Monday, March 19, 2012

Soft Waffles with Raspberry Sauce

A few weeks ago I finally bought something I'd been wishing for for years: a waffle-maker. I don't know why it took me so long. It only cost $25 which we spend on pizza more often than is healthy for us. Not that I'm going to argue that waffles are healthy, mind you... just yummy.

The thing is, most recipes you find for waffles tend to make them crisp, at least on the outside. This is especially true if you use self-rising flour or a pancake mix. I have nothing against using self-rising flour in recipes--actually, I'm a fan. But when I was a teenager in France we used to make waffles for dinner sometimes (what Americans associate with breakfast and brunch is generally considered dinner food in France), and they were soft. So I developed this recipe through trial and error to try to recreate the waffles of my youth.

You will need:

1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup cake flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/3 cup light Karo syrup
1 cup whole plain yoghurt
1/2 cup of half and half
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs

For the raspberry sauce:
2 cups of frozen raspberries
3/4 cup white sugar
1 tbsp butter

Can of whipped cream (I'll post a recipe for homemade Chantilly another day)

measuring cups
measuring spoons
waffle maker
mixing bowl
nonstick cooking spray
2 quart saucepan
wooden spoon

For the waffles:
Spray the waffle-maker with nonstick cooking spray and preheat.
Whisk together the dry ingredients. Whisking works as well as sifting in my kitchen.
Add the rest of the ingredients all at once. Whisk until smooth.

Pour directly from the bowl into the waffle-maker. When in doubt, use less batter--you don't want it to overflow, that makes a mess that's no fun to clean. Check after 5 minutes, although the waffle-maker I got lets you know its done when the light goes out again.

For the sauce:
Place all ingredients in the sauce pot and heat on medium high until it bubbles, then lower to low heat. Cook for at least ten minutes.
If you're concerned it's starting to stick to the pot or it's caramelizing, add a little water.

If you want to avoid getting seeds in your teeth you can use a strainer, but I don't do this as you lose a fair amount of the gooey heaven of the sauce that way.

Pour the raspberry sauce on the waffles and top with whipped cream. Makes three waffles. Enjoy!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Baked Dover Sole in White Sauce with Spinach and Rice

My husband and I like fish, and Dover sole has the advantage of having low mercury levels. It's often inexpensive, too. This dish calls for a white sauce similar to the cream sauce I make with the chicken penne recipe I posted a while back. I like to make spinach and white rice with it and pour the sauce over both.

You will need:

1 lb Dover sole fillets
1 quarter of a lemon
1 cup whole plain yoghurt
2 tablespoons mayonnaise (I like the kind made with olive oil--less fat)
3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 1/2 cups of white jasmine rice
1 box (10oz) of frozen, chopped spinach

rice cooker
nonstick cooking spray
baking dish
small bowl
silicone spatula
2 to 4 quart pot with lid

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Start the rice in the rice cooker. I put in a ratio of about 1:1.25 rice to water, so in this case, 1 1/2 cups of rice and just under two cups of water. If you do not have a rice cooker, follow the directions on the rice package.

Spray the baking dish with the nonstick cooking spray. Lay the filets in the dish as evenly as possible. Try to avoid making any part thicker than the rest, so that it will bake evenly. Squirt lemon juice from the lemon quarter over the fish. Sprinkle salt over it.

In the small bowl, mix the plain yoghurt and mayonnaise with the whisk until fully blended. With the spatula, scrape the sauce over the fish, and spread it so that it covers all of the fish. Run your fingers down the sprigs of thyme (against the angle of the leaves) to pull the leaves off, and sprinkle over the white sauce. Put it in the oven, and set a timer for 14 minutes.

Put the frozen chopped spinach in the pot, placing the lid on top, and heat on medium to medium high, flipping the block of spinach every so often until it comes apart. After that, stir it every couple of minutes. If it starts to stick to the bottom of the pot, lower the heat.

The rice should be done about at the same time as the fish and spinach. Start by pouring off the water that will have melted in the spinach, using the strainer. Then remove the fish from the oven. You can test it to make sure it's done by inserting a fork. If it's done the flesh of the fish will come apart easily--underdone fish will resist.

Plate the rice and spinach, then the fish, so you can scoop up white sauce from the fish and pour it on top of the rice and spinach. Serves 2-3 people. Enjoy!

If you try one of my recipes, please leave a comment and tell me how it turned out!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies

When I was pregnant, I made these cookies at least once a week, and I couldn't keep my hands off of them. I have more restraint now, for some reason, but they are still yummy. The whole grain oat flour is what makes them stay soft even after they cool--and it's healthy for you, too. The only thing is, I advise you to avoid the gluten-free version unless you need to use it for allergy reasons. I tried it once and it made things unpleasant for me, digestion-wise. If you do use it, don't indulge in more than one cookie at a time.

You will need:

1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
3/4 cup of whole grain oat flour
1 tsp aluminum-free baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt (if it's not kosher, use 1/2 tsp)
2 sticks of softened margarine*, cut into pieces.
3/4 cup granulated white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

two mixing bowls
hand mixer
parchment paper
nonstick cooking spray
one or two cookie sheets
two small spoons

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Combine the flours, baking soda, and salt in one bowl. If the two bowls are of different sizes, use the smaller one for the dry ingredients. Also, as an aside, I would never purchase plastic mixing bowls, because the day will come when you need to beat egg whites in them, and plastic makes it nearly impossible to get egg whites to stiffen. So if you're thinking of purchasing some mixing bowls, go with metal (copper if you can afford it--best, once again, for egg whites) or pyrex.

Whisk to remove lumps--I always do this rather than sifting, which takes too long for me and also tires out my hand. Once you're satisfied that the lumps are gone, add the chocolate chips and mix.

With the hand mixer, beat the margarine, sugars, and vanilla extract until fully blended. Add the eggs, beating them in. The margarine gives this mixture a strange, grainy quality, as in the photo.Gradually add in the flour mixture, perhaps in 3 parts, or 4.

Spray the cookie sheet(s) with nonstick cooking spray and then line with parchment paper--this makes removing the cookies easy later, and clean up is that much quicker. Using the two spoons, scoop cookie dough and put it in large dollops (just under the size of a golf ball) onto the parchment paper, taking care to keep them apart. These will spread, and run into each other, if they are too close together.

Bake for 10 minutes (although you should probably set your timer for 8 minutes with the first batch since my oven may be different from yours). Cookies are done when they are a medium brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the sheet for about 7-9 minutes. If you are working with a second cookie sheet you can put it in, and use the spatula to move the baked cookies from their sheet to a plate about a minute or two before the next batch is ready.

Makes about 20-25 cookies.
* I use Blue Bonnet. I don't know whether Blue Bonnet is the best margarine to use, but I will say that between choosing butter and stick margarine, I would choose stick margarine every time. It just tastes better.