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The best (and easiest) yeasted waffle

I’ve realized by the comments on my Perfect Waffle post that my actual go-to waffle recipe is hidden away in another post. Both involve yeast (of course– don’t make waffles without it!), but my first recipe involves separating the eggs and whipping the egg whites right before making the waffles. Eventually, I found this tiresome on a weekend morning when I haven’t even had my coffee yet. So the recipe I actually use all the time involves combining all the ingredients and raising the batter in the refrigerator overnight. The waffles are still super crispy in the morning and you don’t have to bust out a hand mixer! Perfect for a pre-coffee bleary-eyed Saturday morning.

Update: A friend had used “active dry” yeast in this recipe and it did not seem to rise correctly. When I refer to ‘instant’ yeast, it is actually the yeast that does not need proofing. If you are using active dry yeast, make sure to proof it first so it will rise properly.

The Easiest Crispiest Yeasted Waffles

2 cups flour
1-1/2 tsp instant yeast (not ‘active dry’. If using active dry yeast, make sure to proof it first)
1 stick melted butter (1/2 cup or 110 grams)
2 cups warm milk (heated to about 110 degrees)
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt

The night before:

  1. Combine and whisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl: flour, yeast, sugar and salt.
  2. Combine the melted butter and milk. Add the mixture to the dry ingredients.
  3. Whisk eggs and vanilla together in a separate small bowl. Add the egg-vanilla mixture to the other mixture, and whisk until well-combined.
  4. Cover with plastic wrap and stick in the fridge until tomorrow morning. (The batter can rise for 10 to 24 hours.)

The next morning:

  1. Prepare waffle iron as usual. Stir the batter to deflate it (it should be puffy and frothy).
  2. Add to waffle iron the same way you would other batter, keeping in mind that this batter will rise more than batters that use baking powder instead of yeast.

Comfort and katsu

The other day I was filling in some profile information on Chowhound, such as location, website, blah blah blah, but because it’s a foodie message board, it had some interesting ones like “The best meal you ever had.” I had to think for a second on the one labeled, “Favorite comfort food.” What is my favorite comfort food? I guess for me, what it ultimately means is not just what gives me comfort to eat, but what dish am I happy to cook, and what does my family like to eat over and over again.

My friends Melinda and Mark just moved to Hawaii recently. After the envy subsided, I started–of course–thinking about lunch. Hawaiian plate lunch, specifically. Oh, you don’t know what plate lunch is? Let me tell you– it is basically the ultimate comfort food for an Asian. It’s typically some sort of meat (you choose) served with heaps of rice and a huge scoop of mac salad. Double starching it– oh yeah! (I love the double starch. At home whenever I make mashed potatoes, we end up eating it with rice.) The Filipino version of the ABC motto should be “Always Be Carb-loading”.

I realized then that actually my favorite home-cooked comfort food is something that definitely falls into plate lunch world: Katsu chicken. This is totally my kids’ favorite dish and about the easiest thing in the world to make. Basically it’s chicken cutlet, but with panko breadcrumbs and served with rice and tonkatsu sauce. It’s like, Asian chicken fingers or something. And it is delish. We eat so much katsu at home that when we moved to Holland, I was really worried about something that seems relatively minor to most anyone else: Where would I get tonkatsu sauce? My four-year-old basically needs to drown his rice in the sauce when we eat katsu, so you can’t underestimate the importance of the sauce. (Otherwise, it’s just fried chicken and rice, right?) I had an elaborate plan of asking all visitors from the States to bring us a bottle each time they visited, and then we would build up a stockpile. But no need, in the end I randomly found the famous Bulldog label glowering at me from the shelf at a Chinese grocery in the Hague. Yes, it was like 5 euros for a small bottle. But who cares at that point?

So pour on the Bulldog, and maybe even make some macaroni salad. Put on some Iz and at least you can pretend you’re in the islands. And Mark and Melinda: eat some malasadas for me– those donuts beat Crispy Creme any day!

Katsu Chicken
serves 4
Don’t bother if you don’t have panko breadcrumbs; it absolutely will not be the same. If you can, try honey panko. It has a very subtle sweetness to it (and smells lovely when you pour it into the bowl.)

1-1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 large eggs
1 cup Japanese panko breadcrumbs
2 cups canola oil (or any other light-colored oil, such as sunflower oil, which is what I prefer)

  1. With a sharp chef’s knife, split the chicken breasts lengthwise so you have two equal pieces. (this will make the chicken flatter so it cooks faster when you deep fry it.) Pound (but not too thin) to equal thickness all over. Pat dry with a paper towel.
  2. Combine the flour, salt and pepper in one bowl. Beat the eggs lightly in a second bowl. Place the panko in a large, shallow bowl or pie plate.
  3. Bread the chicken in the typical assembly line: flour first, then eggs, then panko. Shake off excess after each step. Place the breaded pieces on a plate.
  4. Heat the oil in a heavy 3 or 4-quart saucepan to 325 degrees (I always use a candy thermometer.)
  5. Fry the chicken in batches, 1-2 minutes on each side. Place the finished pieces on a cooling rack to stay crispy (I noticed that they get a bit soggier if you put them on paper towels, so a cooling rack does a better job.)
  6. Serve with tonkatsu sauce and heaps and heaps of steaming white rice.

Don’t forget the Bulldog!

Wacky ice cream 1: Sweet potato

So taking advantage of my new ice cream maker, I’ve decided to revisit some weirdo flavors I’ve been experimenting with over the years, back when I was using my plan-way-ahead-of-time Krups ice cream maker. I thought, “Why not a series?” so here’s the first one.

I found a recipe for sweet potato ice cream in The Ultimate Ice Cream Book, but like all of Weinstein’s recipes, I modified it. (I often find his recipes sickeningly sweet, and at times even cut the sugar to a quarter of what he calls for.) I liked his idea of roasting the sweet potatoes so that they caramelize, so this is how I started my recipe.

For whatever reason, the normal grocery stores in Holland don’t seem to carry sweet potatoes, and when they do, it usually is the normal pale type rather than the sweeter bright orange varieties. Don’t quiz me on the variety names– I have no idea really, besides “orange” and “yellow”. So anyway, they carry sweet potatoes / yams at the big open market, but being too lazy to go down there, I picked some up at the regular store for like, 3 euros a pound or something ridiculous. But given that it was going toward ice cream, I figured that perhaps it was worth the cost.

I started with what is developing into my standard custard base and mixed in the sweet potato puree that the four-year-old kitchen helper made with a strainer. (He was bored, I wasn’t letting him watch TV or play Gameboy that afternoon, so what was a boy to do?) If you don’t have a four-year-old kitchen helper, don’t worry; you can use a food processor instead.

The result is a sweet ice cream that, for me, tastes like a cross between candied sweet potatoes and ube (purple yam). Those who eat it must be fans of sweet potatoes– if they aren’t, this recipe won’t convert them. But if you love candied yams, this will taste heavenly.

Making sweet potato puree– the old fashioned way

Sweet potato ice cream
makes about 1 quart

2 pounds (about 1 kilo) sweet potatoes, the kind with the orange flesh (not orange skin)
1 cup whole milk
1-1/2 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
4 egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Scrub the sweet potatoes, arrange in a baking dish and bake for 1 hour, or until the potatoes are tender enough to put a skewer through easily. Remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temp.
  2. Combine the eggs and sugar in a standing mixer. Beat until lightened in color and a ribbon forms.
  3. In a medium saucepan, bring the milk and cream to barely a simmer and slowly pour into the egg mixture, whisking the whole time to prevent the eggs from curdling. Transfer back into the saucepan.
  4. Stirring constantly over medium-low heat, bring the mixture to 180 degrees. (It’ll be thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon). Remove from heat and add the vanilla
  5. Peel the sweet potatoes. Add a pinch of salt, and using a sieve or a food processor, make a puree.
  6. Strain the custard into the sweet potato puree and make sure it’s well combined. Refrigerate for at least an hour.
  7. Freeze according to the instructions on your ice cream maker. This ice cream tastes excellent with salted pecans!

SHF: Chocolate malt, perfected

My retro craving: notice that the straw stands up straight.

I like the theme of this month’s Sugar High Fridays: Cravings. There are desserts I make a lot (like brownies because they are ridiculously easy and you get your chocolate and sugar fix instantly), and then there are others that if a craving hits me, I will run out — meaning, I will make a special trip — and get the ingredients.

Once the weather hits the no-long-sleeves point every summer, the first thing I want is a chocolate malt. I grew up in Milwaukee, where the fave frozen confection is frozen custard, a softer version of ice cream, and fattier than gelato. Man, it is soooo good. I honestly don’t know why they don’t have this stuff all over the U.S. (I am partial to Kopps– this is where I would get my turtle sundae fix as a kid.) Chocolate malts are alive and well in the Midwest, like, real chocolate malts where: 1) it is so thick the straw stands up, and 2) they always, always give you the tin with the extra malt in it that was used in the shake blender. You know, because it’s not fattening enough just to have the malt that’s in the glass, right?

So where I live now (Europe) chocolate malts are non-existent, so I make my own. This way, I can also take total charge of the ingredients, so I’ll use ice cream and chocolate syrup I made. And, of course, Horlicks malt powder which thankfully I can get at the British expat store. Don’t use that Carnation stuff, which is super sweet and has chocolate powder in it and whatnot. Horlicks can be found, oddly enough, in a lot of Asian grocery stores. This is the stuff that will make you an addict. Oh, speaking of, as a kid I ate a lot of the Horlicks malt tablets, which were a type of candy. I cannot find this stuff anywhere! I wonder if anyone else craves this– I know I didn’t imagine it because my sister remembers them too.

There are purists who believe that chocolate malts should be made with vanilla ice cream, obtaining their chocolate flavor from just the syrup. I don’t care either way; but I personally prefer it with vanilla ice cream just because it seems to taste like just the right ratio of chocolate to malt. Plus there’s something about the chocolate that comes from a syrup that gives it that kitschy, retro soda fountain taste. (I don’t know how else to explain it. But anyway, a premium, super chocolate ice cream is not going to get you that same nostalgic taste I’m talking about!)

So make a classic chocolate malt — you won’t be disappointed, even if you make it with store-bought vanilla and Hershey’s syrup. For the love of Mike, don’t use ice cubes. But make sure to use the Horlicks.

My ideal chocolate malt
makes one large malt, or two short ones, if you want to share

3 scoops vanilla ice cream (my recipe for Philadelphia-style is here)
2 tablespoons chocolate syrup (recipe below)
1/2 cup whole milk (very very cold– keep it in the freezer for 10 minutes or so)
3 tablespoons Horlicks malt powder

  1. Pour the ingredients into a blender and pulse for 20-30 seconds.
  2. Top with whipped cream and if you want to go seriously classic, a maraschino cherry.

Chocolate syrup
I really like this chocolate syrup because it is not too sweet, but is still really chocolatey. I find commercial chocolate syrup too sugary. You can also use a tablespoon of this in a cup of hot milk to make quick hot chocolate.

1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  1. Combine the water and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk until the sugar has dissolved and bring to a slight simmer.
  2. Add the cocoa and salt and whisk until smooth. Simmer lightly for about 3 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Let cool to room temperature. Keep in the refrigerator.

Domestic Goddess: Sugar High Friday
Wikipedia: Horlicks
Crispy Waffle: Vanilla bean ice cream
Crispy Waffle: Super chocolatey ice cream
Kopps Frozen Custard

EBBP #7: Loot update

So I got an updated package from The Passionate Cook and man, was it a loot box full of goodies! My kids almost fainted when they saw all the sweets, and I had to photograph it instantly because once they got their paws on it, it would have been impossible to list everything that was included. So here’s what we got:

  • Manner neopolitan wafers
  • Kokos-Rollen coconut candy
  • Peppermint candies filled with chocolate– weird, but good!
  • Hazelnut creme wafers (I love that she included so many waffle treats!)
  • Pez, that my kids attacked immediately. I had no idea that Pez came from Austria!
  • ‘Weiner gebak’ sugar candies
  • Dragee Keksi chocolate candies
  • Maoam gummies
  • Manner caramels
  • Banana jellies covered in chocolate
  • Bonbons flavored in pina colada and coconut-rum (these were boozy and delish!)

Whew! I think that’s all. It felt like Halloween at our house! My computer is acting freaky so I can’t post the picture I took, but I will add the photo once I work out my techie problemas.

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