Overnight Yeast Waffles

I always love to cook up something special for breakfast on Christmas morning. But I love my sleep even more, so I tend to prepare my favorite breakfast recipes the night before rather than the day of. I often joke that sleeping is my superpower ( I can sleep anywhere and I can sleep a lot); the probability that I’ll wake up early enough to cook breakfast for everyone else is pretty slim. Accordingly, the batter for these yeast waffles must be made the night before so that the the batter can rise overnight. In the morning, simply plug in the waffle maker, stir the sugar and baking soda into the batter, and soon enough you’ll have a platter full of crispy waffles.

White rice flour (which is readily available at grocery stores) adds a crispy crust to the surface of the waffles, while the yeast causes them to become airier than traditional waffles. To make chocolate chip waffles (which all chocolate lovers should do, in my opinion), add ~ 1½ cups of the batter to the waffle iron, sprinkle with chocolate chips (~⅓ cup for a 9”x9” waffle), and finally top it all off with enough batter to partially cover the chocolate chips. Both mini and regular chocolate chips work well (I’ve tried both), but I think I prefer the mini chips because they melt better. My absolute favorite is shards of chopped bittersweet chocolate, but I don’t recommend using them unless you have enough extra time to really clean your waffle iron as the chocolate shards stick. Read more.

Collard Green Pesto Pizza

A cross between my father’s Italian-American heritage and my mother’s Southern childhood, this collard green pesto pizza combines culinary traditions in exciting ways. Being from the northeast, I grew up without ever seeing collard greens at home or in grocery stores. I never even tasted them until about six months ago, when I was experimenting with vegetables out of which to make pestos. I love pesto, especially on pizza, so the idea for this recipe ended up being a no-brainer as soon as I tasted my collard green pesto. A vegetable pesto has the power to transform pizza night, taking it in a different yet delicious direction.

This particular pizza omits the layer of cheese that figures on most other pizzas, so let me explain. It’s not that I don’t love cheese, I do; however, I feel that it is often unnecessary. When I come up with pizza recipes, I prefer to go without the cheese layer - believing that a pizza that is great without cheese will be great with cheese as well. Consequently, this pizza isn’t nearly as heavy as a cheesy one, which also means that the vegetable topping gets to play a more prominent role. But if you love cheese on your pizza, by all means add a layer of cheese - it will be phenomenal. Read more.

Cranberry Tart

As soon as the first bags of cranberries arrive in the produce section at my local farmer’s market, I smile because I know that autumn’s officially here. The leaves are beginning to change their colors, the mittens are coming out, and best of all, it’s time to bake some cranberry tart. I love pies and tarts… they are both delicious and impressive. And aren’t those two qualities we all want out of Thanksgiving? The tastes and textures of fillings and crusts always complement each other so well, and the tart’s aesthetic brilliance is the cherry on top. The color of cranberry tart in particular is spectacular; it looks as if it contains food coloring, but no, the ruby color is all natural. Read more.

Savory Sweet Potato Side

Finally, I’m writing a Thanksgiving post. I spend so much time thinking about what I’ll be serving for Thanksgiving, that one would expect me to spend a little more time actually writing about it. Sadly, however, as soon as Thanksgiving prep begins, I’m forced to push most other thoughts and projects out of my head. The pinnacle of all food holidays, Thanksgiving is a time of very high expectations for those of us whose passion is cooking, so once mid-November arrives, I’m all in.

An important part of Thanksgiving lies in the memories it evokes. This makes it nearly impossible to alter the menu; we all have sentimental affinities for at least one of the staple Thanksgiving dishes, whether it be the stuffing, the green beans, or the sweet potato casserole. So, due to the fact that so many Americans are loyal to its marshmallowy cousin, I’m a bit hesitant to recommend the substitution of a savory sweet potato dish. But then again, I can’t be the only one who finds the traditional Thanksgiving sweet potato dish to be too sweet for its own good. Sweet potatoes already contain enough natural sweetness as is; a little savoriness is just the edge they need.

Like most people, I’ve always had one oven. At Thanksgiving, then, I’ve always had to prepare all side dishes either the day before, on the stove top, or last minute after the turkey comes out off the oven. But it is with great enthusiasm that I can now say I have a second oven. It’s in my basement, which is fitting because when I was younger, most of my Italian relatives had second kitchens in their basements so that their principal kitchens wouldn’t get dirty. I gave up on having a pristine kitchen long ago; as I like to say, I cook far too much to keep clean (in actuality, I just don’t like cleaning). But for busy times of the year such as Thanksgiving, the second oven proves to be very useful. I also get to feel like my great aunts, which is a great feeling because although I remember them being quite old, I mostly remember them being very happy, very Italian, and very loving… and who doesn’t want to feel more like that? But I digress. If you only have one oven at Thanksgiving, I recommend making this dish ahead of time, then reheating it just before serving. Read more.