Belgium Waffles with Chocolate Chips

Just about every day this week we have been experiencing what is known as a freezing fog. It is very interesting and somewhat dreamlike. It is basically a fog during low (freezing) temperatures that leave a frost upon what it comes in contact with. It makes the grass and bushes seem like they are shimmering and all the cars are left with a sheet of frost on them. Making us scrap our windows on the car in order to get our day started. I have seen fog before, but never like this. Driving on any of the bridges you cannot really see beyond two cars ahead of you and looking at downtown is as though someone took an eraser and tried to remove all the tall building.The sun rises and peeks though it all seems so surreal. It has made me feel like I am in the midst of a science fiction movie.

The sun peeking through freezing fog and the buildings of  downtown.

Pioneer Square and Downtown. Smith Tower in a distance in the freezing fog.

Waking up this morning I was not about to face the cold temperatures yet again and walk our way through another freezing fog. I really just wanted to stay warm under the covers and snuggle with the pups – oh, and Brian too! I was thinking, what would make this morning bearable? What would inspire me to get out of bed? Waffles???

Yes, Waffles! Any waffle is good, but a great waffle is awesome. In my opinion an “awesome” waffle is a Belgium one. When they are made correctly they are light in texture with a real crisp exterior. A Belgium Waffle is made with yeast as opposed to a leavener like baking powder. The eggs in these waffles are separated and you whip the whites and fold them into the batter in the end; a very crucial step in making the waffles light. The thought of them was making my mouth water! I asked Brian if he would like some, and if so is there any flavor he would prefer. He suggested chocolate chip – a man after my own heart! I finally was out of bed. Whipping up some Chocolate Chip Belgium Waffles and I was ready to start my day. Freezing fog, or whatever the weather had in store for us.

 

Belgium Waffles with Chocolate Chips

Belgium Waffles with Chocolate Chips (Makes about 12)

2 ½ cups of milk

2 ¼ tsp yeast

½ cup sugar

1 ½ tsp salt

1 ½ sticks of butter

3 eggs, separated

1 tbsp of vanilla extract

2 2/3 cup of AP flour

1 1/3 cup of white whole wheat flour

1 cup of bittersweet chocolate chips

Butter, at room temperature for serving

Real Maple Syrup, for serving

First, warm ¼ cup of milk and pour it over your yeast in a large bowl. Stir it a bit and let it foam. To this add your yolks, sugar, salt, vanilla, and butter. Whisk it all together until it is smooth.

Next, in the bowl of an electric mixer place your egg whites and whip on high speed until you have a stiff peak and set aside.

Then, add your flours to the bowl of your yolks and sugar mixture. Whisk it well and then pour the remainder of your milk over it all and whisk it well. You want to get it as smooth as possible, but a few small lumps are fine. With a rubber spatula fold in your whipped egg whites. By folding you will keep the batter light without collapsing the whites. You want to fold it all until it is a smooth looking batter. When whites are incorporated you can ten add in your chocolate chips and stir until they are incorporated.

Finally, with a waffle iron warm and ready pour a bit of your batter onto it and close. Since each waffle iron is different it is at this point that you will need to follow the manufactures instructions. When your waffles are done, carefully remove them from the iron and place them on a plate to serve. Serve with butter and real maple syrup and you will have perfection.

Veggie Hash with Poached Eggs

What do you make for dinner when you are tiered of eating, cooking, and baking? Not to mention that you have a refrigerator with lots of almost nothing. I guess that is a result of the holidays, but if you are dumb founded then you are on the same page as I was this past week. On my way home from work I decided my car was dirty; as I road though the car was I was scanning recipes on my iPhone. Because sitting in a car while it gets sudsy is the best place to ponder what to make for dinner – is it not?!? I was not interested in a soup, nor was I interested in a stir fry. I guess I was looking for something to excite me. As the huge dryers were vacuuming the rinse water away from my car I came across an article I read some time ago in the New York Times about making a vegetable hash. It is a great way to take advantage of the extra things you have laying around and no real “recipe” needed for it.

I road home in my nice sparkling clean car and was making a mental list of all the root veggies I had. I knew they would hold up well to the sauté and slightly crispy texture you look for in a hash. I knew I had several eggs that I could poach. Oh, it was on; I had a plan. As dinner time neared I pulled out all the vegetable odds and ends I had.  Dicing away, sautéing, and poaching we ended up with a meal that was so delicious, satisfying, and stunning to look at. The combination of the beets, carrots, parsnips and onions I used had this glistening hue to it. Topped with a poached egg that oozed a golden lusciousness when it was pierced with a knife was too lovely to explain. I honestly do not think I could have planned a better meal at that moment. Give it a try with the “extras” in your refrigerator, or use the recipe below. It is simple, satisfying, and terrific for any meal of the day. Particularly, a brunch to kick off the New Year!

 

Veggie Hash with Poached Eggs

Veggie Hash with Poached Eggs (Serves 4)

2 medium beets

1 large parsnip

1 large carrot

2 medium Russet Potatoes

*All the above peeled and cubed small

1 medium onion, chopped small

About 5 Brussels sprouts, sliced thin

3 tbsp of olive oil

1 tsp of smoked paprika

¼ tsp of ground cumin

Sea salt and black pepper to taste

Eggs (at least 1 per guest)

2 tbsp of distilled vinegar

First, place a very large non-stick frying pan over medium to high heat. When pan is heated through add in your olive oil and warm it through.  Add your onion to the olive oil and sauté about 3 – 5 minutes until it begins to become translucent. Sprinkle in the smoked paprika and the ground cumin, stirring it well. You want the spices to coat the onion and toast a bit (about 3-5 minutes more).

Next, add in youth diced veggies and stir it all well. Add in about a ½ - ¾ cup of water and cover with a lid or foil. You are looking to have the diced veggies steam a bit to cook through (without doing this you risk undercooked veggies). When water had evaporated remove cover and stir a bit. Season with Sea Salt and black pepper and let it all sit to simmer. You are looking for the bottom to get a bit crispy.

Meanwhile, you are looking to fill at least a 4 quart pot with water and place it over medium heat. Add you vinegar and some sea salt, gradually letting it come to a gentle simmer. When water is simmering you can gently add in one to two cracked eggs at a time. You are looking for them to gently cook in the seasoned water…do not let it boil. Keeping an eye on them you are looking for the egg whites to become opaque and the yolk to be somewhat soft. (You are actually cooking the egg for no more than 5 – 6 minutes.) Gently remove your poached egg with a slotted spoon and reserve on a plate until ready to eat.

Next, add your Brussels sprouts to your veggies and stir well. The heat of the pan should wilt your sprouts quickly and that is just what you are looking for. If you feel that you veggies are not “crispy” enough you can raise you heat to let more caramelization occur, but keep a close eye on it. Season it well with sea salt and black pepper. When you feel you veggies are “crispy” enough and tender you are able to plate it all as you wish.

Finally, it is ready to plate. Add a soup of the veggie hash to a plate and gently top with a poached egg. The egg may need a bit more of salt added, but that is personal preference. Serve this with a nice green salad and some toast for a more complete meal, although just as good on its own.

Hazelnut Granola

I have always loved the crunch and nuttiness of granola. I am aware that while I was growing up other children would opt for a sugary, cartoony, and “surprise inside” cereal. I wanted the grape nuts, or the Quaker granola cereal. I may not have enjoyed many breakfast type items, but granola always had a piece of my heart. I know I was a weird kid, I have been told it before. But it was weird coming from my family. For example; my mom and my sister would sit at the table eating their soft boiled egg, as I sit there with my granola. Or my mom flipping blueberry pancakes, as my dad and my sister wait eagerly to eat them, and I ask for a bow of grape nuts. I just really, truly enjoyed them. When I started to make granola on my own I was in awe. There is no comparison to the store bought variety and I have never looked back. I have made it a number of different ways: a variety of sweeteners, different nuts, different dried and fresh fruits, yogurt, soy milk, milk…I have just about tried it all. I mixed up a batch last night so I could have some this morning. The result was great. Although I will admit that it was not as sweet as other ones I have made before it did have a great balance when paired with the fresh raspberries and Greek yogurt and a drizzle of honey.  I filled a large jar of it on my counter and I will be enjoying it for about a week or so to come.  I will be trying it out with a variety of fruit, but for now I will stick to the raspberries - they are just too perfect right now!

 

Hazelnut Granola(makes about 4 – 4 ½ cups)

3 cups of Oats

Scant ¼ cup of vegetable oil

2/3 cup of honey, plus extra for drizzling

1 tsp of sea salt

½ tsp of cinnamon

½ tsp of ground cardamom

½ tsp of ground ginger

1 full cup of whole hazelnuts (raw)

Greek yogurt, milk, or soy milk to taste

Raspberries or other seasonal fruit

First; in a large bowl place your oats and sprinkle over it your hazelnuts, sea salt, cardamom, cinnamon, and your ginger. Give your oat mixture a good stirring. In a small sauce pan gently combine your oil and honey and heat slightly, without bringing it to a simmer. You just want to gently heat the honey and oil. Carefully pure the honey and oil mixture over you toast and toss well until all is evenly coated.

Next; preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Either with a sheet pan or a large rectangular pan with sides; you can line it with parchment paper, or you can oil your pan. It is important to do this because your granola will stick other ways.  Pour your oat mixture in one even layer across the pan.

Then; when your oven is heated place your oat filled pan in the oven to bake. You will want to let it bake at least 10 minutes before removing it from the oven to stir your oats / granola. When done stirring, place your pan back in the oven for another 10 minutes before repeating. You will want to do this for 3  4 times depending on how dark you will like your granola to become.  Remove from the oven when done and let cool at least a hour before serving.

Finally; when ready to serve have your honey, yogurt, and fruit ready. Arrange and serve. Try not to let it all sit too long together because it may case the granola to soften and lose its crunch.  Granola will be good for one week when held in an air tight container.

Buttermilk Pancakes; breakfast for dinner?

My mother-in-law has an admiration for breakfast items. French Toast, Waffles…PANCAKES! She once expressed to me that she would love it to not have all the fuss of dinner and for an evening just have something a bit easier like Pancakes. I understood what she was getting at. Pancakes to her were something simple, comforting, and really enjoyable. Her pancakes were to my marinara sauce or lentil soup. I kept looking at the buttermilk I had left in the refrigerator this week and was thinking of all the things I could do with it when the idea of pancakes came to mind. I instantly thought of my mother-in-law. I asked my husband if he would mind having Buttermilk Pancakes for dinner? (I also tempted him with sunny side up eggs and bacon.) He responded with a quick “Sounds good to me!” A boy after his mother’s heart, she would be so proud.

I wanted to ensure that these pancakes would be light, fluffy, and have a bit of texture to them. I hate when you end up with a lead sinker of a pancake that is dense and soaks up your maple syrup. I also don’t care for it when the pancakes absorb all your maple syrup like a sponge and tastes like nothing else but syrup. I thought back to the ricotta pancakes I make and how fluffy they are. Whipping the egg whites would do the trick. But the texture…the pancakes needed a grain of some kind. Having stone ground cornmeal in the pantry would answer that.

My end result was great. Easy to make, and dinner was whipped up in no time. I know my mother-in-law would have loved them. The bacon and egg make it more complete of a meal and those two things are so easy to cook up you can have dinner, or breakfast if you wish, ready in no time. Breakfast for dinner…dinner for breakfast; maybe that is next?

 

Buttermilk Pancakes (serves 4 / makes about 18 pancakes)

1 cup of AP Flour

½ cup of Cornmeal (medium, stone ground)

1/3 cup of sugar

1 tsp of baking soda

1 tsp of baking powder

½ tsp of salt

2 eggs, separated

2 tbsp of butter, melted (plus more for the pan)

1 tsp of vanilla extract

1 1/3 cup of Buttermilk

First; in a bowl place your flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Whisk them all together and set it aside. In a medium bowl whisk together your yolks, melted butter, vanilla extract, and buttermilk and set aside.

Next; in the bowl of a standing mixer place your egg whites and whisk on high until they are stiff. Whisk your buttermilk mixture into your bowl of flour. Do not over mix. You are looking for the mixture to be evenly incorporated, but small lumps are okay. (Mixing to get rid of all the lumps can cause your batter to create too much gluten. It will result in a tough pancake.)

Then; fold in your egg whites to your batter. You will see that this will lighten your batter and it will be real fluffy. Be sure that your egg whites are evenly distributed because you do not want to have pockets of stiff egg whites in your pancakes.

Finally; place a large nonstick frying pan over medium heat. Once heated though melt a tablespoon of butter into your pan and place a small ladle of batter into the pan, slightly flattening it with the ladle. Once tiny bubbles form around the edge of your pancake carefully slide a spatula under it and flip it over quickly to cook on the other side. You can make as many in a pan that you feel comfortable with, just be sure to leave room so you can work around them to flip. When pancakes are done cooking place them on a plate for serving. Serve immediately with butter and maple syrup.

NOTE: You will need to add more butter to the pan while cooking your pancakes. Just be sure to add a tiny bit at a time. 

NOTE: Feel free to add things to your batter if you wish. For example; blueberries, raspberries, nuts, sliced bananas, or chocolate chips…but feel free to use your imagination.

Strawberry & Chocolate Scones

With the sun shining in the early morning the other day I woke up thinking I just had to bake scones! I do not know why. I believe it is the first time I am making them in quite some time. You see I made them all the time at my bakery and the coffee bar I worked for in Phoenix. I took such pride in creating them and poured my love into each batch I made. I think when I closed my bakery and moved away from there I was dealing with all the new changes of life that I could not bring myself to make them. But for some reason I woke up with this urge that I just had to mix up a batch of them. I walked to the market with the girls to pick up strawberries for the scones while Brian was still asleep. Brian woke up to me in the kitchen with Martini and Latte watching me mixing my dough. “Scones?” He asked with a surprise. We sat there in the sunshine from our window and ate the Strawberry & Chocolate Scones. Brian was so happy and we both agreed that it had been too long since I had made some. I think absence makes the heart grow even fonder for good food!

 

Strawberry & Chocolate Scones (Makes about 12 – 16)

Notes: In my opinion strawberries make the best scones. Other berries end up squishing and oozing all over the scones as they mix and bake sometimes resulting in a mushy mess. A strawberry is sturdy and holds up will in the dough and their sweet tartness is lovely in the morning (or tea time if you wish!).

4 ½ cups of flour

1 tsp of sea salt

1 tsp of baking soda

2 tbsp of baking powder

¼ cup of sugar, plus extra for sprinkling

8 oz of butter, cold and cut into small pieces

2 ¼ cups of heavy cream

1 egg

2 cups of sliced strawberries

4 oz semi-sweet chocolate bar, chopped up

 

First, pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with your blade attachment add in your flour, sea salt, baking soda, baking powder, ¼ cup of sugar, and your cold butter. Process it all together until your butter is in tiny uniform pieces. Remove mixture from your food processor and into a large mixing bowl.

Next, toss through your chopped chocolate into your flour and butter mixture. Pour in your cream and mix together until a ball of dough is formed. (I sometimes have to use my hands toned it a bit; otherwise it seems to want to stay crumbly…your hands will get dirty!)

 

Then; on a generously floured surface roll out your dough into a large rectangle, about a ½ inch thick. It is now that you will place your sliced strawberries across the dough. You want to stay clear you’re your strawberries coming up right on the edge of your dough.

 

Now, you need to form your scones. You will roll your dough towards you keeping all the strawberries tucked inside your dough. Gently you will want to go over your dough log with your rolling pin to gently flatten to about a 1 1/2 - two inches in thickness. With a knife, or a bench scraper you will want to cut rectangles along your log. You will want to cut about 6 – 8 rectangles, and then cut each of those on a diagonal to form two triangles.

 

Finally, take your triangles of dough and place them on a lined baking sheet with room between each. With the egg you have set aside you will want to whisk your egg and gently brush it over your scones and sprinkle them with a bit of sugar. (This will give them a lovely crust as they bake.) Place them in the oven and bake about 20 – 25 minutes. You are looking for your edges to be deeply golden and the center of them firm to the touch. Let cool about 10 minutes before serving.

Ricotta Pancakes

A few years ago Brian (my husband) gave me the Rose Bakery cookbook. It is fantastic because it really gives you a glimpse as to what it is like at their bakery in Paris from day to day. It shows you what the bakery and café looks like, the customers, suppliers, the food, and the staff that makes it all happen.  From reading the book and making a few of the recipes you can tell that they love what they do and what they make. Sounds a lot like me!?! There are many recipes in this book that I like, but there is one that caught my eye and made me think – “Why didn’t I ever think of that? Ricotta Pancakes…I need to make these!”  Well, I did; and needless to say I have been making them for a few years now.  I have adapted the recipe a bit over time to add my own touch. These pancakes are extremely light for a pancake and especially when you think that they are made with ricotta cheese.  We love them with fresh fruit and honey and a bit of butter. You can make them with jam or maple syrup as well, but the fresh fruit and honey compliments their light and airy texture by far.

Once again, I hope you make this recipe and enjoy them as we do. This is the full recipe which serves a lot, but I have cut the recipe in half and even into a forth without a hitch. It is a full proof recipe that I am sure you will be making time and time again. Buon Appetito!

 

Ricotta Pancakes (feed 8 )

4 eggs, separated

1 cup of ricotta

½ cup of half and half

2 tsp of vanilla extract

1 tbsp of sugar

1 cup of flour

1 tsp of baking powder

½ tsp of salt

Butter - for the pan

Fresh fruit and honey

First, in a large bowl whisk together your yolks with the ricotta. Add in your half & half, vanilla, and sugar whisking it well until you have a smooth consistency. Sprinkle in your flour, baking powder, and salt, Whisk it until just combined.

Then, in a bowl place your egg whites and whisk on high speed (using a hand held mixer or a standing mixer) until your whites are double in size and have reached a stiff peak. Gently fold your whipped whites into your ricotta mixture until it is incorporated. Do not over work it because you want your batter to be light and fluffy.

Finally, place a non-stick pan over low heat and melt a bit of butter in it. Spoon your batter carefully into your pan a little bit at a time. You will see you pancake rise and become firm on the base of it. With a spatula gently flip it over and let it cook until you see they are firm and golden. Place them on a platter to serve and repeat with your remaining batter.  Serve while warm.

Biscuits and Vegetarian Gravy

Biscuits and Vegetarian Gravy (feeds 8 or more depending on serving size) This may not be your traditional Biscuits and Gravy, but it is mighty tasty. It pleases my husband as he goes back for seconds when I make them, and to be honest it is a great breakfast after a late night out with a few drinks! The poached egg finishes it off well too. I hope you make this and enjoy it as much as we do.

Biscuits

2 ¾ cups Four

1 tsp. Sugar

1 tbsp. Baking Powder

1 tsp. Sea Salt

8 oz. Butter (cold and cut into small pieces)

½ - ¾ cup of Milk

First, preheat your oven to 375 degrees. In the bowl of a mixer add your dry ingredients along with your cold butter and mix on low until your butter is mixed in with the flour mix and pea sized. Slowly add your milk until your mixture is coming together yet a bit crumbly. You do not want to over mix or over work you biscuits.

Next, on a floured surface place you dough and lightly four the dough as well. Roll out your dough until it is about an inch thick evenly. If your dough is lumpy looking that is okay the less you work you dough the better. With a cutter (I use a graduated ring cutting set so I always have a choice in the size I need, but any cutter size or shape can do) cut out your biscuits and place them on a baking sheet. I press my scrap dough back together and gently roll it out again and cut more biscuits. The remaining dough after your second cutting can be scrapped.

Finally, place your biscuits in the oven and bake about 20 –25 minutes. Until they have risen and are golden. Remove from the oven and let rest about 5 minutes before serving.

Vegetarian Gravy

2 tbsp. Butter

½ Onion, chopped very small

8 – 10 mushrooms (depending on size), chopped small

2 – 3 Jerusalem Artichokes (optional), peeled and chopped small

1 ½ tbsp.  Flour

½ tsp Herbs de Provence

6 cups Veggie Stock

2 tbsp. Heavy Cream

Sea Salt and Fresh Black Pepper

First, in a sauce pan over medium heat melt your butter. Add in your onion, mushrooms, and Jerusalem Artichoke and sauté until you onions are translucent. Sprinkle your flour over all of it and stir until well coated. Sprinkle in your Herbs de Provence and stir it well so that it is all mixed together.

Next, add in your stock and be sure to stir it well so that you getting up all the bits that have stuck to the bottom of the pan. Let your mixture come to a simmer with a stirring every once in a while. Let it simmer about 15 minutes.

Finally, add in your cream and heat through. Taste it - season with sea salt and fresh black pepper before serving. Pour your gravy on your plate and over your biscuits and enjoy.

Notes: The Mushrooms I choose to use are usually Crimini but Button Mushrooms work fine. Although when I made this I was out of Mushrooms and substiuted 1  1/2 tbsp on Mushroom Powder in stead. The Jerusalem Artichokes are not needed to make this Gravey. Although I love the flavor it adds - feel free to add more Mushrooms in it's place.

 

Poached Egg

Poached Egg There is a beauty in an egg that I wish more people would notice. A Poached Egg is pricless in itself.

 

6 cups Water

1/2 tsp Vinegar (White Wine)

Pinch of Salt

Eggs

Bring your water to a simmer, add in your salt and vinegar. Crack your egg into a bowl or into a laddle that you can lower into your simmering water. Be sure it is only simmering and not boiling. Let it gently simmer for about 2 - 4 minutes or until your whites are solid and your yoke is still runny. Lift out of the water gently.

I prefer to do one egg at a time, unless I am using a larger pan and more water. Serve while still warm.