Batter Licker

March 21, 2012

cherry-studded banana bran whole grain muffins

I recently started setting up a sort of brown banana renewal system. I’ll buy a few super green ones and a few yellow ones each week, and then find myself with a consistent supply of brown, spotted mushiness that is sufficient for my peanut butter shake and green smoothie purposes.

It was all working out swimmingly until I got tempted by the very cheap, very large bunch of jet-sized bananas at Costco. Suddenly, I had a serious overflow problem.

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The first resolution that came to mind was banana bread, which would also conveniently free up some precious space in my overstuffed pantry. Okay, maybe it was actually equal parts resolution and excuse to fill my apartment with the fragrant aroma of freshly baked banana bread.

Either way, I wanted to make a more portable, healthful, whole grain, breakfast-appropriate version. (more…)

November 15, 2011

project wedding dessert bar: part 12 (s’mores brownies)

The night before the night before my wedding, my not-so-reliable pal Sleep totally ditched me. After several hours of anxious waiting, ceiling-staring and clock-cursing, I finally gave up.

So at 3 a.m., I rolled out of bed to start crushing graham crackers for the 12 dozen s’mores brownies I intended to bake in the three different sizes of cupcake liners I had accumulated but not used over the past couple years.

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I broke up the graham crackers by hand, and didn’t stop until the entire box of ’em was crushed.

After all the smashing, I felt more relaxed, and my renewed attempt at sleep proved successful. Thank goodness. Two days before your own wedding and the thousands of photos that will be snapped of you is not the ideal time to not be sleeping.

The next morning, Jay and I jaunted over to Hayes Valley for our Blue Bottle coffee fix, and wandered into Moishe’s Pippic in search of breakfast. I sought something hearty, anticipating that I would be standing on my feet all day while baking, and went with the corned beef sandwich.

Yes, sandwich. Full of meat. With a pickle! For breakfast.

I’m a corned beef nut to begin with, but Moishe’s corned beef was so incredibly tender, moist and flavorful. And not too salty. I remember thinking at the time that this corned beef sandwich was so entirely worth having to pull out the Spanx to fit into my wedding dress. (By some miracle, Spanx weren’t necessary. But I was willing to go there for this particular sandwich.) (more…)

September 2, 2011

bibimbap (korean mixed vegetable and brown rice salad with spicy-sweet chili pepper paste)

A three-day weekend is upon (most of) us, and this time around, that means Jay and I will be attending no less than 5 different get-togethers with family and friends. We certainly get our socializing on.

For once, I don’t think I will be cooking for any one of them. (If I am, no one has told me yet, although they could very well be operating under the general assumption that, where meal-time events are involved, I tend to come bearing the fruits of my kitchen labor. I should probably hit the market tomorrow just in case.) But if I find out that someone would like me to contribute a dish, I would be delighted to throw together this version of bibimbap, mostly because it can be thrown together quite quickly while still delivering an unexpectedly flavorful result. Especially for something that is essentially a mixed veggies and rice salad.

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In my favorite Korean restaurants, bibimbap is served in an extremely hot stone bowl, coated with just a bit of sesame oil that causes the cooked rice to develop a delicious toasted crispiness around the edges. But the beauty of this dish is that everything can be prepared in advanced, and it will still function equally well at room temperature or slightly chilled, making it well-suited for potlucks and barbecues but more interesting than the starchy side dishes typical of those types of events.

This time around, I cooked up some brown rice, then tossed grated zucchini and carrots in toasted sesame oil for a 2-minute saute. Arrange the zucchini, carrots, cucumber, and kimchi (and meat, if you choose to use some – and it would be a wonderful use for leftovers from one of the inevitable barbecues happening this weekend) in colorful patches over the brown rice for a presentation that’s much more beautiful than the haphazard mess I threw down for an impromptu dinner. Plop a few fried eggs on top – one for each person.

But please, for the love of visual appeal, let guests individually douse their bibimbap in the spicy-sweet gochujang (Korean chili paste) for less of a bloody roadkill appearance than what I did here while under extreme duress due to threats coming from my growling tummy. (more…)

August 27, 2011

breakfast padrón pepper poppers

Jay left for the East Coast earlier this week. Why anyone would want to travel to a coast that features the weatherly pleasures of both earthquakes and hurricanes – and in the same week! – is beyond me.

(In all seriousness, I hope everyone back East is okay. Also, maybe it’s time to consider moving to California.)

But it hasn’t been the worst experience to come home, exhausted, and throw together such genius dinner plans as “an abundance of lightly salted, raw dry-farmed Early Girl tomatoes” that would normally induce Jay to fast for the evening; and “sauteed broccoli with microwave-zapped potato à la mode,” where “à la mode” refers to a giant scoop of Greek yogurt atop the potato but also to a scoop of baklava Greek yogurt ice cream enjoyed while watching Project Runway.

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His absence also left me unsupervised and unhurried at the farmers market this morning. $40 and more than a weeks’ worth of produce later, I meandered homeward with nectarines, Early Girl and Green Zebra tomatoes, basil, Napa cabbage, pink-speckled cauliflower, onions, summer squash, figs, and a handful of pimientos de Padrón in tow.

I had wanted to try the Padrón peppers since their seasonal debut about a month ago, but staved off the urge because Jay is not particularly keen on peppers. But because he was still away and I was feeling a bit sad (whoever said 4 days of alone time is phenomenal lied, or hasn’t dated Jay, or hasn’t been part of the goofy fun the fiance and I have been having for the past 10 years), I decided it was time to pick some peppers, and whip up something new and fun for my first meal of the weekend.

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Having craved jalapeno poppers for the past week but realizing it was still not quite 10 a.m., I set about on a mission to create a breakfast-appropriate popper. (I add peppers to my eggs all the time and love chile rellenos, so I’m surprised I hadn’t thought of stuffing peppers with eggs, onion and cheese sooner.) (I also like parentheses.)

Now that you’re on board, let’s get to some rebellious popper-making … (more…)

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