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Did Dorie Do Me Dirty?

Greetings fellow hounds. I've been a long-time lurker around here, but this is my first time actually posting.

I've been working my way through "Around My French Table" and enjoying it so much that I decided to give Dorie's book "Waffles: From Morning to Midnight," a try. I'm not generally a huge waffle eater, but my pregnant sister-in-law has been craving them and did so all through her last pregnancy, and the thought of peanut butter and chocolate chip waffles every girl's night for the next seven months spurred me to an act of, if not exactly desperation, something rather close to it. And even I can't complain about the $0.01 plus shipping price on Amazon.

So my Waffles cookbook came in the mail today, buried amidst ceramic pie weights, various sized tart pans--who doesn't fall into a baking frenzy this time of year?--even a cast iron aebelskiver pan--not sooo dissimilar from waffles when you really think about it--and was promptly pulled out and rifled through with the singular anticipation that always accompanies a new cookbook acquisition.

You can imagine my dismay when I paged through to the first recipe only to see: "BAD! (heavily underlined and with multiple exclamation points) Do not make -- heavy & dense" scrawled along the margin. So of course my curiosity was piqued and I had to read through the recipe with a skeptic's eye. Could the most basic recipe in the book, "Plain-and-Easy Breakfast Quickies," really be as bad as all that? Or was this just evidence of the frustrations of an inexperienced cook working with an inferior waffle iron?

The ingredients of the recipe looked workable. The ratios looked solid. So, beginning to doubt the cook's dire warning, I probed deeper into the recipe. And then there it was: no separating the egg and beating the whites to form stiff, glossy peaks. No gentle folding of the results to ensure peak fluffiness. Just a wham-bam-thank you, ma'am whisk with milk before tossing the whole she-bang together and pouring on the iron. Even I, at most a twice-a-year waffler, know that beating the egg whites is the best way to ensure the lighter than air interior that is half the secret to waffle perfection (crisp crust being the other half).

So...I went into this purchase with the trust that Dorie could lead me into the realm of the savory waffle and make the ride ever so worth the many hours of P90x and kickboxing I will have to endure in order to accommodate. But now I begin to wonder. If I can't trust her with the most basic waffle recipe out there, how can I trust her with "Couscous Waffles w/Roasted Red Pepper Dip" or "Apple, Onion, and Gruyere Waffles"? Should I bother? Has anyone had experience with this cookbook and would like to share? Or expertise with savory waffles in general or recipes similar to those contained in this book? How'd they come out?

Please share...

As a side note, I'd like to thank whoever suggested broccoli rabe as an accompaniment to veal chops in a very old post I found. I'd never cooked said chops before--on account of the exorbitant price tag--but, guided by knowledgeable hounds and a sense of adventure, I served them in pan sauce alongside garlicky broccoli rabe and celery root puree...and even my husband agreed it was probably the best meal I'd ever made. (This coming from the man who recently told me my honey cakes tasted like sawdust, so I know he wasn't just saying it to be nice.)

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  1. Here's a bit of context (but not much of answer, sorry!): In my old-timer cookbooks (Fannie Farmer, Joy), the whipped egg white version is presented as a variation. I agree that it's the vastly superior method but the whole egg approach seems to be the standard one.

    By the way, you sound like a lovely in-law. And also by the way, I love reading other people's annotations in books; often funny, puzzling, or informative. Or just head-shake inducing.

    1 Reply
    1. re: monfrancisco

      You're too right. I perused the introductory material and she does mention whipping the egg whites in that section.

      Now that I think about it, in AMFT, I distinctly recall her directing me to separate the eggs and beat the whites to stiff, glossy peaks before gently folding into the matafan (latke, potato pancake, a rose by any other name, etc.) batter.

      Must just be an old-time cookbook thing.

    2. The original comment has been removed
      1. I don't think that Dorie would lead you astray. Her bio is just too accomplished. In 1997, I am thinking that a ton of cooks would see "separate the eggs" and buy the next book.

        The other great thing about Dorie is that she is on twitter. Ask her about this! Maybe she would recommend the egg white whip as a variation.

        And I agree with monf above. Bringing restaurant/pastry chef techniques into the home is really recent.

        2 Replies
        1. re: smtucker

          The only waffle recipe I've made from scratch involves the separate folding in of stiffly peaked egg whites. It comes out wonderfully well every time, even when I add cheddar cheese and precooked lardons/bacon bits. Which I suggest you do also : -).

          I have eaten waffles made with whole eggs at others' homes and in restaurants. I prefer the version I use. Small sample but there you are.

          1. re: smtucker

            I confess I was just barely out of diapers in the '90s, which may account for why I never thought about the age of the cookbook being a factor. I'm pretty sure 1997 was the year I first attempted to make challah and my dad had to take a chainsaw to it--sadly, quite literally--because the knife just wasn't cutting it. I think he was so determined to make it work because he was just so desperate to have one good cook in the house and it clearly wasn't going to be either him or my mother. If the state of my household is any measure, those '90s must've been terrible years for foodies AND cookbook writers alike.

            So now I'm taking heart. You must be correct. Furthermore, Dorie hasn't failed me yet. There have been a few things I didn't particularly care for, but by a large margin, her good recipes outweigh the bad. Thoughts of her Swiss chard pancakes and pumpkin Gorgonzola flans are popping into my head just now and making my mouth water...

          2. Have you actually tried Dorie's recipe?

            Or are you just dismissing it out of hand?

            7 Replies
            1. re: Yank

              Yank,

              Can "neither" be my answer?

              I haven't tried her basic recipe because I wasn't looking for a basic recipe. I was simply testing the waters with it.

              Life is too short to make bad food, so this is what I do when I want to venture into a new cookbook that I have no experience with: I find the one or two recipes I'm familiar with and compare away. Do they add multiple herbs to their basic tomato sauce? If so, then I'll pass. The best Italian sauces are often the most simple, letting a few distinct flavors come through rather than muddying the sauce and the palate with too much. Do they instruct you to use canned chickpeas for hummus? If so, then I'll pass. I just can't get smooth hummus from a can no matter how long I process.

              This is what concerned me about "Waffles." The basic recipe just wasn't quite up to snuff. My standard response would have been to pass on the whole book and move on to something else. But this was Dorie's book. She has earned my trust with her other work. So I was in a quandary and came here for answers.

              That being said, this discussion has encouraged me to try out a few of the recipes, especially now that fellow hounds have pointed out the most likely reason for the omission of sound technique in the basic recipe (one I never would have thought of on my own).

              This morning I announced to my husband that henceforth we'd be "Whipping Up One Waffle Weekly" and which would he want first? His choice (predictable as pie, my hubby is) was the Smoked Salmon and Dill Waffles. I swear I've never seen that man pass up an opportunity for bagels and lox...but I digress...

              So. I'll let you know how it goes, shall I?

              1. re: Blowfish

                I am anxious to hear how the "bad" waffles turn out! I haven't made waffles in several years but the recipe I used did not have egg whites whipped and folded in separately. Good luck!

                1. re: Blowfish

                  "Life is too short to make bad food"...

                  +1 to that, I have a feeling you're a great cook.

                  1. re: Blowfish

                    blow, i can't tell you how much i've enjoyed reading your posts here. I can comePLETEly identify with your thoughts and methods. It is sooo comforting , so th you!

                    p.s. i have to tell you something funny. One of my technques to counter 'down in the dumps' is to watch Finding Nemo, which i watched earlier this week.When I saw your moniker and the thread title, i thought you might be talking about Dorie, the hysterical clownfish played by Ellen Degeneres.

                  2. re: Yank

                    Yank,

                    I wanted to update you. Yesterday I made the Mustard Waffles. Dorie recommends them topped with Egg Salad, but I had some turkey breast that my hubby smoked over the weekend that needed using, so I topped them with a rosemary turkey salad and ate them for lunch.

                    Really, really good. I mean...really. Dorie just keeps blowing my mind with mustard (which was relegated to the condiment-only section of my brain before I became acquainted with her). Now I have made "Gerard's Mustard Tart" and "Mustard Waffles" and am pondering where else I can possibly pack a healthy dollop of mustard...because they are just that good.

                    Next up are hubby's requested Smoked Salmon and Dill Waffles, to be brunched upon sometime tomorrow mid-afternoon...

                    1. re: Blowfish

                      Mustard is the secret weapon of the good French home cook. If you haven't tried Fallot mustard from the Dijon region of France, do seek it out. It is the perfect mustard!

                      1. re: smtucker

                        You've got me sold...now to clean out the other five mustards in the fridge so I have some room for it!

                  3. Marion Cunningham's raised waffles are the best and you don't separate the eggs. They are the gold standard!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Gloriaa

                      Gloriaa,

                      You're not the first to recommend Marion's waffles. I've actually made them before, as they are on the page facing my go-to quick biscuit recipe in "Cookwise."

                      And you're right, they are every bit as light and fluffy as I could want a waffle to be.

                      The thing is, I find they have a slight sourdough taste to them, and while I love sourdough in savory applications, it's just not something I can appreciate cozying up against my warm, sugary maple syrup...so for a sweet breakfast waffle, this one just isn't for me.

                      However, now that I have this book filled with savory waffles, I'm betting it would really work well with them. Must put it on the "to try" list (which grows longer every day...)