Batter Licker

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…)

December 5, 2011

gingered pear sorbet

San Francisco has handed me some winter sorbet weather recently: very sunny skies, and strong but warm winds.

Back when I lived in Los Angeles, we called it Santa Ana winds, but I don’t think the same lingo applies to Northern California. Up here, people call it earthquake weather. But that’s a bit over-dramatic and scare tactic-y for my taste. Hence, I’m calling it winter sorbet weather.

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While raspberry zinfandel sorbet absolutely knocked it out of the park for Thanksgiving dessert, I must admit I might never have gone down that road had I not first experimented with the overabundance of Warren and Bosc pears I received courtesy of Frog Hollow Farm.

In an effort to ensure they didn’t go bad, which is a problem I constantly face with pears even though I love the juicy fruit, I put some to use in a sorbet.

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My inspiration came from a scoop of pear sorbet I had enjoyed a little over a year ago in Paris on a brisk Autumn day. It wasn’t too sweet, but tasted exactly as I imagined a juicy, frozen pear would. (more…)

November 21, 2011

turkey dripping pear farrotto

About four years ago, my aunt offered to pack up the Thanksgiving turkey’s carcass in a trash bag for me to haul home to San Francisco. I crinkled my nose in response. Why would I take that nasty thing with me on the 4+ hour drive home, especially when my largest pot was no more than 4 quarts?

Last year, I hosted Thanksgiving in my tiny, one-bedroom apartment and had finally acquired a sizable stock pot. Entirely different story. The next morning, I broke down the carcass a little, and shoved it into the giant pot with some water, leftover onion ends and herbs to simmer for a few hours. After straining out all the odds and ends, I froze a third of the stock in ice cube trays for smaller uses and the rest in 2-cup tupperware for soups and other bulk uses.

The most awesome part? I had stock for months. And all because I threw some turkey bones and onion end pieces into a pot on a day that I otherwise spent watching movies, enjoying a roaring fire and playing games.

Even more awesome part? After using some of the turkey drippings for Turkey Day gravy, I froze the rest in cubes and used those as “stock starters” once I ran out out actual stock. Just dissolved a few frozen drippings cubes in hot water and magical flavor resulted.

The lesson I learned was to save and freeze (in reasonably small portions) all those seemingly yucky byproducts of turkey roasting. It saved me a ton of money and prep time for several months’ worth of future meals, and cost only minimal time to preserve the drippings and stock since I froze it all almost immediately. (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…)

December 16, 2010

pomegranate, persimmon, pear and goat cheese salad with orange-thyme vinaigrette

On those beautifully sunny winter days when it’s almost temperate outside, I long for the colorful, juicy produce of summer. In those moments, I often forget about the vibrant fruit available to spruce up winter salads, and I suspect others are guilty of making this same mistake.

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Tart pomegranate seeds and sweet pears bring some crunch to this salad, while the pulpy sweetness of persimmons is balanced by peppery arugula the creamy saltiness of goat cheese. Tossed with a sweet, slightly tangy and herby Orange-Thyme Vinaigrette, this salad showcases the best flavors and colors that winter has to offer and gives summer salads a run for their money.

(more…)

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