Barcelona. I started missing this city while I still wandered its meandering, cobbled brick streets; while I sipped Mediterranean sun and mercurial skies.
Barcelona has vibe. Look at these Barcelonins moving a mattress along a slim, city sidewalk…no hands, son.
This city has soul, swagger, secrets.
Buildings, ecstatic with structure, lure daylight to their cores.
Perceptions shimmer and shift.
Barcelona bustles, roars and honks then becomes incredibly quiet during siesta hours. You gotta rest up for that late night dinner and many, many plates of tapas and glasses of cava.
Textures, cultures, histories and languages meet and mix here.
I’ll be oinking about Barcelona this week…maybe next week too. And I’ll be back to posting here more often. I’ve got a lot to say about Barcelona and traveling and life which is good because this slice of cyberspace has been kinda quiet lately.
Sometimes I think being quiet helps me hear through the clatter of clutter and a muttering mind. Or maybe quiet lets me hear the beauty of that clinking symphony; music in murmurs.
Travel does that for me too. I see another little slice of the world persistently happening.
Life keeps on. Life there, here and all over this planet has been happening and will keep on happening well beyond my momentary visits to cities and treks to different countries.
I am a visitor in this world.
I am a visitor in this body.
I say…let’s put some miles on our vehicles while we still fire to life.
Oink. Jazz hands. And pass it on!
p.s. the photos in this post link to the locations where I took them. Click away.
Summary: Simply sweet chunky peanut butter cookies with milk chocolate chunks and the soft crystal-crunch of fresh vanilla sugar.
for the Vanilla Sugar:
1/4 cup sugar
1 piece of fresh vanilla bean *approximately 2 inches long
for the cookies:
1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup chunky peanut butter
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup golden brown sugar
1/3 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup chopped milk chocolate
for the Vanilla Sugar:
Pour 1/4 cup sugar in a small bowl.
Split the vanilla bean pod in half and scrape the beans from each half into the sugar using a small paring knife.
Mix sugar and fresh vanilla beans togther well with a small spoon or small fork. *Fresh vanilla beans are sticky and will clump a bit. Keep mixing and pressing the clumps with the back of the spoon or fork. The beans will separate as they begin to stick to the sugar crystals.
for the Peanut Butter Milk Chocolate Chunk Cookies:
Preheat ove to 350 degrees.
Line a large baking sheet with parchment or a silpat sheet.
In a large bowl whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt together and set aside.
In a large bowl blend the butter, peanut butter, vanilla extract, brown sugar and 1/3 cup sugar together until creamy and lightened.
Add the egg and blend briefly to incorporate well.
Fold the wet ingredients (butter, peanut butter, vanilla, etc…) into the dry ingredients (flour, soda, powder, salt) until just blended.
Add chopped chocolate and fold briefly to distribute well.
Scoop cookie dough and roll each scoop lightly and briefly between your palms to form a ball. *About 1 1/2 Tablespoons per scoop. **If the dough is too sticky to handle easily then chill it in fridge for 15-25 minutes then roll on.
Roll each dough ball in vanilla sugar.
Bake 12 minutes or until edges are golden brown, centers will be soft and will set a bit more while cooling.
Cool on rack for 10 minutes or so.
Enjoy warm with a cold glass of milk.
*Cookies can be stored in airtight container for 3-4 days. Reheat briefly in microwave or enjoy at room temp.
*Dough balls can be frozen and baked later. Allow a few extra minutes for baking from frozen dough.
Making Spiced Roasted Chickpeas is super easy…which seems fair considering all the time we spent soaking, cooking and peeling garbanzo beans.
Little glass llamas covet their salty crunch.
Spiced Roasted Chickpeas may be the best snack I’ve made to date. They’re surprisingly hearty, slightly crunchy, salty, garlicky and altogether addictive. This snack is consumable by the pawful.
Plus you can customize the spice mix and roast your goregeous, pale gold love notes in whatever spicey concoction woos you. Be altruistic and go for the simple poem of salt, white pepper, grapeseed oil. Or get all garlic powder and garam masala like I did.
Any way you spice them these perfectly peeled, oven roasted chickpeas are good snacking material. And Spiced Roasted Chickpeas can be that little something extra for the right dish. This weekend I’m pairing them with a simple carrot soup. They would totally work alongside some hummus, of course.
I’ll see you soon with additional chickpea peeling tips and some supremely sumptuous hummus. Until then…snack on, oinking party people!
I’ve been seeing recipes and write ups about the superior smoothness of hummus made with peeled chickpeas. I’m down with some somewhat laborious food prep. I’ve happily spent an afternoon getting poetic about peeling lemons for limoncello. And I don’t mind segmenting grapefruits into hot little cinnamon love notes.
I’m a city chick now and have been for decades. But I am still, in some small corner of my heart, a little kid with long braids who grew up wild on country land. We sowed, watered, weeded and picked the vegetables we ate in a hand-raked, half acre garden.
I shelled peas, shucked corn and looked at land, land, land with the heat of summer sun sunk deep into my shoulders. There were no buildings, no roads, no other people in view.
I think that’s part of why I like time-consuming food prep: it brings the phantom heat of a simple summer sun to my skin again. I see a lost view.
Turns out that peeling chickpeas is not as garbanzos as you might expect though it definitely takes some time. I started with dried chickpeas, soaked them overnight then let them simmer until tender.
One sixteen ounce bag of dried chickpeas (soaked, drained, simmered and peeled) yielded 5 cups of little, pale gold, love notes. Those five cups of peeled chickpeas yielded a party-size portion of super silky hummus and several batches of spiced, roasted chickpea experiments.
It took me one hour to peel them and I was not trying to be all zippy about it. Most of the chickpeas popped from their husks easily when pinched lightly. A few were slightly stubborn. I watched The Colbert Report and peeled away. Maybe I’ll name a sumptuous hummus after Steven. I’m gonna have to work on a witty name for that.
I’d definitely invest the time to peel chickpeas by hand again. If you’re daunted by that idea…please note that 5 cups of peeled chickpeas is a whole lotta chickpeas. You’ll only need about 1 1/2 to 2 cups to make a sizable amount of hummus.
I’ve found some alternate methods that sound much speedier. I’ll try them and then tell you about it.
Canned chickpeas are already cooked and still have their husks. They too can be peeled if you don’t mind a little extra work. Chickpeas husks are edible and don’t affect the flavor so much as they do the texture of your finished garbanzo bean project. Peeled chickpeas are buttery and smooth. Even their pale gold color becomes more vibrant when the peas are freed from the milky haze of husks.
I think this sort of food prep is my Zen activity. If some extra food prep sounds good to you then I hope you enjoy a little musing moment and love the silken results. Happy unhusking to you, my fellow food prepping fiend/friend!
p.s. Chickpea recipes (including Supremely Sumptuous Hummus) are forthcoming. See you back here soon! – fat pig
Summary: How to soak, cook and peel chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, for super silky results and a side of food prep Zen.
one 16 ounce bag of dried chickpeas (also known as Garbanzo Beans)
Pour the dried chickpeas into a large bowl and remove any stones.
Rinse chickpeas under cold water a few times.
Pour chickpeas into a large bowl, preferably glass or plastic.
Add enough cool water to completely cover the chickpeas: approximately 10 cups. They will swell as they soak so use at least 9 cups…and some extra won’t hurt a thing.
Cover and let soak overnight.
Drain the chickpeas from the water they’ve soaked in overnight.
Rinse them under cool running water briefly.
Pour chickpeas into a large heavy bottomed pot.
Add enough water to cover the chickpeas well: approximately 9-10 cups.
Bring water to slow boil then reduce to simmer.
Simmer chickpeas over low-medium heat for approximately 60-90 minutes until they reach desired tenderness. *For hummus you want very tender chickpeas. If you plan to roast or saute your garbanzos you may want them firmer. Adjust the timing to suit your use and preference.
Add water if the level gets below the beans during simmering. They should be covered by water while cooking.
Drain the chickpeas. Rinse under cool water and drain. Allow to cool. *Optional: save a cup or so of the water the chickpeas cooked in and use it in place of water or stock in your final recipe.
Pinch each chickpea between your thumb and two forefingers. The bean should pop easily from the husk. If you run into a stubborn husk then try gently rubbing the chickpea between your fingers till you feel the husk loosen a bit then pop the bean free.
Think good thoughts about the gorgeously golden chickpeas you are preparing and get ready for some super silky hummus!
Preparation time: 6 hours or overnight to soak; 1 hour to peel
Cooking time: 1-1 1/2 hours
Number of servings (yield): 5 cups of cooked, peeled chickpeas aka garbanzo beans
“Do tell,” mumbles Wilhelmina, my invisible, photo assistant. Sometimes it’s hard to tell if Wilhelmina just shows up for the coffee breaks and edible props. Like right now…she’s eyeballing the Apple Crumble Muffins on the counter. I think she’s breaking off morsels of muffin from the sides that she thinks are gonna face away from camera. I’d totally consider canning her but I kinda dig her surly nature.
Me: Taking photos makes me really look at the world. I get struck by the simple awesomeness of objects and light; how they define each other. They sing and dance, murmur and shout.
“Deep,” says Wilhelmina. I totally hear the eyeroll.
Anyway…Wilhelmina is going to tidbit these comforting Apple Crumble Muffins into nonexistence if we don’t get to them quickly.
This recipe will yield a dozen subtly sweet, supremely light Apple Crumble Muffins. Vietnamese cinnamon and golden brown sugar bring spark and smolder into the topping. I’m a big fan of Vietnamese cinnamon because it has a strong, unmuddled flavor. Substitute regular cinnamon if you don’t have the Vietnamese variety and amp up the amount a bit to compensate.
Whatever you do…claim your Apple Crumble Muffins before they disappear like Wilhelmina does when it’s time to do the dishes.
Have two and call it a double-good morning…or afternoon or late night snack. Enjoy!
1 cup peeled and finely chopped apple *I used a Cameo apple
to make the topping:
Whisk together the dry topping ingredients (flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt) in a small bowl with a fork.
Add the softened butter and mix with the fork until well mixed. You should have little balls of butter and spice. *I start mixing with a fork and then finish with my fingertips…helps with the crumble forming.
Put the topping in the freezer to set while you prep the muffin batter. *It will be easy to get the topping into small crumbly clumps after it chills a bit.
to make the muffins:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Line a muffin tray with paper liners.
Cream the butter and brown sugar together until fluffy in a medium bowl using a mixer on high speed.
Add the eggs and vanilla and beat briefly to blend well.
Add the yogurt and honey and blend briefly.
In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.
Gently fold the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder ans such) into the wet ingredients (butter, eggs and such) until just combined.
Add apple and fold a few times to distribute.
Fill paper-lined muffin tray with batter.
Top each muffin with plenty of crumble topping. The topping makes good crumbly crumbs when you rub it between your fingers after it has chilled in the freezer for a bit.
Bake for 19-21 minutes at 375 degrees until a cake tester comes out clean. Muffins will be golden brown at the edges.
Allow to cool on a rack for 10 minutes.
*Apple Crumble Muffins can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for a few days. They reheat well when cut in half and warmed in a 350 degree oven for 4-5 minutes.
But as this new year starts up a little piece of my heart stays fast with 2013. A place I love, Mon Hei Bakery, didn’t make it into 2014 with us. On Christmas Eve the long-abandoned top floor of 665 South King Street caught fire and burned through the night.
I love the vibe Mon Hei had. Old guys commandeered the little back tables and seemed to always be chilling, chatting and chewing. The digital doorbell would ding dong as customers entered. Sometimes people set off inadvertent doorbell symphonies as they perused the bakery cases…lost in looking and longing, pacing over the entry mat near the door.
I adored the simple layer cake neon in their window though I struggled to nab a reflection-free photo of it.
The stacks of pink boxes waiting…love.
Come back, Mon Hei! The International District needs you and that’s not just the donut lover in me crying out to you. Small, excellent businesses are the heartbeat of neighborhoods.
The first time I tried a Chinese donut from Mon Hei I went home and researched the history of Chinese baking because if that’s your version of donut then I’m in all the way. In, son.
Dear Mon Hei…people walk by your storefront daily and pause to peer at your place. We wait.
Here’s my wish for 2014…that this neighborhood bakery will return to The International District of Seattle along with the other businesses and offices that were ousted by flames, water, time.
Come back, Mon Hei Bakery. Come back to the *ID.
We wait. Hearts beating. Build back.
I will be there to greet you with oinking arms and thumping heart.
xo – fatpiginthemarket
*ID: International District: a Seattle neighborhood, cultural and commercial center for Seattle’s Asian American and Pacific Islander communities
These are the vessel versions of Parmesan Crisps made with Parmigiano Reggiano, a big chief amongst cheeses. They’re elegant appetizers that are awesomely easy to make especially if you set up a proper prep space.
You need heaps of finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano, a lined baking sheet, metal ring molds (optional…you can always freehand it) and a mini muffin tin. *I used 3-inch diameter molds.
That orange, square waffle is a rubber trivet. When I take the melted Parmigiano Reggiano circles out of the oven I’ll set it on that orange waffle trivet. That way I’ll be smack next to the mini muffin pan which is where I want to be. Just-melted circles of cheese cool quickly so you want to lift them from the baking tray and gently form them into cups fast. Fast!
Now…please prepare yourself for a weird photo of my hand demonstrating the magical thumb-poke method that transforms a melted wafer of cheese into a cheese cup.
I usually form four to five cups before the cheese is too cool to wrangle.
Bake small batches or sucker someone into helping with that final cup-creating step. And if you don’t get a melted cheese circle poked into cup form in time…no biggie…consider it a snacking cracker. Or serve your Parmigiano Reggiano as crisps and as cups.
I like to fill Parmigiano Reggiano Cups with a dollop of super silky Goat Cheese Mousse.
And then layer a bright burst of Salmon Tartare on top that feather-light Goat Cheese Mousse.
The silkiness of the mousse alongside creamy Salmon Tartare gets set off by the crispy crunch of big-chief Parmigiano Reggiano. It’s a texture, taste bonanza in one bite.
Summary: Crisp Parmigiano Reggiano cheese cups filled with feather-light goat cheese mousse and topped with bright salmon tartare. Elegant, easy-to-make appetizer.
for the Parmigiano Reggiano cups:
1/4 pound of Parmigiano Reggiano, finely grated. *I use a microplane
for the Goat Cheese Mousse:
4 ounces of plain goat cheese
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
for the Salmon Tartare:
4 ounces of supremely fresh salmon, chopped *sushi grade if you can get it
1/4 cup peeled, seeded and minced cucumber
2 teaspoons finely chopped, fresh mint leaves
1 teaspoon seeded and minced jalapeno
1 1/2 teaspoons minced shallot
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
pinch of kosher salt
black pepper to taste
for the Parmigiano Reggiano Cups:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Line a baking sheet with a silpat or parchment paper.
Set ring molds (optional) on lined baking sheet.
Fill each ring mold with 2 Tablespoons of finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano and spread gently, using the back of your spoon, so that the cheese fills the circles. Or freehand it! *I use 3 inch diameter rings.
Remove rings if you’re using them.
Bake for 7 minutes.
Immediately lift the cheese circles (one at a time) from the baking sheet with a spatula and drape the melty cheese circle into a muffin space in your mini muffin tin. Quickly and gently push your thumb into the cheese circle to form a cup. Then keep it moving (!!!) and lift, drape, poke the next wafer. *Or use upended shot glasses and quickly drape and shape each wafer on top of a glass to form the cheese into a cup…if you don’t have a mini muffin tin. Move fast!
Allow to cool for a few minutes. They will be set and crisp. *And fragile so handle with care.
for the Goat Cheese Mousse:
Whip the goat cheese and heavy cream together until creamy and light.
for the Salmon Tartare:
Chop the salmon into small pieces and place in a medium bowl.
Add all the other ingredients and toss lightly with the salmon till evenly distributed.
to assemble the final, awesome appetizer:
Fill each cheese cup with a dollop of goat cheese mousse. *You can use a piping bag if you like. I prefer the dollop.
Layer a spoonful of salmon tartare on top the goat cheese mousse.
*Note: sometimes I end up with a cheese cup that tilts a bit too much when filled. You can use a tiny dab of the goat cheese mousse on the plate and then put the cup on top. It’ll hold it…plus it’s edible. Or use small glasses or sake cups to serve the tilty ones.
Warning: if you make these Parmesan Cheese Crisps while alone in a toasty kitchen on a chilly, winter afternoon you might wind up hovering by the oven amped about the next batch. And then you might eat that whole batch just like you scarfed down the first batch.
Lacey wafers of parmesan are auditioning to become your next quick, impressive appetizer. Wallow in this delicate crunch.
These ridiculously crispy circles of melted parmesan can be festooned with sesame seeds, spattered with sweet paprika, strewn with whatnot. Make a variety and you’ll have some easy, fast and festive party snacks.
But trust that the purist version of Parmesan Cheese Crisps (sans toppings) is just as fantastic as the decorated version.
Making Parmesan Cheese Crisps is very simple. The best advice I have for keeping the process enjoyable and easy is this: set up a proper prep space.
Cheese: grated. Baking sheet lined with silpat. Ring molds if you have them. Wire rack for cooling. Optional toppings ready.
*The mini muffin pan in this picture is foreshadowing our next cheesy appetizer project where we will magically turn round wafers of parmesan into demure cups…and then we will fill them with sinful clouds of mousses and such. You don’t need a mini muffin tray in your prep line up for making Parmesan Cheese Crisps.
Grate the parmesan cheese finely. I used a microplaner.
Drop a heaping Tablespoon of grated parmesan into a metal ring set on a silpat sheet. If you don’t have metal ring molds don’t stress…go freehand. And if you don’t have a silpat then line your baking sheet with parchment paper. Works. I tried it for ya. The silpat is just a bit easier to deal with when you start sliding the baked crisps off the sheet.
Gently use the back of the Tablespoon to spread the grated cheese out a bit. Be a purist and let the parmesan have the stage to itself or lightly sprinkle each round with paprika, sesame seeds, black sesame seeds or whatever seeds/spices/herbs call to you.
Bake till the rounds are golden brown. Keep an eye on them toward the end of the baking time. These crisps can go from perfection to unfortunately burnt very quickly.
In mere minutes the Parmesan Cheese Crisps will be cool enough to serve or to shovel into your mouthzone with wild abandon.
See you soon when we will employ the esteemed thumb-poke to create Parmesan Cups.
Or I will help myself to your Parmesan Cheese Cup allotment. Forewarned: you are.
p.s. You can find that excellent cheese board featured in these photos online. Here’s a link: Noble Goods. Use the code GIFTY to get a merry 20 percent discount. The discount is on till then end of 2013. Boom! I’m friends with these people. They’re good peeps AND they make beautiful objects.
Enjoy their very Noble Goods. Straight outta Brooklyn, boss!
Summary: Crisp, delicate wafers of parmesan cheese with and without festive toppings. Excellent party appetizer. Party portion recipe…small party because these are addictive!
8 ounces Parmesan Cheese, finely grated
black sesame seeds (my favorite!)
whatnot: try out your whim!
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Line a baking sheet with a silpat or with parchment paper.
Drop one heaping Tablespoon of finely grated parmesan cheese into the center of each three inch diameter, metal, ring mold. Or do one and move on down the tray. Leave a little room between each round. *If you don’t have ring molds then just drop the cheese in heaps. **And if you use a larger or smaller circle size then adjust your cheese amount a bit and you may also need slightly more or less baking time. Watch the first batch and adjust accordingly.
Using the back of your Tablespoon gently spread the grated cheese evenly into the molds or if you’re freehanding it…make the heaps into circle-ish shapes. *I was able to fit 8-9 rounds on a sheet…so I baked 3-4 batches with this recipe.
Top with sesame seeds, paprika or whatever suits your fancy. Sans topping crisps are also excellent!
Bake until golden brown approx. 6-7 minutes.
Allow to cool on baking sheet for one minute.
Transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling using a spatula.
Cool for a few minutes.
*Before you bake a second batch wipe down the silpat sheet. Parchment will need to be replaced after a batch or two. Enjoy!
Kohlrabi is ugly pretty. And it’s also my current veggie crush. Kohlrabi!
These sturdy, round vegetables are grooved and cratered. Close up they look like planets with staunch landscapes and uninhabitable weather.
Yep…kohlrabi is ugly pretty but not pretty ugly. Fortunately this veggie’s flavor is more embracing than its appearance. Kohlrabi is seriously crunchy and surprisingly refreshing with a subtle vegetal taste and a slight nuttiness in the background. It can be steamed, roasted, pureed for soup or made into fritters.
I like kohlrabi sliced thinly and served raw with different toppings. It’s a light, bright, super crisp alternative to crackers or bread. Gluten free crunch…boom.
Here’s how to prep kohlrabi: peel.
Slice in half. Lay the halves on a cutting board, flat sides down.
Slice each half thinly.
Layer your pale, half-moon slices with fresh basil, shaved parmesan and a drizzle of fancy balsamic. Say hello to a crunchy, herbaceous, creamy, sweet bite. Good way to start a party night. Right?
And for the meat-lovin’ fleet in the house we have kohlrabi, fresh basil, oven-roasted tomatoes and garlic…crowned with a crispy hunk of bacon. This is a breadless, herb-layered, slider-sized version of the BLT.
It’s the KBTGB.
These Raw Kohlrabi Appetizers are so simple and open to interpretation that I’m going to leave the directions at that. Follow the photos above for prepping your new, veggie friend and layer away with toppings of your choice. Fresh herbs, cheese, thin layers of other veggies. Layer away!
Here’s a link to my recipe for oven-roasted tomatoes. I added six roughly crushed cloves of garlic to my oven-roasted tomatoes recipe for the KBTGB appetizer.