Brown Butter Togarashi Chex Mix

Shortly after Christmas my friend Rebekka Seale, my oldest friend in Nashville, the first friend I made when I moved here, told me she was doing a solo art show and asked me to make snacks for it.

Rebekka is unlike anyone else I know (except maybe myself) in that she has been a great many things and I know she will become many more, too. When we met we were both cake bakers and decorators. Then she was an illustrator, which morphed into a career painting the sweetest house portraits. After that, she bought a spinning wheel and began her hand-spun, hand-dyed yarn business, Camellia Fiber Company. She sold the business to our friend Silbia Ro and expanded her exploration of shape, color and texture into painting. Her works are studies in color, expressions of her own synesthesia and many of them include hand-dyed and sewn fabric scraps that come from Elizabeth Suzann’s production line. They’re earthy and etherial, decidedly feminine, so very like this person I know so well, spread across a canvas in shades of peach.

I made a spread of finger food that mimicked the earthy tones and soft shapes of her paintings, the most popular being tender and crunchy little endive leaves filled with honey sweet tahini cream, topped with toasted sesame oil, parsley, mint, pomegranate arils and flaky salt. My favorite and I think yours, judging by how many people asked for the recipe, was the brown butter togarashi chex mix. It’s nutty, intensely salty and spicy- perfect for a party if you are drinking anything light and fizzy, from Miller High Life to champagne to lime seltzer.

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Brown Butter Togarashi Chex Mix
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serves 16 as a snack

4 cups wheat chex
4 cups corn chex
1 1/2 cups mini pretzels
1 1/2 cups sesame sticks
1 cup nuts (I used walnuts, but mixed nuts is classic)
6T unsalted butter
2T soy sauce*
2-3T shichimi togarashi*

1. Mix together the chex, pretzels and nuts in a large bowl. Measure out your togarashi, sesame sticks and soy sauce in separate small bowls.
2. Brown the butter over medium heat- as soon as it browns, pull it from the heat fast! and add the soy sauce fast! Give it a stir and start folding it into the chex mix immediately.
3. When everything is coated as evenly as possible and still a little warm, sprinkle in the togarashi while you continue to stir gently. Add the sesame sticks and pour the mixture onto a large sheet pan to dry out for at least an hour.

*if you are sensitive to salt or spice, I recommend using 1T soy sauce and 1-2T togarashi.

12/19/18

A late entry today, after a morning of meetings and correspondence about the future of Pantry Raid! All good news, all to be made public in the new year.

Yesterday I had a late breakfast as well, one centered around my on-going craving for hot sauce. My buddy Jeff Orkin of Greener Roots Farm gave me a jar of homemade hot sauce, which he says is akin to Sriracha, but I say is so superior to Sriracha it shouldn’t be compared. I doused a cheese quesadilla in it before leaving the house.

At midday I found myself at the Nashville Farmers Market, which is where I go to clear my head. A walk through the International Market in the main market house always puts me right. I have learned about many ingredients and have been inspired by the smells, colors and textures of it more times than I can count. Now, there is the added bonus of the Bubble Love stand right in front of it. I ordered a taro bubble tea- not a proper lunch, but satisfying all the same.

I’m hungry again at 4pm and I’m grateful to have a few things prepped for a quick meal. Remember on Sunday I made some ginger/garlic/scallion oil? It’s a bit like this Healthyish recipe. You’ll notice that many of the reviews say the dish is too oily or not ginger-y enough. If there’s one thing I know about ginger, it’s that it takes its sweet time to work it’s magic. I’ve let it sit in oil in the fridge for three days, meaning the oil is now so strongly ginger flavored, I can use less of it. I toss it with mushrooms, some very sad snow peas, and Sun Noodles from the freezer. I had intended to make miso eggs to go on top, but hunger outweighed my patience to cook even a soft boiled egg. So I gave it a dash of togarashi and inhaled it.

There are so few Dream Drops left, I’m rationing them. Dark chocolate dipped peppermint Joe-Joe’s before bed for a change.

12/18/18

Pixel woke me up early and we shared some yogurt, muesli and a banana. I’m not so crazy about bananas, but she ate it with her standard dog enthusiasm and then some.

I’m wanting Persian cucumbers more intensely and more frequently. By mid-morning, I eat them same as yesterday, salted and dipped in hot, hot sauce.

I’m learning to make hand shaped pasta from Linda Miller Nicholson’s excellent book, Pasta, Pretty Please. And I am very sorry to report that I am not a pasta prodigy, though I had expected I would be, given my special touch with other mediums such as pie dough and fondant. No, I have many practices to go before I show you a picture of the pasta I’ve been making. I ate it for lunch and it was terrible. I think the spinach in it had gone ever so slightly bad, I managed to over salt the water and I used too much toasty garlic olive oil. I ate it anyway and spent the afternoon grumpy about it.

Oh, and I’m still sick. My friend Kelli says there’s a special strain of cold going around that comes in three waves, which explains my miraculous recovery and subsequent demise.

Dinner was the exciting part, as promised. I got a Pantry Raid entry a couple weeks back about squash and yogurt and golden raisins and I told the person (I think it was my friend Paige) to roast the squash with warm spices and top it with yogurt, pickled raisins, and cilantro.

Last night I made a grain bowl version of that. I roasted butternut squash, cauliflower and sweet potatoes in olive oil, warm spices and a pinch of brown sugar- hot and fast until they were deeply caramelized. They sat on a bed of farro cooked in homemade chicken stock and topped with my herbed tahini cream and yogurt. To brighten it up a little bit, I also added slivered almonds and golden raisins I soaked overnight in pickled pepper vinegar. NOT. TOO. SHABY. Might even make it again and photograph it to share with you properly.

I believe I have formed a habit well out of my means…I ended the night with two more Dream Drops.

12/17/18

I very rarely get sick, but when I do, I’m a huge baby about it.
Yesterday and again today, I am sick. I had a cold last Wednesday, felt better on Thursday and not bad at all on Friday and Saturday. Is it possible I fully recovered from the first cold and caught an entirely new one on Sunday?

I started the day lazily with the remainder of my tube of pre-cooked polenta, topped with sautéed red bell pepper (I’m not sure where it came from, tbh), caramelized shallots and herbed tahini sauce. Apart from some eggs, yogurt, whole grains, muesli, noodles, and peppermint Joe-Joe’s, there was very little left to work with in the house and I reluctantly went to go buy groceries.

The line to turn into the Trader Joe’s parking lot stretched down Hillsboro Pike and I took it as a sign to finally, after nearly a month of cravings, treat myself to Shake Shack for lunch.

I have to say, I’m partly doing this because I’m nosey. I wish everyone told me everything about what they buy and cook and eat all the time. So, sitting in more traffic to exit the Trader Joe’s parking lot, I decided to share my grocery bill with you: two packs of fizzy water, a butternut squash, two large sweet potatoes, a head of cauliflower, slivered almonds, portabella mushrooms, pecorino, a pound of parsnips, green onions, four large shallots, persian cucumbers, tahini, a pound of meyer lemons, a bag of golden raisins, and a can of artichoke hearts, $49.05. I’d say that will last me through the weekend, with one or two meals eaten out. I’m desperately hoping I’ll feel well enough to go to happy hour at Babo and to have a solstice dinner at Hathorne.

I felt so sick by dinner time, all I wanted was warm liquids. So I heat up another pot of homemade chicken stock, again with a spoonful of miso and sugar snap peas and green onions, but this time I topped it with a little of the ginger oil I made on Sunday and washed it down with a hot toddy. While I ate that, I let some Persian cucumbers sit in salt and when they were good and pickle-y, I ate them dipped straight into very hot hot sauce. I finished the day with a dark chocolate-dipped peppermint Joe-Joe and a Dream Drop, as my Ema always told me that dark chocolate is the cure to anything that ails you.