Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Thai Green Curry Paste in a Recipe

lines showing how to slice across the grain
Yesterday I finally got around to trying a recipe with my recently made (and frozen) Thai Green Curry Paste. I got chicken breasts to use for my recipe, though boneless chicken thighs or pork tenderloins would work well also. In order to slice meat thinly, it is best to start with it still partially frozen. For the chicken breast, or for any meat used, it is also good to slice it across the grain of the meat. When the meat is cooked in the dish with the cut across the grain, it allows very easy cutting and eating with a fork. 

julienned carrots
The vegetables for a Thai Green Curry recipe are usually things like green or red bell pepper and hot green chiles, more garlic and lemongrass (there is garlic and lemongrass in the Thai Green Curry Paste used in the recipe). I also used julienned carrot. Coconut milk is generally the liquid. My favorite brand of coconut milk is Thai Kitchen; it just tastes like fresh coconut, to me. I did not use extra hot chiles, as my husband would not tolerate them, but feel free to use as many as you can stand! 

My Dried Keffir Lime Leaves
Many recipes call for Keffir lime leaves (sometimes spelled Kaffir Lime). I have never yet had the fortune of having a real, fresh Keffir Lime. I hope someday to have that experience and really know the difference between those and Persian limes. Meanwhile, the best I could do with my Thai curry was to use dried Keffir lime leaves. The only place I found them (at the time I was looking, a couple of years back) was Savory Spice Shop, in Colorado. I am sure they are available elsewhere, but this was where I found mine. Keffir limes are indigenous to Southeast Asia and now grow in Hawaii as well. The leaves often have a double leaf, looking like two leaves growing end to end. The fruit's skin is extremely puckery; far moreso than a Persian Lime. Wikipedia has an excellent photo of both the fruit and the double leaves. 
Dried Shiitake Mushrooms

The recipe turned out very well, overall. The flavors were great and everything cooked just as I wanted, meaning nothing was too overcooked. I believe that Thai flavors are not really my preferred flavors. While the meal was truly delicious, had it been an Indian Curry, I would have loved it far more. I just love some of the warm Indian spices more than Thai flavors. Regardless, I may be in a great minority on that, so do not let that stop anyone from trying this dish. It really was wonderful. 

Thai Green Curried Chicken

Serves 4 to 6

2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast (about 4), partially frozen
Thai Green Curried Chicken
3 tablespoons soy sauce

4 dried Shiitake mushrooms
2 teaspoons coconut oil
1 onion, in wedges or cubes
4 - 8 tablespoons Thai Green Curry Paste
1 can coconut milk (not sweetened)

2 carrots, peeled, julienned
1 green or red bell pepper, cut in cubes
2 - 4 Thai chilies, optional
3 cloves garlic, minced finely
3 - 4 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced finely
2 Keffir lime leaves, or 1 - 2 teaspoons lime zest
fresh cilantro leaves, as garnish
roasted cashews for garnish

Slice the chicken across the grain of the meat, into thin slices. Set them into a bowl and toss with the soy sauce. Set the Shiitake mushrooms to soak in about 1 1/2 cups boiled water. Cover and allow them to reconstitute for at least 20 minutes. Heat the coconut oil in a very large skillet or wok and cook the chicken, about half the pieces at a time. They need only be partially cooked. Removed them to a plate when done. Add the onions to the skillet and saute them for about 3 to 4 minutes. Add in the Thai Green Curry Paste and stir until fragrant, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add in the coconut milk and stir to combine. Add in the vegetables, garlic and ginger with the lime leaves and return the chicken to the skillet. Stir together carefully and allow to simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Garnish with cilantro leaves and cashews. Best served over white rice.

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website and Marketplace, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. I am also on a spiritual journey and hope you will join me at my new blog, An Eagle Flies.  

Friday, January 24, 2014

Mom and Dad's Bean Soup is a Delight

My Bean Soup, last evening
Long, long ago, when I was quite young, my Dad brought home a recipe for Bean Soup. They didn't often really cook together. Dad worked long hours and didn't always have time. He was inventive through, and loved to try new things, so I think that must be where I got my gene for trying new things! They made the bean soup though, and it didn't quite suit. So they tinkered with it, tweaked it, and over time, this is what they came up with; a delicious, stick-to-your-ribs kind of soup that is just heaven on a cold day. The photo below left is one my Dad took with his Sony Mavica camera. He was so proud to be able to take photos and immediately email them to all of us children. Dad passed on later that year, and Mom some years later, but their recipes live on.

Mom & Dad's Bean Soup, 2001

ham bone and beans in the pot with water - note the line
To make this soup, it is best to have a leftover ham bone from whatever occasion you have eaten a ham. It is also good to leave a bit of ham on the bone so you get some nice meaty bites in the finished soup. Whenever the occasion arises and a ham bone is left, freeze it, well wrapped until needed. If you really do not have a ham bone, it is possible to make this soup with smoked ham hocks. There was a time when ham hocks had a bit more meat to them, but these days, there is almost none. Still, the flavor will be there and that is the most important part. If you use ham hocks, you might consider adding in 1/2 to 1 pound of cubed ham. Other than the ham bone, the soup is really very simple. Nothing out of the ordinary goes in but beans, barley, onion, carrots, potatoes bay leaves and ketchup.

I don't recall Mom ever soaking the beans for the soup, and I never have when I make my own. Great Northern beans are best, though Navy Beans are fine. When Mom and Dad made the soup in later years, they started playing with the recipe a bit, using celery, which they never did when I was young, and sometimes substituting a bag of baby carrots for regular carrots, sliced. The soup will thicken as the beans are cooked for more than 2 hours. If you stop the cooking when the beans are just tender, the soup will not be as thick, though just as tasty. My preference is that the soup be so nice and thick you can almost stand your spoon up in it, but that is my choice.

Another thing my Dad always did, and I follow suit, is to add a little vinegar to the soup in his bowl. It really enhances the flavor of the soup. I know some may thing this is odd, but I love it, so give it a try. Anywhere from a teaspoon to a tablespoon per bowl, to taste. This soup is heavenly good on its own, but a nice slice of bread with butter is a wonderful addition to the meal.

Bean Soup

The finished soup

1 leftover ham bone, with up to 1 pound meat left on
1 pound Great Northern Beans, picked over and rinsed
1 large onion, diced
1 - 2 bay leaves
1 cup barley, preferably the long-cooking kind
3 - 4 large carrots, scrubbed, sliced in coins
2 - 4 potatoes, depending on size, peeled, cubed
3/4 - 1 cup ketchup

Put first five ingredients into a very large soup pot and add water. The ham bone should stick out by about 1/3 (note the line I made on the photo to show where the water line was). Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for about an hour or so. Add the carrots, potatoes and ketchup, cover and continue to cook for at least another hour or two, until soup is slightly thickened and beans are falling-apart tender. Remove the ham bone from the pot and set it on a plate. When cool enough to handle, break off all the meat and break it up into shreds. Discard the bone and any fat. Return the meat to the pot and stir in. Remove bay leaves and pass the vinegar!

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website and Marketplace, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. I am also on a spiritual journey and hope you will join me at my new blog, An Eagle Flies.  

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Scones in a New Shape and Combination

It becomes harder these days to be surprised by some of the food combinations that are being concocted. Things like sweet corn ice cream or Indian spices in frozen pops. Combinations of sweet and savory in any meal. Sweet with savory is nothing new, but these are mixtures I would never have thought of. Which brings me to scones. It is common enough to pu
Apricot Blue Cheese Scone Cakes
t cheese in scones. Usually, something like cheddar, and usually the yellow kind. Then I heard of using blue cheese. Hmmm.
I happened to have some Gorgonzola crumbles in my fridge. I decided to try this out.

I always keep varied dried fruits in my cabinet, in case I need them for something and do not have any fresh ones on hand. Dried apricots are nice to have, because they are not in season for long and not generally in stores in mid winter. At least not where I live. I usually have dried figs and dates, raisins and sultanas (yellow raisins), mango, craisins and sometimes cherries. On occasion, I even find dried blueberries. It is nice to toss in a handful of dried fruit in a recipe for a cake or scones or muffins. I have not yet used apricots in scones or muffins, but then neither have I used something like Gorgonzola as the cheese. 

cooking apricots to evaporate liquid
I am a bit of a purist in many senses. I prefer to make things from scratch. i prefer not to use boxes or cans of things I can make myself. I also prefer for a muffin to look like a muffin, and a scone to look like a scone. Still, I am not totally averse to doing something slightly different. I may or may not like the outcome, but I will sometimes try. Today, tried something different. I decided to make "scones" with apricots and Gorgonzola cheese - in little squares. There is no really good reason for this, except I saw it done and the look tickled my fancy. These scone "cakes" would be just as wonderful made into traditional shape, patted out and cut in wedges. But I am curious, just to see if the result comes out as expected - or not - and then I will know. So, I tried out this recipe I created. If you prefer traditional scone shapes, with much less fuss or bother, Once the dough has come together, turn it out onto a floured surface, fold it over on itself a few tines and pat into a circle about 8 or 9 inches in diameter. Cut across the circle, creating 6 or 8 wedges. Set onto a lightly greased baking sheet and bake as below, until nicely golden brown.

Apricot Blue Cheese Scone Cakes

1/3 cup dried apricots, cut into tiny cubes
1/2 cup water
1 egg
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Dough formed, left; patted into pan, right

1/2 cup almond flour / almond meal
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon lime zest, optional
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick (8 TB) unsalted butter, cold, in small cubes
3/4 cup blue cheese of choice (Gorgonzola, Blue, Stilton)
more heavy cream for brushing
Turbinado or other coarse sugar for sprinkling

In a small saucepan combine the apricots and water. Bring to boil, reduce to a simmer and cook slowly for about 15 minutes, or until almost all the water has absorbed or evaporated. There should be less than a tablespoon of liquid left. Allow the apricots to cool. Once cooled, add the egg to the apricots and whisk to combine, then add in the cream and stir well. Set aside.

Grease a straight sided 13 x 9-inch baking pan. Line the bottom with parchment and grease the parchment. Set pan aside.

brush with cream and sprinkle with sugar
In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, almond flour, sugar, baking powder, lime zest and salt. Whisk to distribute the ingredients equally. Add the cold cubes of butter and with fingertips, rub the flour mixture into the butter until well combined and the mixture looks like coarse meal. 

Add the apricot mixture to the bowl, along with the blue cheese of choice. Using a fork, toss the ingredients until well moistened. Using hands, bring the mixture together. Press the dough into the prepared 13 x 9-inch pan, patting evenly. Place the pan in the freezer for about 1 hour, or until partially frozen and very stiff. 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees (350 on Convection Bake). Remove the pan from the freezer and flip the pan over onto a lightly floured surface, turning out the dough. Peel off and discard the parchment. With a very sharp knife, cut the rectangle into 24 approximately 2-inch squares. Brush the top of each square with the extra heavy cream, and sprinkle the tops with the Turbinado or other large-crystal sugar. Set them onto a lightly greased baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for 16 to 20 minutes, or until puffed and golden.

These little golden squares would be wonderful on their own for breakfast of course, but they would be equally at home to accompany a nice creamy soup or as a brunch item. Were I to attempt this recipe again, I believe making traditional scone shapes would be just right. For a fancier meal, this shape is beautiful and perfect.

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website and Marketplace, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. I am also on a spiritual journey and hope you will join me at my new blog, An Eagle Flies.  

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

A Wonderful, Warming Winter Stew

Carbonnades Beef Stew with Beer
I read about this stew a very long time ago. The book, no longer in print, was called Glorious Stew, by Dorothy Ivens, copyright 1969. It has been one of my favorite cookbooks since I got it as a soon-to-be new wife, way back then. The stew is supposedly Flemish in origin, and according to Ms. Ivens, the meat was meant to be cut in thin, flat pieces. Two things that made this stew stand out was the amount of onions and that it used beer as some of the cooking liquid.

I tried making the stew as Ms. Ivens suggests, but over time, some things just seemed easier to do a slightly different way. I liked the idea that the onions should be equal in weight to the meat. Onions are very sweet when cooked, and these just seem to melt down to nothing during the stewing period. I like beer, and learned to drink heartier beer while living in Guatemala, so a heartier beer is what I have always used. Ideally, a Belgian Ale would be the right beer for this stew. In Guatemala, I only had Guatemalan beer to choose from. Since living in the US again, I have used German beer over the years. Now, beers from anywhere in the world are available, so finding a Belgian Ale is not such a difficult thing anymore. Still, as with wine; if it is good enough to drink, then it is good enough to use for cooking.
Ingredients for Carbonnades

This recipe is found all over the internet, and is made in widely varying manners. The only thing that is consistent is the use of beer as some or all of the cooking liquid. There are enough beers available singly that even if beer is not your drink of choice, a bottle can still be acquired to use for the stew. The alcohol is cooked out completely with the long stewing process, but the flavor is just wonderful. My husband absolutely dislikes anything bitter, and never, ever drinks beer. That does not stop him from loving this stew! I generally use one normal sized bottle of beer. If needed, I may open a second and use a little more.
Steps 1 & 2: Bacon and Beef in Pot

For me, a stew is a one-pot meal. I might, on a rare occasion, serve a salad first, but generally, if I make a stew; that is dinner. My husband will eat bread with it, but I find a stew filling enough on its own. The stew has potatoes in it. I put the potatoes in at the beginning of the cooking period, as I do not like extra pots to clean afterwards. If you prefer potatoes that still taste and look like potatoes, peel them and cut in chunks near the time the stew is finished. Cook them in salted water until just tender and then drain and add them to the stew as it is served. If tarragon vinegar is not available, use cider vinegar and add in a half teaspoon of dried tarragon or 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon.

Carbonnades Beef Stew with Beer

Step 2 & 3: Onions and seasonings in the pot
Makes about 4 servings

2 pounds beef rump or chuck
2 - 4 slices bacon, cut across into 1/4-inch pieces
2 pounds white onions, thinly sliced

2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
2 cloves garlic, smashed
2 teaspoons salt
a few grinds of pepper 
1 - 2 cups beer; Belgian Ale preferred
4 medium potatoes, peeled, cut in chunks
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons tarragon vinegar
Extra parsley for garnish

Preheat the oven to about 300 degrees. The stew should be able to maintain a simmer; adjust the temperature later, accordingly.

Step 5; adding the beer to the pot
Cut the meat into 1 to 1 1/2-inch cubes. Set the cubes of meat on paper toweling to dry; this ensures it will brown in the pan. Have a large stew pot or braising pan with a lid ready.

In a skillet, brown the bacon. Remove the bacon from the skillet with a slotted spoon and add to the stew pot. Retain the bacon grease in the skillet and add in the onions. Saute the onions until they are limp and golden colored, but not browned. Remove them to the stew pot with the slotted spoon. A few pieces at a time, brown the meat cubes. Do not crowd the pan or they will steam. Remove them to the stew pot as they are browned.

Step 6: Potatoes into the pot
To the ingredients in the stew pot, add the sugar, 2 tablespoons parsley, bay leaf, fresh thyme, garlic, salt and pepper. Pour in the beer and stir all the ingredients to combine. Set the stew pot on a burner and gently bring up to a simmer. Cover with the lid and set the pot in the preheated oven. Check the pot after about 45 minutes to see if it is at a simmer. If it is boiling, lower the heat; if it is not simmering, raise the heat slightly. Check again about halfway through the cooking time to make sure there is still enough cooking liquid. If it is dry, add either more beer, or supplement with beef stock or water. Cook for 2 to 2 1/2 hours in all, or until the meat is tender.

In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch and vinegar. Set the stew pot on top of the stove, remove the lid and set the burner on medium low. Gently stir in the tarragon and cornstarch mixture, stirring until the stew has thickened slightly. Allow the stew to continue at a simmer for about 5 minutes more, to ensure the cornstarch is completely cooked through. Garnish with more parsley before serving.

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website and Marketplace, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. I am also on a spiritual journey and hope you will join me at my new blog, An Eagle Flies.  

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Making Thai Green Curry Paste; a Midwest Adventure

To start, I must first admit to knowing very little of Thai cuisine. Along with that, while I haven't made it a quest to find good Thai restaurants, I have been unimpressed with those I have tried. To date, the one time I ate at a Thai restaurant and enjoyed a soup (one of the Tom Yum, with chicken), it was at some little hole-in-the-wall place in the middle of nowhere, California, while on a trip. Admittedly, if it wasn't for my daughter in law, Julia, who is a true Thai food fan, I would never have eaten at that place, or any other!

Ever since, I have been curious. Though, as I said, I have been unimpressed with any places I have tried since. When I read recipes, they do not inspire me. They just do not jump out as interesting. I know Thai food is supposed to be quite healthy; generally simple ingredients. Maybe that is part of the problem. I tend to love anything that has a multitude of ingredients going on. Indian cuisine just so completely engulfs my imagination and my palate. A list of 20 ingredients, with 15 of them spices - that is something I love.

Thai Green Curry Paste
Somewhere I saw a recipe for Thai Green Curry Paste and thought the ingredients sounded good together. I sat down to create what I thought would be good ingredients for a recipe of my own. In general, some things seem to be ubiquitous in any TGCP  recipe: cilantro, green chiles, lemongrass, fresh galangal (preferred) or ginger, garlic, Keffir Lime (preferred) or regular lime, coriander, cumin, pepper and some kind of oil and a fish sauce. Other possible additions are things like shallot, Thai Basil, shrimp paste, coriander roots, turmeric, soy sauce. 

I read one person's blog, very obviously a Thai person, who emphatically stated that Keffir limes are not to be substituted with Keffir lime leaves. They stated that this would be like saying if you didn't have an orange, you could use orange leaves instead. There is no resemblance. This makes sense. I have dried Keffir lime leaves in my spice cabinet, but no way to get the actual Keffir limes. I realize that Keffir and Persian limes also have no resemblance, but the regular Persian limes were all I had. Likewise, I had fresh ginger, but no way to get fresh galangal (a cousin to ginger, but with much stronger, more pungent flavor). Where I live, I cannot get fresh lemongrass, though there are those tubes (Gourmet Garden brand, Lemongrass) in the grocery, stating Lemongrass Paste on the front, though the ingredient list contains other things to "stabilize" the ingredients or whatever. Still, it was the best I could do. Such times as I have been able to acquire fresh lemongrass, I have never been able to make the inner white parts smooth. Unless I slice exceptionally thinly across the lower stem, there are just fibrous bits in there.

Thai Green Chilies are also not available everywhere here. Generally Serrano and Jalapeno are the most accessible. Since my husband would not tolerate too much heat anyway, and if I want him to taste-test my experiments, I used seeded jalapenos, definitely at the lower end of the heat spectrum. If you want more heat, keep the seeds, of whichever chili is preferred. Fish sauce or shrimp paste? Nope. I could probably get one of those items, but if it tasted fishy, again my husband would not touch it. I have been able to sneak a little anchovy paste into a Caesar's Salad occasionally, but I would never use a fish sauce for anything else, so it would be a waste to keep. 

Okay, with all this in mind, it is obvious that my "Thai" Green Curry Paste is a very Americanized, upper-midwest grainbelt sort of interpretation. Still, the flavors turned out an interesting mix; bright, clean, not-too-hot, a little bitter and very green. One recipe I saw said to use whole limes, skin and all. This captured my taste-imagination, so I did that. I am sure that is where the bitter notes came in. Had I used Keffir Lime peel and galangal, I would likely have some pungent bitter notes as well. Most authentic recipes call for pounding all the ingredients in a mortar and pestle. I have many mortars and pestles; none large enough to accommodate this many ingredients. Instead I used my Vita-Mix Blender, which comes with a plunger that allows one to push down the ingredients and keep blending. Using a regular blender might require stopping and starting numerous times, including starting out with some ingredients cut very small, or pre-ground. So, this is what I did:

Thai Green Curry Paste

1 large bunch fresh coriander, stems and all
6 green jalapeno chilies, stemmed and seeded  
2 shallots
5 Tablespoons Gourmet Garden Lemongrass Paste
4 large cloves garlic
1 chunk fresh ginger, about golf ball size, skin left on, cut in smaller chunks
2 whole limes, washed and cut in chunks
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon peppercorns (white, if available)
3 - 4 tablespoons oil (I used olive; all I had on hand - not very "Thai", I know)
1 tablespoon soy sauce

In a dry skillet over high heat, toast the coriander, cumin and pepper for a few minutes until fragrant. Place into the blender, along with all the rest of the ingredients. Blend, stopping as necessary to stir down ingredients, until the paste is as smooth as possible.

This makes about 2 cups. A good measure is 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons per person for a Thai Curry. Freeze it in portions to have on hand. I made 4 tablespoon (1/4 cup) portions, since there are two of us in the house. I use the little old-fashioned sandwich baggies with a flap, put the paste into one corner, tie a little knot in top and freeze these little portions of anything (Red Curry Paste, leftover tomato paste, etc.) 

For use, in general, heat some oil in a pan and add in the Curry Paste to release flavors, add in coconut milk, vegetables (peppers, zucchini, carrots, peas and/or chicken or shrimp) and cook to desired doneness. Additions might be chicken stock, Thai basil, a pinch of sugar. I will be trying this out in the very near future. The paste also tasted wonderful raw, so it could also make something in a RAW food diet taste marvelous.

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website and Marketplace, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. I am also on a spiritual journey and hope you will join me at my new blog, An Eagle Flies.  

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Back to Yeast Waffles

Overnight Yeast Waffles
I can be very persistent. Just ask my husband!

When I made the waffles about a week ago, trying for a recipe that would be similar to Marion Cunningham's Yeast Waffles, well, it just took too long for the results. The result was wonderful after 3 days in the fridge. Great, if you are having guests and need something spectacular for breakfast and need things done ahead; not so much if you want relatively instant results. 

I consider overnight as "instant" because it is quick to mix up the night before and let it set out overnight. It is ready for use immediately, in the morning. Just add eggs and baking soda and presto - Waffle Batter! The recipe of last week used no time at room temperature to ferment. The fermentation was a long and very slow process in the fridge. I had come to expect the fermented yeastiness of M.C.'s Yeast Waffles. My batter of last week never had that. While it did finally come out tasting of yeast after 3 days in the fridge, it was not strong, nor fermented in flavor. So, I went back to the drawing board. I did some research into such things as sourdough starters, along with other recipes for yeast waffles. 

Batter bubbling away at 10 PM
10 PM: Batter risen considerably
I think these days everyone is so fearful of germs and food poisoning, they forget that sourdough comes from fermenting a yeast batter, generally at least starting out on the counter (as in NOT refrigerated). I read online and about everyone that had posted MC's Yeast Waffle recipe, now called for mixing the batter and then putting it in the fridge overnight. This will never give that great sour, fermented quality that is so unique to these waffles. It will give nice waffles, just not what I was looking for. Granted, it is possible to have a starter go bad; usually not overnight. It becomes very obvious in that it will develop an off color, sometimes pinkish, and smell just wrong. There is no lovely fermented tang; it just plain stinks. 

Long, long ago, I had a sourdough starter going for some time. Once it was there bubbling away, I looked for recipes to use the starter. I made waffles and pancakes, bread and cake. The thing about a sourdough starter is that the longer it lives (as in, using a portion, then refreshing the remainder with more flour and water, so the fermentation is continuous), the more sour the flavor. The stronger the sour flavor, the more it comes through in what you make. Breads become quite tangy, and so do waffles and pancakes. At that point, I was not so enamored of the sourdough starter. I didn't want quite that much sour tang in my waffles or pancakes. So, what to do?

Here entered M.C.'s Yeast Waffle recipe - a real "a-HA!" moment. 

Note light through bubbles when held up to light
So, back to the reason for this post. I created another batter last evening. It is similar to M.C.'s Yeast Waffles. There are only so many things to change. You need certain proportions of flour, yeast, sugar, salt. Other additions are butter or oil, milk, eggs and baking soda. I lessened the amount of butter a bit, and added an egg. I added a pinch of powdered vanilla pod (I save the pod from a vanilla bean when I scrape the seeds, allow it to thoroughly dry, then pulse to a fine powder in a coffee grinder used just for this). A splash of good vanilla extract would be great also. I used nonfat dried milk powder. The batter really took off. I mixed it up at 8 PM. I checked it at 10 PM, before going to bed. It was merrily and actively bubbling away and had risen noticeably in the bowl. This morning, it was still bubbling, though more slowly, and had noticeably fallen in the bowl. This is normal, and expected.

Once I added the eggs and baking soda, I had my "Belgian" waffle maker going. I had never made this kind of waffle in the deeper welled waffle maker and was curious if they would rise to fill the spaces, as the dough is relatively runny. The deeper wells did fill, but I think it just works more nicely in a regular waffle iron. The dough baked into very light and crisp waffles with noticeable tiny bubbles baked into the waffle. They smelled heavenly of the yeasty tang and tasted even better. Success! 

Note height of batter in the bowl
Still bubbly, risen and fallen overnight
One more thing: I am baking bread and other wonderful yeasty things all the time, so I buy SAF Instant Yeast by the pound brick. Instant (or Rapid-Rise / Quick-Rise) Yeast requires no "proofing." If you have a packet of regular yeast, use 1/2 cup of the water called for, warmed separately, to proof the yeast. Save this mixture until the end of the mixing of the batter. I also do not keep milk in the house. I have instant dry milk powder or evaporated milk for those times I need milk for a recipe. If preferred, use 2 cups of milk when melting the butter. The other half cup of water can be added to the milk, or used to proof the yeast if needed.

Overnight Yeast Waffles

Thin, gloppy batter
2 1/2 cups water
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup instant dry milk powder 
1 packet of instant rise yeast (about 2 1/2 teaspoons)
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Mix the water and butter in a microwave safe container and heat on short bursts to melt the butter without overheating the water. Make sure the water is just tepid before adding to the dry ingredients.

Separately, in a large, glass or plastic bowl, combine the flour, milk powder, yeast, sugar and salt. Add in the tepid water and butter mixture and stir well to combine. Cover lightly with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to ferment overnight. (If it is very cold outside, you may place the bowl in the oven with the oven light on. Keep the bowl at the furthest point from the light as possible. Some oven lights make the oven too hot, and could hinder the process or kill the yeast.)

Next morning, set up a waffle iron. Add the eggs and baking soda to the fermented batter and whisk in to combine. Pour about 1/2 to 2/3 cup onto the waffle iron and bake according to directions; usually about 2 to 2 1/2 minutes. Makes about 10 to 12 (7-inch round) waffles.

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website, on Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. I am also on a spiritual journey and hope you will join me at my new blog, An Eagle Flies.