Waffling Over Waffles

My mom’s 1950s-era Sunbeam waffle iron has moved with us from Fort Collins, Colorado, to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and to Glen Ellen, California. It still works. And it’s still a warm (literally and figuratively) reminder of a very special mother and her cooking.

But, of late, it’s been displaced in our kitchen by a Hamilton Beach Flip Belgian Waffle Maker with Non-stick Removable Plates, Browning Control, and Drip Tray.

It’s been a bittersweet decision. And we’ve waffled about it.

waffle (n): kind of batter-cake, baked crisp in irons and served hot,” 1744, from Dutch wafel “waffle,” from Middle Dutch or Middle Low German wafel, from Proto-Germanic *wabila- “web, honeycomb”   Waffle iron is from 1794.

waffle (v.) 1690s, “to yelp, bark,” frequentative of provincial waff “to yelp, to bark like a puppy” (1610); Figurative sense of “talk foolishly” (c. 1700) led to that of “vacillate, equivocate” (1803), originally a Scottish and northern English usage. Late 17c. Scottish also had waff “act of waving,” variant of waft, which might have influenced the sense.

(thanks to The Online Etymology Dictionary for that definition help)

Marie Kondo can preach about decluttering – but maybe the harder part is figuring what to do with what’s been decluttered.

What do I do with my mom’s waffle iron? Post it on NextDoor or Facebook Marketplace? Sell it on eBay? Put it in front of our house with a “free” sign? Give it to the Goodwill (which in our area has become pretty selective!)? Search for a needy person or grateful friend to bestow it upon? OR just keep it, tucked away, in hopes that one of our offspring will find it at some later date and treasure it?

There’s a fun website – and NYC store – with vintage toasters and waffle irons that have been refurbished (and sell for lots of $$!). It’s ToasterCentral.com, should you be in the market for one. Unfortunately, the owner doesn’t want to buy old toasters and waffle irons, so I’ll cross that off the list of possibilities for riddance.

I just learned about the Buy Nothing Project after reading the comments made on this recent NYTimes article about decluttering; admittedly, I feel a little out-of-touch that I’d never heard of it before. According to their website, two friends from Bainbridge Island, Washington, started the project in 2013. According to “BuyNothing 101″…

BuyNothing offers people a way to give and receive, share, lend, and express gratitude through a worldwide gift economy network in which the true wealth is the web of connections formed between people. We believe that communities are more resilient, sustainable, equitable, and joyful when they have functional gift economies.

My first reaction to the name – the BuyNothingProject – was “I can’t do that! I LOVE to buy things.” But after reading a little more, it appears I don’t have to quit buying to be a part of the group. Maybe I just need to cut back, which isn’t such a bad idea.

BuyNothing continues:

Rethinking consumption and refusing to buy new in favor of asking for an item from a neighbor may make an impact on the amount of goods manufactured in the first place, which in turn may put a dent in the overproduction of unnecessary goods that end up in our landfills, watersheds, and our seas. It most certainly creates connections between people who see each other in real life, not just online, leading to more robust communities that are better prepared to tackle both hard times and good by giving freely.

Andy – ever and always the social scientist – wonders how many manufacturing jobs will be lost if we all start cutting back on our purchases. There’s never an easy answer, is there!

As for our waffling over which kind of waffle we prefer, Andy decided to focus on the kind of waffle he really finds yucky. In fact, today’s Andy’s Corner focuses on how one person’s yucky food is another person’s yum food.

Our current yummy Belgian waffle recipe makes use of Andy’s sour dough starter, which is a good thing, since the sour dough bread-making around here has gone missing. What a relief that we found something else to do with that starter. If you don’t have sour dough starter and don’t have a friend to get some from free – and you don’t want to buy it or make it, try our favorite Buttermilk Waffle recipe, which comes from the 1989 New Basics Cookbook and uses the traditional waffle iron – or try Emeril Lagasse’s Belgian Waffle recipe, another favorite of ours.

If you find yourself waffling over whether or not to buy a waffle iron, think about your local BuyNothingProject (here’s a list of the USA groups and be aware that the Project is transitioning away from Facebook to their own App). Perhaps a neighbor is decluttering and wants a home for their used waffle iron. Think of the rewards: there’s less stuff in the landfill, you make a new neighborly friend, they declutter, and you get a free waffle iron. It’s a win win situation. No waffling necessary.

Meanwhile, I wish I could send off my vintage Sunbeam waffle iron to the British artist Joe Rush, who uses old metal items in his sculptures. His most famous work, done with recycled electronic items, must be the recent Mt. Recyclemore, depicting the 2021 attendees at the G7 Summit. What a way for metal to go! That’s Biden, BTW, on the right. The one on the far left is a gimme, if you look at the hair!

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Neanderthals

I’m a little obsessed with Neanderthals at the moment. Maybe it’s because I read that they may have died out because of “inability to adapt to climate change” (scary!); maybe it’s because Biden made news for referencing them – or maybe it’s because my 23 and Me results show that I’ve got more Neanderthal DNA than 95% of their customers.

Whatever. I knew little about Neanderthals until my interest was tweaked these last few months. And now I can’t get enough of them. Of course, I have a great curiosity about their eating habits. It seems that in the last few years scientists studying these hominids (I had to look that term up) have gone from considering them meat-eaters to realizing that they ate much more, depending upon where they were living.

Here’s a quote from Richard Wangham, a Harvard biological anthropology professor:

These lovely new data on fecal sterols confirm what many people have been increasingly thinking, which is that something is wrong with the inference that Neanderthals were 100 percent carnivores…In the end it would not be surprising to find that Neanderthals show little difference from sapiens in their diet composition.”

Wow. “Lovely new data on fecal sterols” is not quite the wording you’d expect! 🙂 Wangham is responding to new findings from a MIT study about vegetable-eating Neanderthals.

Apparently, scientists gain much of their knowledge not only from fecal sterols – but also from teeth and plaque – and their ability to do that using ancient DNA analysis has markedly improved in the last 20 years. Today in Andy’s Corner you’ll find Andy focusing on a 1956 anthropological study that also includes teeth. Surely you’ve heard of the human group called the Nacirema? Ha!

Research published in 2017 in Nature.com compared plaque DNA from Neanderthal remains found at the El Sidrón cave in Spain and the Spy cave in Belgium. The analysis shows that whereas Spy Neanderthals apparently ate woolly rhinoceros and wild sheep, El Sidrón’s residents foraged for plants. More specifically, El Sidrón’s residents – over 50,000 years ago – were dining on mushrooms, moss, and pine nuts.

Even more recently scientists announced the discovery of the remains of 9 Neanderthals near Rome, Italy. According to The History Blog, given the condition of their teeth, these early humans apparently “foraged for cereals.” Can someone help me here? How do you forage for cereal?

Barley grains were found in the teeth of a Neanderthal

Before we get to our recipes, here’s a 2021 North Carolina State U video which fits our theme beautifully. It’s a little hard to know if it was tongue-in-cheek or dead serious. The title? Eat Prey Run – A Neanderthal Cook-A-Long!

Given all this info on my ancestors, I thought a vegetarian dish of mushrooms and pine nuts seemed perfect (note: I chose to pass on including a wooly rhinoceros recipe or a moss recipe). The recipe also has some pasta (made with cereal grains AND coming from Italy) to make this even more relevant! Yes, I know pine nuts are expensive, but you use so few of them at a time that it’s not as spendy as it may seem. Plus, the left-over nuts will keep well in the fridge.

Though we know now that the Neanderthals dry-roasted and boiled plants, I don’t believe there is any indication – at least not yet – that the Neanderthals baked cookies with their pine nuts. Nonetheless we’re offering up a delicious pine nut cookie recipe. Savor your family’s historical ingredients, if not their cooking techniques.

And if you too have a relatively hefty amount of Neanderthal DNA (fact check: no one living today has more than a minuscule amount when looking at the big DNA picture) – and you want to know more about your kin – here’s a brief, helpful overview published by The Smithsonian.

Mushroom and Pine Nut Pasta

Mushroom and Pine Nut Pasta

Adapted from Elizabeth Minchilli.com

  • 1 1/2 lb mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 T olive oil
  • salt and pepper (about 1 tsp Diamond kosher salt should be enough)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bunch arugula, trimmed and roughly chopped – or use spinach, chard, or another favorite cooking green (I use about 6 c of lightly packed greens)
  • 1/4 c pine nuts, toasted
  • 1/2 c grated parmigiano reggiano cheese
  • 1/2 – 1 lb orecciette – or pasta of your choice (note: we prefer going light on the pasta)

Add the olive oil to a large pan over high heat. When the oil is hot, add the sliced mushrooms and let them cook, stirring only after they’ve had a chance to brown for a few minutes.  Turn the heat to low and let them cook until tender, then add the garlic, season with salt and pepper and let cook another few minutes until the garlic is cooked through. Turn off the heat and add the arugula, stirring it to wilt.

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook the pasta until al dente. Drain, reserving a cup of pasta cooking water.

Heat the mushrooms if they have cooled off, and add the pasta to the pan with the mushrooms, stirring to combine. Add half the water and continue stirring for another minute. Turn off the heat, add the cheese and a bit more water, and stir well to combine. If it seems dry add more water. Add the pine nuts, and stir.  Serve and enjoy.

Recipe brought to you by BigLittleMeals.com and Andy and Ann.

Pine Nut Cookies

Pine Nut Cookies

  • Servings: makes about 30 two-inch cookies
  • Print
Adapted from The Essential New York Times Cookbook.

  • 8 T (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 c flour
  • 1/2 c toasted pine nuts (note: life will go on if you don’t toast them)

Heat oven to 300 degrees.  Butter 2 baking sheets.  In a mixer or food processor, beat the butter with the sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in the egg yolk, vanilla, and flour – just until blended.  Don’t overbeat.  Mix in the pine nuts.

Drop the batter a heaping teaspoon at a time onto the baking sheets.  Do a crosshatch pattern on the top of each with a fork dipped into water; press down with the fork to flatten the dough.

Bake until pale golden, about 18-22 minutes.  Cool on the pan for a few minutes and then use a spatula to move the cookies to a rack to cool.  

These little cookies freeze well – and are even yummy eaten straight from the freezer.  Been there; done that!

Recipe brought to you by BigLittleMeals.com and Andy and Ann.

The Grandma Myth

If you type “Grandma’s Recipe” (in quotes) into a Google search, you get 384,000 results. If you search Amazon’s Books for Grandma’s Cookbook you get over 20,000 results. (an aside: if you search Amazon Books for GRANDPA’S Cookbook, you do get some results – but only 6,000.)

Pretty impressive. What is it about grandmothers and cooking that provokes such activity and adoration?

At the risk of offending multiple members of my family, I am going to go out on a limb and say that grandma’s cooking may be way over-rated.

I have a pile of recipe cards which I treasure; they are in my Mom Hill’s handwriting – she’s my paternal grandmother – and I have fixed all of them many times. In fact, her Cinnamon Bread has become somewhat of a Hill family legend…baked religiously before Christmas by multiple family members and gifted to friends in Colorado and Washington and Oregon and California. But other (once favorite) recipes of Mom Hill’s include “5 in One Salad” (canned pineapple, canned mandarin oranges, coconut, marshmallows and sour cream) and “Hamburger Dish” (can of peas, can of tomato soup, browned hamburger, and cooked rice). A recent attempt I made to bake her Whole Wheat Bread resulted in a dense, unappealing loaf. And I haven’t even mentioned Mom Hill’s overly-enthusiastic use of Jello-O Jello and Campbell’s Pork & Beans and Cream of Mushroom Soup, none of which, thankfully, appear in the recipe pictured below.

Here’s one recipe of Mom Hill’s which we all still appreciate, courtesy of my Cousin Janet

I asked our BigLittleMeals friends and family to share with us a favorite recipe from their grandmother. The results were a mixed bag, to put it mildly. One college friend wrote:

My Gram McClain is best remembered for blowing up a pressure cooker full of beets . . . days after my mom had repainted the kitchen.  On holidays, my dad dreaded Gram Carlson’s “bone dry stuffing”, but he soldiered on and gagged it down.

I may not agree with his taste in food, but our bicycling friend Mr. Squarepants (we believe that name to be fictitious) wrote that his Icelandic grandma fixed a “quite tasty” dish consisting mainly of suet and oatmeal and beef liver. Email us if you’d like the recipe. Andy, on the other hand, finds that the mention of liver sausage sparks fond memories – in today’s Andy’s Corner.

When I asked our two teen grandsons which recipe we’ve made for them is their favorite, their immediate and enthusiastic response was their Grandpa Andy’s Little Swedish Pancakes and their Grandpa Andy’s Popovers. So much for Grandma’s cooking. Damn! 🙂

Let’s face it. Grandma’s food isn’t – or wasn’t – necessarily always good or healthy or even edible. But maybe the outpouring of love from grandma – rather than grandma’s food – created a mystique that made her cooking seem more special than it really was.

Or maybe your grandma really did have”nafas” – that Arabic word which translates into something like an “elusive gift that makes food taste better.” But we still can’t replicate her food because she didn’t write down her recipes – or if she did write something, wrote it in “pinch of this” and “pinch of that” terms.

But there are some treasured and do-able Grandma recipes that live on amongst the BigLittleMeals group. What could be more delightful than serving up delicious homemade vanilla ice cream made from your grandmother’s handwritten recipe?

A delicious recipe from Mother Oscamou; fixing it entailed hand-cranking the wooden ice cream maker and chipping ice of an ice block!

Or spice Christmas cookies from your Grandma Kobelt, who definitely had nafas:

How weird is that! Ohioan Grandma Kobelt (my friend’s grandmother) and my Coloradoan Mom Hill have practically identical handwritings and the very same recipe cards.

Or maybe a slice of Grandmother Smith’s Burnt Sugar Cake with Burnt Sugar Icing. Another college friend wrote about how sad she was to have lost the recipe for that cake. Yum! I’m sorry too – it sounds delicious. A google search reveals that Burnt Sugar Cake is a fond food memory for many folks. This old Joy of Cooking recipe may be just what my friend is looking for. May her grandmother’s cake live on!

Great-grandmom’s Ginger Cookies is a recipe given to me by a student years ago – when I was teaching at Scotlandville Magnet H.S. in Baton Rouge. They are delicious.

While it’s pretty clear that Grandma’s dessert recipes transfer to another generation better than anything else, there are exceptions, and that’s what we’ve got for you today. Our San Francisco friend Aggie published a book about her mother – and her grandmother, Livia Leopold. The book is entitled Burning Horses, A Hungarian Life Turned Upside Down. Aggie calls her grandmother a “gutsy old broad.”

Aggie shared this Hungarian Gulyás (goulash) recipe, which mirrors her grandmother’s.

After fondly remembering our grandmas and their mixed-bag of recipes, I suggest we give a toast – “TO ALL OF THE WORLD’S GUTSY OLD BROADS!” – whether good cooks or not.

Gulyás (Hungarian Goulash)

Gulyás (Hungarian Goulash)

You can omit the potatoes and instead serve the stew over egg noodles, and it will still be something a Hungarian grandma would approve of. Adapted from The Hungarian Cookbook by Susan Derecskey.

  • 4 slices bacon, diced
  • 1 1/2 c chopped onion (about 3 medium sized onions)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 lb boneless beef chuck roast, cut into 1 1/2″ cubes
  • 1 T (or a little more) Hungarian paprika (not Hot Paprika, unless you’re into hot)
  • 1 1/2 tsp Diamond kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp marjoram
  • 1/4 c chopped green bell pepper
  • 2 apples, peeled, cored, and chopped (optional)
  • 2 c beef or chicken broth
  • 3/4 c dry white wine
  • 1 lb medium Yukon gold potatoes, left unpeeled, quartered (you want about 2″ chunks)
  • 4 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
  • a dab of sour cream for topping (optional)

Over medium heat, brown the diced bacon in a Dutch oven or heavy 3 qt pan with a lid.  Stir and turn until the bacon is lightly browned.  Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Add the chopped onion to the bacon fat and cook and stir until almost tender, then remove it with a slotted spoon and set aside (you can put it in with the fried bacon).

Add the beef to the bacon fat and slowly brown on all sides, stirring occasionally.  

Combine the paprika, salt, pepper, and marjoram, then add that mixture, along with the green bell pepper and apples (if you’re using them) to the beef in the Dutch oven and mix well.  Pour in the broth and white wine, and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for about 1 1/2 -2 hours or until the meat is almost tender when pierced with a fork.  Add the potatoes, cover, and cook until the potatoes are almost tender, about another 15 minutes, then add the thinly-sliced carrots, cover, and cook until they are tender – another 5 minutes or so.  Your total cooking time will be in the range of 2-2 1/2 hours.

Recipe brought to you by Aggie in SF and BigLittleMeals.com and Andy and Ann.

The Raggedy Awards: Year Four

Welcome to our fourth annual BigLIttleMeals Raggedy Awards.  Each year at this time Ann and I select our favorites from each other’s posts from the past year (see the entire list here).  Aside from our blog, perhaps the best thing about this past year is that it has passed into the past.

Note: We’ve added a new category to our awards – a one-time only thing: the BEST SERIES TO WATCH TO KEEP YOUR MIND OFF OF A PANDEMIC. Choosing the winner has been rough. Just like the pandemic.

We estimate that we spent 360 evenings since March 2020 watching episodes of the following series:

One Day at a Time, Schitt’s Creek, Never Have I Ever, Jane the Virgin, Ramy, Better Things, Killing Eve, and Recitfy.

And the winner of this special Pandemic Year award goes to (tah-dah): RECTIFY!

Yes, Rectify may be slow-paced but the series has moved us, disturbed us, occasionally made us smile, made us contemplate the complexities of families, but – more than anything – made us go deep into thoughts about guilt and innocence – and rebirth – in both the religious and secular sense.

And now to the Presentation of the REAL Raggedy Awards:

ANDY’S PICKS

Andy’s pick for Ann’s BEST BLOG goes to:  The Bluebirds of Happiness

This post is my favorite of the year for two reasons. First, the symbolism of the bluebird is the perfect metaphorical salve for the less than happy year we were experiencing. The opening quote from Margaret Renkl’s NY Times opinion column hits it on the head for me:

… think of happiness as neither distant nor grand. Perhaps it would help to remember that even now happiness is only what it has ever been: something that lights before us, immediate and insistent and always fleeting. Not a promise at all but a temporary gift. It lands, and lifts away, and returns again, ever flashing its wings.

The second reason I selected this post is that the featured blueberry muffins are more than a metaphor for happiness – they are literal happiness straight from the oven.

The Runner up for Ann’s BEST BLOG go to:  Biden Thyme

To my way of thinking Biden Thyme skillfully stitches together some of the more crucial aspects of our everyday lives: puns, cocktails, chocolate cake, drinkable shrubs, and (not-so-nuanced) political references. Published just five days after the new administration officially started, the thyming of the post couldn’t have been better.

ANN’S PICKS

Ann’s pick for the best ANDY’S CORNER  goes to: I’m a Taurus: Does that Mean I’m Full of Bull (and that I Should Avoid Criadillas in my Diet)?

This Andy’s Corner had several things going for it that vaulted it to the top of my picks. First, it paired nicely with my blog The Age of Aquarius (which regrettably was not selected for a Raggedy Award). It cleverly incorporated some touchy culinary issues within an astrological framework. But most important, it included a photo of Andy and me looking just (well, almost) like George and Amal Clooney.

The Runner up for THE BEST ANDY’S CORNER goes to:

Fly Fishing, Pitch, and Salty Dogs: Hygge or Friluftsliv?

Was fishing an incidental part of the fishing trips?

My Andy’s Corner runner-up selection was especially nostalgic for me. Even though I was never invited to my dad’s men’s-only fishing trips to North Park, Colorado, I grew up hearing many stories of these infamous outings. It wasn’t until Andy married into the family and was invited by my dad to join the old-timers that I found out that fishing was somewhat of an incidental activity compared to heated Pitch card games and the consumption of Salty Dogs.


In addition to the above Raggedy Awards, we present awards for Best Video and Best Recipes. We end our presentation ceremony by naming our Food Item of the Year.

The Raggedy for BEST VIDEO goes to: Picky and Piggy: A (Culinary) Tale of Two Kitties

Closing scene from Picky and Piggy

Selecting this video as the best of the last year was a no-brainer, largely because we had only one BigLittleMeals video for the year. Produced, directed, and edited by Andy, you are taken behind the scenes to witness the culinary world of our two kitties: Ono and Choco (aka Picky and Piggy).


Next up are our Raggedys for Best Recipes. Picking out favorite recipes is sort of like having to say which of your kids is the favorite.  Each recipe is a work of love which involves much testing, tasting, and at times, rejecting. But since we have to choose, here are our picks.

The Raggedy for BEST RECIPE (according to Andy) goes to: Turkey Chili. The Moroccan Stew recipe was a VERY close runner-up.

Adapted from a Ruth Reichl recipe, our Turkey Chili features ground turkey and white beans with a fresh tomatillo sauce spiked with chipotle chilis and topped with Mexican crema. It’s always a hit.

Our Moroccan Stew recipe can be made with lamb or be vegetarian without the lamb. It is a delightful tomato-based stew with chickpeas and raisins (or dates if you prefer) spiced to perfection with cinnamon, turmeric, coriander, and ginger. We recommend serving it over a bed of couscous.


The Raggedy for BEST RECIPE (according to Ann) goes to: Chicken Fried Chicken. Our Brown Sugar Blondies recipe is a VERY close runner-up.

Those who know of my undying quest for the perfect chicken-fried steak won’t be surprised that our Chicken Fried Chicken is my top recipe pick The chicken coated with a buttermilk and egg batter comes out of the frying pan with a wonderful golden crust that begs for cream gravy. This would be a star in any diner in rural America. The irony of choosing this fried dish as my favorite – after writing a blog decrying the frying process – does not escape me.

My runner-up recipe for Brown Sugar Blondies has the perfect ingredients for a super-simple yet deliciously-decadent treat – brown sugar, pecans, and lots and lots of butter. Not only are these blondies irresistible, the recipe is adapted from Sara Deseran’s Picnics cookbook (nepotism is alive and well at the BigLittleMeals award ceremonies).


The Raggedy for OUR FAVORITE FOOD ITEM OF THE YEAR goes to:  SOUR CREAM

Whether it’s Mexican Crema or Sour Cream, we’ve used it over and over this year. We think almost every stew tastes better with a little dollop on top, often with a little lime juice and salt added to it. But mostly we’ve come to appreciate what sour cream does for batters, such as in pancakes and muffins and cakes. Here’s a great article which details the value of sour cream way more than I can. We’ve already raved about Blueberry Muffins made with a mixture of crema and sour cream and we’ve posted a yummy Mexican Chocolate Cake recipe with sour cream.

And here’s a recipe to conclude our Annual Raggedy Award ceremony. Ann’s assessment?

I’m pretty fussy about my pancakes; it’s actually hard for me to rave about anything other than Swedish pancakes and I have consistently resisted Andy’s efforts to impress me with his pecan pancakes or his oatmeal pancakes or even his sour dough pancakes. But I like these. REALLY like them. It’s all about the sour cream – and the tenderness and lightness achieved by its use.

Edna Mae’s Sour Cream Pancakes

  • Servings: 2-3 or about 12 small pancakes
  • Print

NOTE: this isn’t enough batter to feed a family of 4 – so be sure to increase accordingly! Adapted from The PioneerWoman and SmittenKitchen

7 T flour
1 T sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/ 2 tsp salt
1 c sour cream (or a combination of sour cream and Mexican crema)
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla 
Butter
Maple syrup and/or Fresh Strawberry Sauce 

Heat a cast iron skillet or griddle over medium-low heat; you want it to slowly get nice and hot.

Stir the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt together in the bottom of a medium bowl. Dump the sour cream in on top and stir it together very gently. Whisk the eggs and vanilla in a separate bowl and stir them into the sour cream mixture, once again, being careful not to overmix.

Melt about a tablespoon of butter in your skillet or griddle and pour the batter in, a scant 1/4 cup at a time. You’re aiming for about 4″ pancakes. Cook for about 2 minutes on the first side, or until bubbles appear all over the surface, flipping them carefully and cooking for about a minute on the other side. Repeat with remaining batter.

Recipe brought to you by BigLittleMeals.com and Andy and Ann.

Lagniappe: Friands and Family

Nope, that title is not a typo. We’ve been thinking a lot about the importance of our friends and families lately. And I think it’s ironic that one of our favorite new recipes is for “friands.” A friand is simply an Aussie (we love Aussies 🙂 ) version of a French financier – often with an added piece of fruit on the top. They’re simple little cakes, usually made with at least some almond flour.

We may love this Aussie most!

Friands are perfect to serve to friends and family at the end of a meal – or with coffee on your patio in the morning. Because we are all ecstatic that we actually HAVE post-vaccination-unmasked friends sitting at our table now or chatting with us on our patio, it seems the right time to share this recipe. The little cakes freeze perfectly, so you can make a batch whenever and just pull them out as needed, as your friends and family gather (newly) around. Embrace them (friends and family). Enjoy them (friands).

Friands

Friands

Adapted from Epicurious.com

  • 14 T butter (1 stick  plus 3/4 stick) 
  • 3/4 c pistachio nuts, plus a few extra to serve (pecans may be substituted if you add about 1/4 c more – for a total of 1 cup, but the pistachio nuts make this YUM!  And don’t worry if you only can find shelled, salted pistachios.  Just cut back a tad on the salt.)
  • 1 2/3 c confectioners’ sugar, plus more for dusting
  • 3/4 c plus 2 T finely ground almonds (or almond flour)
  • 2/3 c flour
  • 1/2 tsp Diamond kosher salt
  • 5 large egg whites
  • fresh strawberries, thinly sliced
  • powdered sugar to dust on top (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a muffin pan (muffin pans seem to vary in size.  This will make enough for 8-12 muffins.  There are also special friand pans, which are oval instead of round and on the small-ish side).

Melt the butter in a small pan, then remove from the heat and leave to cool a little. 

Grind 2/3 c of the pistachio nuts in a food processor with the confectioners’ sugar until very finely chopped.  Roughly chop the remaining pistachio nuts and set aside.

In another bowl blend together the ground almonds, flour, and salt, and then add the ground pistachio/flour mixture to that and mix again.  

Beat the egg whites with a fork until frothy, then pour into the nuts and flour mixture with the melted butter and mix well.

Spoon the mixture into the muffin tin, filling each tin about 3/4 full; add a few strawberries slices to the top of each one, then scatter with the chopped pistachios. Bake for 20–25 minutes until the friands are browned on the edges and springy to the touch and a skewer inserted comes out clean.

Serve warm or at room temperature.  If using powdered sugar, dust the friands just before serving.

Recipe brought to you by BigLittleMeals.com and Andy and Ann.
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