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…)

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…)

November 10, 2011

savory pear soup with crispy pancetta and blue cheese

There are few things I find less appetizing than an overripe pear (except, perhaps, brown bananas, but even those are salvageable). From the cloying sweetness to a texture that manages to be mushy, mealy and gritty all at the same time, pears are one of few barely-past-its-prime pieces of produce that I’d prefer to just toss into the compost bin rather than find a creative way to save.

And yet, almost every time I purchase pears, I go overboard and, despite my best intentions, am unable to get through all of them in time. It doesn’t seem to matter whether I buy eight or three; the Law of Pears Ripening Faster than Kristen Can Eat Them inevitably kicks in.

Apparently the same law applies to free pears. Thanks to my friend and fellow food-lover Elaine‘s recommendation, Frog Hollow Farm sent me a six pack of Warren pears to sample. I frequent their urban farm stand at the Ferry Building, and I love pears, so I was excited to dig in.

I promptly devoured three of them, raw and unadorned.

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I might have been generous enough to share the fourth pear with Jay. Or maybe I demolished that one too. I really can’t recall. My memory is as foggy on that matter as Bill Clinton’s was regarding extramarital affairs. But what I do remember is the pears’ sweet flavor and creamy texture – none of that graininess I usually try to ignore or mask in Bartlett pears.

Then I got married, ran away to Sonoma for half a week, and took couple days to come down from my newlywed love cloud and readjust to real life. Finally, I remembered the two remaining pears. (more…)

November 8, 2010

butternut squash and basil bechamel lasagna

File this under “best lasagna you almost never tried because there’s no meat in it, no ricotta, no tomato sauce, and the main veggie featured is … squash?!?!?” It sounds crazy, I know.

And I’m sure the meat lover in your life will balk just as fervently as Jay did … and Adam … and Joe (okay, Joe kept the balking internal, but eventually admitted to it). Heaven forbid you ever make lasagna without sausage or ground beef! Have you forgotten the most basic tenets of lasagna-making?!? Surely you’ve gone a little too far down foodie alley; you’re trying too hard to come up with innovative, blog-worthy recipes; you’re completely off your rocker.

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But then said meat lover will scoop up a slab of cheesy, squashy, creamy, basily baked noodles. And his carnivorous, quick-to-hate vegetarian food mouth will chew and gulp and chomp and swallow as he devours his portion (more…)

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