on the menu: banana coconut waffles

On June 12, 2015 by theseventhsphinx

The waffle experimentation continues here chez sphinx. Going strong with my All-Clad Belgian waffle iron.

banana coconut waffles

This time I substituted all of the oil for coconut oil and about 1/4 of the flour for coconut flour, then say 1/2 c of moisture for mashed banana. Buttermilk over milk every time. I also added sparkling water, which, in conjunction with the baking soda/vinegar (from the buttermilk) mix, makes the batter bizarrely fluffy, and the waffles deliciously fluffy (want to try it with sparkling wine later…). I adapted the buttermilk waffles recipe from the Cook’s Illustrated cookbook, which is often too elaborate for my taste but which is full of good techniques. I didn’t use buttermilk powder, for example, as the recipe suggests, I just used buttermilk.

1 1/2 c all purpose flour
1/2 c coconut flour
1 T coconut sugar
3/4 t table salt
1/2 t baking soda
1/4 t nutmeg
1/2 c milk (to sit with 2 T cider vinegar for a few minutes*)
1/2 c mashed ripe banana
2 large eggs
1/4 t vanilla extract
1/4 c coconut oil
1 1/4 c unflavored seltzer water

*The standard buttermilk recipe is 1 c milk to 1 T lemon juice or vinegar but I love vinegar, so my ratio is more like 1 c of milk to 4 T vinegar…still doesn’t read as vinegar in the final product.

Whisk dry ingredients, mix wet ingredients excepting seltzer, gently add seltzer to wet ingredients, stir wet into dry being careful not to overmix (batter should be lumpy). Can add berries or chocolate chips at this point, or any other debris. Iron away.

banana coconut waffles

Jars Ceramics plate

It’s increasingly rare that waffles go wrong for me.

banana coconut waffles

Now if I could only work out pancakes, with which I find experimentation a risky proposition.

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on the menu: whole roasted branzino

On May 22, 2015 by theseventhsphinx

I’ve been wanting try new fish, and new methods of cooking fish. Whole roasted branzino is easy with great presentation value.

roasting branzino

Instagrammed

I started roasting some fingerling potatoes about 30 minutes in advance as the fish cooks quickly, especially in a hot oven. There is a range of roasting approaches, ranging from ~20+ minutes at 350° to 10 minutes at 500°. I went for a happy medium, around 16 minutes in a 425° oven. I jumbled together a few recipes, mainly this one and this one.

branzino

Pillivuyt Eden porcelain oval baking dish

I was really pleased with the flavor and texture of this branzino, a.k.a. Greek sea bass. There is the appeal, too, of the fish being fresher and less expensive when purchased whole (I didn’t gut it myself, though this would be pretty badass to be able to do, and I aspire). The cavity can be stuffed with any number of herbs and accents, I used lemon, basil, garlic, thyme, and salt.

branzino

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on the menu: eggs en cocotte

On May 17, 2015 by theseventhsphinx

Eggs en cocotte are a surprisingly quick and simple breakfast, all you need is the ambition to pre-heat the oven.

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A cocotte is formally a covered casserole or Dutch oven (any size) but is also often used as a synonym for ramekin. A cover isn’t at all necessary, so any ramekin or oven-proof teacup is fine here, 6-8oz is ideal. Even a muffin pan will work, though I prefer the ease of serving and the uniform heating of either porcelain or ceramic. Great for brunch as you can put them together in an assembly line, and your serving capacity is only limited by the number of cute little oven-safe dishes you have. It’s convenient if they are all more or less the same size, so they will cook uniformly.

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Adorable 8oz mini cocotte from Le Creuset in Caribbean

Add-ons will improve the situation, but eggs, butter and cream alone will do just fine. I like to include any combination of the following: bacon, ham, parsley, cilantro, asiago, gruyere, cheddar, parmesan, chives, scapes, dill, basil, scallions, caramelized onions, sauteed vegetables…anything you would put in an omelet, really.

What you do:

Pre-heat oven to 375°

Heat water in a kettle

Liberally butter (unsalted) the base and sides of cocotte(s), leave a little pat of butter in the bottom.

Layer add-ons into the cocotte as desired. Here I’ve layered scallions, garlic scapes, cooked bacon lardons (+ dash of bacon fat), cheddar, asiago.

Add one or two eggs, depending on the size of your cocotte and hunger levels. Add salt, pepper, and a grating of nutmeg. Pour in a dash (anywhere from 1 tsp to 1 Tbsp) of cream (cream on the bottom also popular). Add a little more cheese on top (this is non-traditional, but I like a lot of cheese).

Place cocottes in a casserole dish (I add a paper towel to the bottom so they don’t slide around) and pour hot (not quite boiling) water around such that the water level comes half-way up the sides of the cocotte. The water bath/bain marie helps keep the eggs tender and evenly cooked.

Cook 10-15 minutes, depending on your taste and the size of your ramekins. I like to cook for about 10-12 minutes and then broil for 1 to brown that cheese but still have the yolk soft. The broiler business is non-traditional and an easy way to overcook the egg, so be careful with this if you try it.

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Very little trial and error is required to figure out what the best cooking time is for your favorite kind of egg. It’s never too late to add more garnish at the end, either, herbs especially. I’ve been putting garlic scapes on everything to great effect lately.

Don’t forget the coffee.

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reading: cookbooks

On February 9, 2015 by theseventhsphinx

IMG_9606I am a frequent reader of cookbooks, some for practicality, some for fantasy, some for inspiration. Being a better cook is important to me (is part of my aspirational identity, part of my style, is non-negotiable), as is trying new foods and learning about other cultures through food. Here’s the stack I’m browsing currently:

The New Persian Kitchen, Louisa Shafia — I often like, in the case of cookbooks that focus on a particular culture, the section of the book that outlines specialty ingredients, describing their peculiarities and uses, and where you might find them, what they might be substitutes for, or what you might substitute for them. Expanding the culinary glossary. Immediately I imagine my own uses for them, how they might add interest to my existing repertoire. Immediately I want to go find them, if I don’t already have them. Immediately I want to use them if I do already have them. So far this is a great cookbook in that I want to make many of the dishes and I’m interested to read the small details, which seem well done here, about preparation. Not only preparation of the dish itself, but lots of good information about preparation of the ingredients. Ex. After reading this, I will be soaking some grains before cooking.

Simple Thai Food, Leela Punyaratabandhu — Also quite good, more the kind of cookbook I graze, skimming for what I want to read in more detail and absorbing the broad concepts, basic formulas, for later application rather than intending to cook a specific recipe (partly because many of the dishes are so flexible). Lots of explanation again, useful and clear, a little bit of bio mixed in, anecdotal evidence, all to the point. I love Thai food.

momofuku milk bar, Christina Tosi — The book born of the famous bakery, this is a fantasy read. These dishes are over-the-top, beautiful, innovative…complicated. Time-intensive. Gadget-intensive, stuff-intensive. I don’t really want to make them, but they are cool. Well, I might try a few of the easier ones…

Plenty More, Yotam Ottolenghi — I’ve enjoyed all of Ottolenghi’s books, interesting and uncomplicated (that is, often not many ingredients, though certain ingredients are complicated in themselves) combinations. Again I mostly skim here for concepts. You don’t need the recipe, you just need to remember the concept of the combination that is the key to the interesting flavor profile, and store it away, let it join the mix of the other flavor profiles in your flavor bank. His combinations inspire your own, which inspire still more, and so on. The kind of book that makes me hungry.

 

 

 

on the menu: spelt waffles

On October 18, 2014 by theseventhsphinx

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These might be my favorite waffles yet. Flavorful, good texture, froze well…good waffles. I’ve been playing around with spelt flour lately with great results. It has a light nutty flavor and substitutes well for all-purpose, so it’s easy to experiment.

I read about six recipes (here’s the closest) and then did this, with the approach of maintaining a 1:1 ratio of dry to liquid ingredients:

1 c spelt flour

1/2 c all-purpose flour

1/2 c wheat flour

1/4 c almond meal

2 T bran flakes

4 tsp baking powder

2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp cake spice (nutmeg, ginger, allspice, cinnamon, clove blend)

1/2 tsp salt

2 Tbs sugar

1/2 c yogurt (greek)

1/3 c coconut oil

1 c milk

1 mashed ripe banana

2 eggs

2 Tbs cider vinegar

1 tsp vanilla

Preheat and grease waffle iron (I preheated to a higher temp than I cooked, cooking finally at setting 3 of 7), mix dry ingredients and wet ingredients separately, stir wet into dry and let batter thicken 2 minutes. I like a consistency like quite thick cake batter.

Add heaping 1/2 cup of batter to iron and cook until golden, repeat. Makes about 8 waffles.

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This recipe is receptive to substitutions.

Enjoy!

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