Tag Archives: TCP Cooks

TCP Cooks: French Toast Waffles

Challah: A braided bread laden with eggs, symbolizing manna from heaven.

Challah: A braided bread laden with eggs, symbolizing manna from heaven.

If you love good bread, let me hear you challah!

Corny food puns are my secret love, as is warm eggy challah bread. But it’s what The Complete Package does with it that really makes my heart sing. Inspired by a sleep-over episode of Bobby Flay’s cooking show, he does the unthinkable and combines two breakfast favorites into one – French Toast & Waffles.

French Toast Waffles - Inside NanaBread's Head

To make this mouth-watering delicacy, you’ll need a fresh loaf of challah, the standard cast of French toast ingredients, and a piping hot waffle maker. A bowl of homemade whipped cream and some fresh fruit doesn’t hurt either.

TCP’s French Toast Waffles: (makes 8 slices)
1 loaf of fresh challah bread
4 large eggs
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
powdered sugar, to dust with
fresh whipped cream & macerated fruit, to garnish

Pre-heat your waffle iron (set to medium heat, if yours is adjustable).

Slice the challah bread into 1″ thick slices; set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs until lemon-colored and frothy. Whisk in the brown sugar, beating until the sugar is mostly dissolved; add the cream, vanilla and salt and whisk until combined.

Dunk each slice of challah into the egg mixture, turning to coat well, and place it in the waffle maker. Gently press the lid closed and bake until golden brown. Our small waffle maker can bake one slice at a time and each takes about 4 minutes, but it’s 32 years old, so watch yours carefully for a perfect golden hue.

When done, remove to a warm plate, dust with powdered sugar then top with fresh fruit and whipped cream. Serve immediately.

French Toast Waffles - Close-Up

Leftovers, if there are any, can be frozen. Simply place the cooked & completely cooled waffles into a zip-style freezer bag, press out any excess air, seal tightly, then drop in the freezer. To warm, place them on a baking sheet and re-heat in the oven at 275F, or pop them in the microwave for 25-30 seconds, or drop them into your toaster (just be sure to keep an eye on them so they don’t burn).

These are great with fresh peaches, strawberries, bananas or any favorite fruit. They’re also delicious with a smear of coconut curd and blackberry jam, or lemon curd and raspberry jam. There’s also the old-fashioned favorite – a pat of real butter and a drizzle of pure maple syrup. So many fabulous options, but that’s for you to discover. A word of caution: these are addictive.

Thinking of making your own Challah? Check out Smitten Kitchen’s recipe.

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TCP Cooks: Chocolate Chip Cookies

Read it & weep, ladies. My man bakes chocolate chip cookies.

That’s right, ladies. The Complete Package bakes cookies.
Homemade chocolate chip cookies with pecans.
They’re big, they’re warm and they’re wonderful.
(That’s what she said!) Here’s how he does it.

The players, although some of those chocolate chips didn't make it

Complete Package Chocolate Chip Cookies:
2 1/3 cups of all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of salt
3/4 cup of granulated sugar
3/4 cup of brown sugar
2 sticks of unsalted butter
2 eggs
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
1 bag (12 ounces) Guittard Extra Dark chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pecans

This makes me question why I separate things into cute little bowls.

To begin, set your butter out on the counter to soften. Once you can squeeze it and it gives a little, it’s ready to go. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt and sugars. Whisk to combine. Add the softened butter, eggs and vanilla and mix just until combined. (Note: TCP likes to mix the cookie dough with his hands so that he doesn’t over mix the cookie batter.) Stir in the chocolate chips and pecans just until they are evenly distributed.

Do what you want, but I'm not giving up my KitchenAid.

Using an ice cream scoop, TCP creates large balls of cookie dough that are slightly smaller than a baseball. He puts the dough balls into a mixing bowl and places the bowl in the freezer for 20 minutes. Depending on how warm your kitchen is, it may take a little longer for your cookie dough to firm up.

While the dough is chilling, pre-heat your oven to 375F. Once the dough balls feel firm to the touch but not frozen solid, they’re ready. For baking, The Complete Package insists that a thick heavy-duty baking sheet is the key to great cookies. It prevents the cookies from burning on the bottom.

One they’re ready to bake, TCP takes the dough balls out of the freezer one at a time, twists them in half, and places the “torn” side up in order to get better lift.

Grab one big dough ball at a time & twist it in half.

Place them torn side up for better lift while baking.

He bakes them six cookies at a time to give them some room to spread out. You’ll want to keep the dough balls in the refrigerator while each pan is baking so they don’t get soft. Here is TCP’s theory – soft cookie dough spreads out when baked and makes for thin cookies. Cold cookie dough that’s piled high will form taller, fluffier cookies. He must know what he’s talking about, because his cookies turn out consistently fabulous every single time.

Bake each tray for 15 minutes on the middle rack of your oven until they start to turn a light golden brown around the edges. Keep in mind that everyone’s oven is different. You may want to start watching yours at 12 minutes in case your oven runs hotter, or bake them longer if you have the opposite problem. Once they’re done, remove them from the oven, allow them to cool for a few minutes on the pan, then move them to cooling racks.

Your house is going to smell SO good when these are baking!

Once they’re cooled, grab a gallon of cold milk and get ready for a stampede. This recipe makes approximately 2 dozen cookies, and they won’t last long.

One last tip: if you can find them, try the Guittard Extra-Dark chocolate chips. They are our favorites, and they are worth seeking out. They will rock your world. Guaranteed. Or my name isn’t NanaBread. Well, actually my name is Jeanne, but let’s not get tangled up in technicalities here. Just try them!

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TCP Cooks: Liege Waffles

The one that started it all - a Belgian Liege Waffle in Bruges, Belgium circa 2005


liege (noun) – a feudal lord entitled to allegiance and service

Liège (place) – a province in eastern Belgium; Capital: Liège

Liège Waffle (food) – a rich, dense, sweet and chewy waffle; invented by the chef of the prince-bishop of Liège in the 18th century as an adaptation of brioche bread dough, it features chunks of pearl sugar, which caramelize on the outside of the waffle when baked in a waffle iron.

Ever had a liege waffle? If you had, you’d remember it. They’re sweeter and more dense than a regular waffle, and have a distinctive sweet crunch to them. That tell-tale crunch is the result of pearl sugar, which is added to the waffles at the last minute, producing a sweet, crispy crunch with every bite. Liege waffles take more time and effort than the usual ‘straight out of the Bisquick box’ version we’re used to, but they are so worth it. Once you’ve tried them, you may never want to go back to ordinary waffles again. Yes – they are THAT good. TCP and I had these in Belgium and the Netherlands, and we’ve never been able to forget them. Not that we’d want to. Ever.

Enter TCP. He made them for breakfast Sunday. That’s right, folks. The Complete Package lived up to his moniker, and found a recipe for crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside waffles with that tell-tale sugar crunch. And so, without further ado, here is TCP’s version of homemade Liege Waffles. Oh, and he took all of his own photos. Let’s start with the ingredients.

TCP’s Liege Waffles:
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
one packet of rapid-rise yeast
1 1/4 cups of butter, melted
7 ounces of cold water
1 1/3 cups of pearl sugar (we used turbinado sugar)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
fruit or toppings of your choice
whipped cream (preferably homemade)

This recipe calls for 2 eggs at room temperature. If you’re not comfortable with leaving eggs out, just set them in a bowl of water for a few minutes before using. Sift the flour into a mixing bowl and make a well in the middle; set it aside. In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter; set it aside to cool to lukewarm. In another bowl, beat your eggs until light and fluffy; add the melted butter and yeast, mixing well. Add the water and mix again.

Pour the egg/butter/yeast mixture into the flour along with the regular sugar, vanilla & almond extracts, and ground cinnamon. Using a mixer with a paddle attachment or dough hook, mix on low speed to combine all ingredients. Turn the mixer to medium speed and beat the waffle dough for 10 minutes. The batter will be sticky, which is why you need the paddle attachment or dough hook. This stuff will climb regular beaters like a spider monkey.

The key to liege waffles - yeast dough & pearl sugar

Once beaten, cover the bowl and allow your waffle dough to sit in a warm place to rise for 30 minutes. Heat your waffle iron prior to using. See ours? It’s 30 years old, and still going strong. It could tell a thousand waffle stories. When your dough and waffle iron are ready, stir in 1 cup of the pearl sugar. Spray your waffle iron lightly with cooking spray to prevent sticking, and drop spoonfuls of waffle dough onto the hot iron. Sprinkle lightly with additional pearl sugar and close the waffle iron. Allow each waffle to bake until golden brown.

Spray your hot iron, add the dough, sprinkle with sugar

You can serve these with any of your favorite toppings. We chose fresh strawberries macerated in a little sugar, with a dollop of homemade whipped cream on top. Another favorite of ours is melted dark chocolate poured over the top. It reminds us of the waffle we ate in Amsterdam. Have mercy.

I pledge my uh-liege-ance to these waffles, made in the United States of America

Don’t let the process prevent you from trying these gorgeous waffles. There’s a reason they have legions of fans across the globe. They are by far the most memorable waffles you’ll ever eat. And you’ll find yourself dreaming of them again and again. Trust me. This one from Amsterdam still haunts me to this day.

A waffle smothered in melted chocolate? Yes, my liege!

‘Don’t you wish your waffles were hot like these? Don’t you wish your waffle was a beast like these? Don’t cha. Don’t cha.’ Go ahead… sing the waffle song. You know you want to.

Recipe credit: TCP found this recipe at EuropeanCuisines.com

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TCP Cooks: Ciabatta Sunday

TCP's ciabatta breakfast sandwich - it's good any time of the day

The Complete Package was on a roll yesterday. A ciabatta roll. First, he made these glorious bacon and egg breakfast sandwiches. Be still my heart. They were really good. It’s a buttered and toasted ciabatta roll with scrambled egg, crispy bacon and a little cheese topped with lettuce and tomato. One thing we agreed to tweak next time around: adding a schmear of chipotle mayonnaise to perk it up a little. Grade: a solid B, but there’s a good chance they would jump straight to an A+ with that chipotle mayo.

For dinner, TCP made one of his signature dishes – flank steak sandwiches with ginger/soy mayonnaise. Great googlie mooglie – this one is awesome.


The medium-rare to rare flank steak paired with a toasted ciabatta roll, arugula and that ginger/soy mayo… well, it’s a world-class combo. He won’t brag, but I will. Everyone who tries this sandwich raves about it. The special mayo just pushes this thing right over the edge. It’s amazing. Once you try it, you will make it a fixture in your menu rotation, whether you put it on flank steak or sirloin or Steak-Ums (hi, Katie!). Just try it and see if you don’t fall in love. If it helps convince you, this is an America’s Test Kitchen recipe and you KNOW their recipes are tried & true. PS – This also makes a great salad.

Just serve it up with a ciabatta roll, so you can still call it Ciabatta Sunday.

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TCP Cooks: Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Subtitle: Meet Christine. She’s evil.

No, not this Christine. Although she was The Complete Package’s inspiration.

Christine photo from moviewallpapers.net

This Christine. TCP’s Christine. She’s every bit as dangerous & just as evil.

The Cuisinart Electric Ice Cream Maker

The Complete Package brought her home a few years ago. Seems he was craving ice cream and decided he could just make his own at home. Enter Christine. Three months and 15 pounds later (okay, that’s an exaggeration), he declared her evil and put her away. Every once in a while, when summer temperatures soar above 100F, TCP will pull out his former love and take her for a spin again.

This weekend, he made coffee ice cream to go with the Oooey Gooey Little Chocolate Cakes I baked. It was a good call. His coffee ice cream was a perfect complement to those dark chocolate beauties. Peppermint or mint chocolate-chip would have also worked perfectly with dark gooey chocolate. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. It all starts with this recipe for Ben & Jerry’s Sweet Cream Ice Cream Base, which TCP found on the internet a few years ago. While I can’t vouch for its authenticity, I can vouch for its creamy goodness.

Sweet Cream Ice Cream Base (makes 1 quart):
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (TCP’s addition)

In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the sugar a little at a time; continue to whisk until thoroughly combined. Add the cream, milk and vanilla extract and whisk until blended.

Pour the ice cream mixture into the ice cream maker and process according to the machine’s instructions. If you don’t have an electric ice cream maker, just put the ice cream base into a bowl with a tight-fitting lid and place it in the freezer. Take it out and stir it every 15 minutes or so until it gets too firm to stir. Return to the freezer until it is firmly set.

This ice cream base lends itself to all kinds of experimentation.

Variation #1: For coffee ice cream, add an additional 1/4 cup of sugar to the vanilla base. Dissolve 1 tablespoon of espresso powder in 1/3 cup of brewed coffee; cool completely and add with the milk and cream.

Variation #2: For peanut butter ice cream, partially freeze the vanilla base; layer the vanilla ice cream with 1/2″ layers of softened peanut butter. Return to the freezer until firmly set.

Variation #3: For fruit flavors, partially freeze the vanilla mix, then stir in fruit that has been macerated in sugar. Return to the freezer until firmly set.

Variation #4: For mint chocolate-chip, add green food coloring (optional), mint flavoring and miniature chocolate chips or shaved dark chocolate. Freeze until firmly set.

This weekend, we were all about the coffee ice cream. It was spectacular, especially when scooped over those warm, gooey little dark chocolate cakes. Oh, Christine… you are evil. Deliciously evil.

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