Tag Archives: Santa Fe

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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RUSTIC GAZPACHO

The bounty of summer is beginning to pour in. Our neighbor has more peaches than he knows what to do with. Now we have more peaches than we know what to do with. And he has invited us back for more. Unfortunately his apricot and cherry trees had no fruit this year, probably because of  late frost.

Good friends gave us some delicious plums from their back yard. We will probably get some more when we visit them today. So far, no one has given us any zucchini, but they will come. The tomatoes are in abundance.

This week we went to the market at the Community Farm instead of our usual visit to the farmers’ market at the Rail Yard. The Community Farm is a group of fields and orchards owned by a 90+ year-old man who has contributed their use to the city. Volunteers do all of the work, and so the vegetables are not the perfect specimens that you find at the farmers’ market much less the supermarket. But the produce is put to good use. Most of it goes to the local food bank and a program of meals for house-bound clients. The farm has a public market every Sunday afternoon. We pulled into the driveway and were greeted by a group of volunteers clearly proud of their efforts: piles of fresh vegetables. We bought baskets of  fragrant and colorful vegetables, and now we have to make some good stuff from the bounty.

There were lots of tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and a red onion in our basket. What could be better to make than a summer soup of gazpacho? Actually, I am not a big fan of most gazpacho. It is often puréed into oblivion and resembles baby food. I much prefer to have identifiable vegetables and crusty garlic croutons. That’s what this recipe is.

RECIPE

Rustic Gazpacho

Ingredients

  • 6 ripe tomatoes, blanched, peeled, seeded, and coarsely chopped
  • 1 medium cucumber, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, seeds removed and coarsely chopped
  • 1 small red onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • ½ cup minced parsley
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • juice of ½ lime
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • salt and pepper
  • garlic croutons
  • snipped chives (optional)
  • sour cream (optional)

Method

  1. In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes, cucumber, pepper, onion, parsley, and garlic.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, lime juice, sugar, and olive oil until well combined. Stir the mixture into the vegetables.
  3. Stir in the chicken stock. Chill, covered, in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. Adjust seasoning with more lemon juice if desired, salt and pepper. Serve, topped with croutons. Garnish with snipped chives and sour cream if desired.

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SANTA FE STYLE CHICKEN AND WAFFLES

Chicken and waffles has become a trendy dish often featured in trendy restaurants. Supposedly it had its origins in soul food. There are definitely clues that reinforce that attribution: fried chicken and waffles is apparently a stand-by in Baltimore, there is a temple of the dish in South Los Angeles, and at least two places in Harlem have built their reputation on fried chicken and waffles. Honestly, I have never understood the enthusiasm. I love fried chicken as much as the next person, and waffles can be a terrific breakfast or dinner. But crisp fried chicken and sweet-sticky maple syrup together just doesn’t sound like a combination I want to give a try.

Turns out there is another version of chicken and waffles. It traces its origins to the Pennsylvania Dutch area around Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The dish is essentially the filling for chicken pot pie served on top of a waffle. To me, that is an interesting concept, and one that sounds like it might be delicious. My mother’s family traces its origins from Pennsylvania Dutch country through Wisconsin, Iowa, and eventually South Dakota. My wife’s family hails from Wilmington, Delaware, just a short drive to Lancaster. I don’t remember chicken and waffles ever showing up on either family table.

That made me think that maybe a Southwestern version of chicken and waffles incorporating some regional ingredients would make a good alternative to either of the better known traditions. Blue cornmeal waffles seemed like a good starting place. Green chiles and piñon nuts would serve as tasty additions. To brighten up an otherwise monochromatic dish, I topped it all with pico de gallo. For that, you probably have your own recipe. If you don’t, I’ve added one without the kick (There is a serious medical reaction to capsaicin in our household) but you are encouraged to zip it up to your own tastes.  So here it is: Santa Fe Style Chicken and Waffles with blue cornmeal waffles and green chile chicken sauce. If you can’t find blue cornmeal at your local store, you can order some from Talon de Gato farms. Otherwise, substituting yellow or white cornmeal is perfectly acceptable.

RECIPES

Blue Cornmeal Waffles with Pine Nuts

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup blue cornmeal
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 large eggs, separated
  • ½ cup pine nuts

Method

  1. In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients: flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  2. In a separate medium bowl, combine the buttermilk, maple syrup, and melted butter. Whisk in the separated egg yolks until completely incorporated
  3. In a small bowl, beat the separated egg whites to stiff peaks. Fold into the batter in thirds.
  4. Stir in the pine nuts.
  5. Spoon into a heated waffle iron using slightly more than the amount recommended by the manufacturer. Bake until golden brown. Bake the remaining batter.

Green Chile Chicken Sauce

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil (chicken fat if you have it)
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 ounces canned chopped green chiles (choose your heat)
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups chicken stock + more as needed
  • 1 tablespoon dried Mexican oregano
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 whole chicken breast, cooked and shredded

Method

  1. In medium saucepan, heat the oil over medium-low heat. Add the onions, cover and sweat the onions for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally so as not to brown.
  2. When the onions are translucent, stir in the green chiles and cook, uncovered for an additional 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in the flour and cook for 5 additional minutes to remove the raw flavor of the flour. Add the chicken stock, stirring to remove any lumps. The sauce should be about as thick as a medium white sauce.
  4. Add the oregano by crumbling it between your hands over the pan. Add cumin and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
  5. Stir in the shredded chicken and simmer for 15 minutes more, or until the mixture is heated through.

Pico de Gallo

Ingredients

  • 1 large ripe tomato, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 3 scallions including green tops, chopped
  • ½ onion, coarsely chopped
  • ¼ cup chopped green bell pepper (substitute jalapeño for more heat)
  • ¼ cup coarsely chopped cilantro leaves
  • juice of 1 large lime
  • salt and pepper

Method

  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper
  2. Cover tightly and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Serve.

Assembly

Place two waffles on each plate. Top with about 1½ cups of the green chile chicken sauce. Garnish with pico de gallo. Serve immediately with more optional Cholula sauce, if desired.

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SANTA FE ARTS

There are many celebrities who live in Santa Fe or have a second (or third or fourth) home here. But there are many more non-celebrities who are potters, painters, sculptors, musicians, and writers who also live here. Even though they may not be household names, many of these artists are well known in their respective circles. They have clients from all over the world.

Recently, I have had a chance to get to know some of these very interesting people almost accidentally. My father was a wood carver. He worked in various woods and carved representations of many wild animals in natural settings. I inherited his collection, and one of the prizes was an elk head carved from walnut. The antlers were elaborately and intricately carved, so much so that it was difficult to figure out how my father was able to carve them. I took the carving off its resting spot on the wall in my study to show a friend. When I returned the piece to its hangar, it fell to the floor, and the intricate antlers were smashed into a dozen pieces. Fortunately I was able to find an expert in art restoration, Matthew Horowitz, who works with his father, David, at their gallery, Goldleaf Framemakers of Santa Fe. Matthew also has his own place, Revive Art Restoration. He has skills beyond his years and was able to restore the elk without a trace of the disaster. During my visits to the shop, I also got the opportunity to see some of his and his father’s work. They use gold leaf in extremely creative and beautiful ways. Some of their notable pieces are a gold-plated napalm bomb (real but deactivated), a giant roll of dynamite held together with gold barbed wire, and a gold-plated Kalashnikov (You might have concluded they are very much anti-war believers).

The restored wood carving

The restored wood carving

Matthew’s skill inspired me to find someone to repair a 1920s Santo Domingo Pueblo pot that had been broken during one of our moves. I found Heidi Loewen, who turned out to be a potter – really a ceramicist – of great skill as well as a porcelain restorer with experience in Europe and New York City. Heidi agreed to take on the project even though she is working on many commissions for her own original and beautiful pieces. During the repair process, Heidi has kept me apprised of her progress through a series of images sent by text message. After only a couple of weeks, Heidi let me know that the pot had been repaired. When I got to her studio to pick up the pot, my jaw dropped. The restoration was beautiful, and the many shards had been brought back together with the cracks completely hidden and the original charm of the bowl preserved. Just as with the elk, I was thrilled that I had discovered an artist who was clearly a professional. I visited Heidi in her gallery several times during the project. That gave me a chance to see some of Heidi’s work. She has beautiful pots, enormous plates, and many are finished in breathtaking gold. She also has a series of women’s shoes in all sizes ranging from Lilliputian to Brobdinagian. She clearly enjoys life and art.

Restored Santo Domingo bowl

Restored Santo Domingo bowl

 

My other encounter with visual artists was working with Vincent Faust, a sculptor whose medium is industrial metal. He shows his work at ViVO Contemporary Gallery on Canyon Road. Each year, the gallery sponsors a show in which local poets are teamed up with members of the gallery co-op. The poets write works inspired by the creations of the visual artists. Then there is the festive opening with the added touch of the poets reading their contributions. This year, I was fortunate to be teamed with Vincent. I wrote a poem about his bold and colorful piece made from industrial iron and coated in a brilliant metallic powder. The sculpture and the poem are both entitled, “Excision.””

EXCISION

Cut from steel.

Hammer, anvil, fire.

Pounded, twisted,

bent into a skeleton.

I gaze through ribs, thorax.

Chrome yellow, it will not

melt into the desert floor

like faded bones of

a frightened deer

or iris arc into the ochre cliff.

 

It stands firm, strong,

defiant against soft hills

forged in fire

on their own ancient anvil,

now dissolved into the arroyo

with each cool summer rain

or garlanded under velvet

of new snow until both

cascade – rivulets destined

for some faraway place.

 

It tests my strength:

I cannot lift it,

turn it in my hands,

capture hidden glints;

only look from a distance,

ponder meaning

hidden in

a lifeless shell

created by

a sentient being.

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ViVO GALLERY – ART AND POETRY

For the last several years, ViVO Contemporary Gallery on Santa Fe’s famous Canyon Road has staged an interesting show in which local poets (of which there are many!) compose and read a poem related to works of one of the nine artists who are members of the coöperative that owns the gallery. I have been fortunate to have been asked to participate in the project for several years.

Two years ago, I worked with Joy Campbell who fashions sculptures from old books. She folds the pages of the books into intricate shapes that merge into beautiful and amazing constructions.

 

Here is the poem that I contributed to give a verbal link to Joy’s lovely work:

Old Books

Folded.
Folded again and again
until words disappear
and letters turn to lacy ribbons
hiding the work of
poets and professors who
had filled glacier-white pages
with thoughts and ideas
they hoped would last forever.
Black lines trapped their musings,
held for all to see,
bound together, edged in gold,
scented with sweet musk of leather.

Pages yellow, words fade,
and the book becomes a tattered relic
on a high shelf – the words forgotten.
Just when the trash heap seems certain
there is new life.
Pages, words are folded on themselves,
lost from sight and touch.
In their place are
phantasmagorias, towers of Babel
that transcend language,
visions not communicated
by words alone.
The creator knows what I can only guess.

My memories are inky letters on a page,
engraved upon
the convolutions of my brain and buried
deep within the fissures.
Those memories grow more difficult
to see and hear.
At times they disappear,
hidden by ribbons woven
of spider webs and mold.
Still, they are not ready to be discarded,,
and ask to be transformed, renewed,
if that is possible.

The Creator knows what I can only guess.

This year I am working with Vincent Faust, a sculptor whose media are hunks of steel, metal pipes, cables, and steel rods. His tools include welding torches and foundry equipment. He finishes his pieces with an industrial process that uses powdered pigments. The results are incredibly complex pieces in vibrant colors.

I don’t know yet what my poem will be. I only hope it grabs the ear as strongly as Vince’s sculptures grab the eye.

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SANTA FE STYLE COQUILLES ST. JACQUES

The pressure started on Thanksgiving and will extend into January. The pressure, of course, is to keep the weight off in the face of food, food, food. Because of that, we have been trying to eat wisely, including a lot of seafood. I found some frozen scallops at the local Sprouts, and thought they would be tasty even though I wasn’t sure how I would prepare them.  Scallops are delicious grilled over an open flame, but I have already abandoned the outdoor grill for the winter. Besides, that approach is reserved for big diver scallops, and the frozen ones were smaller – about 36 to the pound.

My other favorite ways to do scallops are the two recipes for coquilles St. Jacques in the first volume of Mastering the Art of French Cooking. One of the recipes is in the Parisian style with a thick cream sauce. The other is in the Provençale style with herbs. I decided to meld the recipes and add some touches that would be reminiscent of Santa Fe. That would mean ground chiles, cilantro,  and perhaps a few pine nuts.

Along with the scallops, I decided to use up some leftover grits from the refrigerator. (Grits are definitely not Santa Fe.) To give them some added flavor, I added egg and chopped parsley.

RECIPES

Santa Fe Style Coquilles St. Jacques

Ingredients

  • ½ pound (about 18-20 medium) scallops
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter + more for topping
  • 5 medium cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 scallions, minced
  • 1 cup white wine
  • water to cover
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 egg yolks
  • ½ cup cream
  • 1-2 teaspoons ground Chimayó red chile (to taste)
  • ¼ cup pine nuts (optional)
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  • salt and pepper
  • ¼ cup asadero cheese, grated (Use Swiss cheese if you can’t find asadero)

Method

  1. Heat the butter over medium-high heat in a small sauté pan. When it has stopped foaming, add the scallops and brown them lightly. Remove from the heat, reserving the browned butter.
  2. In the same pan with the reserved browned butter, combine the browned scallops, mushrooms, scallions, and wine. Add enough water to just cover the mixture. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 5 minutes. Remove the scallops and mushrooms. Return the liquid to the boil and reduce to about one-half. Remove from the heat and stir in the flour and milk.
  3. In a bowl, beat the eggs lightly and stir in the cream. Beat in the still-hot wine and milk mixture. Return to the heat set at low, stirring constantly until the mixture has just thickened. Do not let it get too hot or the eggs will scramble. Remove from the heat, and stir in the chile, cilantro,  and optional pine nuts.
  4. Mix the sauce with the scallops and mushrooms. Transfer to 2 well-buttered ramekins. Top with grated cheese, dot with butter, and heat under a pre-warmed broiler until the top is browned and bubbling. Serve immediately.

Fried Grits Cakes

Ingredients

  • 1½  cups leftover cooked grits
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ cup chopped parsley
  • salt and pepper

Method

  1. Combine the grits, egg, and parsley until well mixed.
  2. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.
  3. Divide into two cakes and fry in about ¼ inch of peanut oil over a medium flame until the cakes are browned on both sides. Serve while still warm.

 

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…A JUG OF WINE, A LOAF OF BREAD, AND…

When I was in college, many of my friends memorized lines from Omar Khayyam’s Rubaiyat so that they could impress their true loves. Most of the swains used the quote in the title of this piece, but they probably had not read much else. I think that the book has virtually disappeared from today’s college campuses.

We went on a picnic recently that made me think of the quote. Since our first year of marriage, Susan and I have had an autumn tradition whenever we lived near mountains. We would pack a picnic lunch or evening meal and drive into the mountains to take a walk among the beauty and to sit under the beautiful golden quaking aspens. Of course, the children came along when they were younger. We followed the ritual even when we lived in Louisiana because the Arkansas mountains were not far away; and even though there were no aspens, the colors were spectacular. Only when we lived in Texas,  too far from mountains, did we forego the experience. In most Texas places where we lived, the leaves, except for the beautiful gums, just turned a dull brown and fell off the trees around Thanksgiving.

This year the aspens put on an especially good show, and so we packed up a simple lunch and headed up Hyde Park Road to the ski basin. By now, our hikes have gotten shorter and our drives a little longer. This time, except for about a half-hour walk, it was mostly driving. We were surprised to see the crowds, even in the middle of the week. Aspen Vista, where the entire mountainside is laid out in front of you and the trail is flat, was a huge traffic jam. All of our favorite picnic spots had already been occupied.

Fortunately, we ventured up the road in the state park with its assessment of a $5 day-use fee. There was no one around, and we easily found a table under some beautiful autumn colors.

A lovely spot for a picnic

A lovely spot for a picnic

We unpacked our simple lunch: a nice bottle of Cotes du Rhone, a fresh baguette, a roll of hard Italian salami, a wedge of Manchego, a slab of Havarti, and some chocolate. We feasted under the shimmering aspen leaves and thought back on similar days over the decades. It could not have been a more perfect meal or better afternoon. You see why I thought of Omar Khayyam.

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