Batter Licker

November 17, 2011

roasted butternut squash, caramelized onion and goat cheese tart

Hi, my name is Kristen, and I’m a butternut squashaholic. When those beautiful, light orange gourds start showing up at the market, I can’t help myself. I pile them into my shopping bag, week after week. And when Trader Joe’s offers up pre-cut squash, I stock up, knowing that makings for a quick, satisfying soup will be waiting in my fridge.

Sometimes, I just roast cubes of squash and pop them into my mouth straight out of the oven. Other times, I turn them into soup, lasagna, pizza, and gnocchi. I’ve even taken to converting my pumpkin curry to a squash curry. As if that weren’t enough, for this coming weekend’s Friendsgiving dinner, I’ll be bringing not one but two squash dishes: a poblano pepper and butternut squash soup, and butternut squash cupcakes with goat cheese frosting.

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But what I really want to share right now is a tart so good that I actually made it twice last week. The tart made its debut at girls’ night last Thursday. Although it emerged a success, I had admittedly rigged the game by serving it to two goat cheese- and caramelized onion-loving friends. (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 1, 2011

roasted jalapenos stuffed with squash, goat cheese and sage

Before I complete the last three posts in my Project Wedding Dessert Bar series, I need a break from the sugar. I went through just about 20 pounds of the stuff for my baking and candy making bonanza, so I think a savory reprieve is justified.

I’ve been craving savory Fall foods like crazy. Especially squash. And cheese. Anything warm and comforting will do, but even more so if there’s some hint of freshness.

These stuffed jalapenos brought all those things home for me. (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…)

May 17, 2011

how to cook dried beans

Aren’t these beans beautiful? They should be showcased in a mason jar to bring some color and warmth to my ugly, scratched, white laminate countertop (it’s okay; I rent). Or used instead of rocks or glass marbles in the bottom of the vase on my dinner table. But I boiled them up with some onion and cilantro, and ate them instead.

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Clearly, interior design is not my strength, unless decorating the lining of my stomach counts. (I have a feeling it doesn’t.)

But cooking dried beans? That I can do. Especially when they are beautiful, relatively fresh dried beans. Not those sad ones that have been sitting in a bag on a grocery store shelf for 10 years. Even bulk bin beans, which are usually in more optimal shape than the plastic bagged variety, aren’t quite as good – although they’ll do in a pinch. But colorful beans with fun names like Rio Zape and Midnight Black! Exclamation point-worthy indeed! And check out these multi-colored Zarco beans! Are you excited about cooking beans yet? I am. (more…)

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