Hot Summer, Cold Stove
Donna Deane's Pork Chops with Fresh Tomato Sauce

Julia Moskin's Buttermilk-Brown Sugar Waffles


I'm back! I promise! Thanks for your patience, dear readers, while I replenished my fatigued system, spent a delicious evening with a certain Eggbeater from San Francisco, danced all night at a gorgeous wedding in Vermont (catered, by the way, by these folks, so if you're in Vermont and dying for a seafood martini that will be fresh and delicious and super-elegant, yet whimsical? You now know where to go), howled in disbelief when Zizou butted Materazzi in the 110th minute of the World Cup final, and had just enough time away from my stove to feel now that I can't wait to be back in it again. For the first time in ages, I went down to the Greenmarket yesterday and bought zucchini, tomatoes, wax beans, two kinds of cherries, apricots, blueberries and a bunch of multi-colored zinnias to grace my desk at work. I feel a bit more like my old self again.

Before I say anything else, I first have to tell you about the meal I shared with Shuna last week. Because, let me tell you, if you're feeling down on New York and on life in general, and the taste for good food seems to have slipped away from you for a while, there is absolutely nothing like going out for dinner and dessert with a lovely, interesting chef and woman to get your serotonin levels up again. We first went to Momofuku to pad our bellies. My soup bowl was filled with salty, flavorful broth, a coil of noodles, bright green peas, shredded pork that tasted like no other pork I've ever eaten and a pile of sliced scallions. The restaurant is small and lively - a dynamic, bustling place that I absolutely can't wait to visit again.

And then. Oh, then. We trotted off to Chikalicious, a restaurant that I had always eyed somewhat suspiciously. Dessert Bar? It sounded gimmicky and almost too indulgent for my tastes. But thank heavens to Betsy that Shuna came to town and showed me how very, very wrong I was. You might roll your eyes now when I say that the experience there was transcendent, but I'm going to go ahead and say it anyway. It really was.

We sat at the bar where we could see Chika and her assistant prepare each dish, while Shuna explained to me how the Pacojet and the convection oven worked. We ordered the "Cheese Cake" made with fromage blanc, and it came, served in a small white dish in a pool of cream, balanced on top of a small hill of shaved ice that kept the cream cool and chilled the "cake" with each spoonful that we took. It was cloud-like and airy, yet I can't even really describe the taste - the taste! It was one of the best things I'd ever put in my mouth. We also ordered a bird's-nest of kataifi that was covered with custard and diced white peaches.  A spoonful of basil sorbet melted gently alongside the nest and added an herbal grace note. Warm and cold, creamy and crispy - the thought and mastery that went into each dessert was a revelation.

I felt uplifted and giddy when we left - maybe it was all the sugar, but I prefer to think that Shuna gave me a night out in which I could see all the fantastic things available to me at a moment's notice in New York. That is something I'm really grateful for. We all need reminding every once in a while.

And while I was away, Molly posted about the glories of leftover pancakes, awakening something of an urge inside me. While I find most pancakes to hit my stomach in the most leaden of ways, waffles don't have that same effect. So, I whipped up a batch of waffle batter this morning to cook and then freeze for some seriously delicious snacking and subsequent breakfasts. At the beginning of June, Julia Moskin printed a recipe for buttermilk waffles in the New York Times when she wrote a piece on wedding registries. I loved the fact that there was wheat germ and buttermilk in the recipe - good, wholesome items to balance out that stick of butter.

The recipe couldn't have been easier and in the time it took for me to heat and butter my iron, the batter, with all that baking soda and powder, rose noticeably in the bowl. The waffles were light and pleasantly tangy. Drizzled with maple syrup and shared with my roommate, they were the perfect welcome back into my kitchen.

Buttermilk-Brown Sugar Waffles
Makes 3 Belgian waffles or 8 regular waffles

2 eggs
1 3/4 cups buttermilk
1 stick butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour or 1 1/2 cups flour and 1/4 cup wheat germ
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
Nonstick cooking spray or butter

1. Whisk eggs, buttermilk and melted butter in a large bowl. In nother bowl, stir dry ingredients together, then add to egg mixture and whisk just until smooth.

2. Heat a waffle iron and butter lightly or spray with nonstick spray (even nonstick waffle irons require this step). Ladle batter onto iron (about 1/4 cup for an 8-inch round iron), close, and cook just until light golden brown. Serve immediately.