Friday, June 26, 2009

waffle wednesday. ...oh, it's friday?

So help you God, I've got another post in the same forty-eight hour period.

Brunch rocks. That's no revelation. It's why Isa wrote the book. It's why diners thrive. It's why fries are an acceptable part of the morning meal. You see, brunch can mean every meal of the day and every cuisine of the world. Brunch happens on wintery Sunday mornings and lazy summer afternoons. You could say brunch is an excuse to not eat all morning and gorge yourself with whatever you fancy at noon and still call it balanced.

But brunches to me mean mostly three things: a lot of food, bottomless coffee, and the best of breakfast. If brunch is taking your favorites of easy, sweet and savory, then my favorites consist of breakfast, BREAKFAST, BREAKFAST. That calls for smoky sausages, cereals, fruits, jams, cinnamon, buttah, maple syrup, pancakes, and, of course: waffles.

I have a love-hate relationship with waffles. Not the waffles themselves. After all if we decided they were cousins of the average pastry, they're textural perfection - crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside, and gridded with pockets of syrup-and-jam-trapping goodness. It's the process I loathe. It's tedious greasing the special little waffle iron. I hate carefully picking the finished product out of the grid with a fork. It's knowing when to check for doneness lest you tear the crispy top from her bottom sister at the soft, soft middle. It's ignoring the obnoxious little "I'm ready, I'm ready, I'm ready" beeping from the iron because NO, my goddamn waffle isn't done, thank you very much.

I had already tried the Cornbread Waffles recipe from Vegan Brunch and was excited because I'd gone a long while without my indented little brunchy friends. My mistake was in insisting to use my big, difficult-to-grease broken Belgian iron because I WANTED WAFFLES NOW, DAMN YOU ... which only resulted in misery. So, in this second attempt I unleashed a cheapy new model I got for $10 on sale at Target. Admittedly this was meant to be waffle-loving friend's "dorm-warming" present ... but what she doesn't know I ever bought for her won't hurt. Selfish? Maybe. Satisfied? Oh, yes.

Waiting for each batch of two to be done took about as long and became just as tedious as trying to sit through an episode of The Hills. Let's face it, I secretly dread that kind of cooking that requires you to be actively paying attention for a long period of time as opposed to whip up, slip in oven, and wait. Maybe I just suck at waffle time management, but deciding to make them was quite the time commitment.

But how WERE they? Well, they were waffles. They were as good as they are supposed to be. I really appreciated the texture from the cornmeal, and even though I went the boring route and drenched them in maple syrup, I can see them being topped with any kind of topping, Mexican or Southern, sweet or savory, and being just as mouthwatering. Sweet wounded Jesus, the versatility!

The best part about making waffles is how excellently they freeze. Now it's fresh waffles, any time! If were to ever host a brunch by providing waffles, toasting from previously frozen would definitely be the way to go. In fact I may prefer toasting thawed waffles; I like extra crispyness you get without burning them.

I steamed up some sausages to complete my waffle brunch, also from VB. I love how Isa uses beans for texture and flavor in her modified variations of Julie Hasson's steamed sausages. These were delicious. Sometimes using vital wheat gluten can be a difficult thing because if they're not flavored well enough - and sometimes this is hard to tell while making the dough - the puffed up logs' primary flavor is still gluten-y. The flavor balance in these Italian Feast Sausages are perfect. Texture-wise they are off, but I improvised some proportions because I decided to use the entirety of some refried beans from last night. Consequently they are very, very moist. Some actually prefer this in their steamed sausages. Me, I like 'em thick and substantial. Oh yeaahhh.

But no problem. A quick slicing and pan-frying tends to do the trick.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

the accomplishments of summer.

So far, they have included the following: a) Catching up on the last season of Scrubs. b) Eating a ton of fresh strawberries. c) Making the money I spent on Netflix for the past six months worthwhile, and d) loading up on the newest and most bitchin' innovations in vegan cookbook publishing.

Namely, the titles I was most eager to get a hold of are Babycakes, The Vegan Scoop, and Vegan Brunch.

I don't shop a lot. I am utter clothes-whoring, fashion junkie, this I will admit. But I have the most difficult time parting with my dollar. I drive all my shopping companions crazy because on the rare occasion that I am prepared to fork over my debit card, I spend at least half an hour in front of the dressing room mirror trying on even one article and double that time carrying it around the store. And even then it's no guarantee I won't return it within the week.

And then there's food. And cookbooks. And suddenly the money I was so stingy with at the Nordstrom clearance rack: gone. (Starting sentences with a conjunction pissing you off yet?)

I haven't bothered with posting my largely noninteresting meals from the past couple months. It's been a lot of leftovers, frozen dinners, and cereals. There's been the occassional baked good and tasty meal out, but truth be told squeezing in time to photograph has just not been a priority. So why the hell would I post without some remotely interesting visual? I'm no tease.


Vegan Brunch was the last book I bought, purchased on publishing day. (I wait for no one.) So far, I have not taken advantage of its luscious promises of Pain au Chocolat and Cherry Sage Sausages, but I did manage the East Coast Coffeecake for Father's Day with a jam swirl.

Eh, suckass lighting. Messy plating. But you see that crumb? Luscious, fatty, sugary, lumpy (in the most succulent way) crumb? A-MAZING. My dad did not exactly request a healthy or even vegetarian-friendly Father's Day dinner, so I took care of breakfast by replacing the AP flour with whole wheat pastry and the cake's oil with applesauce. It was still a great cake, but a little chewy and lacked the crumbly quality that I like my coffeecakes to fall apart into as I cut them. The cake didn't store well, either - though the melty, soft topping combined with the room-temperature jam swirl was just as enjoyable the next day.

I leave you now with a chocolate-swirl cheesecake and an excellent Scrubs clip. Not much to say about it - it was cheesecake. Fatty and fucking tasty. Rather pretty too aside from some very lazy photography, I would add. (The cheesecake, not Scrubs.)

I intend to divulge more adventures of flipping through my new friends cookbooks very, very soon. Anyone else have reviews (more detailed and substantial than mine, I hope) about new cookbooks, those or others?