Happy Sundays – Buttermilk Waffles

May 31, 2011 § 1 Comment

There’s something about freshly made waffles and pancakes that transports you right back to childhood. I always loved weekend mornings growing up. My family liked to make a big deal out of breakfast – whipping up fresh pancakes, French toast, or eggs and bacon to start the day off right. We’d all be in the kitchen working together and then sit at the table lingering long after the last piece was eaten. Now off and married, I realize these weekends were very much the result of my mom. She was the one who would get this ritual started most times.

Now I’m off and married and similar to my mom, it’s me carrying on this ritual in my home. I haven’t made waffles often – partly due to effort and partly due to calories. Yes, we grow up and have to pay attention to calories and making waffles suddenly isn’t such a good idea anymore. But once in a while doesn’t hurt. My husband hasn’t ever really developed a taste for sweet breakfasts so when I make them, I’m cooking for one. So I mostly reserve my waffle cooking for special occasions when I can feed many like recently on Mother’s Day. However, some mornings you just wake up and have an itching for something delicious. That was me Sunday morning. As I sat having my morning coffee, I decided I deserved a little indulgence of happiness, even if it was just for me.  Plus I had the last few cups of buttermilk in the fridge and figured I might as well put it to good work. Buttermilk waffles it was!

As I was cooking for one, I cut the recipe in half. To be fair, I would have made even less but dividing the recipe by anything other than 2 was too complicated for a Sunday morning. (I have a handy dandy recipe divider magnet at Crate and Barrel which is one of my favorite tools in the kitchen. It helps do the math for you and is a big help.) Recipes with an odd number of eggs as this one are always tricky. What I find best is just mix the eggs separately as the recipe calls for and divide it after. Trying to “cut” an egg yolk in half is challenging. You could always make the full recipe and put the remaining in the freezer for another day. Just make sure you freeze them or pack separately and don’t put them straight into a bag or they will freeze together.

The star of this recipe is the buttermilk which makes these waffles rich and decadent. Egg whites are beaten and folded in to create a light and fluffy batter which balances out the rich, buttery flavor. These would also be great with any fruit you choose or chocolate chips if you want to really have a treat. Equally a little orange zest would be delicious in the batter and lighten it up for Summer. Today I topped my waffles with fresh strawberries and just a small drizzle of syrup – the syrup was preference. These waffles are equally delicious on their own. If you’re up to it you can whip up some fresh whipped cream with a little sugar and vanilla to top them off with – that’s what I did for Mother’s Day and they were simply divine.

I should warn you – if you don’t want to eat more than 2, quickly put them away after you serve yourself. If you make the mistake I did of leaving them on the counter, one or two more may just disappear at the result of your fingers, no fork needed.

If you like waffles and don’t have a waffle maker, you should definitely look at All-Clad’s waffle maker. It makes the perfect waffle each and every time. This recipe actually comes from All-Clad as well. It calls for you to sift the dry ingredients but honestly, I’ve never done this and never missed it. The egg whites ensure a light batter so unless you’re a perfectionist, save yourself the trouble and just enjoy Sunday morning by throwing it all together in a bowl and call it a day.

Buttermilk Waffles

Recipe from All-Clad
Makes twelve 4-inch waffles

Ingredients:

3 eggs, separated
1 ¾ cups buttermilk
8 tbs. unsalted butter, melted
½ tsp. vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1/3 cup sugar
Maple syrup and fresh fruit for serving

Directions:

  1. Preheat waffle maker on medium-high heat. Preheat oven to 200°F. (the oven is to keep the waffles warm and crisp them slightly. If you like them softer and plan to serve right away you can skip this and just keep them warm on a plate with a paper towel and some foil).
  2. In a large bowl whisk together the egg yolks, buttermilk, butter, and vanilla. Mix in flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar until smooth (sift if desired).
  3. In a small bowl beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold egg whites into batter.
  4. Pour about 1/3 cup batter into each well of waffle maker. Cook until golden brown and crisp. Transfer to baking sheet and oven if desired to keep warm.
  5. Serve with fruit and syrup.

Update: See the vegan pancakes I’m whipping up on weekends these days. 

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Sweet Beginnings – French Toast with Mascapone and Fresh Berries

January 2, 2011 § 4 Comments

Yesterday was the first day of 2011 which I welcomed with a mixture of emotions – mostly excitement of what’s to come. I’m very much looking forward to see what this New Year has in store for me and my husband, though honestly, I can’t imagine it being better than 2010. Let me rephrase – I can’t imagine it being better than the second half of 2010. The first half of the year was a tough one. My mom was living indefinitely in Kansas City taking care of my dying grandfather who sadly passed despite our hopefulness. This sad beginning of the year led to months of organizing the closing of my grandparents home and my grandmother moving to Florida. By mid-year, our family was reunited and things started looking up. My husband and I enjoyed a fantastic two week vacation to Spain in May which unbeknownst to us at the time, started a magical trend of good things to come for the second half of the year. We both have gone through more than our fair share of trials and tribulations so to have things suddenly click in place was a beautiful thing. Among other things, we both got unbelievable job opportunities, and after almost two years of searching, we finally purchased our first home. In all this too, it was a year of taking risks – risks that are paying off beautifully.

Thus why I say it will be hard for 2011 to top all that. But I’m remaining optimistic. And most importantly, I am remembering that the life we live is the one we choose. My dad has some pretty good advice he’s drilled into my head – just two words – “Choose Wisely”. I realize now more than ever that this goes beyond what I took it to mean – its not just about choosing the right path, the right job, the right friends, etc. Rather, its about choosing to be happy each and every day, choosing to live with integrity, to define the life you want and not be afraid to go and get it. As Marianne Williamson said “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” For me, 2011 is about going for “it”, giving it all I’ve got, not settling, not giving up, and definitely not doubting myself (both in the kitchen and out 😉 )

To start off the year with this great energy, I wanted a little celebration and decided to make French Toast for breakfast. I don’t know when I got out of the habit of making French Toast – I rarely make it anymore but it used to be a regular weekend event in my house growing up. I think French Toast was the first dish I really learned to make (and make well) on my own. The best was when my dad would eat it – he’s not a “sweet” breakfast guy, he’s more of a practical low-carb egg-white omelet guy, so days he’d go so far as to request my French Toast were a pretty big deal.

I was at Whole Foods the night before shopping for our New Years Eve dinner and had seen mascapone cheese. I remembered a special French Toast I had a few years ago with mascapone and blueberry and decided I’d make that as our jumpstart to the New Year and it turned out really fantastic. The French Toast had a nice crunch from the sugar coating. The mascapone adds an unexpected twist against the tart berries and eggy bread. At the last minute I added some lemon zest to the mascapone which lightened the entire dish and gave a fresh flavor. Don’t even think of adding syrup to this before tasting – its so good on its own it doesn’t require anything further. It certainly felt like a celebratory breakfast and a promising start to the New Year – Cheers!

I used a hearty French country bread from Whole Foods which I sliced fairly thick (a bit too thick in fact as the egg didn’t get all the way through the slice). I made us a generous portion – two big slices each which I soaked in the egg mixture.

I use vegetable oil for my French Toast and I like to add cinnamon both to the egg mixture as well as a sprinkle while its frying in the pan. Once the slices were done on the bottom I flipped them over to fry on the other side. At the end, I add a small sprinkle of sugar to each slice and flip for just a minute to get a nice caramelized finish. Don’t add the sugar until the very end as it will burn if left in pan too long.

Meanwhile mix some mascapone cheese with a little bit of sugar, blueberries, and fresh lemon zest. The amount of mascapone depends on how much you like – I like just a hint of it so a thin layer is enough for me. Also, the sugar is optional as I like my mascapone sweet.

Once the toasts are done cooking, remove to a paper towel to remove any excess oil and spread the mascapone blueberry mixture to one side. Top with the other slice (be sure to put it sugar side up) and add more berries such as blueberries and raspberries.

French Toast with Mascapone and Fresh Berries
Yields 2 stuffed slices

Ingredients

4 thick slices French or Challah bread
4 eggs
1/2 cup skim milk
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp sugar
vegetable oil
2 tbsp mascapone cheese
lemon zest from 1/2 lemon
2 cups fresh blueberries
1 cup fresh raspberries

Directions:

  1. Beat eggs, milk, and cinnamon until well combined. Dip bread in egg mixture ensuring both sides are well coated.
  2. Coat large pan with vegetable oil and warm over medium heat  and add egg-dipped slices. Cook until golden on the bottom.
  3. Sprinkle more cinnamon if desired on un-cooked side before flipping and cook until golden.
  4. Sprinkle 1 tsp sugar over slices, flip, and cook for just a minute until carmelized. Remove to paper towel to drain.
  5. Mix mascapone cheese, 1 tsp sugar, 1 cup blueberries and spread mixture on two slices. Top with other slice ensuring sugar coated side is on outside.
  6. Top with fresh berries and serve.

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