Sunday, November 23, 2008

Homemade Waffles Finally Make a Post

Waffles are an almost weekly shindig in our house these days. We've made so many varieties that I can't keep them straight; whole wheat with dried coconut, standard wheat with blueberry, and our favorite cheddar and bacon blend. I can't believe how many house guests we have served our cheddar and bacon waffles to with bacon on the side, validating their breakfast with an explanation of the wheat and flax added to the mix. They always say something like, why not? We are on vacation, right? And I always find some kind of sick glee in feeding so many delicious calories to those I love so early in the day. I feel like I'm introducing them to long lost guilty pleasures, doing them some kind of favor.

But today we made perfectly guilt-free buckwheat waffles (topped with honey butter and sunflower seeds). They were hearty, filling, and wholesome. No battered house guests questioning their dietary worth today. Michelle came by for breakfast and we leisurely enjoyed trapping the cold outside, sipping strong french press coffee, snacking on pomegranate seeds, biting into our honey butter slathered waffles. I always seem to burn the last waffle in the iron, forgetting that it's in there while I relax with my plate of syrupy or buttery waffle and some good morning conversation.

Just a little warning, you do need to start the batter the night before, but that makes breakfast itself just that much easier in the morning.

Buckwheat Waffles

1 pkt yeast
1/4 cup hot water (100 to 110 degrees)
2 tbl honey plus
1/3 cup honey
2 cup buttermilk
1 tbl oil
1 cup flour
1 1/4 cup buckwheat flour
1 1/8 tsp salt divided
1/2 cup butter softened
2 eggs lightly beaten
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup toasted sunflower seeds

Sprinkle the yeast over the water and stir until the yeast is completely dissolved. Let it stand until bubbles begin to form. Stir in 2 tablespoons honey, the buttermilk and oil.

Combine the cake flour, buckwheat flour and 1 teaspoon salt. Stir in the yeast mixture just until blended. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

For the honey butter, combine the softened butter, one-third cup honey and one-eighth teaspoon salt. Cover and set aside until ready to serve.

One-half hour before cooking the waffles, remove the batter from the refrigerator and let it stand at room temperature. Then stir in the beaten eggs and baking soda. Combine thoroughly.

Make your waffles in the iron, then spoon the honey butter over hot waffles and sprinkle with sunflower seeds.

This recipe, found at the site "Food Down Under", yields 6 to 8 servings.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Cranberry Bean, Lacinato Kale and Pasta Soup

It's true that I stalk the blog, Wednesday Chef, and have written many a post about a recipe that she has documented and I have tried. This week I tried her Cranberry Bean, Lacinato Kale and Pasta Soup that she found in an article written by Amy Scattergood of the LA Times. This soup made me feel normal after a week of eating (and drinking) at the pub. I spent a lazy afternoon preparing it, knowing full well that I still had a 10 hour shift that I was going to have to go in for early evening.

The soup was finished just in time for me to slap it in a big ball jar, layered and beautiful, and run out the door leaving a pile of worthy dishes. It was as though I left the dishes there to tell a story in case I never returned. Nonetheless, I returned home to piles of dishes at 3am, the story left untold. Josh and I did the dishes together in the morning, neither of us once regretting the soup or its efforts.

The soup works in layers, the broth being some vegetables and beans that boil for almost two hours complacently on your stove until the beans are tender. These go into a bowl along with a handful of al dente cooked chunky pasta, topped with a bean blend, similar to hummus, that works as a thickener. Stir it up in your bowl and finish it with a sprinkle or downpour of parmesan cheese, whatever you prefer.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Raw Goodness

We made a stop by the library yesterday to return some overdue videos. We decided to embrace the cold and walk. I always leave the library with twice what I've just returned, and yesterday was no different. Here we were, bundled against the cold, gritting our lips together, cradling 8 books a piece. It was a silly struggle but so worth it. One of the books I brought home was a Jamie Oliver cookbook called Jamie's Kitchen. I don't know a whole lot about him seeing as we don't own a TV and therefore miss all Food Network shows, but from what I've read I like him. This book is also the name of his non-profit restaurant in London that brought in 15 London kids to learn about food and cooking.

I only made it through the first 30 or so pages before I was hungry and ready to make food. Watch out. No cream or bacon in this recipe. This recipe consists of a bunch of raw foods, all perfect right now in November, that are tossed together like notes in a song that all come together. We made plain couscous to eat with it, fried some haloumi cheese, and had roasted chicken on the side. They mingled and met and all really liked each other on our plate. We barely looked at each other as we ate, Josh and I. We were too enamored with how something so simple and raw could be so good.

Here it is, adapted from Jamie Oliver's book:

moorish crunch salad

Finely slice into matchsticks 1 1/2 c. carrots, slice thinly 6-8 radishes and 2 small or 1 large crunchy apple. Put these into a medium to large bowl and add:
+some raisins (I used golden)
+handful of fresh parsley chopped (freshly frozen in our garden and retrieved not a moment too soon!)
+handful of fresh mint chopped (also freshly frozen in our garden!)
+3 TB red wine or sherry vinegar
+6-8 TB olive oil (I used the lesser amount)
+1 TB tahini
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper (I'm just realizing that I forgot this in ours!!! And it was still so good....)
Toss like happy friends on the playground, and then add some toasted sesame seeds sprinkled on the top, about 2 TB.

Like I mentioned above, halloumi cheese fried and eaten in conjunction is just such a treat. And maybe why we didn't exactly need salt on the salad. Jamie Oliver suggests this with some chili sauce also. Maybe we'll try that with our leftovers tonight.

Another vegan recipe to come! But the next one is cooked, a soup smooth and sultry for your winter palate.... I've obsessively been thinking about it since it was made. This is the kind of food that makes me find a reason to appreciate winter. yum.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

The Stalk of the Sprout

There are few vegetables that grow in a more suspicious way than the brussel sprout. This seemingly under represented and less than appreciated vegetable grows up a hefty stalk, bundled in bunches that look as though they are homely sorts trying to orderly stay with their respective members. I've seen brussels sprouts as of recently sold in stores on the stalk. They are so regimented and controlled, patiently awaiting the delicious future they hold. Shoppers pick these up and examine them, surprised and unsure if they really know what these green round orbits are. FYI, nutritionally Brussels Sprouts are an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin D, folic acid and dietary fiber that found their original popularity in Belgium.

Last night Josh and I went to a phenomenal fundraiser and gathering for a non-profit called Avalon Housing. A family volunteered their personal home for the gathering, and food from gourmet spots all over town filled each and every room. We tasted and toasted to all things good and delicious. Brussels sprouts hailed an interesting position as design accents, placed within lanterns as decoration. My favorite bit of food was a round platter with a scoop of butter sat in the middle. The platter held an assortment of home cured meat, each piece almost bowing to the throne of butter in the center.

One night last week before we headed out for an evening with friends we made a scrumptious fettucine with brussels sprouts sauce. This meal would have probably been better on a night where we planned to hole up and stay in under blankets with a movie. We were sleepy after the heaviness settled contently in our bellies. But it's a pretty simple and quick recipe that fits this season with its daunting chill. It hints spiciness with horseradish and dijon mustard accenting the flavors of cream and bacon. This will make 4-6 servings and comes from a really great and rustic sort of Vermont book, From the Cook's Garden.

1 1/2 pints Brussels sprouts, roots trimmed and outer discolored leaves discarded
4 TB unsalted butter
2 TB olive oil
1/2 cup pancetta (we just used bacon)
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 roasted red pepper, seeded and chopped
2 cups packed spinach leaves
1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar
1 cup half-and-half
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan
1 TB Dijon mustard
2 tsp freshly grated or prepared horseradish
2 TB finely chopped dill (optional)
1 tsp dried tarragon
Salt and pepper to taste
1 pound fettucine

Bring medium saucepan of salted water to a boil. Cut a shallow X in bottom of each sprout for even cooking, and cut largest ones in half lengthwise. Add the sprouts to the water and cook for 6-8 minutes until tender. Remove with a slotted spoon and save the water for the pasta.

Melt 2 TB of butter with the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the pancetta or bacon and cook until lightly browned, about 3-5 minutes. Add the onion and garlic, cook and stir often until onions soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in the roasted pepper and spinach, cooking until spinach wilts about 2 minutes. Add the sprouts, cheddar, half-and-half, parmesan, mustard, dill, horseradish, and tarragon, stirring to melt the cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm.

Meanwhile, cook fettucine in saved pot of water until just tender. Drain, return to pot, toss with remaining 2 TB of butter. Section pasta into separate bowls and top with sauce.
Makes 4-6 servings.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

It's here! Election Day!

To celebrate the day, Josh and I had Roos Roast coffee to start off the morning. We love the paper bags our roasted beans come in, printed with authentic art, the beans freshly roasted. Saturday we treated ourselves at the farmer's market to a half pound bag and a fresh cup of lobster butter roasted coffee. The coffee we drank from the cup had been brewed cowboy style, boiled in water and then strained from the top. John, the roaster of Roos, is an interesting and somewhat addicting guy, his pores seeping from either a severely optimistic mindset or a lot of coffee. I would wage on the coffee side of things. We love this business. It's so local, you know?

So we voted today. Our lines were about one hour and it was phenomenally satisfying. Marking in our presidential candidate with a solid black oval made my lungs fill with pure Ann Arbor oxygen. Tonight I have the privilege of bartending my last real bartending shift at the pub. We are bringing in many tv's for the results, and voters from all over will be coming in to the watch. It's almost the way things are supposed to be, finishing my unexpected career at a bar, heading into the late fall with new beginnings, personal and political. I'm ready. I really think I'm ready. Speaking of... I'm running really late! Here we go, stepping into an emotional night! It's really here.