4.25.2012

"those things I love"


Well, would you look at that.

I took that photo a month ago, with every intention of casually throwing it up here one afternoon, accompanied by some earnest urging for you to all make waffles the next chance you get, highlighting their amazingness for any of you who haven't found the recipe on your own as you wade through this blog.

Um, yeah, I didn't do that.

Instead, I went to work a lot, because I created a new chocolate dessert for the restaurant that is going over like gangbusters, and I can barely keep up with production. (It's a chocolate olive oil soufflé, by the way, with milk chocolate mousse and bitter chocolate caramel. If you're anywhere near Maine, you should come eat it.) Then I added a rhubarb-wild blueberry crisp to the menu, served bubbling hot with mounds of gingered whipped cream melting down the sides, and it's become clear that people are craving bright, tangy fruit desserts as we finally pull away from the dreariness of a long, grey winter, because its sales are actually surpassing those of the chocolate desserts. Which, in the restaurant industry, is unheard of. I also learned how to make some adorable agnolotti pasta, which is my new favorite shape, due in no small part to the cute little ravioli stamp I get to use to seal them shut. Seriously, pasta gadgets are awesome.

And then there was the fact that school vacation happened. It's always an interesting balancing act when the kids are on break but the adults are very much not. And by balancing, I mean figuring out how many days one can realistically bring the kids to work before they realize they are missing out on valuable vacation time. So we also made time for play dates, an overnight with the cousins, museum trips, and big kid bike shopping, and we worked on preparing for our chicks to arrive. We had Easter. We met alpacas.



The chicks I have been planning for and dreaming about since last fall finally got here on Thursday. Aside from the unexpectedly sweltering hour-and-a-half drive home from the farm store where we picked them up (did you know that day-old chicks need to be kept very warm, as in 95º warm? The boys and I were not properly dressed for the return trip!), and the hours I could while away watching those cute little girls and their silly antics, they're surprisingly low-maintenance. So low-maintenance that Kalen and Wylie keep forgetting they're here! The fact that they currently live in the basement probably contributes to that. (I would like to show them to you. But every time I try to take a picture of them, they come out resembling lumpy orange blobs with dark eyes, due to the infrared heat lights they live under. Weird, and certainly not an accurate reflection of their absolute adorableness. You'll just have to use your imaginations for now.)

And . . . that's about it. That was my month. Sitting here thinking about it, and looking at how little space it takes up on the page, it doesn't sound like much at all. Is that really all we did? How did it take up all of my energy and fill my days to bursting? Truthfully, I have no idea. The past month has existed in a strange vortex of time, one that feels very rushed and busy all day long, but that reveals, upon reflection, to not have much to show for itself.

I blame spring.

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Spring has really gotten going around here, with an explosion of growth and color and motion and chatter (oh, those noisy sparrows!), and I think I may have mistaken Mother Nature's furious rate of productivity for some semblance of my own. But that actually feels to me like the right thing to do. When the world around you is bursting forth with life, when the scenery on your drive to work changes from one day to the next, when the flowers you planted last summer and promptly neglected come barreling forth from the earth in all their furry, oddball glory and then promptly bloom, well, I think it's right to take a bit of a break from the pace of our own lives to really pay attention to something bigger than ourselves. Even if that something bigger is only the mockingbird who has just shown up in the yard, and keeps exuberantly burying his face in the pompoms of green that have burst from the branches of the maple trees.

And now? Now I feel invigorated. Now I feel like harnessing some of that energy for myself, and getting out there to get things done. Things like mowing the lawn, which hasn't happened since the fall, and planting gardens and teaching Kalen the mechanics of pedaling the above-mentioned bike, and maybe even ordering that bench cushion I've needed for years and have put off buying. Oh yeah, and readying a coop for our quickly-growing chicks to move into!

So before I jump into all of that, let's get back to those waffles for a moment, okay? It's not a new recipe; in fact, it's from the early days of this blog. Which is why I'm worried many of you don't know about it. Because who wants to read blog posts from the first few months of a blog's life? (And if you do, please, please let's not mention the quality of some of those photographs. Thank you.) But, all early-blog-embarrassment aside, these waffles need your attention. There are many recipes on the site (as I'm sure there are on many food blogs), that haven't landed very often on my dining room table since landing here. I think it's the nature of recipe development: there are always so many new things to try, there isn't time to come back around to everything you've already made before. Onward and upward, as it were.

But these waffles are different. These waffles, so simple in their ingredients, so easy-to-the-point-of-neglectful in their preparation, these unassuming waffles have moved into the realm of Can't Live Without It food for my family. Wylie, for whom the word "waffle" seems to frequently slip his mind, simply refers to them as "those things I love with the holes in them."

We all know what he means. We all love them as much as he does.

About a month ago, I held a talk, more of a casual group discussion really, at my local natural foods market that was all about gluten-free breakfast baking. I brought biscuits and multigrain scones for everyone to snack on, but I also wanted to give them waffles. After going gluten-free most people, if they eat waffles at all, get by on the frozen ones from the grocery store. You know the ones I mean. They're small, and thin, and they have an odd, dusty feeling in your mouth, no matter how much maple syrup you drown them in.

I want people to have real waffles back in their lives.

So I confirmed with the market that I could have a little table, placed next to an electrical outlet, during my talk. I arrived that morning bearing my waffle iron and a bowl of puffy, bubbling batter that I'd made the night before. And while people drifted in, and introductions and small talk and earnest discussions got underway, I made fresh waffles for everyone. Big, fluffy golden brown waffles, with a satiny-smooth interior and crisp edges, and a complex yeasty flavor, made sweet by the butter and maple syrup it had been fermenting with.

They were quickly devoured, with great joy, and it reminded me that when you've been living gluten-free for years, watching everyone around you eating foods that are off-limits to you, the gift of perfect waffles can be a pretty big deal, indeed.

Gluten-free waffles. Humble ingredients, spectacular results. That, in a nutshell, is my goal in almost all of the baking that I do. That, and also convincing everyone around me that they can do it, too. So if you missed seeing this recipe the first time I posted it, please, make waffles now. Make them for Mother's Day, all dressed up with berries and whipped cream and flowers and a card on the tray next to them. Or make them on Friday morning, a special breakfast treat to end the kids' week on a good note. Heck, make them for dinner when you don't have the energy for chopping and sautéing and braising. Whatever you do, find a way to make them part of your everyday life.

Because we all deserve great waffles. Especially if we are gluten-free.


Gluten-Free Yeast Waffles
Yields five 7-inch Belgian waffles

245 grams (about 1¾ cup) Tara’s gluten-free pastry flour
25 grams (about ¼ cup) certified gluten-free oat flour
1 teaspoon xanthan gum or psyllium husk powder
1½ teaspoons rapid rise yeast
12 fluid ounces whole milk
85 grams (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter
2 tablespoons real maple syrup (preferably grade B)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
2 large eggs, lightly beaten

In a small bowl, whisk together the pastry flour, oat flour, xanthan gum/psyllium husk powder and yeast. Set aside.

Heat the milk until very hot (but not boiling). Pour it into a large mixing bowl and add the butter, maple syrup, vanilla and salt. Stir to melt the butter. Allow to cool to lukewarm, then add the eggs and flour mixture. Stir to combine, working out most of the large lumps but stopping before the batter is completely smooth.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the batter rest on the counter for 1 hour. The mixture will begin to bubble. At this point, you can cook the waffles now, but the flavor will be better if you refrigerate the batter overnight and cook it the next morning.

To cook, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for your waffle maker. Serve hot, with maple syrup, fresh berries, or, for a really decadent treat, Nutella and sliced bananas.

6 comments:

  1. these sound delicious... as do all of the new gluten-free offerings at the restaurant. wish i lived closer! thanks for sharing and happy mother's day!

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    1. Happy Mother's Day to you, too, Gretchen! I hope you have a delicious, relaxing weekend!

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  2. Thank you for the recipe. I've only been gluten-free for a couple of months now. Before being gluten-free I was not a waffle eater but interestingly I'm finding some of the gluten-free recipes I'm discovering online for things like muffins or brownies or your waffles more appealing to me than their gluten-ous counterparts. I may just have to find a waffle iron at a thrift store and try these!

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    1. It's funny the things we start wanting to eat after we figure out what our bodies NEED us to eat. I hope you score a waffle iron somewhere (mine is definitely one of my favorite thrifted items!) and have a chance to make some waffles!

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  3. Um. Can we talk for a moment about how adorable those alpacas are? Like SERIOUSLY adorable. I though that first picture was a stuffed animal actually.

    Also, I'm working on a waffle recipe as we speak, and yours looks divine. My go to waffle recipe is chemically activated, not yeast risen, but I am going to play with the yeast ones for this batter. And probably throw in some other crazy flavors. Or not. We'll see.

    Sounds like pastry chef work is working out for ya! And I totally want that chocolate olive oil souffle. If only Maine wasn't so darn far away...

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    1. I know. The alpacas were crazy cute. And so gentle and friendly. And then, learning about how low-maintenance they are, and how cheap to feed, and how lucratively profitable their fiber (and stud services!) can be . . . I think I want an alpaca farm. :)

      I can't wait to see what you come up with for waffles! I've done waffles before without yeast, but I always miss the flavor, plus I get such a kick out of using ingredients that are alive. And throw in crazy flavors? Of course you will. That's part of why we love you. I'm sure they'll be divine.

      And Maine really IS far away, isn't it? Even when people travel to the East Coast, they rarely make it up this far. It's too bad - there are so many of you that I want to have dinner with.

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