my version uses a chocolate ice cream base with a candy cane ribbon running through that base. (more…)

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