Batter Licker

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…)

August 4, 2011

tomato, summer squash and quinoa party

In the wake of last night’s employee fiesta and on the eve of the BlogHer ’11 Conference in San Diego, I thought it only appropriate to commemorate my first annual conference with another, seasonal kind of party: a tomato party.

Tomatoes are perhaps the single piece of produce whose season I most look forward to. So when I came across Yottam Ottolenghi’s tomato party recipe in Plenty, I felt inspired.

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This dish highlights tomatoes in all their glory, from the gorgeous variety of bright red, yellow and green colors to the wide range of raw, slow-roasted, and partially-roasted flavors. It truly is a tomato celebration.

But for me, a cheese-less tomato gathering is akin to a cocktail-less dinner party. Something had to be done to liven the mood. (more…)

November 9, 2010

caramelized onion and feta pastry bites

Filed under: appetizer,cheese — Tags: , , , , , , , , — Kristen @ 12:12 pm

I blame my friend Kelsey for my consumption of Trader Joe’s has these Caramelized Onion and Feta Pastry Bites every since she introduced them to me at a dinner party a few years back. They make a perfect appetizer, not only because the fillo pastry dough is stuffed with an irresistibly yummy feta-cream cheese mixture topped with caramelized onions, but also because they go from freezer to oven to mouth in 20 minutes.

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So, of course, I had to figure out how to make them at home. (more…)

May 11, 2010

grape, feta, and walnut salad with lemon-mint vinaigrette

Filed under: fruit,salad,sauces, marinades, dressings — Tags: , , , , , — Kristen @ 3:08 pm

Sometimes, when it’s hot out, I want a salad. And not just the boring old lettuce-cucumber-tomato-onion salad that I keep on permanent standby. But something a little more interesting, preferably with less chopping involved.

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Yes, you heard me correctly. Sometimes, I don’t feel like chopping things. Like right now. It’s hot out, okay? And I just finished doing 70 push-ups at Bar Method. My arms are toast – even when it comes to holding my favorite chef’s knife. But a teeny little paring knife? That, I can manage, as long as it’s brief.

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This week, I had procured perfectly plump purple grapes (how’s that for alliteration?) that begged me to use them in this better-than-lettuce salad. So I quickly halved two handfuls of grapes, stirred in some feta (always in my refrigerator) for a creamy saltiness that would balance the sweetness of the grapes. Then, I added chopped toasted walnuts (always in my freezer – they stay fresher longer that way) and whisked up a quickie lemon-mint vinaigrette with a touch of agave nectar’s sweetness to tone down the sour lemon juice, and there you have it. A perfect salty-sweet and creamy-crunchy lunch or side dish that you can throw together in advance (to let it marinate) or on the spot (still delicious). (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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