Not-So-Healthy

Buttermilk Waffles

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I’ve always been a waffle girl. I would eat them every day, if I could. This recipe is my absolute favorite. It’s perfect for Sunday brunch or those long days when you just want to eat waffles for dinner. It is not exactly healthy but who cares? If you want to add more fiber, you can replace a quarter cup of the all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour. I have also replaced the sugar with honey.

This recipe is from The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion (The All-Purpose Baking Cookbook), which if you don’t own, you must stop reading this and go buy it immediately. It is one of my favorite baking books.

Buttermilk Waffles:
2 large eggs
1 3/4 cups (14 ounces) buttermilk
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted and cooled down to room temperature
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

1 3/4 cups ( 7 1/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar (optional)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

Beat the eggs and then add the buttermilk, butter, and vanilla. Beat together. In a separate bowl, mix all of the dry ingredients. Add the dry ingredients to the buttermilk mixture and mix. The batter will be thick. Each waffles iron is different, so follow the instructions that come with your iron in order to know how much batter to use at a time and how long to cook the waffles. Mine takes around 2 minutes 15 seconds.

These are delicious with maple syrup, of course, but I also like snacking on them with peanut butter. Double the batch and freeze the extras. They reheat well in a toaster and still come out crispy. Enjoy!

 

 

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Cast Iron Skillet Apple Pie (or maybe it’s apple crisp)

Ok, fine, so maybe this isn’t a true apple pie. Since I didn’t use a dough or a crust, I guess it’s more like an apple crisp. I’m calling it pie, though.

The cast iron skillet I used has been in my family for years. It belonged to my great grandmother, and I just recently re-treated it. And let me just say this here and now: I’m madly in love with it, and you can expect to see many more recipes using it.

But anyway, as for my not-quite-a-pie, maybe-an-apple-crisp recipe. The filling is from my 1984 edition of Joy of Cooking. I love using old cookbooks for baking recipes because they typically use less sugar than modern day recipes you’ll find online (which is odd of me to say considering that I’m posting this one online). This recipe only uses 1/2 cup of sugar in the filling, which allowed for the true taste of the apple to shine through, rather than the overbearing taste of sugar.

The topping is a modified version of a topping that I got from who knows where. It uses a lot less sugar and butter than the original.

So begin by preheating the oven to 400 degrees. Place the cast iron skillet in the oven to preheat.

Next core and slice:

5 apples

Place them in a large bowl and add:

1/2 cup of brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons of cornstarch
(depending on how juicy your apples are)
1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon of nutmeg

In another bowl, mix together:

1 1/2 cups of oats
1/4-1/2 cup of brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon

Once mixed, add:

1 stick, plus 1 tablespoon of butter, cubed while still cold

I like to work the butter into the other ingredients with my fingers, but you can use a food processor as well.

Next pull the cast iron skillet out of the oven and add 1 tablespoon of butter to the skillet. It will make a wonderful sizzling sound. Let it melt (it’ll only take a few seconds) and then quickly add the apple mixture (more wonderful sizzling noises) and then pour the topping on. Place the skillet back in the oven and back at 400 degrees for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 and bake for another 35-45 minutes. 

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Turkey Bolognese

Fall is here and with it comes cooler temperatures and something that may surprise some of you: I start craving meat. Unlike many people who live for grilled meat during the summer, I could easily live, and be very satisfied, feasting on every fruit and vegetable I can possibly afford to buy at the farmers market. That’s not to say that I turn vegan during the summer, but I certainly can go days without meat and be content (with the exception of seafood when I’m at the Cape). When fall comes, however, I start craving those slow cooked and hearty meals and, though I love vegetables more than most people, I’ll be the first to say that many of my favorite traditional meat dishes cannot be replaced with vegetables. With that said, since I don’t eat beef and rarely eat red meat in general, I find some meats to be too rich and fatty for my taste, these days. Therefore you’ll find that I sometimes replace a traditional beef dish with a leaner meat, such as turkey. My bolognese is the perfect example.

I learned how to make bolognese at a cooking class at Sur la Table. There the instructor used a pound of beef and a pound of pork. Though it is traditional, that combination is far too rich for my taste. I, instead, have found that dark meat turkey works very well. But just because I’m using turkey, don’t think that I skimp on the other traditional fatty parts of this dish. To me, when you make something such as bolognese, you have to either go all the way or not make it at all. This is not a dish that, in my opinion, can be made with low fat milk and white meat turkey. It’s just not the same. Therefore, it is important to use ground turkey thigh and whole milk.

And one note about the turkey. I, unfortunately, can’t easily find ground turkey that’s raised locally. I bought mine at Whole Foods, and I must admit that it was the first time I bought meat from a grocery store in at least a year. But I know that if I can’t find the meat I need locally, Whole Foods is the next best choice (at least in this area).

With that said, this recipe is all about a few ingredients cooked slowly. Each step builds the complexity and richness of the dish. Do not rush this dish! 

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You begin by chopping the following:

1 large yellow onion
1 large carrot

1 stalk of celery

You want to chop them as finely as possible. I have found that the best way to do it is to give them a rough chop with my chef’s knife and then dump them in a food processor and let the blade chop them the rest of the way for me. The proccessor can get them much finer than I can. Just don’t let them turn to mush.

In the meantime, heat olive oil over medium heat in a heavy bottomed pan or dutch oven. Saute the above vegetables until soft and lightly browned, about ten minutes. Season with salt. Then turn up the heat and add:

2 pounds of ground turkey thigh

I have considered trying 1 pound of turkey and 1 pound of ground pork, but the turkey is so wonderful on its own that I have yet to do it. And as I stated above, it is very important to use dark meat. The white meat just doesn’t have enough flavor. Also, you may want to add a little more olive oil with the turkey, if the pan looks dry.

Cook the meat on medium-high heat until it is nicely browned and it has absorbed all of the fat. That’s an important step that you don’t want to skip. Once the fat has been absorbed, add:

2 cups of red wine

This is an Italian recipe, after all. Of course there’s red wine. I often use chianti, but I honestly know very little about wine to know if it’s the best choice or not.

Once again, you must let the meat cook until all of the wine has been absorbed. Also be sure to scrap up all of the brown bits from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Once the wine has cooked down and the pan is dry again, turn the heat down to medium low and add:

12 ounces (two small cans) of tomato paste
whole milk

Stir the tomato paste into the meat while you add the milk. Add enough milk to completely cover the meat. And now you wait and let the meat absorb the milk. This step will take around 60-90 minutes. Stir every so often and season with salt and pepper towards the end. Be sure to taste. Actually, in my opinion, it is impossible not to. It smells so amazing that I actually have a hard time stopping myself from tasting too much. I’ve been known to eat quite a bit of it right out of the pan. When it’s almost done, it will look like this:

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As for the pasta, I often serve it with rigatoni. The ridges on the rigatoni hold the bolognese well, plus it’s a sturdy pasta. This time around, however, I served it with my current obsession: bucatoni. I must say that it was a delicious choice. Whichever pasta you choose, make sure it can handle a heavy sauce.

Serve with a touch of parmesan or pecorino cheese on top.

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Homemade Tortilla Chips

You can’t have summer without salsa. And what’s salsa without some tortilla chips? I don’t mind buying tortilla chips here and there. In fact, you can buy some excellent ones at the Worthington Farmers Market. But a local bag of tortilla chips can cost up to $4. The “natural” organic ones at the store aren’t much cheaper. The really cheap ones contain ingredients that I don’t like to eat. If I’m going to eat chips, I want them to be as simple as possible. And as for cost, I already spend a lot of money on food, so anytime I can save money, I’m all for it. So here are my reasons to start making your own tortilla chips:

  1. It costs less. I buy a package of corn tortillas from Whole Foods for a little over $1. That’s certainly less than any of the better quality chips that you can find out there. 
  2. You’re in control of the amount of salt and oil.
  3. These are baked, not fried, so you need less oil.
  4. The corn tortillas I buy have three simple ingredients: ground corn, water and trace of lime. And since I use olive oil, I’m in control of the type of oil, as well.
  5. You can only fit so many on a cookie sheet at one time. This is a good thing, because with an entire bag of chips in front of you, it’s easy to lose track of how many you’re eating. Since you can only bake so many at a time, you won’t eat as many.

I don’t recommend doing this if you’re feeding a crowd, unless you do a lot of batches ahead of time. But for a weeknight salsa treat, these are wonderful.

So, how to make them:

Preheat the oven to 350.

Start with small, round corn tortillas. Be sure to get the simple corn tortillas, not the corn flour tortillas. Cut each tortilla into four pieces. Spread them in a single layer on a cookie sheet.

Sprinkle with kosher salt or sea salt (course is best). Drizzle with olive oil. You can do it without oil. I personally prefer a little olive oil on mine, but you really don’t need much. Just a quick drizzle.

Bake in the oven for 8-9 minutes. They come out crunchy and ready for that big bowl of salsa.

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