Lazy Morning Luxury

For some reason, I have always held waffles in very high regard among breakfast foods. This is by far - and I've done quite a bit of testing - the best recipe for waffles. Add nuts, spices, fruit or any flavorings you desire to make your waffles special. This recipe is a blank canvas.

Best Waffles Ever
(Recipe makes 4 waffles)

2 eggs, separated (yolks in one bowl, whites in another)
2 T. sugar
1 1/2 cups milk
1 T. Canola oil
1/4 tsp. Vanilla extract
2 cups, AP flour
1 tsp. salt
1/4 cup sugar

Whisk egg whites and 2 T. sugar to form soft peaks.

Whisk to combine yolks, vanilla, milk and oil.

Sift flour, salt, 1/4 cup sugar and any dry ingredients into yolk mixture.

Stir to combine. A key here is not to over-mix, which will result in a tough texture.
Rest the batter for 15 minutes. This is another key step that allows the flour particles to fully hydrate and creates a better texture.
Fold the egg whites and any nuts/fruit into the mixture just to combine.

Add mixture to a sprayed, pre-heated waffle iron to coat.

Cook until golden-brown and delicious.
Serve with whipped cream, maple syrup, butter and any fixings you desire.


Asian Persuasion

People always ask me how I choose what to cook. I go to the store/farmer's market and see what looks good, and I go from there. That's it. No elaborate planning. Cooking from the hip, as it were. Seasonal squash, lovely Niman Ranch pork and a love for soup inspired this Asian influenced creation. Crispy, succulent pork loin offsets the sweet and spicy Butternut soup. The time put into this dish is definitely paid back to you in delicious spades.

Spicy Butternut Soup with Crispy Pork and Pear/Daikon Slaw
(Recipe serves 6-8)

For the Soup:
1 Butternut squash, split, seeded, peeled and diced

1 T. Canola Oil
2 cups Stock
2 cups Water
1 T. Ginger, minced
1 T. Garlic, minced
2 Star Anise pods
3 Bay Leaves
1/4 cup Sweet Chili Paste
1 T. Sambal
1 T. Sriracha
(Note: This does make for a very spicy soup, so if you'd prefer less heat, use less chili paste, Sriracha and Sambal.)

Toss Butternut squash with oil and a pinch of salt. Roast at 300 F for 20-30 minutes until browning starts.

Add squash to a pan with stock, garlic, ginger, star anise, and bay leaves.
Bring to a simmer and cook until squash is soft.

Strain liquid and reserve.
Puree solids in a blender with some of the cooking liquid until smooth.
Add back to a pan and adjust consistency with reserved cooking liquid.
Whisk in chili paste, Sambal and Sriracha.

Adjust flavor with salt and sugar.

Crispy Pork:

1 1/4 lbs. Pork Loin, Center Cut, Fat still attached

1/4 cup Mirin (Rice Wine)
1/4 cup Rice Wine Vinegar
1/8 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
2 T. Sriracha
1 T. Canola Oil
1 T. Hoisin sauce
1 T. Brown Sugar

Combine all.

Marinate Pork Loin for at least an hour and up to four.

1 T. Canola Oil
1/2 Onion, medium dice
1 Jalapeno, sliced
1 T. Ginger, minced
1 T. Garlic, minced
1 cup Mirin
1-2 cups stock/water

Heat a saucepan. Add canola oil.
Sear all sides of the pork loin and remove.
Toss onions and jalapeno and saute until softened.
Add ginger and garlic and saute a minute or so more.
Add pork back to pan.
Add liquid to cover by about 3/4.

Bring to a simmer.
Cover, and place in 300 F oven for about 3 hours, flipping the loin halfway.
Remove pork from the liquid and shred with a fork (or tongs.)

Heat a saute pan on high, add a little oil and saute pork until browned and crispy.

For the Slaw:
1/2 Asian pear, peeled and diced
1/2 Daikon radish, peeled and diced
1 bunch Green Onion, green parts, sliced thin
1/2 tsp. Rice Wine Vinegar
Pinch of salt

Toss together and refrigerate.

Serve soup with a pile of crispy pork and some of the pear/daikon slaw.


Food Democracy

My attention was directed towards a petition being circulated to influence President-elect Obama's choice for Secretary of Agriculture. Make a difference, sign the petition here.

While you're being political, why not endorse the Food Declaration?

Doesn't that feel good?



A really nice Chorizo from Spain (thank you Central Market) and a hankering for a hearty potato soup inspired this original creation. The flavors of Spain come to life in this delicious and easy recipe that's sure to be a crowd pleaser this winter.

Potato and Leek Soup with Chorizo
(Recipe serves 3-4)

1/4 link, Spanish Chorizo, diced (not the Mexican stuff, Spanish Chorizo is cured and smoked)
1/2 Leek, sliced thin
1 Yellow Onion, sliced thin
2 Russet Potatoes, peeled and diced
3 Bay Leaves
2 tsp. Pimenton (Sweet Smoked Paprika)

1/2 cup Heavy Cream
Water, Salt, Pepper as needed

In a saucepot on high, heat 1 T. of Canola Oil.
Add Chorizo and brown.

Remove Chorizo and set aside.
Add Leeks and Onions to pot, toss to coat, and lower heat.

Slowly cook Leeks and Onions, stirring occasionally over low heat until they start to caramelize.

Remove from heat, add Pimenton. Cover and let sit for about 5 minutes. This is called 'blooming' the Pimenton.

Add potatoes, Bay leaves and enough water to cover and bring to a simmer.

Simmer until potatoes are soft.
Strain vegetables and reserve liquid.
Remove Bay leaves.
Puree (blender works best) vegetables with a little of the cooking liquid.
Transfer back to a pot.

Adjust consistency with reserved cooking liquid.
Over low heat, whisk in the cream and season to taste.
Garnish with the browned Chorizo, grilled bread and a nice Spanish cheese like Iberico or Manchego.



Friday Night Feast

While browsing the meat case at Wheatsville, I happened upon a unique and interesting ingredient. Oxtail. Oxtail?

Thank you Niman Ranch. Traditionally used in soups or stews, this delicious ingredient just screams for a slow-and-low, moist-cooking method. In that spirit, here's my take on a winter feast for two.

Beer Braised Oxtail with Winter Vegetables, Creamy Polenta and Collard Greens

(Recipe serves 2-3)

For the Braise:
1 1/4 lbs. Oxtail
1/2 Leek, sliced
1 Parsnip, peeled and diced
1 Fennel bulb, sliced thick
1 Yellow Onion, sliced thick
2 cloves Garlic, smashed
2 tsp. Tomato Paste
1 Beer, 12 oz. (I used a Shiner Hefeweizen)
2 cups veggie stock

Wash, clean and cut the veggies.
The best way to clean leeks (in my opinion) is to cut them, and then soak in a large bowl of water. The dirt/sand falls to the bottom while the leeks float.

When you're done cleaning/cutting your vegetables you might end up with a pile of trimmings that looks something like this.

Yes, this could be compost fodder, but there's a lot of flavor here, and there's no point in wasting it.
Put the trimmings in a pot, cover with water, and simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour.

Strain and reserve. Voila! Vegetable stock.

Season the oxtail with salt and pepper.
In a hot Dutch Oven (or large Saucepot, etc.), sear the Oxtail on all sides in Canola Oil.

Add the veggies.

Add 1 tsp. of the tomato paste. Stir to coat, and let veggies continue to caramelize.
Deglaze with a little of the beer. (This is a French method called 'pincer' that adds a nice depth of flavor and aids in the caramelization of the vegetables.)

Replace the Oxtail in the pan, pushing them to the bottom.

For the Bouquet:
4 Bay leaves
1 sprig, Rosemary
2 sprigs, Thyme
5 Peppercorns
1/2 tsp. Corriander seed
1/2 tsp. Fennel seed
2 Cloves

Wrap in cheesecloth.

Add the Bouquet, garlic, beer and vegetable stock until the Oxtail are about 3/4 covered.

Cover and cook in a 300 F oven for about 3 hours. Keep an eye on the liquid level.

Remove Oxtail, and separate meat from the bones. Reserve.
Strain braising liquid, pass through cheesecloth and reduce in a new pan for your sauce. Season to taste.

Serve Oxtail meat with veggies and the braising liquid sauce.

For the Polenta:
(Recipe serves 6-8)
2 T. Butter
1 1/2 cups Polenta, coarse grind
1 cup Milk
1 cup, White Wine
2 cups, stock
1/2 cup Parmiggiano, grated

In a hot pan, melt butter.
Add Polenta, and toss to coat. Toast Polenta lightly (no color.)
Add liquids, and stir occasionally until desired creamy texture is achieved.
Off the heat, stir in the Parmiggiano.
Season to taste and serve.

For the Greens:
(Recipe serves 3-4)
1 bunch (16 leaves) Collard Greens, cleaned, stems removed, sliced
6 strips, Bacon, cut into strips
2 quarts water/stock/wine
1 cloves Garlic, smashed
1 tsp. Red Pepper Flakes

Wash the greens thoroughly.
Remove the stems from the greens. I cut a V on each side of the stems.

Stack the greens, and cut into 1/2" strips.

In a sauce pot, simmer (covered) 2 quarts of liquid (water, wine, stock) with the bacon and garlic for about 30 minutes.
Add greens and red pepper flakes, simmer until desired tenderness is reached.
Season to taste.
Remove garlic and strain liquid.