Saturday, December 29, 2012

Buttermilk Waffles With Maple Rum Bananas


Every once in a while
Life throws you a curve ball
In the form of snow
On a Saturday.

Plans are cancelled,
And everyone is home
At the same time
For once,

And before you realize it,
You have a moment to catch your breath.
There are a few precious hours
Unplugged
With real conversation,
And full sentences
Without weird, shortcut acronyms .

There is magic in the sound of laughter
And in the crackling fire.

The scent of vanilla, maple, and rum,
Summons all to the kitchen,

And we eat,
Talking with our mouths full,

Grateful for the unexpected gift
Of time
Together.


This is a no-fuss, one bowl waffle recipe of the 'no yeast' variety, which is 
perfect for me, because I am not one to plan ahead.  

It includes Daisy Flour, locally milled in Lancaster County.  Their pastry flour is the secret to tender waffles.

You can substitute an unbleached cake flour.   
Dust off the waffle iron and get it nice and hot.  No matter how non-stick your waffle iron claims to be, it's not.  Your waffles are going to stick.  Spray that sucker with non-stick cooking spray or brush it with veggie oil.  Now your waffle iron is non-stick.
While the waffles are cooking, slice up a few ripe bananas.
Then give them a dip in a bowl of brown sugar.
Heat the bananas in a pan with a few tablespoons of butter.  It only takes minutes to go from an ordinary banana to knock-your-socks-off sizzling banana perfection. 

I add a little rum to warmed maple syrup to take these waffles to the next level of deliciousness.  If you don't want to use rum, a little vanilla would be also be nice.
Pour the warm syrup over the waffles and caramelized bananas.  Add a handful of pecans for added crunch.

Just before the last bite of waffle, I disappear into another room because it is a house rule that the last one in the kitchen, does the dishes. 

(waffle recipe adapted from Pamela Anderson~Light, Crisp Waffles and Aretha Frankenstein~Waffles of Insane Greatness.  Maple Rum Banana recipe ~ my own)

1 ¼ cup pastry flour or 1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
¼ cup cornstarch
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla 

2-3 ripe bananas, sliced
½ cup light brown sugar
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
½ cup pure maple syrup
2 teaspoons pure rum extract or 2 tablespoons rum
1 teaspoon vanilla
handful of pecans, about ½ cup (optional) 
  • Preheat waffle iron to medium/high setting.
  • Place flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.  Stir.
  • Whisk together the egg, buttermilk, butter, sugar, and vanilla.  Add to dry ingredients.  Whisk until just combined. 
  • Spray waffle iron with nonstick spray.  Cook batter in batches until dark golden brown. 
For Bananas: 
  • Coat banana slices in brown sugar.
  • Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium/high heat.  Add butter and cook until melted.  Add banana slices.  Cook for 1 minute per side or until dark golden brown.  Remove bananas to a plate.
  • Add any remaining brown sugar to the hot skillet along with the maple syrup.  Stir.  Cook for 2 minutes or until heated through.  Remove from heat.  Add rum and vanilla.  Stir. 
Serve waffles with warm bananas and syrup.  Sprinkle with pecans for extra crunch. 
Yields 4 jumbo waffles or 6-8 regular size waffles.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Double Dutch Hot Cocoa

My idea of a warm up
Does not include stretching
Or a yoga mat.

With just 4 ingredients,
And 5 minutes,
It does not involve a lot of time either.

Simple homemade hot cocoa
Warms my soul
And puts the Yin back in my Yang.

Great hot cocoa begins with good quality cocoa powder.  I am using a double Dutch cocoa available at The Larder in Doylestown.  You may think that I have an ownership interest in this place the way I am always gushing about it.  I do not.  I am just smitten with this friendly mom-and-pop store and the variety of hard-to-find ingredients that they carry, not to mention the reasonable prices.
Double Dutch-processed cocoa is a combination of two types of cocoa:  a really dark, almost black, cocoa powder with a rich chocolate taste; and a Dutch-processed cocoa which is more mellow because it has been treated with an alkali to neutralize the acidity.  The result is a very intense and pleasant chocolate flavor that is smooth without any bitterness.

The color of the cocoa powder is a good indicator of its chocolate intensity.  You can see that ordinary natural cocoa powder on the left is much paler in color than the double Dutch cocoa on the right.
This recipe is PDQ.  Pretty Darn Quick.  Place the cocoa, some sugar, and vanilla powder......
in a medium saucepan.  If you don't have vanilla powder, no worries.  Vanilla extract will work too.  Just hold off on adding the vanilla extract until the end.
Whisk the ingredients together, then add a few cups of hot water.  This will give the sugar a head start in dissolving.
Cook over medium/high heat for just a few minutes until bubbles appear around the edges.  It will be hot, but not quite boiling. 

Time to add fresh, local whole milk from Penn View Farm in Perkasie.  Not only is this milk delicious, but it comes in old school glass bottles.  Penn View milk is available at Maximuck's Farm Market in Buckingham.  Milk is delivered weekly on Tuesday and Friday.
Whisk the milk with the hot cocoa and cook for just a few minutes until heated through.  Pour yourself a nice mug of hot cocoa.  Put on your favorite fuzzy slippers.  Sip.  Be warmed from your head to your toes. 

Double Dutch Hot Cocoa
Print This Recipe!
4 Tablespoons Double Dutch cocoa powder or your favorite cocoa powder
¾ cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla powder or vanilla extract
2 cups hot water
2 cups whole milk 
  • Place the cocoa, sugar, and vanilla powder in a medium saucepan.  Stir. (If using vanilla extract, wait until the end of cooking). 
  • Add hot water.  Whisk until combined. Cook over medium/high heat until bubbles appear around the edges but mixture is not quite boiling.
  • Whisk in milk.  Cook for 2 minutes or until heated through. (If using vanilla extract, add now and stir).
Serves 4

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Three Cheese Tortilla Pizza with Micro Arugula

Just a salad.
These are the words I uttered at many a romantic dinner
During the courtship of my husband and me,
As I kept him in the dark
About my voracious appetite,
And the fact that I had already devoured
A stick-to-your-ribs kind of meal
At my mom's earlier that evening,
And before each and every date.

The truth is that I really don't care for salad as a meal.
It's just not substantial enough.

Lucky for me there are microgreens, like this arugula from Blue Moon Acres in Buckingham. These organic tiny leaves may be diminutive, but they pack a big punch of flavor and nutrients. 
Microgreens are a great way to 'get your green on' without feeling like you're eating bunny food.  I use micro arugula as I would a fresh herb by adding it to pasta or as a topping for soup or a sandwich.  It is also delicious on top of a fried egg or in an omelet.  

Micro arugula gives mild cheese a much needed flavor boost like in this quick recipe: 

Three Cheese Tortilla Pizza With Micro Arugula

Smash 2 cloves of garlic under the flat side of a knife.
Toss out the papery skin and place in a small saucepan with olive oil.  Give it some heat for 2-3 minutes.
Place the tortillas on two separate baking sheets.  These are the large variety of tortillas for the hopelessly hungry.  They are the plain flour kind but whole wheat or spinach would also be nice.  Brush both sides lightly with the garlic infused olive oil.
Stir salt and pepper into ricotta cheese and dollop by the teaspoonful on to each tortilla.
Top the tortillas with grated parmesan cheese and thinly sliced mozzarella cheese. 
And into the oven for just 10 minutes.  Sprinkle the pizzas with arugula.  If heat is what you seek, then a scattering of crushed red pepper is in order. 
Blue Moon Acres has two locations in Buckingham, PA and Pennington, NJ.  The Buckingham location is open on Tuesdays and Fridays and features organic microgreens, herbs, and veggies grown in their greenhouses as well as other food products from local artisans.  The Pennington location is currently closed for the season but check their website for the 2013 schedule.

Three Cheese Tortilla Pizza With Micro Arugula
Print This Recipe!
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves
Two 10 inch flour tortillas (the large burrito kind)
½ cup ricotta cheese
salt and pepper to taste
Heaping ¼ cup parmesan cheese, grated
4-5 ounces mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
¼ cup micro arugula
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with parchment or silpat.
  • Place olive oil in a small saucepan. Smash the garlic cloves under the flat side of a knife until cracked but still intact. Remove skin. Place in olive oil. Heat over medium heat for 2-3 minutes or until fragrant. Let cool 10 minutes. Discard garlic.
  • Place one tortilla on each cookie sheet. Brush both sides lightly with the garlic infused oil.
  • Season ricotta cheese with salt and pepper and stir. Drop by the teaspoonful on each tortilla. 
  • Divide parmesan cheese between both tortillas, then top with mozzarella cheese.
  • Bake for 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the edges are golden brown. Sprinkle micro arugula over the top of the hot pizzas. Season with crushed red pepper (optional).
Serves 4 as a snack or appetizer
Serves 2 as a light lunch/dinner

Monday, December 3, 2012

Diner Style Sweet Potato Hash Browns

Since I was a child I've been fascinated with simple, no frills diner food. On the rare occasion that we had extra 'fun' money, my mother would take us to the local diner for a slice of pie. With my nose pressed against the refrigerated case, I stood in awe at the spinning carousel of desserts with names like Strawberry Tall Cake or Mile High Banana Cream Pie.

As we waited for our order,
We each got to choose a song from the tabletop jukebox,
My brother, sister, and I.

The music was a nice distraction,
And one that kept us from using
The booth's red vinyl seat
As a horizontal playground slide.

As a mom with children of my own, I take my boys to the diner for breakfast on occasion, but it's not the same. The jukebox has been replaced by an ipod and the menu has a sophisticated makeover, thanks to the hipster cook with culinary school cred.

So whenever I get nostalgic, I cook something unfussy and simple; something worthy of a formica counter, and a bouffant-haired waitress who calls you 'hon'

Diner Style Sweet Potato Hash Browns

Peel and shred enough sweet potatoes to make 3 cups.  These are local beauregard yams.  Don't let the fancy name fool you.  It's an alias.  They are really sweet potatoes courtesy of Trauger's Farm Market in Kintnersville.
Wring out any excess moisture from the potatoes with a dish towel or paper towel.   
Now for some flour power.  Sprinkle 1 Tablespoon of flour over the potatoes and stir.  A coating of flour will make the potatoes nice and crispy. 
Heat some olive oil and a chopped shallot in large nonstick skillet for a few minutes to soften because nothing says breakfast like the smell of shallots cooking. 
Add the sweet potatoes and stir, so the shallots aren't left hanging at the bottom of the pan where they will burn.  Press the potatoes into a even thin layer. Cook until golden brown, about 5 minutes.
Flip the potatoes and brown the other side.
Pull your hair back and put on an apron.  Ring a bell and yell out Adam and Eve - wreck 'em with a side of spuds, scattered. Order Up!

Diner Style Sweet Potato Hash Browns
Print This Recipe!
3 cups shredded sweet potatoes (from 1 very large or two medium sweet potatoes)
1 heaping Tablespoon of all purpose flour
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon finely chopped shallot
salt and pepper to taste
  • Place shredded potatoes in a dish towel or paper towel. Wring out excess moisture.
  • Place potatoes in a medium bowl. Sprinkle flour over the top. Mix with a fork until potatoes are coated.
  • Place oil in a large nonstick skillet. Heat over medium heat and add shallot. Cook for 2-3 minutes to soften.
  • Add potatoes to the pan. Season with salt and pepper. Stir to redistribute the shallots so they don't burn at the bottom of the pan.
  • Flatten the potatoes with a spatula creating a thin even layer. Let cook for 5 minutes or until the bottom is brown and crispy.
  • Flip potatoes and break apart any larger pieces. Cook another five minutes or until golden brown.
Serves 4.
 
 
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