Wednesday, December 3, 2014

::gobble gobble::

this year thanksgiving involved a little more planning. i'd still do all the cooking, but dinner would take place at my mom's. i did my usual menu planning, food shopping, and kitchen prep lists (with a couple additional packing lists since i'd be transporting everything to connecticut).

the menu
* arugula hazelnut salad with fig balsamic
* cranberry sauce
* lemony green beans with almond breadcrumbs
* roasted brussels sprouts
* butter sautéed corn
* ultra fluffy mashed potatoes
* mom's sticky rice
* spatchcocked turkey with gravy
* snack: goat cheese stuffed dates wrapped in prosciutto
* drinks: southern tier pumking, martinelli's sparkling apple cider
* dessert: pumpkin milk chocolate pie with gingersnap crust
* take-home: mini pumpkin loaf & pumpkin caramel thumbprint cookies

with the menu in place, here's what the week looked like:
 - cranberry sauce
   (it's so easy i don't understand why anyone needs to buy the canned stuff. seriously, people)
 - almond breadcrumbs
 - toast hazelnuts
 - fig balsamic dressing
 - pumpkin caramel
   (needed to chill at least 4 hours before filling cookies)
 - milk chocolate pumpkin pie
 - thumbprint cookies
 - trim green beans and brussels sprouts
 - pack up kitchen
   (forgot to take a picture of the suitcase, duffle bag, and granny cart used to move everything)
 - drive to connecticut before the impending snow/rainstorm
 - mashed potatoes
   (left the milk out until thursday to heat up)
 - air dry turkey
 - chop aromatics for gravy and turkey
 - giblet gravy
 - defrost pumpkin loaves and corn

thoughts and takeaways:
  • i tried spatchcocking the turkey (instead of my usual upside-down roasting), and i have to admit i was a little underwhelmed. first, it was difficult to cut the backbone out and squish down the bird (even with kavin's help). then, it was hard to judge the doneness; i'm used to jiggling the leg and checking the juices, but with a flattened bird i was wary to jostle it. and finally, even though this technique is supposed to provide even cooking etc, i found that the white meat was a little dry while some of the meat closer to the bone was slightly undercooked :T i think i'll stick with my tried-and-true roasting method going forward.
  • green beans are boring.
  • more corn. always.

  • i really liked the arugula salad. the fig balsamic was the perfect balance of sweet and acidity. the parmesan added a nice saltiness, and the hazelnuts were toasty and provided crunch. i thought this was a beautifully composed (and simple) salad. bonus: i got to use my homemade fig jam from the end of summer!
  • cranberry sauce: make your own. for reals.
  • a gingersnap crust smells a lot like a graham cracker crust.
  • lists are your friend: excel spreadsheets, wunderlist, paper and pen. use any and all.

holiday meals are always a lot of work but also not. i'll take any excuse to make massive amounts of food ;) it's fun--and at times stressful--to get everything ready and see it all come together, but in the end it's really about spending time with people you love.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

pumpkin madness

it starts with halloween--picking the perfect pumpkin to carve, decorate, and display--then continues into thanksgiving with pumpkin pie spiced EVERYthing. this season i decided to embrace the bright orange squash and spread some pumpkin love.

ever since i was a little kid i would get at least one mini pumpkin each year. i'd pick the perfect palm-sized pumpkin and proudly display it until december. sometimes i'd draw a face on it, sometimes i'd leave it unadorned. this year i opted for the white variety instead of orange, and, inspired by pinterest, i went crafty with my mini pumpkins. meet my pumpkin panda and its two doughnut friends.
see the sugar pumpkin hiding behind the minis? well, it's hiding for good reason since it would soon be scooped out and roasted O.O i picked up this perfect pumpkin at schmitt farm on long island last month. we had some good times...
but with halloween over and thanksgiving in sight, it was time to turn this guy into some fall treats.

i started by scooping out the seeds and roasting them with a honey glaze. for half a cup of seeds, i mixed together two teaspoons of honey with one teaspoon of coconut oil (melted) and a pinch of salt. i roasted these on a lined sheet pan at 300F, and after thirty minutes you have a nice toasty sweet snack.

with the rest of the pumpkin i made tracy shutterbean's maple bourbon pumpkin butter. first i roasted the pumpkin for almost an hour. once it cooled the skin peeled away easily and i transferred the cooked pumpkin into a container to blend. smoooooth~ next it needed to cook on the stovetop with some maple syrup, brown sugar, spices, and a bit of lemon juice. that reduced for about thirty minutes and then it was time to add the bourbon. yessss! simmer a bit more and then we have homemade pumpkin butter. oh, and i even used homemade pumpkin pie spice cuz i'm fancy ;)

now, it wouldn't be a true pumpkin party if there isn't pumpkin bread of some sort, so i chose to make joy the baker's vegan pumpkin pecan bread. the bread has a great nuttiness and fragrant warm spices. i took an easier approach and used canned organic pumpkin (thank you, trader joe's). since this was a vegan recipe, there was no need to soften butter or crack any eggs--win win--just the basic dry ingredients, a bunch of spices and chopped pecans, oil, maple syrup, and some water. i divided the batter into a regular loaf pan and four mini loaves. i shared the large loaf and froze the mini ones for thanksgiving treats.

phew, that was a lot of pumpkin activity, but i'm on a roll, so what else should i make?? soup? pie? ice cream? milkshake? latte? oh, the possibilities!

... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ...
:: maple bourbon pumpkin butter ::
(recipe from shutterbean)

2 sugar pie pumpkins, cut in half & de-seeded
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
3/4 cup maple syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
pinch of kosher salt
juice of 1 lemon
3oz bourbon

preheat oven to 400F. place pumpkin cut side down on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for 50-60 minutes, or until pumpkins are thoroughly cooked. remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

scrape the cooked pumpkin from the skins and place in a blender. process for about 2-3 minutes, until pumpkin in velvety smooth. transfer puree to a large saucepan and add brown sugar, maple syrup, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice and a pinch of salt. stir to combine and finish with the juice of one lemon. heat pumpkin mixture over low heat for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. do not let any burn at the bottom of the pan. slowly add in the bourbon, and simmer for about 15-20 minutes. add additional maple syrup or lemon juice to taste, if needed.

let mixture cool and transfer to clean jars. pumpkin butter will last up to one month in the fridge and up to 3 months in the freezer.

:: pumpkin pie spice ::
(recipe from joy the baker)
makes about 2 tablespoons

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
big pinch of cardamom (or you can substitute mace)

blend all spices together, working out any lumps that might occur. store in an old spice jar.

:: vegan pumpkin pecan bread ::
(recipe from joy the baker)
makes two 8x4-inch loaves

3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 (15oz) can pumpkin puree
1 cup vegetable or canola oil
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1/3 cup water
1 cup chopped pecans
8 whole pecan halves, for garnish

place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350F degrees. grease and flour two 8x4x3-inch loaf pans and set aside.

in a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices. in a medium bowl, carefully whisk together pumpkin puree, oil, maple syrup, and water.

add the oil mixture all at once to the flour mixture. use a spatula to fold the ingredients together. make sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl well, finding any stray bits of flour and sugar that might have been left behind. fold in the chopped pecans.

divide the batter between the prepared pans and arrange 4 whole pecan halves on the top of each loaf.

bake for 1 hour or 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center of each loaf comes out clean. remove from the oven. (NOTE: i pulled my loaves at around 45 minutes, given the variation in pan size.) let rest in the pans for 20 minutes, then invert onto a cooling rack.

serve brad warm, in thick slices. loaves can be wrapped and kept at room temperature for up to 5 days. these loaves also freeze well and can be left at room temperature to thaw and enjoy.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

a fancy cake for a fancy lady

my mom is the best. she is loving, supportive, fun and kooky, fearless, and full of life. she's been kindly dubbed "diva" at work, and that's a credit to both her style and presence; respect is earned, and she has more than earned it.

being the world traveler that she is, this year my mom celebrated her birthday with a cruise to the caribbean, so a belated birthday celebration was needed once she got back to dry land ;)

kavin, abby, and i headed up to connecticut armed with malaysian food (enough for lunch, dinner, and leftovers) and a homemade birthday cake (enough to feed 12 plus)--apparently we like to go big with food.

i chose to make san francisco bakery tartine's passion fruit and lime bavarian chiffon cake. this was the perfect cake for my mom: light and not too sweet, tart and bright from the lime and passion fruit, and all layered with a hint of fancy. there were multiple components to this cake and took a couple days to make (had to set overnight before frosting), which led to a beautifully airy and elegant cake for an equally beautiful person <3

happy birthday, mom! i love you!
... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ...
:: passion fruit and lime bavarian chiffon cake ::
(recipe from tartine)
makes one 10-inch cake; 12 to 16 servings

chiffon cake
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
6 large egg yolks
3/4 cup water
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
10 large egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

preheat the oven to 325F. line the bottom of a 10-inch springform pan with parchment paper cut to fit exactly. do not grease the sides of the pan.

sift together the flour and baking powder into a large mixing bowl. add 1 1/4 cups of the sugar and the salt and whisk to combine. in a small bowl, whisk together the oil, egg yolks, water, vanilla, and lemon zest. make a well in the flour, add the yolk mixture, and then whisk thoroughly and quickly for about 1 minute until very smooth.

place the egg whites in a large mixing bowl. using a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat on medium speed until frothy. add the cream of tartar and beat on medium-high speed until the whites hold soft peaks. slowly add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and beat on medium-high speed until the whites hold firm, shiny peaks. using a rubber spatula, scoop about one-third of the whites onto the yolk mixture and fold in gently to lighten the batter. gently fold in the remaining whites just until combined.

pour the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top with an offset spatula if necessary. bake until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 45-55 minutes. let cool in the pan (the sides of the pan will help hold the structure of the cake as it cools) on a wire rack.

to unmold, run a small, thin knife around the sides of the pan to loosen the cake and then release and lift off the pan sides. invert the cake, peel off the parchment, and cool completely. the cake will keep, well wrapped, in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month. 

when ready to assemble, split the cake into 4 layers. you will only need 3 layers for this recipe. reserve the extra layer for another use.

lime syrup
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water 
grated zest of 2 limes 
1/3 cup lime juice

combine the sugar and water in a small, heavy saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring with a wooden spoon. when the sugar has dissolved, remove from the heat and chill until cool, about 30 minutes. whisk the lime zest and juice into the syrup.

passion fruit bavarian cream
2/3 cup passion fruit pulp, frozen or fresh (about 12 fruits)* 
2 large egg yolks 
1/3 cup sugar 
pinch of salt 
1-1/2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin 
2 tablespoons water 
1-1/2 cups heavy cream, very cold

* i didn't quite have enough passion fruit so i supplemented with some freshly squeezed orange juice--worked just fine.

pass the passion fruit pulp through a fine-mesh sieve placed over a small bowl and discard seeds.  

in a large bowl, prepare an ice bath of both ice and water. in a medium saucepan, bring about 2-inches of water to a simmer. combine the egg yolks, sugar, passion fruit, and salt in a stainless steel bowl that will rest securely in the saucepan, making sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. whisk together and then place over the saucepan and continue to whisk until the yolks are hot to the touch (120F), about 7 minutes. this is the bombe.

meanwhile, sprinkle the gelatin over water in a small dish and let stand for a few minutes to soften. when the bombe is ready, add the gelatin and whisk well to dissolve. remove the bowl from the hot water and nest the  bowl in the ice bath just until slightly cool to the touch, whisking to cool the mixture evenly.

in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the cream until it holds medium-stiff peaks. scoop about one-third of the cream into the bombe. gently fold in the remaining whipped cream with a rubber spatula.

line the sides of the springform pan with plastic wrap, allowing enough overhang to cover the top of the cake completely when it is assembled. leave the bottom of the pan unlined.

fit one cake layer into the bottom of the pan. using a pastry brush, moisten the later with one-third of the lime syrup. working quickly, pour half of the mixture onto the first layer of cake.

top with the second layer, being careful as the filling is very liquid. brush this layer with half of the remaining lime syrup and then immediately pour the remaining Bavarian cream over it.

carefully top with the last layer and moisten it with the remaining syrup. fold the overhanging plastic wrap over the top of the cake, covering completely, and refrigerate overnight.

when you are ready to finish the cake, release and lift off the pan sides and peel away the plastic wrap. using a wide metal spatula, transfer the cake to a serving plate, if using, or leave it on the cake pan base.

1-1/2 cups heavy cream, very cold 
3 tablespoons sugar 
1 cup unsweetened large-flake dried coconut (*i left this off)

using a whisk or stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the heavy cream and sugar until  until the cream holds medium peaks. using an offset spatula, frost the top and sides of the cake with the whipped cream, and then sprinkle the top and sides with coconut.

return the cake to the refrigerator for about 2 hours before serving to allow the coconut flakes to absorb the moisture from the cream and soften.

serve the cake cold. it will keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

apple pie biscuits

what better way to kick off some fall baking than with joy the baker's baking bootcamp challenge. last time's bootcamp recipe was triple berry cinnamon swirl bread; this time is apple pie biscuits. i'm sensing a trend--seasonal fruit and cinnamon baked in bready goodness.

i started by cooking the apples with the butter, cinnamon, and sugar. after just a few minutes the apples smelled wonderfully sweet and warm (aack, am i starting to like warm fruit??).

while the apples cooled i made the biscuit dough with a couple modifications: first i made self-rising flour with all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt; second i mocked up a buttermilk substitution using whole milk and kefir. smooshing the butter into the flour was slightly messy but in the best most satisfying way, and the rest of the dough came together really easily. i dusted and rolled the ball of dough and prepared it to be filled with the cooled apples. flouring the rolling pin and surface was key, but i was still careful not to add too much flour so the dough wouldn't get tough. once i had rolled out a large rectangle, i poured the apples onto half of the dough, carefully folded over the other half, and sealed in the apples. the next step had me a little worried--cutting up the biscuits (and keeping the contents from spewing out). luckily, with a last light smoosh, the biscuits cut cleanly and only a couple tiny pieces of apple escaped. a quick egg wash, sprinkle of cinnamon sugar and salt, and into the oven.

the biscuits baked to a golden brown with a pretty sugar crust. i would have preferred a flakier, lighter biscuit, and i think my buttermilk substitution may have been the culprit. minor texture complaint aside (most likely fixable with proper buttermilk), the biscuits were a definite shout-out to apple pie and are totally high-fiving fall.

p.s. i submitted my picture on instagram @neeppeechy (#bakingbootcamp) so fingers crossed that i win!

... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ...
:: apple pie biscuits ::
(recipe from joy the baker)

for the apples:
1 fuji apple, peeled, cored and sliced very thin
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar

for the biscuits:
2 cups self-rising flour
1/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2/3 to 3/4 cup cold buttermilk

for the topping:
1 large egg, beaten
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of salt

1. place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 425F. line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

2. to make the apples, place butter in a medium skilled over medium heat to melt. add the apples, cinnamon, and brown sugar. toss with a wooden spoon until all of the apples are coated and the sugar is melted over the apples, about 2 to 4 minutes. the mixture will be warm and glossy, but the apples won't be cooked through. remove from the heat and set aside.

3. to make the biscuit dough, place flour in a medium bowl and add cold butter cubes. use your fingers to quickly break the butter down into the flour. some of the butter bits will be the size of oats, some the size of small peas. stir in the granulated sugar.

4. create a well in the center of the butter and flour mixture and add 2/3 cup buttermilk. stir the mixture together until it is well moistened and holds together well. biscuit dough should be soft and moist. add the remaining buttermilk as needed. if you're using your own homemade self-rising flour or gluten-free self-rising flour, you'll want to add the full 3/4 cup of buttermilk.

5. use all-purpose flour to generously dust a clear work surface. spoon dough onto the floured surface and use your hands to gather it into a ball and gently pat it into a small rectangle. if you're using gluten-free self-rising flour, the dough will crack a bit as you shape it into a rectangle, and again as you fold it over the apples. that's ok; just keep patting it back together.

6. use a rolling pin to gently roll the dough into a rectangle 1/2-inch thick, about 7-inches x 10-inches. arrange cooled apples in a single layer over half of the rolled out biscuit dough. fold the bare side of the dough over the apples and gently press the edges to seal in the apples. use the palms of your hand to pat the dough into a 6 x 8-inch rectangle if the edges are looking a bit rounded.

7. use a sharp knife to slice the dough into 12 squares. use a spatula to place each biscuit onto the prepared baking sheet, about 2-inches apart.

8. in a small bowl, whisk together sugar for topping, cinnamon, and salt.

9. brush each biscuit top with beaten egg and sprinkle generously with the cinnamon sugar mixture.

10. bake for 12 to 14 minutes until the biscuits are risen and golden brown. remove from the oven and serve warm or cool completely before storing in an airtight container. biscuits are best enjoyed within two days of baking.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

it's fall!!!

i closed out the summer with berry smoothies, a batch of asian-flavored popsicles [red bean and vietnamese coffee], and some quick bites that didn't involve the stove or oven [tuna salad on english cucumber slices and early-season figs with goat cheese on mini brioche toasts].
heat is not our friend when it's 90 degrees out and humid, but now that the (in)famous pumpkin spice latte is back it's time to embrace the shift in seasons and reconnect in the kitchen.

i've actually never had a pumpkin spice latte--or ANY seasonal starbucks stuff for that matter--but that's not to say i don't enjoy seeing all the pumpkin and pumpkin-spiced things filling up the shelves and popping up on websites. i like the images they evoke: golden hued leaves and fallen acorns, bundling up and getting cozy on the couch, sipping cups of tea or apple cider or maybe a hot toddy ;)

fall baking provides comfort rather than guilt (bye bye, swimsuit season!). i'm excited to go through my collection of recipes and play with all the flavors of the season: pumpkin, apples, nuts and spices, maple~ and i can't forget the savory side of fall which means lots of root vegetables and lots of roasting. so put away the ice cream maker and bring out the dutch oven!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

big news and bbq

sorry for the lack of updates, but july was a total whirlwind of events: bling, brides, babies, and bareilles.

after a fairly mellow 4th of july, i went up to montreal with sean for what i thought was some low-key hang time. little did i know i was in for a BIG surprise. after a couple days of chilling in the apartment, we planned a day trip to mont-tremblant (during the summer the ski slopes give way to some pretty good hiking trails). we couldn't have asked for a nicer day, sun shining and puffy white clouds in the blue, blue sky. we took the gondola up to the summit and chose an easy trail for our hike. i, of course, stopped way too many times along the way to take pictures of nature. i mean, how can i resist all those wildflowers? AND mini wild strawberries, butterflies, mossy trees, and amazing views! (i also couldn't help making mini bouquets out of the wildflowers--foreshadowing?)

we took a couple small breaks for snacks and water, and on our last one sean completely surprised me by PROPOSING! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHH!!! the whole thing is still kind of a blur but in the best way~ seriously, best. hike. ever. :)
that evening we celebrated with a nice dinner at le grain de sel:
* a glass of rosé for me, a glass of red for sean
* assorted spreads and toppings for bread
* amuse of onion confit crostini
* watercress salad with radishes and baby turnips
* mushroom ravioli
* beef tartare with housemade slaw and chips
* dessert: paris brest

we didn't have much time to keep the celebrating to ourselves since the next three weekends were booked solid with two weddings, a baby shower, and the sara bareilles concert.

[12 july] first up was tim and stacey's mountaintop, fancy farm-style wedding in massachusetts: major happy tears during the ceremony AND speeches, panorama photo fun, bbq, and bonfires. th116 + llc = <3
[19 july] the following saturday was vida's baby shower in white plains. it was a beautifully planned party with adorable decorations that showcased the pastel circus theme. and let's not forget all the cute babies in attendance; i finally got to meet little dylan!
[20 july] that sunday started with boozy brunch with the ladies of book club (minus the book) at macondo in the lower east side: unlimited mimosas, guacamole, huevos rancheros, and crema de panela. later that evening jade and i went to the sara bareilles concert. this was part of her little black dress tour, and WOW can she put on a show! i had no idea what a great live performer she is. totally worth riding a super slow F train back to brooklyn at midnight.

[27 july] the last weekend of this jam-packed july was dean and rachel's wedding in maine: an outdoor ceremony overlooking a lake, brunch cocktails, huge rainstorm just as we went inside for the reception (talk about good timing!), and lots of parental boogying.

heading into august and the final weeks of summer, we still had/have a few opportunities to celebrate our engagement. sean made a quick visit the first weekend, and we planned a dinner with both our families...a peecharelli dinner, if you will. since we'd all be coming from different locations, we decided to do dinner in the city and picked crispo in the west village. they set us up with our own dining alcove which kept things more intimate and let abby have her own corner to play--totally great. bottles of wine, apps to share (pass the arancini, please!), pastas, veal, seafood, desserts...YUM! not to mention wonderful company. a good time had by all (i hope :P)
the next weekend was my mom's annual bbq! as with every year, she takes care of the meats (chicken satay and korean short ribs) while i focus on side dishes and desserts. this year i chose to do:
* israeli couscous with scallions, sugar snaps, persian cucumbers, and feta
* chopped spinach and strawberry salad with romaine, celery, sugar snaps, bacon (just a little), toasted pecans, and goat cheese
* balsamic marinated grilled zucchini
* ricotta crostini
  - grilled corn and zucchini ribbons
  - basil pesto and baby heirloom tomatoes
* sweet and spicy pork and pineapple kebabs (a total hit!)

i knew leslie would be bringing a cake, so i kept the desserts basic:
* lemon bars (two batches)
* peanut butter rice krispies
* "brookies" (brownie + chocolate chip cookie mash up inspired by baked's brookster)
even though sean wasn't able to join us, there were lots of congratulations and wedding talk all around and even a cake shout out!
the whole day was wonderful. the weather was ideal for barbecuing--sunny but cool--kavin manned the grill and i the kitchen, both with the help of our aunt.
there was an abundance of delicious food: betty brought a thousand bags of assorted chips; aurora brought the hot dogs; auntie nid brought some authentic pad thai; ellen carved her intricate fruit bowl. all this food meant all day eating...and what we couldn't finish were leftovers for the rest of the week, hah. i think we made a pretty sizable dent and only had a light selection of leftovers. two things that weren't left, though, were the pork and pineapple kebabs and the brookies. both were new recipes from serious eats (clearly my favorite recipe source) and did not disappoint. the kebabs were incredibly flavorful, seasoned with an excellent spice rub and slathered with a sweet and spicy glaze, and the pairing of grilled pineapple brought out a caramel, smokey flavor. mmm mmm. as for the brookies, how could you go wrong with baking a chocolate chip cookie into a brownie? come on! double whammy of baked goodness. you better believe i'm making these again; same goes for the kebabs, but those might have to wait 'til the next barbecue seeing as i'd need a grill... so for now i'll just focus on the sweets ;)
... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ...
:: sweet and spicy pork and pineapple kebabs ::
(recipe from serious eats)
serves 4-6

NOTE: i doubled this for the bbq but probably could have at least tripled. kavin did the grilling, and he mentioned the first few were in too much direct heat which caused them to char, so keep an eye out on the grill heat.

for the brined pork chops:
2 quarts ice cold water
1/3 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup sugar
2 pounds (1 1/2-inch thick) center-cut pork chops

for the rub:
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (*i subbed fresh minced garlic)
1/2 teaspoon onion powder (*i didn't have any but seemed fine without)
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

for the glaze:
1/2 cup apricot preserves
1/4 cup honey
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon finely chopped chipotle chiles in adobo

1/2 pineapple, peeled, cored, and cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
wooden skewers, soaked in water for at least 30 minutes prior to use

for the brined pork chops: in a large bowl, whisk together water, salt, and sugar until solids are dissolved. place pork chops in brine and refrigerate for 30-60 minutes.

for the rub: in a small bowl, mix together paprika, salt, black pepper, sugar, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and cumin. set aside.

to make the glaze: in a small saucepan, whisk together apricot preserves, honey, mustard, soy sauce, vinegar, and chipotle chiles. bring to a boil over medium-high heat. reduce heat to low and simmer until slightly thickened, 5-10 minutes. remove from heat and set aside.

remove pork chops from brine and pat dry with paper towels. cut pork into 1 1/2-inch cubes, trimming any large pieces of excess fat. coat pork cubes liberally with spice rub.

thread pork onto skewers, alternating with pineapple cubes. (*i would suggest having the tip of the skewer be pork since it'll be closer to the heat.)

grill skewers over direct heat until pork is well seared on all sides, about 3 minutes per side. move skewers to cool side of grill and brush with glaze all over. cover grill and continue to cook until center of pork registers 140-145°F on an instant-read thermometer, about 5 minutes longer. transfer skewers to a serving tray and let rest for 5 minutes. serve immediately.

:: brookies ::
(recipe from serious eats)
makes about 2 dozen mini muffin sized cookies

for chocolate chip cookies
1 cup plus two tablespoons all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1/2 cup chocolate chips

for brownies
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350F. butter and flour muffin tin.

make cookie dough: in a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. set aside.

in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together butter, sugar, and brown sugar until fluffy, about 4 minutes. beat in vanilla and egg. beat in dry ingredients until just combined. stir in chocolate chips. cover bowl with plastic wrap and place in the fridge while you make the brownie batter.

make brownie batter: melt butter and chocolate and let cool slightly.

in a medium bowl, combine melted butter mixture and sugar and whisk to combine. whisk in egg, followed by flour and salt.

to assemble: drop brownie batter by the about 1/2 teaspoon into the mini muffin tin.

top each with a teaspoon of chocolate chip dough (you might have some left over).

place tin in oven and bake at 350F until cookies are golden, about 15 minutes. let cool and remove from tin.