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Did Dorie Do Me Dirty?

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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. 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...)

                  2. This is my standard waffle recipe. No whipped whites, just whole eggs. The waffles turn out crisp, light and tasty every time. It's fast, too: a good thing when you're feeding a horde of hungry teenage boys.

                    I really do have to make the bananas to go with them some time. We usually have them with copious amounts of maple syrup.

                    http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: jammy

                      Jammy,

                      I haven't tried this recipe but it does look pretty darn tasty.

                      I have to say I've not tried mapled bananas, but I have done peaches and pears in almost identical fashion and can say that they are totally worth the extra bit of effort. (I've even just doused peaches in maple syrup with a touch of brandy and nuked em for a couple minutes and this, too, is pretty ridiculous.)

                    2. Blowfish, in my house we routinely make one of the two recipes here:

                      http://orangette.blogspot.com/2010/05...

                      They are so good that we really aren't interested in trying other recipes - though perhaps we should, just so I don't consume so many indulgent calories first thing in the morning once every week.

                      Anyway, as you'll notice in the Waffle of Insane Greatness recipe, the egg is not separated. Still, really light (as in not heavy or dense) and crisp waffles. So maybe there are other things in the recipe that obviate the need for separated eggs. Also, in my personal opinion, it would be too harsh to judge one of Dorie's books just on one recipe that you haven't yet tried. (No judgement there, I often spend inordinate amounts of time looking for the perfect recipe for something before even trying one.)

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: sweetTooth

                        SweetTooth,

                        I read your blog yesterday (it's beautiful, by the way) and decided I just had to try the "Waffles of Insane Greatness".

                        Hubby and I partook this morning...and we agreed that these are, in fact, the best waffles IN THE WORLD! Insanely, incredibly great. Everything I've been looking for in a basic waffle: crackly golden crust, an interior so light I'd have missed it were it not for the salty-sweet, tangy flavor bursting through.

                        So glad I came, in my glorious ignorance, on chowhound to complain about unbeaten egg whites. I might have gone my whole life without this recipe...(I am pausing for a moment of silence to ponder this ominous possibility and wondering what other glorious recipes I've lost out on over the years).

                        The Waffles of Insane Greatness recipe made 3 belgian waffles in my Waring-Pro waffle maker (which I can vouch for as being a perfect waffler), so each one weighs in at about 440 calories...before applications of butter and maple syrup. Woe is me, I could barely stop after one and now have to do two work-outs today, as I will be partaking in grilled steak at a cook-out later today. Have you tried cutting down on the oil at all? I'm thinking this might be the best place to try to cut a few calories since I did notice bits of oil oozing out the sides of my waffler mid-cooking (maybe a teaspoon in all) and I didn't use any cooking spray or butter on the waffler itself. I did use coconut oil, however, which may account for the difference as I was too lazy to melt it before whisking into the egg/milk mixture.

                        1. re: Blowfish

                          Oh how I wish that was my blog. :-( I don't have a blog, just read too many of them.

                          Glad the WIG worked out fofor you. I haven't changed the recipe an iota. Probably should try.. We double it for our family of four and yup, hard to stop at one. We use a cast iron stove top waffler, but haven't seen the oozing oil you mentioned. It sounds like melting the coconut oil would fix it.

                          I'd urge you to try the yeasted recipe too. That one has a buckwheat variation somewhere on the same blog.

                          1. re: sweetTooth

                            Well, tomorrow I am throwing a girl's night waffle party for my sis-in-law (the preggie one who craves waffles). She has requested the WIG, accompanied by Nutella and bacon, so I'm going to attempt reducing the oil.

                            I made Dorie's Smoked Salmon & Dill Waffles with a very slightly reduced amount of coconut oil (melted this time) and still noticed some oil leaking from the waffler during cooking so I think I can safely cut some of the fat out without damaging the perfection that is the WIG...but I'd be lying if I told you I wasn't nervous about tweaking perfection.

                            Well, we'll find out soon enough. Wish me luck!

                          2. re: Blowfish

                            I tried looking up your Waring Pro on Amazon and there are several there; which one is yours?

                            (They are pricey; I don't own a waffle maker, wonder if I should get one. What do you think?)

                            1. re: walker

                              Walker,

                              I just checked the label on the bottom of my Waring Pro and it says it is the WWM1200 model. It is the kind that crisps up two belgian-style waffles simultaneously.

                              I actually decided on a Waring Pro when I tested one out at the breakfast buffet of a hotel we stayed at. I poured the batter in, wandered around to see what else they had worth munching on (precious little) and wandered back to find my waffle baked up crisp and golden as a fall sunset. Needless to say, I was stymied. A waffle of glorious perfection...from a "free" buffet...in a hotel. I can't have been more than fifteen at the time, but it was such a perfect waffle that I swore an instant oath of fealty to that waffler and never laid hands on another one until I could own THE waffler to end all wafflers.

                              It was about 10 years before that promise became a reality. It was always easy to talk myself out of spending that kind of money on a waffle iron that was near guaranteed to transfer all of it's 10 lbs of glory directly to my thighs immediately upon contact. And did I really have the room for yet another kitchen gadget when I have no pantry and have already requisitioned two closets in the house for miscellaneous and varied cooking apparatus? And so I wavered and waffled and never took the plunge. It sounds like this might be the point where you are in your great waffle journey?

                              Then one serendipitous summer I ran across it in my local Sam's Club for the low price of $64 or so. And I finally committed. And I haven't regretted it yet (frequent grueling work-outs notwithstanding).

                              I've just had a look around their website and see that they don't offer it anymore, so it looks like Amazon probably will be your best bet if you do decide to get one. I also think you should know that my Waring Pro is not the commercial one I experienced at that long-ago hotel buffet, so it is not quite so high up the pinnacle of perfection. Don't get me wrong, it cooks waffles gloriously, evenly golden brown, but only on one side. About halfway through, I have to use my tongs to flip the waffles over to get the other side crisped up as well. And there is a visible difference between the way the two sides cook up, similar to the two distinctly different sides of a pancake. For me, this isn't a problem but I thought you should know before you shelled out the big bucks.

                              Both Dorie and Shirley Corriher, a la "Cookwise" (where I found the reprint of Marion Cunningham's waffle recipe) recommended a waffle iron made by a company called Vitantonio. However, they apparently went out of business sometime in the 90's. You could probably find their stuff on ebay, but I can't really say whether there's been significant advances made in the waffling industry since that time period...and I can't really comment on any other waffle irons currently on the market...vows of fealty and such being what they are.

                              I think the best way for you to decide whether you want one or not is to evaluate a) whether you have room for another appliance in your house, b) whether you really want to make that kind of room in your wallet, c) whether you are willing to allow yourself to indulge in the glorious gluttony of a good waffle (and bear the repercussions), d) and whether you can keep said gluttony down to manageable levels of frequency.

                              That being said, I did it and, boy, am I glad I did!

                              If you do decide to get one, I'd definitely recommend Dorie's book by way of accompaniment. I make small modifications to the recipes in order to get the crust as crackling crisp as I like it, but her ideas are pretty inventive and I'm really enjoying blowing my hubby's mind with the surprisingly tasty results.

                              1. re: Blowfish

                                Very grateful to you for your thoughtful reply.

                        2. bf, maybe your thread should be re-titled "Did Dorie Do Me Delicious?"

                          YOU are hysterical. I would happily read your musings every day.....

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: opinionatedchef

                            I had a good laugh when I read your title. Honestly, I wish I could change it but, sadly, there doesn't appear to be any edit function for titles.

                            If you're enjoying my ramblings, I think you might really get a kick out of M.F.K. Fisher's "The Art of Eating". She was the queen of food-related rambling--probably the greatest writer of foodie prose to ever have set pen to paper. Her work is witty, fun, and all about food, food history, etc... (I would never dare compare myself to her in anything except that we both ramble a bit.) And you can pick it up on Amazon for a steal.

                            1. re: Blowfish

                              glad you mentioned her. my mom gave me a number of her books, years ago, so i will aim to read them.
                              p.s. *** HAVE you seen Finding Nemo?***

                              And just fyi, the CH EDIT feature does include Titles, and has its own 'Save' button after you have edited a title, but AFAIK, the Edit option disappears after people have started responding to your OP.

                          2. I use my own recipe for waffles that I created decades ago, and I never never ever whip the egg whites separately and my waffles are so light and airy you almost have to use a tether to keep them on the plate! The liquid I use is either plain yogurt OR buttermilk. The most critical thing in making my waffles is that they MUST be made in a waffle iron with a hinged lid that will "float" as the batter rises. Make them in a waffle iron without a hinged lid and you will be making bricks!

                            AND it is made in a BLENDER!!! NOT with a mixer!!!

                            Add 3 whole eggs to the blender and whir until very light in color and fluffy.
                            Add a cup of buttermilk (or yogurt) and blend until smooth
                            Add the following all together:
                            1/2 to 3/4 cup of flour (depending on weather)
                            1/4 cup cornstarch
                            Blend until smooth, the add:
                            1/4 tsp salt
                            1 tsp sugar
                            1/2 tsp baking soda
                            1 tsp baking powder
                            Blend until smooth and the consistency of heavy cream.
                            While continuing to blend, pour in 1/2 cube of melted butter.

                            Let sit for about 5 minutes, then introduce into very hot waffle iron.. Do NOT fill the waffle iron to the edges as this batter expands more than other waffle batters.

                            Just remember, you must use a waffle iron with a hinged lid or you will be making bricks! The hinged lid allows them to rise and loft and turn into light airy golden waffles. My personal preference is the buttermilk. The waffles are a bit lighter than they are when made with yogurt, and the flavor is a bit different too.

                            If anybody tries my recipe I do hope it works as well for you as it does for me. I hope it 's not one of those "only works for one person" recipes. I have some of those and they creep me out! Like some of my mother's recipes that will not produce anything close to what they make for her....

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: Caroline1

                              What is your brand/model of waffle iron?

                              1. re: walker

                                My waffle iron is a Rival, circa 1960s or so. I probably paid about $12.00 for it. They are no longer available unless you hit pay dirt on eBay...

                              2. re: Caroline1

                                This is terrific for you to share. Major questions:
                                -plse explain 'depending on the weather'

                                - what is a ' 1/2 cube' of butter?

                                -- i'm unaware of waffle makers that have no hinge.
                                a hinge= 2 symmetrical sides joined by a hinge.
                                the one time i used a Belgian waffle maker, it had a hinge too, so are you sure it's the hinge you're talking about?

                                1. re: opinionatedchef

                                  I am wondering the same thing about the hinge in question. My waffle iron has a hinge and sometimes does get pushed open by the strength of the fluffy waffle beneath...but don't ALL wafflers have this?

                                  Caroline, it sounds like you are describing a floating hinge? This is the kind that allows the same type of operation as a normal hinge but also allows the panels to be moved in parallel motion to each other.

                                  1. re: opinionatedchef

                                    Okay, first comes walker's question of what brand my Belgian waffle maker is... I can't remember, and it's waaaay up on a high shelf and I don't do ladders any more, so... I'll ask my housekeeper to get it down tomorrow. BUT...! It won't do you much good because they don't make that brand any more. It was cheap and I bought it in the 1960s. And seriously wish I'd bought two or three!

                                    Floating hinge? See attached picture. Unlike a door or cabinet hinge, floating hinges have a slot that allows the top portion of the waffle iron to raise evenly as the waffle batter rises. Traditional fixed hinges do not allow for expansion, thereby producing waffles that have all of the airiness and texture of the sole of a tennis shoe. The photo is of a vintage Black & Decker waffle iron, but I do believe they still make waffle irons with floating hinges.

                                    opinionatedchef... Weather and humidity can dictate how much flour is required to get a specific texture you're looking for. The type of flour can also require adjustment.

                                    A half cube of butter is 2 ounces. Butter traditionally comes with four individually wrapped quarter pound cubes. Half of one of those.

                                    I did NOT say "no hinge." I said a FLOATING hinge so that the top plate of the waffle iron can raise as the waffles rise. And yes, I am ABSOLUTELY certain it is the hinge I'm talking about. Sorry you're having such a hard time following. I hope the photo helps.