Sunday, March 25, 2012

Belgian Waffle Epic Fail No. 1

Every once in a while, I'll have an incredible craving for a Belgian waffle, which I usually soothe by either forcing Bryan to join me for a continental breakfast during vacation or simply stopping by my work cafeteria. But after reading about Ham-and-Cheese Belgian Waffles in Bon Appetit, it became much more necessary to buy our own.

So far, the results have not turned out as planned.

Two days after our magazine-recommended model arrived in the mail, we've already experience Epic Fail No. 1. Seriously, it's not even as thick as the normal waffles Mom made when we were growing up!

There are a number of things I could have done wrong. First, I split the recipe so I would only have to use one egg, and one egg makes it a bit difficult to create "medium-soft peaks." Plus, I didn't have any soda water, so I simply substituted it with milk, and I used dry buttermilk instead of wet, which could have been just fine, but I guess I'll never really know.

Point being, I will actually follow the recipe for real next time. Let's hope that won't turn into Epic Fail No. 2!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Roasted bell pepper soup is savory, sweet and spicy

How could I get anything but an A for this delicious-looking soup?

Tomorrow is my final presentation in my Soups and Seasonings with Intuition class, and I daresay I've expanded my skill set exponentially with this class (thanks chef Omid Roustaei - just in case you Google yourself again!). I feel more confident with my experimentations now that I have a lot more of the basics down, and yet I also feel more ready to think outside of the box.

And although this savory, sweet and spicy roasted red bell pepper soup might not be too far outside of the box, it's pretty darn delicious.

Creamy Chipotle Roasted Red Bell Pepper Soup
3 bell peppers
3 tablespoon olive oil, divided
1 large leek, white and light green parts sliced thin and rinsed well
2 cloves garlic, chopped
½ teaspoon chipotle chile powder
3 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups half-and-half
2 tablespoons flour
¼ cup crème fraiche, divided (optional)
¼ cup chopped chives, divided (optional)

If you’re using a barbecue or gas stove, roast peppers over the flames and turn frequently until they’re completely charred. Or if using an electric stove, cut peppers in half, remove seeds and membrane, and broil 2 inches from heat source skin-side up until the skin is black and blistering, about 20-30 minutes. Place charred peppers in a bowl, cover and let set for 15 minutes. Peel skin off and roughly chop roasted peppers.

Heat a large pot over medium high heat. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and swirl to coat pan. Add leeks and garlic, and cook until leeks begin to wilt and brighten in color, about 3-4 minutes. Stir in chile powder until vegetables are well coated. Add roasted peppers, broth and salt, then bring to a boil. Cover soup and simmer until leek is soft, about 10 minutes.

While soup simmering, heat half-and-half in a medium saucepan. In another saucepan, make a roux by heating the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat. Add flour and whisk constantly until thick, 3-4 minutes. Keep whisking, then slowly add warm half-and-half to the roux. Keep whisking until mixture comes to a boil. Simmer until thick, about 2 minutes.

Meanwhile, puree soup in a blender until it is completely smooth. Add blended soup to the thickened half-and-half and stir. Heat if needed, then serve immediately or store for up to four days.

Serve with a dollop of crème fraiche and chives, if desired.

Preparation time: 1 hour (including time to roast peppers)
Makes: 4 (12-ounce) servings
Nutritional information (per 12-ounce bowl): Calories 425; Fat 32.9 grams; Carbohydrates 23.9 grams; Protein 10.3 grams.