This weekend my wonderful friend Julie (of Lavender Julep) and I co-hosted a Galentine’s Day brunch and “crafternoon” for our friends! Julie graciously hosted at her amazingly gorgeous home and put together an incredible gin bar with a crazy spread of gins and some gorgeous dried citrus. I’ll be sharing a few of my contributions to our shindig this week including some customized plates, a sweet little snack, and one of the crafts we did! I’m starting today though, with a sweet & savoury snack bar inspired by the queen of Galentine’s Day herself, Leslie Knope.
I couldn’t decide between sweet and savory toppings for the waffles, so as I do when faced with most decisions, I chose both. For the waffles themselves, I went with this yeasted waffle recipe from the New York Times. They’re a little more substantial than your usual waffles but have a light airiness that makes them incredible! I really loved this style of waffle, especially for a brunch, and I thought it went equally well with sweet and savoury toppings.
I do have a couple notes and tips for this recipe. The yeasted flour base of the dough needs to rise for at least 2-3 hours before making your waffles so it’s a great thing to start when you first wake up for a brunch or in the evening to proof in the fridge for a longer period of time, overnight. You still may not notice as much rise if you let it rest in the fridge, I’d always recommend allowing it to rise in a warm spot if possible. The recipe also notes that you should coat the waffle iron with butter but I found if your iron has a non-stick coating (as most do) that this was unnecessary and the waffle actually crisped up nicer and more evenly without it. If you notice sticking you can always use a very, very light coat of cooking spray. You’ll want to cook the waffles to a nice golden brown to ensure that they’ll cook all the way through.
On the sweet side of things I went pretty simple with waffle toppings - why mess with a good thing? Julie grabbed some mixed berries as topping and I grabbed some nice high quality maple syrup. I found these sweet little syrup pitchers at Walmart for $1.99 each. They’re not only cute but also poured really nicely and let you control the amount of syrup really well which I liked.
I had also planned to make some fresh whipped cream for the sweet waffles but partway through whipping the cream I popped it into the freezer to cool while I worked on something else for a minute and then promptly forgot about it until Julie went to get more ice out about 4 hours later. Oops! Don’t do that. That was definitely a result of me taking on too many things - it would have been much easier to just grab a can of whipped cream or a tub of Cool Whip and cheaper too - whipping cream in a carton is really expensive here!
If you were only making sweet waffles, I’d add some vanilla into the batter!
I had a lot of fun playing around on the savoury side of things and since our event wasn’t starting until noon (and ended up going into the evening) I figured people might dig in on that side.
I went with two options, the classic chicken and waffles, and a bagel inspired smoked salmon and cream cheese. If you were only making savoury waffles, I’d add some shredded cheese to the batter, a mild gruyere or cheddar would work well! On the savoury side I also included a chipotle-infused maple syrup I made by heating a cup of maple syrup with two chipotle peppers from a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. Make sure not to take the heat too high or the syrup will start to reduce.
For the alternate to the classic chicken and waffles i put out smoked salmon, herb & garlic cream cheese, and capers. I woke up this morning after the party and realized that Trader Joe’s “Everything But the Bagel” seasoning would have also been a great compliment to this waffle. These were a huge hit!
Guys this fried chicken was AMAZING. I started with this recipe the Chicago Tribune posted for KFC chicken but I made a couple modifications so I’ll walk you through it now! I went with all boneless skinless chicken thighs so that they’d be easier to eat but still moist and delicious, but use whatever chicken works for you.
1 kg boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 2 pieces each
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tbsp salt
1/2 tbsp dried thyme
1/2 tbsp dried oregano
1/2 tbsp dried basil
1 tbsp celery salt
1 tbsp ground black pepper
1 tbsp ground mustard
4 tbsp paprika
2 tbsp garlic salt (or 1 tbsp garlic powder and double the salt above)
1 tbsp ground ginger
2 tsp Accent Seasoning (MSG)*
1 cup buttermilk**
1 large egg
Neutral oil for frying (vegetable, canola, or sunflower)
*MSG gets a bad reputation but it has not been shown to be harmful and it really does make things taste great - but feel free to leave it out if you prefer, the chicken will still taste pretty good
**If you don’t have buttermilk or can’t find it readily available just mix one cup of milk with one tablespoon vinegar and set it aside for a few minutes to curdle slightly before adding. Sounds kind of gross but I promise it works!
1. First cut the chicken (if needed) and add to a bowl or plastic freezer bag. Then add in the buttermilk and one beaten egg, mixed together. Set this aside to marinate for about 20 minutes while you prepare the flour/spice blend.
2. Next whisk the flour and all the spices together in a bowl (or shallow dish if your chicken pieces are larger), making sure to mix thoroughly.
3. Next prepare two cookie sheets each with a drying rack on top. On one of the sheets put a few layers of paper towels in between the cookie sheet and the drying rack. You’ll use this one to rest chicken on after it’s fried and the other beforehand.
4. At this point you can get your frying station set up, and start heating the oil if using my preferred method. I like to deep-fry outside on the barbecue. This means no smoke in your house, no oil splatter in your beautiful kitchen, and no weeks-long lingering smell of fried chicken (especially sad once you’ve eaten it all). If you’re doing this in Canadian winter like I am it’s going to take a while for your oil to get up to temperature so I’d start it now. Bring a solid, large pot (like a dutch oven) out and fill it with at least 4 inches of oil. Start your barbecue on high with the lid closed and a thermometer clipped to your pot taking the temperature of the oil. Put your paper-towel lined pan on one side to collect your fried chicken.
5. Now it’s time to bread your chicken. Remove a piece of chicken from the buttermilk/egg marinade and shake off the excess before coating well with the flour mixture. Then set the piece of chicken onto your second prepared cookie sheet. Leave the chicken to sit for 20 minutes.
6. When the oil temperature reaches about 350 degrees fahrenheit you can begin frying your first batch of chicken. Try not to let the temperature of the oil drop below 300 while frying and bring the temperature back up to 350 before starting each batch. Check chicken for an internal temperature of 165 degrees fahrenheit once you’ve removed it from the oil. You can finish or reheat in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes if needed! It’s still best to reheat on a drying rack over a cookie sheet to keep things crispy but remove the paper towel!
We had so much fun snacking on waffles but our amazing friends also brought so many treats including more drinks, a box of coffee (god bless), sweets, strawberry turnovers, and more! 10/10 would brunch with again!
Stay tuned for post with another recipe, some DIY party decor, and a fun craft for any season!