Tag Archives: Peter

RAISED WAFFLES

Things just came together. Our range and oven have been out of service for over two weeks while we await a back-ordered replacement computer board. We have been relying on ancillary kitchen appliances: the microwave, an induction plate that I bought, a George Forman grill, etc. We had not yet used our waffle iron, so it was time. Peter and René had brought us a bottle of Canadian maple syrup from a recent visit to Montreal. Finally, the cupboard was nearly bare as I had been putting off going to the grocery store. A waffle supper with fried eggs done on the induction plate, bacon cooked in the microwave, and waffles in the iron seemed obvious.

This is an old family recipe. Carol made these many years ago for a family gathering in Santa Fe. The waffles were so good that I asked her to contribute the recipe to the family cook book. She called them the best ever, so I titled the recipe, “Carol’s Best-Ever Raised Waffles”.

Actually, the recipe is not original. It came from Marion Cunningham’s masterful revision of The Fanny Farmer Cookbook. Since then the recipe has been reprinted countless times, often verbatim, and including the internet sites, Epicurious and Food52. Most of the internet reviews are glowing, with some notable exceptions. One writer said that the waffles were so limp and tasteless that she threw the remaining batter down the disposal.  While it is true that the waffles will not be as crisp as what you might be used to, my hunch is that she used bad yeast or forgot to add the eggs in the morning or something. Other writers substituted oil for melted butter, vanilla-flavored almond milk for milk. or gluten-free flour for all-purpose flour. Some complained that the batter was too thin and added ¾ cup of flour. You could do any or all of those things, but then you would have a different recipe and a different waffle.

If you follow the recipe as written, you will wind up with a waffle that has the yeasty aroma of a French boulangerie, the taste of a fresh sweet roll straight from the oven, and a lightness that absorbs the unctuous flavors  of added melted butter and maple syrup. My latest effort resulted in waffles just as I remembered them from Carol’s introduction years ago. Keep in mind that if you plan on breakfast waffles, you need to start the night before; if you plan on a waffle supper, start in the morning.

RECIPE

Raised Waffles

Ingredients

  • ½ cup warm water
  • 1 package dry yeast
  • 2 cups warm milk
  • ½ cup (1 stick) melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda

Method

  1. Pour the warm water into a large bowl. Sprinkle the yeast over the water and let stand for 5 minutes to dissolve.
  2. Add the milk, butter, salt, sugar, and flour. Beat with a hand-held electric mixer until smooth and blended.
  3. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature over night or all day. The batter should rise to about double its volume.
  4. Just before cooking the waffles, beat in the eggs and baking soda, stirring until well mixed. The batter will be very thin.
  5. Pour ½ to ¾ cups of batter into each mold of a very hot waffle iron. Bake the waffles until they are golden and crisp. Serve immediately or cool on a baking rack to prevent then from getting soggy.
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KLAMATH RIVER SALMON

Peter is our family outdoorsman, and his wife, René, and their two girls also enjoy the outdoors. Several weeks ago they camped out on their trip to Alaska, and the girls gathered dried yak chips for the fire. That’s tough!

This last holiday weekend they camped out on a friend’s land on the Klamath River. They canoed and went fishing. The result of that adventure was three big salmon that Peter plans to grill.

We are babysitting our two youngest grandchildren, ages 4 and 2 while their parents are at a cooking demonstration in Hawaii. We’re just up the road from Peter and family, so we have been invited to the feast. We agreed to bring dessert and a side dish. Small price to pay for the chance to eat fresh, hand-caught salmon.

Peter and René are in the middle of a massive home renovation, so the salmon sat in a cooler on ice and dry ice in the middle of their kitchen. René made one of her famous salads. We cheated and stopped at Bianchini’s Market for corn-mango-jicama salsa, three-bean salad,  a loaf of Acme sweet batard, and some wine.

Dessert turned out to be an apple tart from Schubert’s Bakery on Clement Street in the Richmond district of San Francisco. It was hard to chose from all of the beautiful cakes, tarts, and pastries. Even picky eaters liked it.

We ate in the front yard al fresco as there is no dining room in the house right now. It was just as well. The temperatures in the Bay Area are breaking all records – in the 90s – so everyone does as much as they can outdoors. Baker Beach is jammed.

The kids played in the front yard as we enjoyed a glass of wine and the delicious put together meal.

RECIPE

Baked Salmon with Parsley and Garlic

Ingredients

  • fresh salmon
  • olive oil
  • melted butter
  • chopped parsley
  • minced garlic
  • fresh lemon juice

Method

  1. Cut the salmon into 3 ounce serving pieces. Remove skin and bones.
  2. Baste with oil and melted butter. Top with parsley, garlic and lemon juice. Bake in the middle of an oven pre-heated to 400º F for 20 minutes. Serve while still hot.

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CASA DE HILLMONT SANCOCHO

Peter, our son, stopped by our daughter’s house in L.A. on his way down the coast to spend some holiday time with his mother-in-law. Before his visit he indicated that he wanted to cook dinner one night. It required some ingredients that we thought we could find at the Grand Central Market, including green and ripe plantains and yuca. The yuca was not to be had, but in the end Peter located some at the neighborhood grocery store.

The dish that Peter chose to cook had its origins when he was in graduate school. He found himself without housing and with very little money. Our daughter, Sarah, was in the undergraduate program at the same university. One of her teaching assistants, a doctoral candidate in mathematics from Colombia, announced in class one day that there was a vacancy in the house where he was living. Sarah passed the information to Peter, and Peter jumped at the opportunity. He wound up living in the garage for several months, rent-free. Then a bedroom opened up, and he became a permanent, rent-paying resident.

As with much collegiate housing, there was a steady stream of old and new tenants. Sarah even lived there for awhile. But the backbone of the place was the three Colombianos who lived there the longest: Carlos, Mario, and Andreas. They became good friends with our children, and an added benefit was that Sarah, the Spanish major, got to polish her language skills, Peter learned how to speak Spanish, and they both learned to cook Colombian foods. Peter still keeps in touch with Carlos, who is now a professor of mathematics at his home university.

Not surprisingly, the house came to be known as Casa de Hillmont after the street where it was located. And it had all sorts of unique features – the carpet with big holes, the reclining sofa we donated, unidentified insects (This was Texas, after all.) and the quirky landlady who made off with a bird bath. Mostly the food was standard college fare like ramen, but there were also Colombian classics like tostones, arepas, and sancocho. Here is Peter’s version of sancocho.

RECIPE

Casa de Hillmont Sancocho

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons cooking oil, divided
  • 1 medium white onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tomato, coarsely chopped
  • 4 to 6 pieces of chicken (thighs, drumsticks, breast)
  • 12 cups water
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 green plantain, peeled and cut into pieces
  • 1 carrot, peeled and cut into large pieces
  • 4 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 yuca root, peeled, core removed, and cut into large pieces
  • 4-6 pieces of corn on the cob
  • 1 ripe plantain, unpeeled and cut into 4-6 equal pieces
  • 1 generous handful of cilantro, finely chopped
  • cream
  • capers
  • avocado, diced

Method

  1. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, and tomato and saute for about 3 minutes. Set aside.
  2. Brown the chicken pieces in the remaining oil in a large pot. Add the onion, garlic, tomato mixture and saute for another 6 minutes. Add the water, and correct the seasonings with salt and pepper.
  3. Add the green plantain and carrot to the mixture, and bring to the boil. Simmer for about 20 minutes; then add the potatoes. Simmer for another 10 minutes or until the potatoes are soft.
  4. Add the yuca root, and simmer until the yuca is soft
  5. Boil the unpeeled ripe plantain in another pot until it is easily pierced with a fork. Drain and set aside.
  6. Add the chopped cilantro to the chicken stew.
  7. Serve by placing a piece of the ripe plantain in every soup bowl. Ladle chicken stew over the plantain.
  8. Pass cream, capers, and avocado separately to garnish the stew. You should have freshly made arepas on the side. (Another post)
  9. Serves 4 to 6.

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L.A. FLOWER MARKET, GRAND CENTRAL MARKET AND BUCHE

For a family outing, we decided to visit downtown LA. “Why,” you might ask. “There’s nothing there.” But you would be wrong. The downtown is being revitalized, and it has long been home to the LA flower market, two huge warehouses filled with flower merchants offering all sorts of cut flowers, plants, and vases and pots to hold them. It’s not the Chelsea Flower Show, but it is a pretty interesting place. In addition, the Grand Central Market has recently been redone. It has been open since the early twentieth century, but it had fallen on hard times. Now it has become more upscale, but it still has the feel of a Mexican mercado. Peter, our son, joined us for a couple of days from Silicon Valley, so he was in our group.

To get to the flower market, you have to pass through the garment district where bolts of cloth are displayed at store fronts. I though I was back in El Paso. For the flower market, you park on the roof top of one of the warehouses, ride the elevator down to the showroom floor, and pay an entrance fee of $1. Then you wander the aisles between displays of hydrangeas in many colors (dyed of course), bromeliads, cacti, roses, daisies, and this time of year, poinsettias being pulled from the shelves. Prices are remarkably low, so it is easy to fill your arms with bunches of flowers wrapped in old Korean-language newspapers.

The street between the two warehouses is filled with food vendors, and you can get pastries, humus, french fries, elotes (corn on the cob), and any number of sandwiches. But we were saving our appetites for the Grand Central Market.

We drove a few blocks, parked in the garage, and rode the elevator down to the market. It was an overwhelming sight. There were crowds of people, neon signs advertising various vendors, and stalls filled with the special offerings of every vendor.

Among the items we wound up buying was a huge bacalao that I got to make for a New Year’s Day dinner (along with black-eyed peas and cabbage, of course). There was an abundance of fruits and vegetables, but no yuca which Peter was looking for to make his Colombian sancocho later in the day.

Surprisingly, there was an oyster bar with a good selection of raw oysters and wine, so some of us paused there. Others chose Thai, Chinese, or barbecue. We passed up the Eggslut (Don’t ask me how it got the name) because the line was way too long. The place is one of the best known vendors in the market and offers eggs done in a myriad of ways.

Peter opted for a Mexican stand that was selling tacos and tortas. You could choose any number of fillings – chicharon, tripitas, tripe. For most of them, there was an English translation for what it was. Some did not have a translation. One of those was buche. This is considered a great delicacy, but for all my years in El Paso, I could never get anyone to tell me what it was.

Years ago, I had a waitress in a Mexican restaurant tell me that if I had to ask what a dish was, I probably didn’t want o order it. Those are words to live by.

Anyway, Peter ordered the buche sandwich even though the server seemed amazed and double checked that that was what he wanted. Peter got the sandwich, took one bite, swallowed, and then googled to learn that buche is pig esophagus. He put down the sandwich and headed straight to the barbecue stand.

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BISCUITS – A FAMILY SECRET REVEALED

My son enjoys cooking, and is very good at it, but  his scientist training attracts him to difficult recipes or those with a lot of instructions.   This is the edited version of Peter’s biscuits.  As I was collecting biscuit recipes from all of the good bakers in the family, I asked Peter for his version.  He sent me some copious notes in addition to the recipe: [1] Don’t use rancid shortening. Probably the voice of experience. [2] Use a pastry blender, although a large spoon works fine. [3]  Biscuits mix better on wood than Formica because the wood grain holds the flour. [4] To re-heat a day-old biscuit, put it inside a plastic bag and warm it for a few seconds in the microwave; then put it in the toaster oven for the final warm-up to remove the sogginess of the microwave. All useful suggestions either for the neophyte or experienced biscuit baker.

Other suggestions include: [1] the shortening in this recipe is on the low end of most recipes which go all the way up to 6 tablespoons of fat. The lower amounts of shortening produce flakier biscuits, the larger amounts produce soft biscuits. It’s only a matter of preference. Butter has more water content than vegetable shortening, so the finished biscuit is softer. Bacon grease is a good substitute, but it ought to be solid – not melted. [2] The less manipulation of the dough after you have added liquid the better. Folding is better than kneading so you get flaky layers. [3] Cold is better than warm. Be sure to chill the flour mixture before you add the liquid to get the flakiest biscuits. [4] Biscuits squeezed together in a cake pan will rise higher than those spread out on a baking sheet.

Peter learned the original, non-scientific version of his recipe from his maternal grandmother and then passed it on to his younger sister, who is a professional chef. She has worked in well-known restaurants in New York City and San Francisco. A common tradition in all of these places is the “family meal”. Chefs and cooks take turns preparing a meal for cooks and wait staff before evening service begins. The kitchen crews in all of those places are used to complex meals  with expensive ingredients. Yet in every single one of them, when Sarah cooks “family meal”,  cheers inevitably go up for her biscuits and barbecued brisket. There is never a single biscuit left when service starts.

In fact, the biscuits are so popular with restaurant staff that they will go to great lengths to get their share. One time a baking sheet of hot biscuits had just come out of the oven, ready to be passed around the table. Before anyone knew what was happening, the pan crashed to the floor, and the biscuits spilled out. Next stop for the biscuits was the trash barrel in spite of the cries of the hungry staff. One frustrated cook leaped up and went head down into the trash barrel to retrieve those precious gems.

 

PETER AND SARAH’S FAMILY MEAL BISCUITS

Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon  salt
  • 2½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons shortening (Crisco much preferred)
  • ¾ cup  whole milk

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 450º.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, salt, and baking powder.
  3. Using a pastry blender, cut in the shortening until the mixture is consistent and the size of small peas.
  4. The biscuits will be flakier if you chill the dry mixture in the refrigerator for 30-45 minutes.
  5. Add the milk, and mix with a fork, being careful not to over-mix.
  6. Turn the dough onto a heavily floured surface. Knead the dough gently by pressing and folding. Don’t overdo it!  Four foldings should be enough, and more than six is too many.  Coat the dough with flour before the final folding to make splitting the biscuits easier.
  7. Pat the dough into a flat rectangle about ¼ to ½ inches thick. Using a two-inch biscuit cutter, cut out biscuits and place them on an ungreased baking sheet. Gather up the scraps, pat them together and flatten them, cutting biscuits until the dough is used up.
  8. Bake in the middle of the preheated oven for about 15 minutes, or until done.

Yield: Between 12 and 24 biscuits depending on size and thickness

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