Weekday Waffles

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You might think of waffles as a weekend-only breakfast ordeal, but when you make the batter the night before, weekday waffles are easier than frying eggs!

I woke up on Wednesday morning to the buttery yeasty smell of overnight waffles. My boyfriend was in the kitchen perfecting his technique with our brand new Belgian waffle maker (we finally grew tired of the Hello Kitty one I bought when I was 20, with its tiny kitty-shaped waffles). The pull of sleep is strong––I'm not naturally morning person––but the pull of waffles is stronger, especially when their toasty aroma and the sound of a kettle clanking onto the stove draws you from your pillow to the kitchen table.

Here's the recipe, so you too can wake up to waffles. If there's not already someone in the kitchen making them for you, it's ok, because all you have to do is scoop batter into the waffle iron and sip your coffee while they cook. You'll have prepared the batter the night before (and dreamed sweetly of waffles all night). If you're solo, or the family doesn't have a big appetite, leftover waffles can be frozen to be toasted at a later date. Or you could eat them for lunch with savory toppings like sharp cheese and sweet cherry tomatoes.  

Get out the measuring cups to night, and you'll be able to make waffles with your eyes closed tomorrow. Not only does thinking ahead make the morning cooking easier, rising the batter overnight develops a rich bready flavor unlike any other waffle you've had.

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Overnight Waffles

adapted from the Fannie Farmer

  • 2 1/4 teaspoons (1 package) dry yeast
  • 2 cups warm whole milk
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1. Make the batter the night before. Put 1/2 cup tepid water in a large mixing bowl (the batter will double in size), add the yeast and stir. Let stand for 5 minutes. 

2. Add the warm milk, melted butter, salt, sugar, and flour (everything except the eggs and baking soda). Beat with a whisk until the batter is smooth.

3. In the morning, plug in your waffle iron and heat it up. Beat the eggs. Stir the eggs and baking soda into the batter. Cook the waffles according to the waffle iron manufacturer's instructions. Generally, when the steam subsides, the waffle is ready. Waffles can be kept warm in a 250 degree Fahrenheit oven for about 15 minutes. Extra waffles can be frozen.

For Valentine's Day, Keep it Simple

Transient

This year, keep Valentine's day simple with these heart shaped pancakes. (And if you're not in love, you can still make them for your mom, your best friend, or yourself).

Valentine's is the worst day of the year to go out to dinner (you're likely to pay a premium for uninspired food in a very crowded restaurant, and if you don't get into an argument, you'll probably have to overhear someone else's). The bombardment of chocolates and roses leading up to the 14th can seem more annoying than romantic. Still, if you have a sweetheart, its unkind not to observe the holiday. And isn't it nice, after all, to have a holiday dedicated to love?

Who doesn't adore having breakfast made for them? Even if you are totally unprepared (or you blew it on Valentines day and you need to get out of the doghouse the next morning), you can probably make pancakes for your sweetheart. You most likely have all the ingredients in your pantry, and you can dash to the corner store, or knock on a neighbor's door to borrow a cup of milk. If you don't have measuring cups and spoons, no sweat! You can use a mug and a tea spoon. This recipe is incredibly forgiving––just don't over-stir it.

Sometimes the simplest gestures are the most thoughtful. And this easy breakfast is a celebration of love that you might find yourself repeating throughout the year.

Basic Pancakes

To make these vegan, omit the egg, use nondairy milk, and add a teaspoon of lemon or cider vinegar. If you have buttermilk, use that instead of milk and substitute 1/2 teaspoon baking soda for the baking powder. Try replacing 1/3 of the flour with whole wheat, rye, or any other interesting flour for heartier pancakes.

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • generous pinch salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • oil or butter, for greasing the pan

1. Put a skillet on the stove over medium heat — it needs to be thoroughly heated by the time you drop batter in. Whisk together the dry ingredients: the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Beat the egg and combine it with the milk.

2. Pour the wet into the dry ingredients. Mix them quickly and leave some lumps (they will disappear as the pancakes cook). Don’t mix too much or the pancakes’ texture will be tough and chewy.

3. Pour a bit of oil into the pan to grease it lightly, turn up the heat to medium-high, and wait for the oil to warm so it shimmers. Or use butter and wait for it to melt. (If you want even-toned pancakes, use oil; butter gives a better flavor but makes the pancakes' surface splotchy and burns more easily).

4. Using a ladle, or a measuring cup with a spout, pour the batter onto the pan in a heart shape. If you're finding it difficult to draw a heart with the batter, try making the letter V (it will end up looking like a heart). You can use a spoon to quickly adjust the shape after the batter is poured.

5. When lots of tiny bubbles appear on the surface of the pancake, it’s ready to flip. Flip it, and cook until evenly browned. You can check the center for gooeyness with a toothpick or the tip of a sharp knife if you’re uncertain of whether it’s done. Repeat until the batter is used up.

Pancakes can be kept warm on a heatproof plate in a 200 degree oven for about 15 minutes before serving.

 

You might also like:

Perfect Whipped Cream

 

Breakfast Pizza

Just before my brother finished law school and left New York to work with Bay Area start-ups, we spent an evening tinkering with how to make pizza on a hot steel slab. Our first attempt, a simple margherita, we burnt to a blackened crisp. Still, it was somehow delicious. By the third or fourth miniature pie, we were getting the hang of how thick to roll the dough, how hot to keep the oven, how long to cook each pizza–and getting creative with toppings from the odds and ends in my fridge. A favorite was heaped with olive-oil drizzled arugula that wilted in the oven, then finished with slices of avocados and a sprinkle of lemon zest. Perhaps that’s not authentically a pizza, but it was really good.

That’s the thing: pizza is as versatile a vehicle for just about anything as is a sandwich or a burrito. Once you have dough (if you don’t have the desire or time to make it, you can walk into about any pizza joint and ask to buy some, and many grocery stores carry it), and a hot oven, pizza is a very quick thing to make, and a great way to use up bits of this and that–last nights steamed vegetables, a forgotten sprig of herbs, the end of bit of cheese. Often, my best cooking happens when I try to use things from what seems like an empty pantry.

My favorite pizza right now, and one I always have the ingredients for, is a breakfast pizza. I believe it was inspired by an article I tore from the New York Times Magazine years ago, about Big Sur Bakery. It made perfect sense to me the moment I saw the recipe, and stuck in my imagination until it became my own. Maybe my brother and I can take a trip to try the original when I visit him in California. And I hope he continues our pizza experiment, just as I will.

 

Breakfast Pizza

If you want to get serious about pizza, head over to The Pizza Lab at Serious Eats.

  • fist-sized piece of dough*
  • spoonful cornmeal
  • generous drizzle extra virging olive oil
  • handful shredded sharp cheddar
  • 2 scallions
  • sprinkling of cooked sausage or bacon (optional)
  • 2-3 eggs
  • small handful pasley or cilantro
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste

Heat a steel slab in a 500 degree oven, ideally for 45 minutes. Meanwhile, trim and oil the scallions, and put them on the hot steel or under a broiler until they wilt. Cut them into two-inch sections.

On a floured surface, roll the dough as thin as you can without it tearing. Sprinkle cornmeal on a pizza peel or cutting board. Lay the dough on it. Drizzle olive oil generously over the dough. Scatter the cheese and scallions on it, and meat if you're using it. Make little nests in the toppings to hold the eggs.

Slide the pizza off the board onto the steel with one swift shake. Crack each egg into a teacup, then pour it into its nest on the pizza. Cook for a few minutes, then check to see if the bottom of the dough is browned. Watch out, it cooks quickly! You want it quite brown, but if the crust cooks before the eggs, slip the whole thing onto a pan under the broiler just until the eggs set.

Sprinkle a handful of fresh herbs and a pinch of chili flakes on the pizza. Season it with freshly ground pepper, and a sprinkle of salt on each egg. Eat right away.

 

*I'm talking about my fist, which is pretty small.

 

 

 

Hard Boiled Heaven

egg cookery part 2

 

My mom used to pack a hard boiled egg in a wax-paper bag with salt & pepper at the bottom for my school lunch. I'd peel the egg and dip it in the seasoning. It was a way of doing things she'd picked up from European train stations while backpacking after college. I still love to eat eggs this way. These are my criteria for a great hard boiled egg:

1. easy to peel

2. yolk doesn't turn grey-green

3. white not rubbery

My Perfect Fried Egg

I love sopping up a gooey yolk with a thick piece of toast. In this video, see how I make my perfect fried egg. Yes, that's tons of butter, but I don't eat this every day!

Why butter instead of olive oil? Olive oil has a higher burn point than butter; the butter tells you when it's getting too hot because it starts to brown. Cooking the egg at that lower temperature yields a tender texture. Also, butter just tastes good! You can replace some of the butter with water, but then it splatters a lot. Another less-butter method is to put a lid over the pan to hold the heat and steam in: this works, but changes the texture.

How do you make your perfect fried egg? Please comment.