Batter Licker

January 4, 2012

project wedding dessert bar: part 14 (moroccan-spiced crispy chickpeas)

I’m a crispy chickpea addict. A year and a half ago, this snack ushered me through weeks of studying for the bar exam during Summer 2010, and (especially after passing the exam) I’ve felt indebted to it ever since.

So in some weird way, it made sense to include this snack – which stood by my side in my mouth during some of my more miserable moments – in the dessert bar I created for family and friends to enjoy on an evening celebrating one of the consistent sources of happiness during the past decade of my life: my relationship with Jay. But the inclusion of chickpeas also made sense from another perspective.

In retrospect, I realized that the desserts I chose to serve at my wedding very much reflected a sugary timeline of my life and development.

Fudge and toffee represented the beginning, when I learned my mother’s precision and the importance of following candy recipes exactly. Sometimes, my mind would wander, my wrist would ache from stirring, and I would lose focus. That’s code for: I burned and threw out quite a few bad batches along the way. But if I hadn’t learned then, I probably would have scorched a lot of chocolate instead of melting it into delightfully rich truffles.

Quite a few years later, I began experimenting with caramels, and after quite a bit of testing, I finally came up with my own basic recipe. Eventually, that recipe blossomed into the fleur de sel and bourbon spice caramels friends and family enjoyed at our wedding.

In the past year or two, I have taken more risks – in life and in the kitchen – which was reflected in the more innovative cashew-bacon brittle and s’mores brownie bites that disappeared so quickly.

But back to making crispy chickpeas … (more…)

November 16, 2010

mexican rice and fajita-spiced steak, poblano peppers, and onions

I grew up eating Mexican rice of the Rice-a-Roni quality. In other words, boxed rice and unknown spices + canned tomatoes + butter + water. It was delicious. But it was not Mexican. And I clearly didn’t know any better. But even if I had known better, I have forgiven the follies of my foodie-less youth.

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Fast forward a few years, and I’ve figured out that this Mexican rice wonder of my childhood can not only be made at home, but (not surprisingly) tastes way better than the romanticized Rice-a-Roni of yore. Plus, this rice can be made without any canned vegetables and with discernible spices that I always have on hand anyway, making it fresher and cheaper than the boxed stuff.

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Because rice was always the highlight of Mexican feasts growing up, whether in my super plain bean-cheese-rice burrito or as a side dish to any number of restaurant main courses, I like to say that I “know” Mexican rice. That may or may not be true, but I have been exposed to a wide variety served everywhere from fancy Mexican joints to chintzy taco shops. (more…)

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