Waffles!

27 02 2011

It’s been a while since I shared any of my favorite recipes, so I thought I would write about my current favorite (which is also out of the Cook’s Illustrated score from a while back).  Waffles!  Now, usually I would say “Waffles?  That’s too much work when you have 2 little guys clinging to your legs at 6am.”  But the great thing about these is that they are yeasted waffles, so you mix them up the night before and in the morning you just fire up the waffle iron and you are ready to go!  It’s as fast as toasting freezer waffles, and so, so, so much better.  Convinced yet?  Here’s my recipe, which is substantially modified.  (I love butter as much as anyone, but we eat these a lot, and a whole stick is a bit much.)

IMG_3319

 ** Yeasted Waffles**

* 2 cups milk

* 4 T butter, melted

* 2 eggs

* 1.5 t vanilla

* 1 T sugar

* 0.5 t salt

Warm milk in microwave (so when you add melted butter it doesn’t solidify on top…ask me how I know).  Add in the butter and whisk well.  Add eggs, vanilla, sugar, and salt and mix it all up.  I do this in a great batter bowl thing I got at wal-mart; it holds 8 cups, which is good because this recipe will about double overnight in the fridge, so make sure whatever you use is big enough.  Next add:

* 2 cups flour (I do a 50:50 mix of white and whole wheat, add in some flax meal if you are feeling really crazy)

* 1.5 t instant yeast

Whisk it all up till smooth, cover and pop in the fridge.  In the morning just pull it out, stir it down and cook!  The boys love it, but honestly they would eat cardboard if you presented it like this:

IMG_3320

Oh man, I don’t care how out-of-season strawberries are, this was so good.  So good.  I am ready for spring and more strawberries… 

Let me know if you try it!  I hope you find, even with the modifications, that they are “crispier, tastier, and more convenient to prepare than regular waffles”, as CI says.

(By the way, I am not done with Celebrate the Boy, not by a long ways, I am hard at work on a Scavenger Hunt bag for BB and it has been a 3 day project but I’m excited for the final result!)

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Pizza–Nature’s Most Perfect Food.

25 03 2010

I love pizza.  LOVE it.  If I could only eat one thing for the rest of my life, this would be it, without a doubt.  And, as with most things I like to eat in large quantities, I like to make it myself, for all the usual reasons.  It’s a HECKUVA lot cheaper than calling Papa John’s every week.  (Wait, calling?  What is this, 1995?  They have my credit card info and all my favorite orders saved on their website, and that’s dangerous.)  And it’s a million times better than frozen pizza.  It doesn’t take long to make, and it’s really kind of fun.  Tempted yet?

Yes, there is one plain slice, for the pickiest among us.

The Sauce:

Once upon a time, I found a recipe that claimed to be a Papa John’s copycat recipe, so I wrote it down, and have been using it, modified, ever since.  It makes enough for 4 pizzas, so I divvy it among little Tupperwares and freeze for future pizza nights.  Here goes:

  • 1 can crushed tomatoes (the big kind, 28 oz.)
  • 3 t. sugar
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1 t. oregano
  • 1 t. garlic powder
  • 1/2 t. basil
  • 1/2 t. thyme
  • 3 t. olive oil
  • 1 t. lemon juice

Just place everything in a small saucepan and simmer awhile.

The Crust:

Sometimes I do this in the bread machine, and I use the recipe from the booklet for that.  But, if we have time to kill, BB is always up for mixing things, so we’ll make it by hand.  It’s not so hard, especially with a little helper, and it’s fun because you get to get your hands dirty.  My recipe is ever-evolving, but here’s where it stands right now.  It makes just enough for our pizza pan, which I have no idea what size it is (14″?  15″?  something like that).

In a medium bowl, mix:

  • 1 c. warm water
  • 1 1/2 t. yeast
  • 1 T. sugar

Stir to dissolve the yeast and let sit to proof.  Then add:

  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1 c. whole wheat flour

And mix well.  Then add in white flour, or bread flour if you have it till the dough is workable by hand (ie. not a sticky mess).  It’ll take about a cup.  Then, turn it out onto a floured surface and knead it, adding more flour as needed, until it is nice and elastic.  It should form a nice ball and spring back if you poke it.  I find it better to err on the side of too little flour, otherwise it gets stiff and hard to work with.  Coat the ball of dough with oil, cover with plastic wrap, and let it rise.  I usually pre-heat the oven a little since our house is pretty cold, and leave it there to rise.

Putting it all together:

Once the dough has doubled, and the sauce is ready, it’s time to make pizza!  I just stretch the dough to fit in my (oiled) pizza pan.  Spread about 1 c. sauce, and top however you like!  This pizza had spinach, roasted red peppers, and roasted garlic.  I have to say it was pretty amazing.  And, Papa John’s, as much as I love it, offers none of those fine toppings.

Mmmmmmm..... pizza.....

Bake at 400°F until the crust is browned and the cheese is melty and a little browned… then try to let it cool a bit and dig in!  It’s such a fun meal to have for dinner, and reasonably healthy, depending on what you put on it.  Now, I have read a lot about pizza.  And I have eaten a lot of pizza.  Let’s just say this is a well-researched topic here.  This will not be quite like those amazing specialty pizzas you get at those wood-fired oven places.  Apparently they get those awesome crusts by having an oven that cooks at 800°F!  Not an option for most home cooks.  Unless you are maybe Martha Stewart and you build a brick oven for that purpose, because you will NOT eat sub-par pizza.  But for the rest of us, a homemade pizza is easy, cheap, and pretty darn good.  I would eat it any day!  Or every day!





A little taste of summer

5 03 2010

Last summer, I got very industrious and bought a huge crate of sour cherries at the public market and canned them, thinking it would be so great in the middle of the long, long winter to have some cherry-laden desserts.  Fast forward 7 months, and they are still sitting in the closet, waiting for *just* the right moment.  Well, winter is showing signs of letting up already–birds are coming back, ponds are thawing, the sun is shining and the snow is starting to melt.  So I think the “right moment” probably came and went already, but with a little baby at home, I didn’t have much time to bake.  Now I’m on a mission to enjoy these cherries while the weather is still a little bit unpleasant, so I have been looking for ways to use them.  Last weekend it was a clafoutis, and today, a cherry tart.  I have to say, the cherry tart was better. It was easy too.  Supposedly, the clafoutis is easy too, because you mix it in a blender, but I’m sorry, if I have to go digging through the cupboards to find all the blender pieces, assemble it, use it, and then wash it and put it away, no thanks.  Mixing in a bowl is just easier sometimes, especially when you have an eager helper who always wants to mix something, anything.  The tart would have been really quick in the KitchenAid, but as I said, I have a little human mixer who doesn’t want to do it that way.  The recipe is adapted from one on Chowhound, called Laurie’s Pear Tart.  And really, it’s more like a cake than a tart, although maybe it’s more tart-ish with the original pears.

Cherry Tart

Cherry Tart

In a bowl, cream:

  • 1 stick butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. almond extract

Then add:

  • 2 eggs, one at a time

Then mix together the following, and add it to the butter/egg mixture:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt

Grease an 8″ or 9″ pan (original recipe says 8″, I used 9″ because it’s what I have), spread the batter in it (it’s thick), and then press the fruit into the top.  (The canned cherries I used are like the canned cherries you can buy in the baking aisle; make sure they are packed in juice).  Sprinkle some brown sugar on top.  Bake at 350°F for 30 minutes or so, till brown on top and a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.  Let cool, and enjoy!

I made this all the time last summer, and that’s saying something because I don’t really like to bake in the summer.  It’s a really easy dessert to make to use up all the fruit you buy at the market that is starting to go bad before you have a chance to finish it.  That happened a lot around here!  I made this with peaches, blueberries, raspberries, and combinations of those three.  I think the cherry variation is the best so far, though!