Aug 12 2015

Savory Cheesy Cornbread Waffles (Gluten Free or Not, your choice)

Corn Waffles 3

Both of my daughters have picked up the cooking bug. L particularly enjoys baking, perfecting recipes and making birthday cakes for friends. J is very experimental with her cooking. She has recently been on a chia pudding bender and has been known to make outrageous (I’m not a huge fan) microwave mug cakes. Both girls have started some sort of baking/culinary club at school and scour the web for interesting recipes on the vast number of cooking blogs.

Neither of their schools offer cooking as an elective and neither really has a kitchen that can be used at school. They resort to bringing in baked goods and trying them out on friends and club members. Nonetheless, both have figured out ways to cook at school without a kitchen. One way is microwave mug cakes. Another is to bring in waffle irons and make waffles at school. I think their efforts are pretty ingenious.

J was supposed to have a waffle event at school a while back (I am the club “advisor”) with her club. But the other students forgot their waffle irons or didn’t get her email and the event needs to be postponed. In the meantime, this got me considering the waffle. I started thinking outside of the box and did a quick search for “savory waffles” on the web. As a lover of cornbread, I added that to the search criterion, too. There is a plethora out there, but I came up with my own combination that I tried out in our very old, $10 waffle iron. It is sort of a small waffle iron that is a happy medium between a standard waffle and a Belgian style waffle. I’m used to it. It works. I wish I had a second one. In fact, with all these fancy waffle irons that you flip over to get the best rise on the waffle, I’ve started turning my little machine over while it is baking away. It isn’t that I’m too cheap to buy a new one, well maybe it is, but I really like the one I’ve got.

Corn Waffles 2

What would you serve with these? Eggs and bacon, for sure. Side dish for chicken, absolutely. With chili, ribs, or any other dish that goes with cornbread, yup. Plain, right off the waffle iron….oh, yeah.

They are super easy and, actually, I used gluten free flour in the test batch, but suspect that regular flour would be absolutely fine.

Corn Waffle 1

Savory Gluten-Free Cheesy Cornbread Waffles
(can substitute regular flour!)

1 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup Jeanne’s GF Flour Mix
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. paprika
1/8 tsp. cayenne
1/4 tsp. herbs de provence, optional (or fresh herbs added with the cheddar)

3 tbsp. melted butter
2 eggs
1 1/4 cups buttermilk

1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese, plus more for sprinkling on top for cheesy crust

optional: sliced scallions

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Combine liquid ingredients in a bowl. Add liquid ingredients to dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. Add 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese and mix in. The batter is pretty liquid.

Let mixture rest 10 minutes. You can also make this ahead and refrigerate it.

Preheat a non-stick waffle iron. Pour batter into the waffle iron, not too full (no specific amounts here – each iron is different) and sprinkle some cheese on top of the batter. Close the waffle iron and cook according to the manufacturers directions, until the steam has died down (4-5 minutes) and the waffle is golden and crisp. Remove and serve.

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Feb 20 2015

What’s for Dinner?

White Bread

Bread alone? I could make a meal of it, but it isn’t what we’d have for dinner. Is it some sort of heady responsibility, being the one to decide what to have for dinner every night? It shouldn’t be.

Still, I’ve been in such a funk with respect to deciding what to have for dinner. I just don’t seem to be able to bring up, in my mind, my list of usual meals – the “rotation”, so to speak. The problem is, we really have never instituted a rotation. Did that ever exist for our family? Did I have that growing up? Would my family like to have the same meals week-in and week-out? A fortnight rotation? Is there a responsibility to cook variety all the time? Need we try so many new dishes? Does there always need to be a recipe (no!)? Magazines leave me uninspired and cooking blogs are so numerous, it is overwhelming.

The issue is, I think I’m looking for new ideas inside of old ones. What is it that we like to eat? I looked all through this blog, and while I have recorded some recipes, I realize that our usual dinners are not well represented and I’m not finding inspiration. Finding a place to consolidate our usual fare has proved difficult – the menus for the week are somewhat scattered and I haven’t kept that up, the categories of meat dishes prove that I haven’t posted very much of what we eat.

S came up with an idea that was actually a repeat of something I had, literally, posted on the inside of a kitchen cabinet door, but pitched for some reason. “What about making an excel spreadsheet of the things that you cook?,” said he. So, I’ve gone about that task over the last few days and come up with a great number of dishes. I’ve perused this blog, my saved recipes on Epicurious and Everyday Food (so sad they aren’t keeping that app up to date). What I really need to do is put links into the spreadsheet….I’ll leave that for another day. The spreadsheet has SALAD under Vegetables, but that could be a side, a meal, or pretty much anything. The category needs to be expanded.

I have not put desserts on the list – that seems to be something I am not having any trouble with, on the blog or elsewhere. Still, it wouldn’t hurt to add a repertoire of favorite baked goods, desserts and treats, somewhere.


It turns out, there are a lot of meals to be made from this list. I don’t want to be overwhelmed by my own list, though. Many of the foods – e.g., flank steak – don’t need much more explanation. And, just knowing the protein that I would want to make will help me narrow the search for a recipe if, indeed, I even need one. Do I always start with the protein? Pretty much. Just like on a menu at a restaurant, it seems to be the centerpiece. However, increasingly, our portion sizes of protein are getting smaller and the portion of the plate taken up by vegetables is larger. For the better.

The Fish category, and pasta too, would be much longer if shrimp were still on the menu. But, sadly, for environmental reasons, it is not. We decided to stop eating shrimp about 9 months ago. The shrimp fishery just does too much damage to the marine environment – wild shrimp harvesting destroys the bottom of the ocean and shrimp farming pollutes/destroys mangroves around the world. We have also taken most tuna off the menu because of its mercury content and we eat it only rarely, and swordfish and other large fish almost not at all. Our family has instituted, or we are trying to, a Meatless-Monday routine. To be honest, however, finding good, satisfying non-pasta vegetarian dishes has proved challenging. It is one of the areas in which I plan to improve.

I will update the spreadsheet as needed, either within this post or another. And, I think, I’ll print it and tape it to the inside of the cabinet door again, so that inspiration is there when I need it. Perhaps the menus for the week will reappear, as they are very helpful for the efficient use of ingredients which helps reduce grocery bills and wasted food – a win-win.
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Jan 24 2015

Four+ New Recipes for the Files

Whoopie Pie

I’ve made many recipes in the last few months. A few stick out as ones that I’d like to keep in my online memory.

First is a recipe that I made for Rosh Hashanah, many moons ago. I was looking for an appetizer recipe that could be served with meat and was on the healthy side. I found a recipe for “Sephardic Spinach Patties” on Epicurious that looked very promising. Lots of stars, great comments, etc. I chose to make the “Italian” version that included raisins (I used dried currants, soaked in red wine…the recipe says “wine”) and pine nuts (I used fewer than called for). It was a hit. And, because J would be a participant in the festivities, I made them gluten free (using freshly made breadcrumbs with GF bread). I also made them bite sized. Somehow, the sweetness of the currants was offset by the flavors of the spinach, garlic and pine nuts so that it was just a hint of something delicious without being over-powering. I’m putting this recipe in the rotation for dinner parties at any time of year.

Next up, kabocha squash. Why have I not eaten this delicious, creamy, velvety squash before this year? We have put kabocha on our permanent must have list for soups. Again, turning to Epicurious, I found an amazing, easy recipe for Roasted Kabocha Squash Soup with Pancetta and Sage. I was crazy about the soup, but did not totally follow the recipe. Here is what I did differently in order to lighten it up (no frying the sage in a vat of oil): wash and dry sage leaves. Melt 2-3 Tbsp butter in a small saucepan and add the sage leaves. Continue to cook the sage in the butter, stirring frequently, until the butter is browned and the sage leaves are crispy. Remove the sage leaves with a slotted spoon. Reserve the sage infused brown butter for another use (brushed on roasted chicken, perhaps?) These buttery, crispy sage leaves are completely addictive. Make extra.

Recently, a good friend of mine encouraged me to make a recipe that she had seen on the new New York Times Cooking section online. This one is also easy, though, very worthwhile to prep a bit beforehand – mis-en-place – because the dish comes together in just a few minutes. It is a chicken dish called “Sauteed Chicken with Meyer Lemon”. I made the recipe exactly as directed. It was divine. I would serve it next with a little rice and spinach. I actually served it with quinoa and brussel sprouts. That was fine, but I think rice and spinach would be better. It is currently Meyer Lemon season, but I bet this recipe would work beautifully with regular lemons.

Finally, I made some traditional whoopie pies using GF flour. The recipe worked very well – I used a cookie scoop to make sure the cookies came out in matched pairs. They did not have the smooth top of a regular whoopie pie – whether it is the recipe or the GF flour, I’m not sure. But, the texture and taste were very good (S said, “this tastes just like a devil dog”…mission accomplished). And, while I didn’t use the marshmallow filling called for in the recipe, I did try a buttercream that I’ve been wanting to make for a while. Years ago, I went to a baby shower and the cake was so beautiful and memorable and the frosting so delicious that I spoke to the talented hostess about the frosting. She said that she made it with sweetened condensed milk. Hmmm. Never heard of that before. After some hunting and finally circling back with the hostess, I actually made a facsimile of the frosting that I do think went well with the whoopie pies. Now, looking for the recipe, I can’t find it. Luckily, I remember how I made it (I did tweak the one online). It is almost the same as regular, back-of-the-box confectioner’s sugar buttercream, but it uses some sweetened condensed milk instead of regular milk. The sweetened condensed milk adds a fabulous texture to a regular buttercream.

My New Favorite Frosting

4 cups (about 1 lb.) confectioner’s sugar
1 stick softened butter
2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
2 tsp. milk (more as needed)

Place all ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer. Mix, starting at low speed, then increasing to high when all the sugar is incorporated. Continue to mix at high speed for about 5 minutes, or until the frosting is very creamy. Add milk, by the teaspoon, as necessary, to get the right consistency.

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Nov 27 2014

Quince Compote

Published by under breakfast,dessert,fruit

Quince Prep

L absolutely loved a dessert that I made last year, only I had no recollection of how I made it. So, this year, I went about re-creating a Quince Compote that would come close to the “food of the Gods” that I made last year.

Quince are a seasonal fruit that I’ve never seen at the supermarket and rarely see at the farmers market. At home, we have ornamental quince that has a beautiful coral colored flower which blooms on thorny branches in the late winter and early spring here. Our bushes actually get little fragrant fruit, but I’ve never cooked them. Last year, S and I were at a hotel that had beautiful fruit trees all around – mostly, from what I recall, figs, pomegranate and quince. Shortly after I saw the big quince trees, a local fruit market carried the actual fruit and I took the opportunity to try and make it.

Quince in pot

Quince is not a fruit you eat straight off the tree. It is very, very hard and astringent/tart. It takes a bit of time to peel, cut, core and slice. A labor of love, for sure. But it is definitely worth it for the lovely, fragrant pink deliciousness that quince becomes when it is cooked.

Below is a re-creation, for posterity, of the compote that L insisted that I should remember. L and I eat it plain. I also eat it with yogurt and granola for a delicious breakfast. J had a friend sleep over last night and she ate some on her waffles this morning. I’m thinking it would be good with turkey on Thanksgiving.

Quince Cooked

Quince Compote

4 quince (large-ish size)
4 cups water
2 cinnamon sticks
1/4 lemon, cut into two pieces
1 star anise pod (or the equivalent amount in little pieces if yours has fallen apart like mine)
4 cloves (or more if yours are small, like mine)
1/2 vanilla bean pod, sliced open, lengthwise (optional)
1/2 cup sugar (more to taste)
1/4 cup honey (more to taste)
pinch salt

Note: I do not make my compote overly sweet. The quince retains some of its tartness. If you like yours sweeter, add more sugar/honey.

Peel the quince (a vegetable peeler is easiest), then cut into quarters and then cut each quarter in half, lengthwise. Slice off the hard core from each eighth piece and then cut it in half, again, lengthwise. You should get 16 slices from each quince. Note that the core is very hard and gritty – it is essential to cut it out. Put the quince and all the other ingredients in a pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover. Cook for 1-1/2 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally, until the quince is pink and soft. Remove spices. Cool and put into a container in the fridge, and/or freeze some for later use.

The spices are to taste – if you don’t like a particular one, you can omit it. Note, also, if you want to make it easier to remove the spices, tie them into a square of cheesecloth, like a bouquet garni. This would be a good idea, especially for the cloves. Wish I’d done that.

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Sep 19 2014

Easy Turkey Breast Tenderloins

Published by under dinner,Holidays,turkey


Thanksgiving Dinner, anytime.

While shopping at one of my favorite stores (love most things there, with the exception of the excess packaging), I spied these gigantic turkey breast tenderloins. They looked kind of funny, and I thought, many times, “what the heck would you do with those huge things?”. But, I was intrigued. I wanted to try them. The packages were anywhere from 1-1/2 to 2 pounds of meat. A lot, but it could be good for a meal with leftovers. And, the tenderloin part of the turkey breast might be a little more moist when cooked – especially given the weight, you could cook it fast without over cooking.

One of my concerns, though, was how to keep the outside of the turkey moist without coating it with breadcrumbs (not gf and kind of messy and more work than I wanted). Bacon, baby.

So, I took the plunge a while ago and made a very easy turkey breast tender dinner. Imagine 45 minutes to prepare a pretty delicious Thanksgiving, without any fuss. It just took me a while to post this.


Turkey, green beans, mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes. You can even roast the sweet potatoes in the oven with the turkey. Zero clean up for either one if you line the roasting pan with foil. Done and done!
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Apr 02 2014

Gluten Free Buckwheat Crepes

Published by under breakfast,dessert,Gluten Free


Yet another item on J’s favorites became off limits when she stopped eating wheat: crepes. She has loved them ever since she was a baby. We spent time in France for S’s job, the first time when J was only 11 months old. These were not long-term relocations. Instead, they were short term stints – 3-4 weeks – where we accompanied him on long-term business trips. As glamorous as that sounds, it was hard to pick up from your routine and build a new routine in a new city with few friends and babies’ schedules. On the other hand, it was pretty sweet.

Back to the crepes though….

Near our apartment, a nice walk away to take les petites filles in their unwieldy double stoller (an old, heavy, Sit ‘n Stand), was a little crepe restaurant that had about 6 tables and served nothing but savory and sweet crepes. We would go there and I’d somehow maneuver the stroller in. L (2 1/2) would hold J (11 months) while I would fold the stroller (no high chairs). I’d get all of our winter layers off. We’d all offer a sigh of relief as we sat down to order our meal. The girls favorite was a ham and cheese crepe, which I positioned as a “French Quesadilla”. It was one of my many little “stories” (like Louis XIV’s famous edict “no complaining at the castle”) to help them behave, relate the foreign culture to our own, and have a bit of fun. They were hooked on the french style quesadilla. For dessert we usually had a simple crepe buerre et sucre. Still my personal favorite.

One excursion to this little restaurant was on a particularly raw, damp, cold day. We were literally steaming as we entered the warm restaurant environment. The girls and I had a nice little lunch. Everyone, myself included, was on best behavior. I managed to open the stroller, getting ready to leave, got J (in her warm snowsuit) into the contraption. Then, I set about getting L zipped up. At the time, and not so different from now, she was a cherubic visage – blond, wispy, curly hair; blue, blue eyes with long lashes; and a heart shaped, red mouth. She gave me a big kiss and hug as I was wrestling her into her outerwear and the entire restaurant broke into spontaneous applause. I had no idea anyone was watching. But the place was so tiny, how could they help it. A proud parenting moment.

So, how can I help trying to satisfy J and L’s love of crepes? Now, I make a gluten free variety.
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Mar 01 2014

Challah – Regular and Gluten-Free

Published by under bread,Gluten Free,Holidays


We are going to some friends for shabbat dinner tonight and I’m bringing the challah. I bake bread every chance I get these days, since those opportunities are so rare given our gf J. This time I decided to try to make an additional loaf of Gluten Free Challah. I always feel so badly for J that she should miss out on some of her favorite flavors and foods.

Gluten free breads are not difficult to make, but the process is quite different from traditional breads. There are good recipes (“good” being a relatively loose term) and horrible ones (mostly). In my search for a good one, today, I hit the jackpot. One thing to know is that gf breads have a different texture when fully baked, but also a very different texture when in their “dough” form. The dough is more like a thick batter than a dough. The challah dough that I made, for example, is spooned into a bread pan – it definitely can not be braided. I also read on a website, that it is important to cook the bread to a minimal internal temperature of 200 degrees – preferably a bit higher (mine was about 208 degrees and is still very moist inside).

GF Challah

J was thrilled when I brought her a little piece of the challah when I picked her up at school. I had made a little roll with some of the excess dough so that I wouldn’t have to cut into the big loaf. Truthfully, I think the roll came out even better than the bread loaf. But, the loaf came out so well, I immediately ordered a challah mold so that I can make the GF Challah look like the real deal. It is particularly delicious toasted.

Here is a link to the Gluten Free Challah recipe. Note that I think the salt used in the recipe is table salt. Since I use kosher salt, I had to add a bit more (1 tsp.). Also, since I use a rapid rise yeast, I used a little less of that and the rising times were a little bit shorter (45 minutes and 40 minutes).

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Nov 17 2013

I Like Pie

Published by under Holidays,Pie

It’s that time of year again. Apple Pie. Mmmmm.

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Nov 02 2013

Gluten Free Pumpkin Ginger Cupcakes

Published by under cake,Gluten Free,Holidays

I made these gluten free pumpkin ginger cupcakes with J for the culinary club at her high school a couple of weeks back. They were a big hit. Today, I made them for an event at L’s high school and made them in mini-muffin tins. I do this so that J has a dessert that she can eat at the school event. The cupcakes are from a recent issue of Food and Wine Magazine and are divine. I did not “gild the lily” with the caramel sauce that they add. Really, that would be insane, as there is already about 1 1/2 lbs. of sugar in the recipe when you count the frosting, not to mention the 3/4 cup oil in the cupcakes and the 6 oz. marscapone and 6 oz. cream cheese. I don’t think heavy cream and sugar are necessary additions, but if you feel like it, go for it! Instead of caramel, I just sprinkle on a little plain ground cinnamon for looks and taste.

I modified the recipe slightly today because I didn’t have the exact flours on hand. Instead of the rice and tapioca flour, I added an equivalent total amount of Jeanne’s Gluten Free All-Purpose Flour Mix. I couldn’t tell any difference and it was a bit easier to use what I had on hand. I will definitely keep using the prepared flour mix instead of the individual flours. The frosting is absolutely perfect as written. I never realized how much easier it is to frost cupcakes using a pastry bag. Prettier, with a higher frosting to cake ratio. That works for me. Especially with this frosting. Mmmm.

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Oct 21 2013

Pea Soup

Published by under food,soup,vegetables

This is a very basic, healthy (well, except for the smoked ham, I guess), very easy, delicious, soul gratifying split pea soup. There is absolutely nothing fancy about it. It doesn’t get much simpler. My friend SA said that she wanted to make pea soup and so I thought I would give her my recipe. Seriously, SA, you need to make this.

The only thing that I think makes this even more delicious than it already is: a really good grilled cheese sandwich. Either one alone is wonderful. Together, they make quite a meal. Tonight, S, J, L and I slurped and munched quite happily on just that meal. It finally feels like autumn. It is soup time of year.

Pea Soup
makes 6 big bowls, plus some extra
refrigerates and freezes very well

16 oz. (1 bag) split green (or yellow) peas, rinsed and picked over for any strange beans
1 smoked, meaty ham hock/shank bone, cut into 3 pieces by the butcher
1 large yellow onion, 1/2 inch dice
1 large rib of celery, 1/2 inch dice
1 large carrot, 1/2 inch dice
1 bay leaf
8 cups of water
pepper and salt to taste

Put all the ingredients into a soup pot (5 quart should do).

Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally. Skim off the foam and discard. Cover and turn the heat to medium low. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 1 hour, until the beans have all fallen apart.

The soup may seem thin – that is o.k., it will thicken as it cools slightly (when it is cold, it will be a block of soup). Turn the heat off. Remove the ham hocks to a plate and discard the bay leaf. Cut the ham off the bone and put it back in the soup, discard the bones. Season the soup with pepper and salt to taste (CAUTION: you may not need any salt because the ham hock is fairly salty already).

That’s it. And, if you don’t feel like using any meat, don’t. Just put in a couple of smashed cloves of garlic when you are cooking everything together. You’ll likely need salt. Or, if you don’t feel like getting a ham hock, just fry up some diced bacon, discard the fat and proceed. Infinite possibilities to add herbs, other meats or vegetables. But, eh, why bother. I like it this way the best.

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