Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Sweet Potato / Squash Waffles To Die For - Almost

We had sweet potatoes the other night with fried chicken. Oh how I love them especially since Cook's magazine taught me how to concentrate their sugars. No need for all that brown sugar and butter now that I've learned this trick. Okay, the Cook's magazine didn't really tell me how to make awesome baked sweet potatoes, they told me how to make sweeter baked carrots but I just took their idea and moved over to a new orange vegetable figuring if it works for carrots why not sweet potatoes? LOL

How far off I am from what they originally told me to do I'm not sure anymore but my way works great so why back track and find the recipe again? Some of you who know me are laughing about now. I know, I know, I can't leave anything alone. Well, almost anything but then its all my brains fault. It's restless always wondering off by itself into new territory.

I did almost do what Cook's magazine said to do by cooking carrots but I made the mistake of doing sweet potatoes at the same time and the sweet potatoes were outstanding. Out shining the carrots so bad that they seemed sour in comparison. in fairness I'll try the carrots again by themselves one of these days. After I've my fill of sweet potatoes though.

If you like sweet potatoes, you've got to try it too. It will go right along with your New Year's resolution to eat healthier. It's so simple, I peeled the sweet potatoes and cut them into approximate 1 1/4 inch chunks. I put mine in a small cast iron casserole dish that has been lightly oiled. You could do a glass bread loaf pan or casserole dish if you don't have cast iron. I toss the potato chunks in a light amount of oil and put a piece of aluminum foil on tightly as a lid. Into a preheated oven they go at 425 F. to cook for 30 minutes. I think the original recipe called for 15 to 20 minutes and that would be about right with glass but I'm using cast iron which takes much longer to heat up. Then again it retains the heat better and maybe that has something to do with the phenomenal flavor. In the original instructions you take off the aluminum foil and finish cooking the carrots at 350F. After the 30 minutes I too drop the temperature to 350F until I can put a fork through the sweet potaoes indicating they are don. The first time I did take the foil off in order to brown the carrots a bit but I prefer with sweet potatoes not to take the foil off at all during the baking time.

By now your wondering why is Holly talking about baking sweet potatoes while she has a waffle in the above picture. Well, first of all you know how side tracked I get and secondly I used the left over baked sweet potatoes that we didn't eat up over the past few days to put into a waffle recipe. A waffle recipe because our middle grand daughter said too. She was given a choice of putting the sweet potatoes into waffles, bread, or quick bread.

Remember that squash bread I made not very long ago that we all loved, well, she loved it too but wanted waffles?
We have a new waffle maker since the old one broke and the girls think the waffle irons pretty cool. And just as a side note in case you haven't thought of it yet, I use sweet potatoes, pumpkin, and buttercup squash interchangeably in cake, waffles, pie, and quick bread using my original pumpkin recipes for each. 'Well, for everything but waffles that is since I don't have a pumpkin waffle recipe or a squash one for that matter. I always wanted one though so instead of hitting the Internet for one, I thought I'd use my self-schooling to create one. I've been studying cooking, serious cooking. I'd love to go to school but I don't want to work as a chef and wouldn't they just love three grand kids in tow in the classroom. LOL NOT, I'm sure. So I study via the Internet what different ingredients chemically do when combined.

I told you, you could interchange sweet potatoes, pumpkin, and buttercup squash. I'm sure that goes for turban squash and several others also but that doesn't mean the end product doesn't taste differently. They each have their own distinct flavor but it is still pleasing in each of the dishes and they all go well with ginger, cinnamon, and cloves spices that each recipe calls for. Especially handy for a make do cook. You do have to change the liquid slightly as sweet potatoes are dryer than squash or pumpkin but then I've had squash and pumpkin that was a bit dry also. The key is to know the proper density for each type of batter and add milk to whatever orange vegetable your using to make the batter the proper consistency.

Yes, you do it yourselfers, the above picture is of squash and sweet potatoes. I was digging through the freezer for some more chicken broth to go in the chicken noodle soup I'd made a couple nights ago with the bottled chicken I'd canned from the hens I'd butchered last year when I discovered a small package of left over squash. Some that I'd froze from left overs last fall. I tossed together the sweet potatoes and squash into the blender and added buttermilk to gain the right consistency and to also get the blender to even blend since the mixture was at first too dry. I know, what consistency some of you cooks are frustratingly asking? Thick pudding or pumpkin pie consistency like you see in the photo above. Setting this aside, I then searched through my waffle recipes and gained a general idea of what ingredients to use. First I looked at my pumpkin bread recipe to see if it used baking soda or baking powder since soda is used to change the PH of acids. Is squash and pumpkin an acid? I didn't dare hit the Internet or I'd be stuck on one of my journeys that leads me from one question into the next so I figured that if none of the waffle recipes called for baking soda I wasn't going to use it either. They had to know something I didn't which isn't too hard.

My next confusing moment was whether to add any more buttermilk. I chose not to since I used two cups of the squash/sweet potato/buttermilk mixture in order to use it all up or I'd have to come up with another way to use the rest. I figured 2 cups was quite a bit of liquid along with the 1/2 cup of melted butter so no more, buttermilk.

From there I dumped in a little bit of this and a little bit of that until the batter looked about right. I then greased my waffle maker and in the batter went.

Wow did they look good and smell good too!!

Until I peeled them off the hot iron that is and the cell walls couldn't take the handling. So even though I knew my crowd would love the flavor, the looks weren't exactly guest appealing. So back to my selection of recipes I went once more to see what they had in common and what was different. The baking powder amounts was a bit different so I added just a tiny itty bit more thinking they needed a bit more lift. No, lift wasn't the problem.
I then decided that I needed cell structure change, firming up the gluten something I'd run across a bit of why surfing another one of my questions in cooking. I remembered that salt does this.

I know, I know, some people download music and look up what Hollywood stars are doing but n...o, Holly studies salt and other odd things. LOL Anyway, it is one of the things that firms up gluten and so I sprinkled a high blood pressure persons amount on the remaining batter. That means just a really light sprinkling if your still wondering.

Oh yeah, this was better I thought as the last waffle came off the iron. And it wasn't until this point that I remember I'd forgotten to add salt in the first place. The sign of a definite amateur I learned as I later researched salt on the Internet and its role in baking. But we'll talk about that later. The first waffles had cooled a bit by now and I was munching on the sorry looking things. Wow! they were good but I figured one would have to close their eyes to really appreciate them.

So after I'd cleaned up the mess and had a few quiet moments, you guessed it, off to the Internet I went to find out what firms up baked goods.

Salt toughens gluten

Flour, whole eggs, egg whites, water/milk - particularly buttermilk toughens and strengthens it also.

Fat, sugar, egg yolks, weaken gluten and tenderize.

Salt also enhances the flavor and makes the sugar's sweet taste more intense. So I was on the right track with the salt. Now I just need to play around with the rest of the recipe without compromising the flavor I'd found.

Mm... fat softens the crumb and gives it more chew. My one waffle recipe for Gingerbread waffles has more sugar like this recipe I'd created and it calls for 1/4 of a cup not a 1/2 a cup of butter like all the others. I could decrease the butter from 1/2 cup to 1/4 cup and add a bit of buttermilk, which firms up the gluten, for the decrease in liquid. The next time I make sweet potato or squash or pumpkin waffles that is.
Meanwhile, I need to type up the one I scratched out on the dry erase board before the kids find it and erase my doodling adding some of their own. I keep this small board for just this purpose since I've a desire to create my own recipe book for my family and I. I've tried using paper but my sketchy notes on top of notes has me so confused a few hours later when I'm trying to transcribe them that I came up with this erase board idea. I love it as I can add some cinnamon and then decide to add more like I did today and just wipe, scribble and alter to my hearts content.

Now that I've talked you to death about how I came up with this recipe, I'll share what I've got so far since I did say is was a To Die For -Almost recipe. The almost being the visual appeal. Remind me and I'll give you an update on the recipe in the future for I'm sure to make it again in the next couple weeks. Meanwhile, if you get to altering mine and find out the answer first, please e-mail me the solution to a firmer squash or sweet potato waffle.

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ginger

1/4 teaspoon cloves

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt (would make a good and necessary addition

1 cup of flour

Mix in a medium bowl

2 cups squash/ pumpkin/ or sweet potatoes blended to pudding status by adding buttermilk

1/2 cup butter

1/4 cup and 1 tablespoon brown sugar

2 eggs

Whisk in another bowl and add to the above dry ingredients. Mixing just until moist

Now I'd best get a going and feed these waffles to the kids. I froze them yesterday to have this morning. It makes breakfast on a school day so much easier.

Heat and serve.

After looking once more at the salt added waffle and how well it froze and reheated, I might just add salt next time at the beginning and forget the other changes to the butter or buttermilk. None the less, the knowledge of their interworkings in a recipe is valuable.

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