Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Most Important Meal of the Day

Cara, this post is dedicated to you, the true lover of breakfast.  When I do take time to make something for breakfast other than cereal or oatmeal, it's usually waffles.  Ryan and I got a waffle maker as a wedding gift, and I LOVE it.  It's just a simple waffle maker like the one found here.  

Now, it shouldn't come as a surprise when I tell you that the best recipe for waffles is the kind made from scratch as written by Mark Bittman in my favorite cookbook How To Cook Everything.  If I may, Bittman says the following about pancake batter, but I feel that the same applies to waffles:

     "Americans must have been sadly alienated from the kitchen for pancake mixes to ever have gained a foothold in the market, for these are ridiculously easy to make."  

Preach on Mark.

Anyway.  Here's the basic recipe.  I always like to add a little something special to the waffles.  Be it some multi-grain flour, fruit, or spice.

2 C all purpose flour 
     (I like to mix 1 C multi-grain or whole wheat flour for a heartier, more        flavorful waffle)
1/2 tsp. salt
2 T sugar
     ( I like to use 1 T brown sugar instead)
3 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 C milk
2 eggs
4 T (1/2 stick) butter melted and cooled
1 tsp. vanilla

suggested add-ins:  1/2 tsp. each of cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom
thinly sliced bananas or apples added right before you close the waffle maker
chopped almonds, walnuts

melt the butter first so that it cools back down!
brush waffle iron lightly with oil and pre-heat it.
combine the dry ingredients.
mix together the milk and eggs.
stir in the butter and vanilla.
stir in the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.
if the mixture seems to think to pour, add a little more milk.

spread a ladelful or so of batter onto the waffle iron and bake until the waffle is done, usually 3-5 minutes, depending on your iron.  serve immediately or keep warm for a few minutes in a low oven.

topped with chopped almonds, real maple syrup and butter, of course. 

i like to eat my waffles in sections! 

Monday, February 18, 2013

Childhood Memories

I have a fondness for sense memories that involve food.  As I strolled through the market doing my grocery shopping yesterday I had a sudden craving for tapioca pudding. This creamy snack reminds me of afternoons at my Grandma's house. It's a total comfort food. I had to get some. I like the combination of creamy custard and the little snap of the tapioca pearls (I know people hate this for the same reason!).  I wandered to the Jell-O aisle (have you been there?! It's CRAZY!) and bought a box of Island Brand small tapioca pearls.  

I decided to put my own spin on the flavor by adding some warm spices.

Here are the directions according to the package.    

1/2 cup Tapioca
3 cups Milk
2 Eggs
1/4 tsp. Salt
1/2 cup Sugar
1/2 tsp. Vanilla. 

Combine Tapioca, milk and salt in a 1 1/2 quart pan. Stir until boiling. Simmer 5 minutes, uncovered, over lowest possible heat, add sugar gradually. Beat eggs, mix in some of the hot Tapioca mixture very slowly to equalize the temperature of the two mixtures (to avoid curdling). Return all to pan. Bring to a boil, stir 3 minutes more over lowest possible heat (or longer to achieve pudding consistency). Stir constantly. Cool 15 minutes then add vanilla. Serve warm or chilled.

Instead of adding the vanilla after the pudding cooled, I added in the final stirring/cooking stage.  I also added: 1 tsp each of cinnamon, cardamom, freshly grated nutmeg.  topped each serving with a few chopped almonds

I let the pudding sit and cool a little to firm up.  But, I like to eat it warm.  It's almost a good substitute for ice cream in the winter!