Buckwheat Waffles with Blackberries

Buckwheat Waffles
I’ve been cooking with buckwheat a lot lately, partly because I have a big bag of it that I need to use up, and partly because it’s really good.

Buckwheat isn’t like traditional flour. It’s made from grain-like seeds, which accounts for its slightly nutty and complex flavor. It’s tangy, rich, and hearty, making it the perfect addition to most breakfast dishes.

Sunday morning, I decided to use buckwheat flour instead of regular flour to make waffles. I’m not a big fan of waffles because I think they’re kind of superficial. They look great but there’s not a lot going on beneath the surface. Still, I like to make them once in a while when I have some spare time. They’re a good foundation for toppings.

I used almond milk instead of regular milk or buttermilk to make these waffles. I was a little nervous about subbing in almond milk because it tends to mess with the consistency of baked goods.

Luckily, that wasn’t the case here. The waffles turned out light and fluffy, even though they had an intense flavor from the buckwheat. I sent a picture to my boyfriend and he thought they were chocolate waffles. I didn’t add any cocoa powder but I might do that next time. I think a chocolate/raspberry combo would be delicious.

I topped the waffles with blackberries and banana slices but feel free to get creative. I bet a strawberry/mint combo would also be good.

Also, it kind of goes without saying but these waffles (like most waffles) benefit from a healthy pour of maple syrup. I’d also recommend spreading a little salted butter on top when they’re still warm. It will get melty and mix with the syrup and slightly coat the fruit. It’s a win-win situation.

If you want to keep your waffles warm while you make a batch, preheat your oven to 200 degrees F ahead of time and place a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper inside. You can transfer waffles to this sheet as you finish them and it will keep them crispy and warm. Just don’t stack them because then they’ll get soggy. I can think of few things worse than soggy waffles (even the name sounds gross).

So yeah. Make these waffles on a weekend morning when you have a little extra time. If you make a big batch, you can freeze some and have breakfast for the rest of the week. I didn’t do that but I wish I did. I guess there’s always next time.

Here’s a song to get you started on your waffle-making journey. I just heard it this morning and thought it was beautiful. That string section though…

Buckwheat Waffles with Blackberries

Ingredients

1 cup buckwheat flour
1 Tbsp sugar
1 ¼ tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
1 ¼ cups almond milk
¼ cup (4 Tbsp) melted butter
1 large egg
blackberries, banana slices, maple syrup, and butter for serving

Directions

Preheat your waffle iron. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F and place a parchment paper-lined baking sheet inside.

Whisk together the buckwheat flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a medium-sized bowl. In a separate bowl or a large liquid measuring cup, mix the milk, melted butter, and egg. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients all at once and whisk to combine. Whisk the batter until it’s smooth with very few to no lumps.

Pour batter onto the waffle iron to fill the squares. Close the waffle iron and cook according to your machine’s directions. I usually let mine sit for 30 seconds to a minute after the machine says it’s done. Remove the waffle and place it on the baking sheet in the oven.

Once your waffles are done, top them with blackberries, banana slices, maple syrup, and butter. You can also set some aside to freeze so you have breakfast for the rest of the week. Enjoy!

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Dimanche (That Means Sunday)

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Welcome to this edition of Dimanche (That Means Sunday), a roundup of things that caught my eye this past week.

This week was one of those weeks that feels like a lot happened, but then you realize that not a lot did. I caught up with some old friends, spent time with my boyfriend, and started a couple writing projects. But overall, it was pretty low key.

It also rained a lot so it put a damper on some of the things I wanted to do. I was going to go strawberry picking at Eckert’s in Illinois today because I’ve been dying to make strawberry shortcake and jam. But then I saw on their website yesterday that they had to close the patches due to inclement weather and crowds. The next batch of strawberries should be ready this week so I’ll wait until next weekend to go.

I’ve also had to slow down lately due to my injury, but luckily I’m on the mend. I went on a couple short walks this week including to the park in DeMun, one of my favorite places in St. Louis (see the above picture). It’s particularly beautiful at sunset when not a lot of people are still there and the light shines through the tree branches. I snapped this picture as I was sitting on a bench eating a snow cone with my boyfriend.

I’m anxious to get back to some of my normal spring and summer activities such as hiking and biking, but I’ll get there soon. In the meantime I’m trying to enjoy a slower pace and find more beauty in everyday life. It’s easy to think that it doesn’t exist, or that the only way to find it is by driving an hour or two to the country. I’m convinced that the more you look in your day-to-day environment, the more you’ll find it.

Without further ado, here is Dimanche:

A group in California is testing out a program that provides healthy daily meals to chronically ill, low-income people to improve their health. The Ceres Community Project gives meals to people on the state’s version of Medicaid so they don’t have to worry about cooking for themselves or finding food. Other studies of similar programs have shown that this correlates with lower medical expenses and better health outcomes. I think that this is a program the entire country should get behind. Read more about it in this story in The New York Times.

I loved this story in Chicago Magazine about a French author taking a road trip through Illinois. Novelist Camille Bordas went from Chicago to the southern tip of Illinois, jotting down her impressions of small towns and inns along the way. It made me want to visit some of those places more, especially towns that are close to St. Louis. You can read more about her trip here.

I’m generally pretty satisfied with the St. Louis dining scene but occasionally, I long for D.C. pizza or Chicago’s Greek food. I know every city has its strengths and weaknesses in food but it’s good to occasionally evaluate and see what could be improved. My editor at St. Louis Magazine asked me and some other writers to weigh in with a “wish list” of what we’d like to see in the St. Louis food scene. Check out our recommendations.

Speaking of the St. Louis dining scene… My friend Josh Charles just took over the kitchen at Winslow’s Home, a popular eatery and farm market in University City, Missouri. I stopped by for brunch yesterday with my aunt and everything was delicious. I got the potato, leek, mozzarella quiche pictured below, and a mixed berry crostata that brought tears to my eyes.

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I’ve been on a snow cone kick lately. Last week I went to How Sweet Is This, a tiny candy shop in DeMun, with my sister and my boyfriend and then just with my boyfriend. I’d highly recommend the Tiger’s Blood, which sounds disgusting but it’s actually really good. It’s a mix of berries and coconut. It’s also sugar free but it doesn’t taste like it.

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Even though I didn’t get to go strawberry picking, I’m still excited about Eckert’s strawberry promotion. The farm teamed up with a bunch of St. Louis restaurants to offer strawberry-themed dishes. You can read more about who is participating in this article in Feast Magazine.

Last but certainly not least, I snuck out of work a few minutes early on Friday to see “RBG.” The documentary chronicles the life of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, one of our country’s most influential judges. I’m a big fan of RBG (yes, I own a Notorious RBG shirt) and this documentary did not disappoint. I’d highly recommend it. Check out the trailer here.

Enjoy your week! Here’s a song to get you started.

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Tropical Moose

Tropical Mooise
I started typing the title for this blog post and it came out as “Topical Moose,” which sounds like a really disgusting skin cream or a weird study section.

ANYWAY. Tropical Moose is neither of those things. It’s a tiny trailer in Kirkwood, Missouri, a cute little town close to St. Louis, that serves snow cones during the spring and summer months. I’ve been going since I was little.

Tropical Moose is the kind of place that you could easily miss if you’re a first time visitor to St. Louis or you just moved here and you don’t know a lot of people in town. It’s a St. Louis institution celebrated by locals and it’s survived, I think, through reputation and word of mouth. It’s tucked away in a corner of the Kirkwood Farmers’ Market, one of my favorite places to go when it gets warm.

Whenever I came home during the summer when I lived in other cities, I’d always go to Tro Mo with my sisters and brother. Last summer after I moved back to St. Louis, I stopped by Kirkwood on the way back from a hiking trip to get a snow cone. Tro Mo is a cash only joint and I realized when I got to the window that I didn’t have any cash, so I walked a mile down the street in 100 degree heat to get money from Walgreens. That’s how good it is.

Why would you expend that much energy on a snow cone? you may be wondering. It’s difficult to answer that question. I think it’s a blend of nostalgia, deliciousness, and magic. When I go to Tro Mo, I’m temporarily transported to simpler times when my most pressing decision was which flavors to get on my cone. I ask for a sprinkle of nerds on top, because that makes the snow cone. They crunch and explode in my mouth as the ice and sweet syrup melts on my tongue.

Saturday, my sister was visiting from Boston and we decided to stop by the Kirkwood Farmers’ Market. Naturally this also involved a trip to Tro Mo. We all got snow cones and sat on a bench and people watched. I got red raspberry and peach with a sprinkle of nerds.

Sitting with my mom and sisters on a park bench, I remembered the times I came to get cones when I was little. I watched children get excited as Tro Mo employees passed a sparkling, colorful cone through the window. A baby clung to an extra large snow cone as his mother balanced him and the cone in her arms. He stared at it like it was a precious treasure, which honestly, it is.

It may be a slight exaggeration to call Tro Mo one of the best food destinations in St. Louis, but I don’t think it is. Sometimes I get caught up in the city’s burgeoning restaurant scene and I forgot about the places that are consistently good. In food, as in life, it’s all about the simple pleasures. I’m reminded of this every time I get a cone at Tro Mo.

 

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Buckwheat Banana Bread

Buckwheat Banana Bread
I’ve been craving banana bread for a couple weeks but I keep making cookies and cake. Then I saw three overripe bananas in my fruit bowl yesterday. “It’s fate,” I thought.

I’m constantly on the hunt for the best banana bread recipe. I’ve tried a bunch and some are really good, but they still leave something to be desired. The best banana bread is three things: Moist (why is that word so awful?), dense, and sweet from chocolate chips. There’s nothing worse than cakey banana bread, the kind that feels like you could pour a glass of tea over it and it would still be slightly dry.

Last night, I made up a recipe that I hoped would solve the dry banana bread problem. I subbed in almond flour and buckwheat flour for most of the all-purpose flour and I added gluten-free oats.

The buckwheat and oats make the bread. Buckwheat gives the bread a dense crumb and a caramel color. The oats keep the bread moist. Together they make a loaf that tastes like it just came out of the oven, even if you leave it on the counter overnight.

I added chocolate chips to the batter because I love the combination of chocolate and banana. If you’re not a chocolate fan, you could add some walnuts. I bet those would also be delicious.

The other thing to note about this recipe is the sugar. The bread calls for maple syrup, regular sugar, and brown sugar. I used dark brown sugar instead of light brown sugar because I thought it would give the bread more flavor. I was right. I also added two tablespoons of maple syrup instead of three because I didn’t want the bread to be too sweet. If you want to increase the sweetness factor, you should add another tablespoon of syrup.

I was going to wait to have a slice until this morning but I couldn’t stop myself last night. I sliced off a piece from the end and ate it warm while the chocolate chips were still melted. It was heavenly. Then I had a slice this morning with a green smoothie. I pretended the smoothie was medicine and used the banana bread as my reward for ingesting greens.

ANYWAY. Make this bread as soon as possible. It will probably impress your office, too. I brought some in and a coworker stopped by my office and said it was one of the best things I’ve ever made. It was a high compliment.

Here’s a song to get you started on your banana bread-making journey. When I lived in France a while ago, a friend of mine gave me an introduction to Serge Gainsbourg. I’ll never forget this song.

Buckwheat Banana Bread

Ingredients

3 medium ripe bananas
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 egg
3 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
1/4 cup cane sugar
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 Tbsp maple syrup
3 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp flaky sea salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 1/4 cup almond flour
1/2 cup buckwheat flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cup (112 g) gluten-free oats
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9×5 loaf dish with parchment paper and set aside.

Mash the bananas in a large bowl and whisk in the vanilla extract, egg, coconut oil, cane sugar, brown sugar, maple syrup, baking powder, sea salt, cinnamon, and almond milk. Then add the almond flour, buckwheat flour, all-purpose flour, and oats, and stir to thoroughly combine. You want a uniform batter that it’s lumpy. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish and smooth out the top with a spatula or the back of a spoon. Bake for about an hour and ten minutes, or until the top is golden brown and cracked and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool for a while in the pan before removing* and cooling the rest of the way on a rack.

The loaf will keep at room temperature for a couple days, tightly wrapped. Enjoy!

*If you leave some parchment paper hanging over the edges when you line the pan, it will make it easier to remove the loaf once it’s cool.

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Clementine’s Naughty & Nice Creamery

Strawberry Balsamic Honey Lavender
I told you about Clementine’s Naughty & Nice Creamery about a year ago in my roundup of St. Louis ice cream. But then I went there earlier this week with my boyfriend and I remembered how much I love it. Clementine’s deserves its own blog post.

When I moved back to St. Louis a year and a half ago (I can’t believe it’s been that long), I made it my mission to rediscover the city. I’d been away for five years and a lot had changed.

Growing up, I usually got frozen custard during the summer or a scoop of ice cream from a national chain like Baskin Robbins. There wasn’t a place to get more inventive flavors but at the time, I didn’t care. All I wanted was mint chocolate chip or cookie dough with rainbow sprinkles on top.

Then I moved away and discovered a whole new world of ice cream. In D.C., some of my favorite places served flavors such as biscuits and peach jam and Thai iced tea. I never realized that ice cream could be a blank canvas for flavor experimentation, but it makes sense. Without flavors, ice cream wouldn’t be much. The cream and sugar are the perfect backdrop for daring combinations.

Which brings me to Clementine’s. I’d read about the shop in local food magazines before I moved back to St. Louis so I was dying to try it. When I got back in town, it was almost winter so I wasn’t craving ice cream as much. I waited until this time last year to try Clementine’s.

Clementine’s is truly a groundbreaking shop in St. Louis. They use all-natural ingredients to make their ice cream and they take risks with flavors. One of the first times I went, I got a scoop of golden milk with turmeric and a scoop of black cherry ash with activated charcoal, an ingredient du jour. The scoops looked good together on a cone, the colors popped in a picture, AND the ice cream tasted good. No, not good: incredible. I’m not exaggerating.

Screen Shot 2017-08-31 at 8.21.56 AMYou can taste the difference when you eat Clementine’s. The ice cream is light on the palette but full of flavor. You don’t feel heavy or bogged down after eating it because it doesn’t have preservatives or fillers. Clementine’s sources many of its ingredients locally, so you’re also tasting ice cream that makes the most of the region’s produce.

One of my favorite parts about Clementine’s is their “boozy” flavors, i.e., ones that are full of alcohol. I’m not saying this because I’m stuck at age 21 and I’m excited about the prospect of infusing booze into everything I eat. I’m saying it because the booze actually enhances the ice cream. Maple bourbon with salted candied pecans is one of my favorite flavors. It’s sweet, rich, salty, and mellow at the same time.

I’m generally not into vegan ice cream because I have no reason to be, but the vegan ice cream at Clementine’s is worth trying. Last summer on a very hot day, I drove to Clementine’s new location in DeMun to get a couple scoops. I ended up getting the “better than bacon” flavor, which is chocolate and peanut butter swirl, and the vegan salted caramel. Both were delicious and light and held up well on a waffle cone. The vegan salted caramel is especially good because it pairs well with most other flavors in the case.

ANYWAY. I know I sound like an extended sales pitch for Clementine’s but it’s only because the ice cream is so good. If you’re in St. Louis this summer, you should definitely check it out. The shop has a location in Lafayette Square, a historic neighborhood near downtown St. Louis, and a location in DeMun, which is right next to Forest Park.

I can’t wait to stop by the shop again soon. Knowing me, it won’t be long.

 

 

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Strawberry Banana Baked Oatmeal

Strawberry Banana Baked Oatmeal
My boyfriend usually makes me breakfast on the weekend, but Sunday I decided to surprise him with this strawberry banana baked oatmeal.

It wasn’t really a surprise because I showed up at his house Saturday with all the ingredients and said, “I’m going to make you breakfast tomorrow.” But it was a surprise that I got out of bed early Sunday morning to make it, AND that it was as good as it was. I knew it would be delicious, but I didn’t know how delicious.

I was originally going to make another baked oatmeal recipe with dark chocolate, almonds, and banana. But then I found a bunch of good looking California strawberries at the Kirkwood Farmers’ Market on Saturday. I ate half of them while I was sitting at the park reading Saturday afternoon, and I saved the other half for breakfast Sunday. I decided to put them in the baked oatmeal with semi-sweet chocolate chips, banana, and walnuts.

My favorite part of this recipe is the mix of flavors. You have the sweet, juicy, tart strawberries, the fragrant, warm banana, spicy cinnamon, melted chocolate, and citrus from orange zest. My boyfriend said he couldn’t taste the orange zest but he also said that I have a more refined palate, which is true. I could *definitely* taste it, especially once I came back to his house after the botanical garden and had a second helping for lunch. Sometimes flavors need a second to marinate.

Even though this is baked oatmeal, it looks and feels more like a cake. The oats give it an oatmeal-like texture but it’s light, fluffy, and melts in your mouth, kind of like a piece of cake would.

The other crazy thing about this baked oatmeal is that as I’m writing about it, I can smell it. It makes me think there’s a slice of it being warmed up down the hall in the office microwave, but I know it’s not because we ate it all. The fruity, cinnamon-y, banana smell will stay with you for at a least a day afterward, or maybe every time you conjure an image of it in your head.

I was going to serve the baked oatmeal with maple syrup but it was sweet enough on its own. If you’re a fan of extra sweet things, though, you might want to drizzle a little on top.

Another thing to note about this recipe is the nuts. I really liked the walnuts in the oatmeal because they’re buttery and retain their shape well, even when you bake them. But if you’re not a fan of walnuts you could sub in almonds. I bet they would also be delicious.

Here’s a song to start you on your baked oatmeal journey. It’s also good for Monday mornings when you don’t want to get out of bed but you force yourself to, anyway.

Strawberry Banana Baked Oatmeal

Ingredients
2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 Tbsp grated orange zest
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
6 oz strawberries, sliced
1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 cups milk, dairy or non-dairy (I used skim milk)
1 large egg
3 Tbsp butter, melted
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 ripe banana, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch slices

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a 2 quart baking dish liberally with cooking spray and set aside.

Mix the rolled oats, sugar, powder, grated orange zest, cinnamon, salt, half the walnuts, half the strawberries, and half the chocolate chips in a large bowl. Spread it out in the prepared baking sheet. Place the banana and the rest of the walnuts, strawberries, and chocolate chips on top, making sure to spread them evenly.

Whisk the egg, milk, melted butter, and vanilla extract in another bowl. Pour it carefully over the oats in the pan. Gently shimmy the pan side to side and back and forth on the counter to make sure the milk mixture is evenly distributed.

Bake for about 35 minutes or until the top of the oatmeal is golden brown. Remove from the oven and serve warm. Enjoy!

 

 

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Dimanche (That Means Sunday)

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Welcome to this edition of Dimanche (That Means Sunday), a roundup of things that caught my eye this past week.

It’s officially spring in St. Louis and I’m SO happy about it. I’m still recovering from my sports injury a few weeks ago so I’m trying to take it easy, but that doesn’t mean staying inside and resting. Instead, I’m opting for low-key activities that I can do outside. Mostly that involves me lying on a blanket and reading, but today it also involved taking a leisurely stroll around the Missouri Botanical Garden with my boyfriend.

One of my favorite parts of the garden is the Japanese garden (see above photo). There are lots of pretty rock gardens, waterfalls, plants, and cherry blossom trees. It was the perfect day to go because it wasn’t too hot and there was a slight breeze. We spent a little time feeding the koi because there’s a fish pond in the corner. I actually aimed for the ducks because I think they’re way cuter, but I tried to spread the love.

Spring is a good time to take stock of things but also, I think it’s a good time to rest, revamp, and reenergize. I know I sound like a motivational speaker but it’s true. Walking through the gardens reminded me of how important it is to bring impromptu joy in my life. Whether it’s a leisurely walk, an hour spent with someone you love, or just lying on a blanket looking up at the sky, I hope you can find time to do activities that are meaningful to you.

Without further ado, here is Dimanche:

In a semi-shameless plug, I had another Cheap Eats column published last week in St. Louis Magazine. This month’s column focuses on food truck fare. It’s no secret that I love Balkan Treat Box but I also included some other noteworthy trucks on the list. Check out my recommendations here.

I almost spit out my tea earlier this week when I saw that French President Emmanuel Macron called the Australian Prime Minister’s wife “delicious.” To be fair, Macron didn’t mean to call her delicious. The word has a different connotation in French. It means “charming” or “pleasant.” Still, it was kind of a cringeworthy moment. You can watch a video of it in this Telegraph story.

I finally got to try Good Fortune this week and I was BLOWN. AWAY. For those of you unfamiliar with the restaurant, it’s a new Chinese joint that opened in the Botanical Heights neighborhood. My boyfriend and I went for dinner Friday night and we were both impressed by the food and service. If you go, I’d recommend the rangoon with salted cod and the pork dumplings (pictured below).

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I’ve had a lot of pie mishaps in the past, but all that changed last week. I decided to make a blueberry rhubarb pie with fresh rhubarb that I found at the market. I was very nervous about the crust because in the past, I’ve completely screwed it up. Luckily, that didn’t happen this time. Read more about my pie travails in this blog post.

Missouri Governor Eric Greitens is as despicable as they come. He’s already in hot water with state lawmakers for allegedly taking a photo of a woman he had an affair with and using it as blackmail, and for allegedly using a charity list from a veterans nonprofit that he founded to boost his campaign. Now, the Missouri House Committee investigating Greitens says that he lied to a state ethics commission about the list. I wish Greitens would resign but he probably won’t, so hopefully he’s impeached soon. You can read more about the situation in this Post-Dispatch story.

In lighter news, I stopped by Pint Size Bakery last week to celebrate its sixth birthday and I ate this delicious churro bundt cake. The bakery made some in honor of Cinco de Mayo, but personally I think it should be on the menu year round.

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Last but certainly not least, I really enjoyed this video of French and American speakers pronouncing different brand names. One of my favorite things is French people pronouncing American words in French accents, so watching this video on Frenchly was a nice break in my day.

Enjoy your week! Here’s a song to get you started.

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