Some of you may already know this, but this semester in addition to posting on Kinsey Cooks I’ll be contributing to the Tufts food blog, Tasty Tufts. It’s a great website full of Boston and Somerville restaurant reviews, recipes, and thoughts on eating in college. My first post (which you can find by clicking here) is the recipe for my favorite pumpkin bread, and more posts will be coming from me this semester. Anytime I have a post on Tasty Tufts, I’ll post the link here on Kinsey Cooks so that you can stay up to date with the Tufts food scene.
I like to think that college has turned me into somewhat of an opportunist—go explore Boston or Sommerville for a day? Sure, why not. Take a butternut squash from the dining hall’s autumn display and stealthily walk out of breakfast with a suddenly much heavier backpack? Of course. There were plenty of other decorative gourds where it came from, anyways, and I couldn’t bear to see such a seasonally appropriate food languish on top of the salad bar when I knew it could become so much more.
The butternut squash sat on my desk for nearly two weeks, staring me down every time I sat down to finish a problem set or write a paper. Last Saturday I finally decided put it to good use. This dish we made, a recipe for butternut squash toast with ricotta and caramelized onion jam is certainly nothing new, but the recipe from the John-Georges Vongerichten’s famed ABC Kitchen has been a favorite recipe of many home cooks for the past few years, and the combination of good cheese and fully caramelized, seasoned vegetables sounded too good to be true after eating dining hall food for the past few months.
So, with a few friends, a cutting board and a mixing bowl bought from Goodwill for two dollars each, the squash, a few drinking glasses of oil, vinegar, and a bowl of sliced onions taken, again, from the dining hall, we sat down in the dorm kitchen and had our first dinner party of the semester. After having eaten nearly all of our meals in the bustling dining hall—the kind with tall ceilings that noises reverberate off of so that that every meal is punctuated with the clatter of dropped plastic cups and the whir of the soft-serve machine—it was such a treat to sit down in a cozy kitchen and enjoy hearty bread topped with creamy ricotta, spicy roasted squash, and caramelized onion jam. The vegetables were cooked but still had life in them—a delicate balance to attain when cooking 5 gallons of broccoli florets for hundreds of students, but straightforward when roasting a single pan of sliced squash—and the contrast of the mild sweetness of the squash against the tangy onions tied all of the flavors into a perfect autumn tartine. It may have been our first dinner party of the semester, but it certainly won’t be our last.
Special thanks to Tufts University Dining Services for creating such a practical autumn display and for having all kinds of vegetables and vinegars in the salad bar. My friends and I are most grateful.
ABC Kitchen’s Squash Toast
Recipe from ABC kitchen found via Smitten Kitchen and adapted for dorm living
Serves 4 as a light main course
1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow onion thinly sliced—I used 2 cups of sliced red onion, which worked well
1 teaspoon table salt
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar—I used red wine vinegar, which served in a pinch
3 tablespoons maple syrup—I used an equal amount of brown sugar
1 medium butternut squash, 2 ½-3 lbs
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 ½ teaspoons table salt
½ teaspoon red chili flakes
8-10 slices of hearty whole grain bread, a nice Pain au Levain or any sort of seeded rustic boule will work well
Extra olive oil, for brushing the bread
4 oz. whole-milk ricotta cheese, at room temperature
Optional garnishes: chopped fresh mint, a few pinches of kosher or sea salt
- Heat the 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the onions and 1 teaspoon salt, and saute for 10-15 minutes, until beginning to turn golden brown. Then add the vinegar and maple syrup or brown sugar, turn the heat down to medium-low, and cook until the onions are thoroughly caramelized and jammy, 15-20 more minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and set aside.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 450F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Peel and seed the butternut squash, then cut it into ¼ inch thick slices (see the photos above for a visual). In a large bowl, toss the squash slices with the 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 ½ teaspoons salt and chili flakes. Spread into an even layer on the prepared baking sheet, then roast in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes until the squash is tender and beginning to turn golden brown.
- Once the squash is finished, remove the sheet from the oven and transfer the squash to the bowl with the onion jam. Mash the squash into the onions with a fork until combined but not too homogeneous. Set aside and keep warm.
- Toast the bread under the broiler element until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes per side. Brush each slice of bread with olive oil, then spread with a heaping tablespoon of ricotta. Place a layer of squash on top of the ricotta and top with mint and salt, if desired. Serve immediately.
I like to think of cakes in two broad categories: special occasion cakes and rectangular cakes. Special occasion cakes are nearly always cut into triangular wedges and involve multiple layers of ganache, cake, and frosting. They’re one of my very favorite things to make and eat, but they’re also a lot of work. Rectangular cakes, however, are a convenient way to bridge the gap between birthday parties. They come in the form of pound cakes, almond or fruit loaf cakes with glazes and dustings of powdered sugar, and tea cakes. You know, the cakes you can eat for breakfast with a cup of coffee or for afternoon snack with some tea.
This most recent recipe for tea cake that I found (from Jerusalem) is the perfect recipe for any occasion where you may need a simple dessert. There’s no butter to soften and cream painstakingly with sugar, just two bowls of wet and dry ingredients that get whisked together and baked in a loaf pan. Once the golden brown cakes emerge from the oven and perfume the air with scents of honey and orange zest, you brush them with simple syrup so that the outside is moist and sweet, even three or four days later. The semolina gives the crumb a little bit of crunch and the honey speeds up the caramelization process so that the crust is a rich golden color. The short slices make for convenient hand-held snacks when reading a book, but the cakes can be cut into longer planks as well to be spread with jam or marmalade.
Just because a cake doesn’t take all day to make doesn’t mean it can’t be delicious and impressive.
Semolina Orange Tea Cake
Adapted from Jerusalem, by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi
Makes 2 short loaves or one taller loaf
¾ sunflower or canola oil
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (about 2 oranges)
Zest of two oranges
½ cup honey
1/3 cup sugar
¾ cup all-purpose flour
1 cup plus 1 ½ tablespoons semolina flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon table salt
1 cup sugar
½ cup plus 1 ½ tablespoons water
- Preheat the oven to 350F and grease your loaf pan or pans (see note below for details on sizing), then line with parchment paper along the base and longest sides. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, orange juice, zest, honey, and eggs. In another bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, semolina, baking powder, and salt. Whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until well combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan or pans, then place on the middle rack of the preheated oven and bake until golden brown and a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean, 45-60 minutes.
- About 10 minutes before the cakes are done, place the sugar and the water for the soaking syrup in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, then remove from the heat. Once the cakes come out of the oven, begin brushing them with the syrup. This may take a few minutes and may seem like an inordinate amount of syrup, but if you’re reading this, chances are you’ve survived either the SAT, college, doing laundry, or all of the above so I think you can handle brushing a cup of simply syrup into a cake. Keep at it and make sure to use up all of the syrup. Remove the cakes from the pan and let them cool completely before serving.
Note: This recipe will make either 2 short cakes or one taller one. For two smaller cakes, prepare two 9 x 5 inch loaf pans as directed in step 1. For a taller cake, only use one 9 x 5 inch loaf pan, prepare as directed, and pour all of the batter into the one pan. It will take an additional 20-30 minutes to bake fully.
Myth: Cultured butter is butter that has traveled abroad.
Fact: Cultured butter is butter made with cream that has been “cultured” with bacteria before being churned to yield a rich, tangy butter. It is most commonly served in the UK and France, though that is not the origins for its name.
It all starts with a bowl of crème fraiche, which normally will cost upwards of six dollars for a paltry amount at the store, but is incredibly easy to make at home. Just whisk a spoonful of yogurt into a bowl of cream and let it sit at room temperature for about a day until thick and tangy. If all you wanted was crème fraiche to serve on top of a bittersweet chocolate tart with a few flakes of sea salt (not a bad idea), stop here and store the crème fraiche in the fridge. Otherwise, continue on to churn the butter.
Churning butter is very straightforward: you have to agitate the fat molecules enough so that they clump up enough to leave any excess moisture behind. You may have done this already if you’ve ever over-whipped cream and were left with a chunky mess to serve on pie.
You can use either a jar to shake the crème fraiche until the butter forms, or you can use a handheld mixer until the butter forms.
This is what the churned butter in buttermilk looks like.
Pour off the buttermilk and save it to use in biscuits, cornbread, or dressings.
Now you’re left with pure butter. Pour a little cold water over it to rinse the butter, then pour off any remaining liquid and season the butter with sea salt to taste.
Spread the butter on toasted or warm bread, or toss some fresh pasta in the cultured butter with a handful of chopped herbs. The complex and tangy flavors of the butter make it best served with simple foods and fresh ingredients that will showcase each component of the dish.
Makes about 2/3-1 cup butter and an equal amount of buttermilk
2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons yogurt with live-active cultures (Greek or regular both work)
A few pinches of sea salt
- Whisk together the heavy cream and yogurt in a metal bowl and cover with a dishtowel. Let sit at room temperature for 12-36 hours until the mixture is uniformly thick and smells tangy. If you stop at this step, you have crème fraiche. If you want to continue on to butter, continue to step 2.
- To churn the butter you have two options: use a handheld mixer to whip the crème fraiche thoroughly until the butter forms, about 2 minutes, or pour the crème into a jar and shake for 6-8 minutes until butter chunks form.
- Pour off the buttermilk into a separate container, leaving the butter behind. Pour some cold water (about 1 cup) over the butter and stir with a spoon to loosen any remaining buttermilk. Carefully pour off the water and press with a spoon to remove excess moisture.
- Add a few pinches of sea salt to taste, then spoon the butter into an air-tight container and store in the fridge. Use it for all of your toast and condiment ventures that would benefit from a smear of high-quality butter.
Sourdough starter is a pretty incredible thing. It’s a very simple mixture of equal parts water and flour that’s fed gradually over a few weeks, while yeast and bacteria grow unprompted in the loose dough, until the mixture is full of bubbles and smells like a loaf of sourdough bread. It’s the oldest type of leavened bread there is, and was used by bakers everywhere before the commercialization of dehydrated yeast. Now, home bakers are more reluctant to bake with sourdough; after all, “wild” yeast from the starter can be unpredictable, and not everyone wants to spend the time to make a starter. However, starter can be bought online from many baking stores, and you can often buy a small container of it from a bakery. I took mine from work, which I suppose is the pizza cook’s equivalent of bringing home lined notebooks and boxes of ballpoint pens.
Once you have a starter, the rest of the loaf is very simple. A short sponge, dough, and an overnight rest later, your house will smell like you’re walking past San Francisco’s famous Boudin Bakery. This sourdough is bubbly, chewy, and nicely tangy. In the summer, it’s great topped with olive oil and fresh tomatoes or eaten with blue cheese and fig jam. In the winter it’s a great accompaniment to soups and stews, and there’s nothing better than a breakfast of sourdough toast, butter, and jam. Sourdough bread is a weekend project for home bakers and bread enthusiasts that’s delicious and satisfying.
Photos courtesy of Arjun Narayen Photography. Thanks, Arjun!
Makes two large loaves
½ cup strong sourdough starter
1/3 or ½ cup water, heated to 80F (see note below)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups water, heated to 70F
4 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
2 ½ teaspoons table salt
- Make the sponge: Combine the sourdough starter and water in a medium bowl until full combined. Stir in the flour until smooth. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for 2-3 hours, until doubled in size.
- For the dough: Place the sponge and the water in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a dough hook. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour, ½ cup at a time until all the flour is added. Continue kneading until the dough forms a ball, about 1 minute more then turn the mixer off; cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rest for 20 minutes.
- Add the salt to the dough, then knead on low speed until the dough is soft and smooth, about 5 minutes. Transfer the dough to a clean surface and knead to form a firm ball. Place the dough in a large, lightly greased bowl and flip the dough over to grease the top as well. Cover the bowl, then let rise until the dough doubles in size, 3-5 hours.
- Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Transfer the risen dough to a clean counter and stretch the dough to redistribute the yeast and fold it into thirds like a letter. Cut the dough in half and let rest for 15 minutes. Then, using your hands to cup the dough, shape it into a smooth, taut ball. Set the dough on the parchment paper, then repeat with the second piece of dough. Cover the loaves with plastic wrap, then refrigerate for 8 to 24 hours.
- Remove the loaves from the fridge, then let rise at room temperature until nearly doubled in size, 3-4 hours.
- One hour before baking, adjust the oven rack to the lower middle position, then place a baking stone on the rack and preheat the oven to 500F. Once the dough is ready, slash the tops of the loaves with 3, ½ inch deep cuts across the top, then slide the dough rounds with the parchment onto the preheated baking stone and mist the loaves with water. Turn the oven down to 450, then bake for 3 minutes. Spray with another misting of water, then continue to bake until the loaves are golden brown and the internal temperature of the loaves is 210F. Transfer the loaves to a wire rack, then discard the parchment and let cool before slicing and serving.
Note: If you are using a 100% hydrated starter (equal weights flour and water) use 1/3 cup of water in the sponge. If you are using a 50% hydrated starter (2 parts flour to 1 part water) use ½ cup of water in the sponge.
I started making espressos when I was eight, long before I had even tried my first sip of coffee. On ski trips with a full house of my parents’ friends, I would sit in an arm chair next to the espresso machine and watch as dozens of double espressos and lattes were made, one after another, in preparation for a full day on the slopes. After a few days of watching engineers methodically tamp down espresso grounds, they started to teach me—I could barely see the milk I was foaming, but it quickly became my favorite part of the morning. Now, I get to take care of the coffee whenever we spend a week hiking or skiing in Canada, and I really can’t think of a better vacation job. After ten years, I know how long it takes for the machine to heat up, how much coffee we’ll need for a week, and how everyone takes their coffee. Making a great latte isn’t too hard, but it involves a few steps, and I thought I would share what I’ve been taught over the years.
While the water for the espresso heats up, grind the beans for the espresso, then place them in the espresso hopper—the grounds should slightly mound above the hopper.
To ensure that the espresso tastes dark and full-bodied, tamp the grounds firmly with the plastic press, known as the espresso tamper, until they are tightly compacted. A lot of professional baristas say to exert 30-40 pounds of pressure on the grounds, but I’ve never actually measured how much force I use when tamping down the grounds; I just like to make sure that the coffee looks like firmly packed brown sugar.
Once the water is hot enough, it’s time to pull the espresso shot.
The ideal espresso is thick and dark, and if it pours slowly out of the hopper you’ll know it’s a good one. The ideal length of time for pulling the espresso shot is 21-24 seconds, and a time closer to 24 seconds will yield a sweet, well-rounded espresso.
The dark gold color is called the crema, and is another mark of a good espresso. Turn off the water right before the espresso coming out of the machine begins to turn into something that resembles watery hotel coffee. Now, you could always stop here and enjoy the double espresso that’s been made, but you can also steam some milk and make a great latte.
To start, you must heat the water for steaming the milk (that’s what the bottom left button indicates), because the water for steaming the milk is heated to a higher temperature than what is used to pull the espresso. While the water heats up, prepare the milk: I’ve found that high-fat milk (either 2% or whole) produces the best foam, and you’ll need five to six ounces (about ¾ cup) of milk for one latte. Pour it into the milk pitcher, and add a thermometer to help gauge the milk temperature.
Turn on the milk steamer and insert the steaming wand into the milk, then slowly draw the pitcher down until the wand just grazes the surface of the milk—this will help create the foam. Let the milk steam here until it reaches 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
Then move the pitcher up until the wand is submerged in the milk and turn the steamer up until the milk moves in a slightly circular pattern, until the milk reaches 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Turn off the steamer and set the milk on the counter.
Now it’s time to make the latte. Whack the milk pitcher on the countertop a few times to get rid of any large bubbles.
Pour the milk into the espresso, gently shaking your wrist so that the foam is poured in as well. To finish, use a knife, chopstick, or stirring stick to drag a design in the latte if desired, then enjoy immediately.
It’s been a long time since I’ve consistently posted new recipes (I guess going on college visits, taking AP tests, having a job that consumes all of my weekend, and graduating high school will leave little time for anything else), but despite the silence here on Kinsey Cooks, I’ve still been cooking and baking. Cookies for class parties, toffee for teachers, graduation puddings, potluck dishes and salads with fresh produce have been made in the past few weeks, and now that my schedule is winding down I have the time to sit down and talk about food, starting with raspberry scones.
Just in the past few weeks, raspberry prices have dropped considerably and the raspberries have grown into sweet, juicy berries that burst in your mouth. In these scones, they create jam-like pockets in the scones, eliminating the need for any accompaniment other than a smear of salted butter. Made in the British style (heavy on the eggs and kneading), these scones are light despite the considerable amount of kneading used on the dough, with scraps that can be re-rolled without creating dry hockey pucks that result from the delicate American-style scones. We had them for Mother’s Day brunch, and they were the perfect breakfast pastry: nice and tender without crumbling at the slightest touch, and indulgent enough without being too sweet or rich. Need further proof that they were delicious? Aidan ate four in quick succession.
Next time you have a lazy morning coming your way, make a batch of these and a cup of tea, then enjoy a leisurely breakfast while reading the paper.
Makes 8-10 large scones
Recipe adapted from Cook’s Illustrated
1 cup whole milk
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
½ teaspoon table salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened and cut into ½ inch pieces
1 cup fresh raspberries
- Preheat the oven to 500F and line to baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Whisk together the milk and eggs, then set aside 2 tablespoons of the mixture in a small bowl.
- In the bowl of the food processor, pulse together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt until combined. Add the butter and pulse until very finely incorporated and the mixture looks like fine meal—about 20 pulses.
- Add the large portion of the milk mixture and pulse until the dough just begins to form around the bland. Transfer the dough to a very well-floured counter and gather it into a ball. Knead the dough until it is smooth and free of cracks, about 25 times. Split the dough into 2 halves and pat each half into a six inch round. Place the raspberries on the top of one dough round, then place the other dough round on top, creating a raspberry sandwich on scone dough. Pat the dough out into a 10 inch round. Cut out scones using a well-floured 3 inch round cutter. Gently gather the scraps of remaining dough and knead them together, then pat out into a round ¾ inch thick, then cut out the remaining scones from the second round. Place the cut out scones on the prepared baking sheets, leaving 3-4 inches between each scone.
- Brush the tops of the scones with the reserved milk and egg mixture. Reduce the oven temperature to 425 F and bake the scones until golden brown, 10-12 minutes. Rotate the scones halfway through baking to ensure even cooking. Transfer the scones to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes before serving.
Recently, I’ve started listening to the Spilled Milk Podcast, which is (no surprise here) a food related podcast hosted by two Seattle-based food writers, Molly Wizenberg (of Orangette and Delancey) and Matthew Amster-Burton. Other than America’s Test Kitchen and Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me, it’s the only podcast I listen to. Each episode is about 20 minutes long and revolves around one ingredient. It’s so nice to know that there are other people out there who could talk at length about something so simple yet complex as onions, dried beans or even jam, and I think my friends are relieved that know they no longer have to listen to me discuss the pros and cons of various pasta shapes.
Thanks to the honey episode (not the eggplant episode, as you might think) of Spilled Milk, I came up with this idea for Eggplant Tartines with goat cheese, honey, olives, and fresh mint. They were talking about savory dishes with honey and Molly mentioned pairing eggplant with honey, goat cheese, and green olives. Obviously I had to try out that combination, and thought on and off about it for a few days when this tartine idea came to me during a long swim practice.
It all started with a batch of crusty bread (much like my No-Knead Walnut Bread, sans walnuts) and a pan of roasted eggplant.
Once the eggplant was nicely browned and tender, I layered it on some thick slices of the bread, then added fresh chevre and a drizzle of honey. (I used lemon flower honey because I like to collect those sorts of things much like other people like to collect state quarters, but any regular clover honey will work.)
After a quick stint under the broiler, the tartines were topped with Sicilian green olives, fresh mint, and a little black pepper. Even after just one bite, I knew that I had come up with something good. The goat cheese melted into the tender eggplant and the honey offset the pungency of the olives just enough to keep the flavors in balance. The mint tied everything together and enhanced all of the Mediterranean aspects of the dish. Two of these tartines is the perfect springtime lunch dish that’s filling and nutritious but not heavy. For those of you that think eggplant is bland or spongy, give this recipe a try—this is eggplant at its best.
Eggplant Tartines with Goat Cheese, Honey, and Olives
Serves 2 as a main dish or 4 as an appetizer
Inspired by the “Honey” episode of the Spilled Milk Podcast
2 teaspoons olive oil
4 Italian eggplants, trimmed and sliced lengthwise into 3/8 inch slices (Italian eggplants are on the small side, about 6 inches long and 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Use 1 globe eggplant if you can’t find any.)
½ teaspoon sea salt
4 slices artisan bread
2 oz. fresh goat cheese
2 teaspoons honey
¼ cup green olives, sliced (I used pitted Sicilian green olives)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
Freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 500F. Spread a rimmed baking sheet with the olive oil, then lay the eggplant slices out in an even layer on the baking sheet. Sprinkle the eggplant slices with the salt, then roast on the top rack of the oven for 15 minutes. Using a metal spatula, flip the eggplant slices over and then return to the oven for another 10-15 minutes until both sides are golden brown. Remove the eggplant pan from the oven, then turn the oven to the broil setting.
- Place the slices of bread on a baking sheet, then place the eggplant slices on top of the bread slices. Put ½ oz. of the goat cheese on each slice of the bread, then drizzle each tartine with ½ teaspoon honey. Place on the top rack of the oven under the broiler element, then broil for 2-4 minutes until the edges of the bread are toasted and the goat cheese is golden brown. Remove the tartines from the oven, and place 1 tablespoon of the olives on each tartine. Scatter the fresh mint over the tartines, then top with freshly ground black pepper. Serve immediately.
I’m not sure if I should be proud or embarrassed about how thoroughly I have watched The Office. Our family has watched every episode at least once (the good ones upwards of 2-3 times) and all it takes is one four beat measure of the theme song to be heard before Aidan and I run into the living room because our unspoken rule is “leave no episode unwatched.” One of my favorite episodes is the one where Michael microwaves and eats an entire family sized frozen chicken pot pie at the office and them promptly falls into a deep food coma-induced nap. The rest of the office workers—namely Jim and Pam—then run around changing all the clocks to read five in the evening before Michael wakes up and announces the work day is over.
Every time I see a reference to a pot pie, I think of that episode. Pot pie has never really been a huge draw for me because it’s almost never vegetarian, and the filling is often deadened by a creamy sauce that does nothing to marry the flavors of the various vegetables and herbs. Then I developed a recipe for perfectly creamy cannellini beans with just the right amount of garlic and rosemary and knew that they were just begging to be combined with a quick sauté of shallots and mushrooms that would support a tender whole-wheat and chive biscuit topping. It’s nothing like the sodium-laden monstrosity that sent Michael Scott into a stupor, but I can guarantee that though it’s tastier and lighter, this pot pie is still a hearty and comforting meal.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a few episodes of The Office to watch.
Cannellini Bean Pot Pie
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 shallot, minced
2 carrots, diced
8 oz. button mushrooms, slices
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 cups rosemary cannellini beans
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon table salt
2 teaspoons thinly sliced fresh chives
3 tablespoons cold butter, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon of water
1. Prepare the filling: Heat the olive oil in a 10 inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat. If you do not have a 10-inch cast iron skillet see the note below for a substitution. Once the oil is hot, sauté the shallot for 2 minutes, until translucent. Add the carrots, mushrooms, and salt, and sauté until the mushrooms are golden brown, 8-10 minutes. Set aside while you prepare the biscuits.
2. Prepare the biscuits: Preheat the oven to 450F. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, whole-wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and chives. Add the butter and work the butter into the flour with your hands until the butter is the size of small peas. Pour in the buttermilk and fold gently with a rubber spatula until a cohesive dough forms. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and pat into an 8-inch round, then cut the round into 8 even triangles by cutting into quarters, then eighths. Place the biscuits on top of the filling in the skillet, leaving a little room between the biscuits to allow for rising. Brush the tops of the biscuits with the beaten egg, then place in the preheat oven and bake for 15-18 minutes, until the biscuits are golden brown and the filling is bubbling. Remove from the oven, portion into individual serving bowls, and serve.
Note: If you do not have a 10-inch cast iron, prepare the filling in a skillet, then transfer it to either a 9 inch pie plate or an 8 x 8 inch baking pan, then top with the biscuit dough as directed in step 2, then bake.
I had never had buckwheat waffles until I made these waffles last weekend. I’ve had plenty of buckwheat pancakes, which I find much more interesting than regular pancakes. The buckwheat flour gives a nutty texture to the pancakes but due to its lack of gluten, it doesn’t make for heavy, tough breakfast goods like most whole-grain flours do. There was a little apprehension on my part before making these waffles—I was anticipating a oozing mass of batter coming out the waffle iron—but these are even better than buckwheat pancakes. The edges get crispy but the ricotta in the batter keeps them tender and moist, and a generous amount of orange zest contrasts beautifully with the dark buckwheat flour.
The batter comes together in minutes, and a hot waffle iron takes all the guess-work out of the cooking process. Once these waffles come out of the iron, they get topped with fresh ricotta, supremed orange segments, and a drizzle of hot maple syrup. They’re hearty yet light at the same time, and they make a perfect breakfast treat for lazy weekend mornings. Citrus season is at its peak right now, so pick up a couple oranges and get ready for a restaurant-worthy meal that you can eat in your pajamas.
Orange Ricotta Buckwheat Waffles
½ cup buckwheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon table salt
1 orange—I find that Cara Cara pink oranges have the best flavor
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
½ cup whole-milk ricotta
¾ cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
Maple syrup and additional ricotta, to serve
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the buckwheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and set aside.
- Using a micro plane zester, zest the orange until you have 1 tablespoon of orange zest. Place the zest in a large bowl with the granulated sugar and rub the two together with your fingers until the sugar becomes scented with orange flavor. Set aside.
- Using a sharp knife cut of the two ends of the orange until the flesh is just barely visible. Place one of the cut sides on a cutting board, and using your knife, carefully trim away the orange peel from the top cup down to the bottom, following the shape of the orange with your knife and taking care not to remove too much of the flesh. Then, hold the orange in one hand over a medium bowl and cut between the membranes to allow individual orange segments to fall into the bowl. This is called supreming. Here is a visual aid to illustrate the technique. Once all of the segments have been cut out, you will be holding an orange membrane. Squeeze any excess juice from the membrane into the large bowl with the sugar—do not skip this step, it is essential to the flavor of the waffles. Set the orange segments aside.
- Whisk together the orange juice, sugar, and orange zest, then add the ricotta, water, vanilla, and eggs and whisk until smooth. Fold in the dry ingredients from step 1 until almost combined. Pour in the melted butter and fold until combined. Do not over mix the batter.
- Heat a non-stick waffle iron until hot, then scoop ¼ cup dollops of the batter into each segment of the waffle iron, and cook until golden brown and crisp, which is typically 4 minutes for the average waffle iron. Once the waffles are done, top them with a dollop of fresh ricotta, a few of the orange segments, and a drizzle of maple syrup. Serve immediately.
Note: If the thought of supreming oranges on a Sunday morning makes you want to tear your hair out, just zest the orange and squeeze 3 tablespoons of orange juice into the bowl with the sugar, then omit the orange segment topping.