Earl Grey Chocolate Chip Spelt Waffles

3545136 Processed with VSCO with f2 preset Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Back home in London again, after a long summer. The past few months have truly been something, and as my thoughts spin faster than I type, perhaps just jotting down a few highlights would be slightly more comprehensive.

Highlights of summer:

  • meeting old friends in Singapore and eating all the good, cheap Asian dishes of my childhood!
  • travelling alone to New York for the first time, for my first science conference. Then, going there again with family for a cute fam holiday because all. The. Food. Once again. My favourite things were pistachio halva at Seed and Mill,  the ravioli, lasagna and french toast– goodness that ravioli had my whole family screaming– at Blossom Vegan restaurant, and the ice cream from van Leeuwen. Thick, stretchy ice cream. New York was essentially one big blur of food ecstasy.
  • travelling all over Italy (Padua, Modena, Bologna, Bonassola, with my boyfriend and spending time with his family, too. It was weeks of less internet connection and more real connectivity, something I’ve found more and more necessary in an up-and-going, busy city such as London. Ignorance is truly bliss, sometimes. Padua, our first stop, is a gem with her cheap aperols and tramezzinis, and so is Modena with her divine food (pretty sure we saw Massimo Bottura on a bike) and pretty streets. Those two areas were probably my favourites, and to visit again would be a blessing.

Things I’ve learnt after returning to London:

  • always clean your waffle iron really well after each use; you don’t want gross black burnt bits of waffle from two months ago left behind on that thing…
  • spend enough quality time with both yourself and the people who mean the most to you
  • short naps are underrated
  • London is amazing, period– I always forget how vibrant, diverse and fun it is here. I also have yet to find elsewhere with an architectural scene as unique as it is here, and yes, I like the cold, the grey, the soft sun and tender clouds, I like it all. Further, there’s something for everyone here, anytime, anyplace. Want some fun? Head straight to Shoreditch or somewhere in Central London for a drink or delicious bite. Feel too overwhelmed? Escape to the outskirts or have a solo picnic in Hyde Park. Or stay home and make…

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset3233350 Processed with VSCO with f2 preset Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Well, waffles. Of course.

Not just any plain old American-style waffle (although there will always be a case for that, and one will always be partial to that classic combination of butter and maple syrup), no. It’s a waffle with class, with taste, but all in good measure, not stuffy in the slightest. The earl grey lends a note of sophistication to the sultry blend of spelt and chocolate. Who knew spelt made such a good case for your Sunday stack? Not I, not I for too long a time. The nutty, almost sweet angle to spelt has made it popular in more and more dishes, both sweet and savoury, recently. Although it’s not gluten-free, its relatively low in gluten, making it easy on the abdomen for the more gluten-sensitive of you. It is incredibly rich in many B vitamins such as niacin (like mushrooms!), protein and minerals, and even used to brew beer in Belgium and Bavaria. If you’re not convinced by its versatility, then check out these waffles. They’re perfect in every sense of the word in waffle world– soft and chewy all the way through, and golden-crisp around the edges.

These are truly one of the best waffle recipes I’ve developed. I have always wanted to experiment with spelt, but the combination of earl grey, chocolate and fluff makes for something so wonderfully extravagant yet humble in the simple shape of a waffle. Easy to make, and take no time at all to cook. Compared to my other waffle recipes, these take less than a minute to cook fully– how sublime is that when you’re cold and starving on a weekend morning?

They pair magically with coconut yogurt, more chopped chocolate and strawberry jam. Maple syrup isn’t necessary since the waffles themselves are relatively sweet, but go for it if you wish– I understand than some liquescent element is necessary for it to feel like a Sunday sometimes.

3151642 Processed with VSCO with f2 preset2960639 Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Ingredients (makes 5-6 mini waffles and serves 1-2 people, double or triple the quantities if necessary)

130g spelt flour (use plain if you wish, but spelt will make your waffles softer and chewier)

1 heaped tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

80ml milk of your choice (I used almond)

half tbsp apple cider vinegar/ white vinegar

1 tsp vanilla extract

50g agave syrup/ maple syrup/ honey

90g yoghurt of choice (I used coconut)

2 tbsp oil (any type such as vegetable/ rapeseed/ coconut/ sunflower)

2-3 tbsp earl grey tea, made by steeping your favourite earl grey tea (loose/teabag) in hot or boiling water for a couple of minutes

40g chopped dark chocolate (use whatever chocolate you want but dark is preferable– I used Lindt’s 70% for a strong and true flavour)

Directions

Preheat your waffle iron according to its instructions. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Then add the rest of the ingredients, the chopped chocolate going in last. Mix until everything is evenly incorporated, but don’t overmix the batter as this will result in rubbery waffles.

Liberally grease your waffle iron and place two heaped tablespoons of batter on the hot surface. Press the lid of the iron down and let the waffles cook for 30-40 seconds. Check if they’re golden and crisp on the outside by carefully lifting the lid. If not, let them continue to cook until golden-brown. There should be melting or cooked bits of chocolate all around the edges… yum.

Carefully remove the waffles (use your hands if you’re daring, and a fork if you’re not stupid) from the iron and place on a paper towel to let them cool while you handle the rest of the batter. Serve with coconut yoghurt, fruity jam and a little extra chopped dark chocolate.

 

Pique Nique

Pique Nique

Being MIA has instilled within me a rushed urge to pen down (or type out, rather) some sort of spilling from my head, my memory, my any form of past experience or happening. Just anything. A deep urge to merely engage in some good outpouring.

So I thought, why not talk about the book I just finished, or perhaps my first week at school (which was more fun that what I had initially playing out in my head, with a ton of dirt and soap and ruggedness and hearty laughter). Then I thought, hey, there’s that food post I missed out on. So I opted for a missed call rather than something relevant to my own present. I’m absurd and boring that way, yes. Basically, this is the restaurant I went to a few days before I left for France for a food and ski escapade, one which whom everyone probably already knows about.

Pique Nique. Literally pronounced picnic, quite unlike what I had in my head whenever I walked by the new place a few years ago, my uvula ringing from a post French word half horse grunt. It’s in an open area where everyone can admire their collection of whoopie pies and blueberry cheesecakes. A quirky little space which I believe replaced Mcdonalds or something or another, though the genuine quirky factor is dimmed down by the somewhat unprofessional gimmick of service; slow and amateur to say with full politeness.

Image

Image

The burnt-coloured chairs look heavily inviting. Plush exterior to mislead the eye, for once one sits down, you are brought back to a 1950s red bar booth with a cheap plastic cover. Very homely and chic, though.

Image
Bacon carbonara with poached egg

I believe there is a mighty correlation between a person’s age and his/her attraction to a dish such as carbonara. I remember as a child I would happily wolf down a full plate of this after school, made lush and complete with lashings of Thai sweet chill sauce, since I believed it cut through the opaqueness of such a thick white swimming pool and made the crisp bacon bits even more distinct. Now I watch my two youngest sisters ordering the stuff whenever available in a restaurant. It’s always the cream pasta and meat which appeals to the palette, though I myself fail to keep up with childhood memories and have stopped ordering it altogether. Call me what you may, but I’m certainly not the sort to order the same thing over and over again at different restaurants, for fear that the lack of variety may one day end up killing the sentience of my taste buds and whatever there may be present to provide me with the ability to distinguish between flavours. It’s mostly fear, and a little boredom.

Stole a bite from my dear cousin’s plate just to be sure that they weren’t serving it for the sake of Western tradition. A good sauce and slightly overcooked pasta. Tasty, albeit predictable. And the predictable stuff is only half worth it, oui?

I actually found the most interesting thing the salad, which was really well dressed, and had the correct components of everything in a delectable ratio. I was guessing that the salmon might be a tad too salty, and indeed it was. I sound incredibly cynical and snarky. To guess and be correct is a satisfying feeling, since it offers peace of mind and less hefty an emotional price. However this case presents a more disappointing sort of correctness, hence the satisfaction is not achieved. The egg was sufficiently poached, but it was the sort of dish which made you wonder if good quality would be maintained time and time again, long after the hype diminishes and the spotted teenage waiters move on.

The thing I was most disappointed about was the terrible lack of drinks available. We perused the menu and ordered iced chocolate and iced lattes, only to find out that ‘none were available’. None. The word cut me up on the inside. We were forced to resort to tea, water and coffee. Oh yes, and a glass of apple juice (the sort which you could taste the carton brand of). Of course it had to be our fault for coming to eat on the wrong day at the wrong time with the wrong expectations. The disappointment almost turned to enragement, but I kept my hat on and merely scowled for a few seconds. It’s not the end of the world.

Image
Classique Croque Madame

So. My dish. I saw the fried egg of course. That sort of said quite enough once I opened the coffee-dipped menu. I’ve tried Croque Madame a good few times; enough to tell whether something of this profound size would behold enough taste to prove it’s worth.

Plainly saying, it was overwhelmingly bready. I was forced to cut through rounds of dry white bread, with each piece failing to soak up enough eggy goodness. It’s all about the yolk, but the gargantuan portion of cheesy bread was putting me off. Cheese was present; all lovely and crusty and sometimes even gooey between the two-inch thick slices. The only wrong thing was the disproportionate ratio. Portion= utterly westernised. Not entirely a bad thing, but evidently it was perhaps too much of a normal thing. Nothing to blow my (non-existent) socks off. These cases present to me something more unattractive than appetising, even if I was absolutely ravenous.

Image
Waffles with chocolate ice cream

And here you may admire the luscious serving of crusty Belgian waffles which I recommended to my overwhelmed 5-year old sister, since I am a selfish human being and wanted to have a few bites myself. One of the better waffles out there, which don’t rapidly melt away into a soggy mess with something like ice cream and whipped cream on top. Each bite was wonderful, and the ice cream itself wasn’t full of that artificial, Hersheys-esque aftertaste. A half-real chocolate taste, which was impressive considering the decent price. The ratio in this case was spot on. The ice cream could coat the whole thing with an ample, plump brown blanket, creamy and nourishing. Waffles were simply spectacular, what with the golden edges and crunch throughout its ridged, pressed body. The chocolate was just asking to be sploshed into every square cubby hole, lying there to soften and sweeten a hardy bread texture.

Magnifique.

Rating: 2.6/5

Pique Nique

391A Orchard Road
#B1-01/02 Ngee Ann City
62386705