In This Edition of HeatCageKitchen
Waffle. It’s the newest fun thing in the kitchen.
Hello, Dear Readers:
Today, it’s all about you and your waffle maker. It’s not just for breakfast anymore. But there is some breakfast to discuss, as well as lunch, snacks, and dinner. As I mentioned in my previous post, life has gotten in the way big time. But I have been using my waffle maker regularly and finding new things to cook in it. As well as things NOT to put in it. There is more to a waffle maker than just your first meal of the day.
This article discusses the cultural transformation of breakfast here in the US. It’s not just grabbing a bite on the way out. . .it’s a “breakfast occasion,” or an “experience,” I guess. To paraphrase the late Rodney Dangerfield, breakfast wasn’t getting respect. Now it is.
From the same website, an article about how food manufacturers are “riding the wave of gluten-free.” Of course, if you actually HAVE problems with gluten, you’ll know it’s not a new thing in food, something pundits don’t seem to get. More and more observers think gluten-free is a “food fad,” like super-foods or juicing. If you are gluten-intolerant, let them know it isn’t.
And the company that helped sustain me during my years as a working student at Tulane, Taco Bell, now serves alcohol. I didn’t drive for a long time, so I could indulge a bit after class if I was taking the bus home. But that’s about 20 years too late. The last time I tried to get food at Taco Bell, I couldn’t tell one thing from another on the menu and ended up at a Starbucks asking for breakfast sandwiches. At about 5:00 pm on a Sunday.
Your Waffle Guide
OK, now onto the most hotly anticipated blog post I’ve written this year! (Maybe.)
Do you like waffles, but don’t make them very often? Do you have a waffle iron but just give in and buy Eggos? (If you do–shame on you!) Is your waffle maker in the back of the cabinet, covered in dust, because it’s just too much trouble for once in a while? Or are you stuck in a rut, maybe sick of “clean eating,” and want something new? Have I got a treat for you, and clean eating even can be part of it.
Recently I bought a new combination tabletop grill and waffle maker. (I know, I shouldn’t have.) The Cuisinart Griddler is something I’ve looked at for some time, but of course, I also wanted the waffle plates, which, when bought separately, are $40 extra. Then one day, I got one of those glossy fliers from Bed, Bath And Beyond (with a coupon attached.) The Griddler normally retails there for $99.99, and you have to order the plates separately–but now all of a sudden, the waffle plates are being offered as a “bonus” with the Griddler.
Woo hoo! (And now Amazon is selling the Griddler and waffle plates as a bundle.)
I know, I know. . .I REALLY shouldn’t have. I was feeling really blue, and when I found out about the bonus plates, I grabbed one of the coveted 20%-off coupons, drove down to my local BBB and my credit card bought me an early birthday present. So I got what I wanted, for about half the price I would have paid normally.
After explaining this to Neighbor K (who thought I’d done something really bad), I showed it to her and offered her the old waffle iron, and she accepted. I was thinking of giving it to the Salvation Army if she didn’t want it. It’s nice, and it works, but it only makes two at a time and is a pain to clean.
My Waffling Start
The first time I got married (in 1981) one of my bridal shower presents was an early model of this Black & Decker 3-in-1 waffle maker and indoor grill. In fact, that’s what I was thinking about one day when I started seeing these recipes. I actually looked at it again on Amazon.
But I really wanted the Cuisinart Griddler with the waffle plates, which ended up being nearly the same price, and I was lucky enough to get it. Like the B&D, the grill/griddle plates pop out and are reversible (the Cuisinart waffle plates aren’t reversible.) Honest, I wasn’t much of a cook in 1981, but I tried and utilized the countertop grill many times. It’s where I tried out the two waffle recipes from The 20 Minute Natural Foods Cookbook on my (first) husband. He’s still alive, so it couldn’t have been that bad.
If you’re looking for inexpensive, I did accidentally find this model on Gevalia’s website–yes, the mail-order coffee company–that’s in the clearance section. Never mind why I was on Gevalia’s website. No, I didn’t sign up, either–you can buy their coffee in SuperTarget now.
Admit it–you signed up back in the ’80s for the free coffee pot, didn’t you? Well, of COURSE, I did! I killed a few coffee pots, too, back in the day. I had one of the first drip models that ground the coffee and brewed it. Now I use a French press, and I just have to keep the spare glass beakers around–easier, since Sur la Table will be opening soon in my neighborhood.
Back to waffling in current-day America.
Social Media Waffle Awareness
Some time ago, I started seeing posts on Facebook–both pictures and video–of different things to make with a waffle maker. First was an omelet. (If you go to YouTube or Pinterest and type in “waffle iron recipes,” you’ll get thousands of hits, so enjoy yourself.)
Then I saw someone place frozen tater tots on a waffle maker, lower the top, and come up with. . .hash browns. (The only time I’ve ever *wanted* to buy frozen tater tots.) Another entry saw canned cinnamon rolls, popping them open, and placing them cut side down onto the waffle area, and lowering the top. Cook them for a few minutes, drizzle some of the icings on them, and they’re ready. (The only time I very *nearly* bought a can of cinnamon rolls to try it.) Take a look:
You can find an article with 17 recipes for your waffle iron on BuzzFeed, including one from a blog I’ll talk about in a bit. But there are literally hundreds of recipes like these on Pinterest that float over to Facebook, and videos on YouTube galore. Just about using the waffle maker for something other than waffles. Like bacon or sausage and scrambled eggs on the waffle maker. Did you think about doing that? People have–and you can too. How about a low-carb, Paleo pizza?
If you’re one of those people who likes the idea of a breakfast SANDWICH, you have some options as well. Matt Robinson of RealFoodByDad also has a Frittata Waffle that’s an easy option for those who need breakfast on the go. I need to try that idea soon, too, and maybe look up more or fiddle about with this recipe, too.
Before I continue, let me point out that the Cuisinart Griddler, and many others like it, have a grease trap that you must remove, empty (if needed) and clean. The Black & Decker 3-in-1 doesn’t have a grease trap; you put a little bowl behind the corner if you’re going to cook something like bacon. Also, make sure it’s on a flat surface. Why?
I recently attempted to cook scrambled eggs on the flat griddle, because the waffle plates were in the dishwasher. It wasn’t flat on the stove surface. (I don’t have a lot of room here.) My perfectly scrambled eggs rolled directly into the grease trap. It was clean, thank heavens. No matter–using potholders, I removed the grill plates and replaced them with the waffle plates after I washed them by hand. When the waffle plates were hot enough, I went back to cooking eggs on the waffle plates. Like I tell you, I speak from experience.
Now back to waffling.
Intrigued by these simple but innovative ideas, I went looking for a gluten-free waffle idea, since I haven’t made any in some time. I’ve made the vegan ones from Erin McKenna’s second book many times, Babycakes Covers The Classics, but that’s been a while (although I made a batch one Sunday because I was out of eggs.) I looked in The Joy of Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free Baking, and found a recipe on pages 135 and 136. Made with nut flours and beat in your stand mixer, they’re pretty good, especially with the sugar-free raspberry syrup I bought and never used (it’s gone and they don’t make it anymore.)
It’s a simple recipe, but I only had almond flour handy, so that’s what I used.
But what else is out there?
Pinterest yielded some delicious options, although my first attempt at gluten-free waffle brownies didn’t work well. The second recipe, from the blog Edilble Perspectives, is pretty darn good, even if I messed around a little with the recipe to make it sugar-free. I only had brown rice flour, not sweet rice flour, and of course, had to fiddle about with the chocolate and Somersweet to make it sweet with unsweetened chocolate.
Just mix it up like you would any standard brownie recipe and drop it on the hot plates:
A few minutes later:
Anyway, you end up with this:
Top them with additional SomerSweet (or another sweetener), add ice cream, or however you like to top brownies, and enjoy the heck out of it.
If you want fast and easy, (and aren’t concerned about GF or anything) you can also get a boxed brownie mix, make it like you normally would, but instead of baking them in the oven (even the toaster oven), use the waffle maker. They’re almost instant brownies. You can do the same thing with cake mixes.
Are you seeing the value of this yet?
More Waffle Masters
Doug Armstrong shows you how to turn leftover pizza into pizza pocket here, along with some other interesting kitchen hacks in a 4-minute video. His “waffle iron hacks” video is here, and Doug shows you paninis, the cinnamon roll trick, and other desserts with your waffle maker in this 3-minute video. He’s British, and he’s pretty cool in the kitchen, too.
Search YouTube for more waffle hacks from hundreds of videos.
The Year-Round Indoor Grill
Has it hit you yet that the humble, unappreciated waffle maker is actually a modified, useful indoor grill? Pay attention, grill masters–you’re about to get your winter alternative lesson. A waffle maker can be especially useful if you don’t live in the Lone Star State, where we grill outdoors just about year-round. But what’s wrong with a little indoor grilling, as long as there’s an electrical outlet nearby?
When I was cooking up some chicken thighs one night, I decided to try out one on the waffle maker. Know what? They cooked much faster on the waffle maker, so I turned off the toaster oven and cooked the rest that way. The second time, I decided to use the meat mallet on a pack of chicken thighs, coat them with a salt/pepper/garlic powder mixture, and they came out even better.
The Waffle Blog
There’s even a blog dedicated to such an activity. Will it Waffle? is dedicated to finding out exactly what you can do besides make waffles in your waffle iron. Even Neighbor K was impressed with the concept (especially since I gave her the old waffle maker.) No idea if she’s tried it yet, though. The blogger and cookbook author, Daniel Shumski, who’s been waffling nearly everything he can think of, put together a book and published it–Will It Waffle?
Just published in August, this timely book has some delicious recipes and is easy enough for even novices to use. You KNOW I had to have it. But even more importantly, I had to talk to the author.
Talking With Daniel Shumski
I got on his website, and sent him an email. He was very nice, and offered to answer questions about it. Instead of printing the questions and answer, I’ll just tell you what he wrote back:
Awfully nice of him. Thanks, Dan!
The Perfect Gift
NOTE: If you’ve got a gift-giving occasion coming up–birthday, wedding, or the upcoming Christmas and Hannukah–this book and any kind of waffle maker will make a really great gift for someone who cooks, is learning to cook, or wants to stretch their culinary muscles. Even if the gift is to yourself.
The book starts out with breakfast recipes, bacon and eggs, including a waffled sandwich, French toast with chocolate and whipped butter, sausage, and hash browns. For lunch, sure you can waffle sandwiches–but did you think about quesadillas? How about a Waffled Croque Madame? (Page 49.) Burgers, meatballs, pizza salmon, and filet mignon–yes, in a waffle maker, folks. A Waffled Tamale Pie that looks amazing.
I won’t be trying the waffled kale or the waffled eggplant. You KNOW how I feel about eggplant, right? But if kale and eggplant is your thing, Daniel’s got you covered there, too.
What did I do with this book? Oh, lemme tell ya. . . .
The first thing I tried was the “Fawaffle,” or “waffled falafel.” I already had everything on hand, so I tried it first. As you may know, I do love FiveMinuteHummus, and make my own frequently. But I’ve never had falafel in my life. Nobody ever took me to a Greek restaurant, either in NOLA or here in Houston, so I had no idea what it was. (Ironically, last weekend’s new Pioneer Woman show featured Ree Drummond making things she’s enjoyed out of town, but never made at home before–a more traditional version of falafel as well as chicken & waffles, which I’ll discuss later.)
Well, I made it. I waffled falafel in my own kitchen, and it’s a recipe I’ll make for the rest of my life. Delicious comfort food. Yes, it’s that good, with or without hummus. Just remember that you have to use dried chickpeas, soak them in the fridge overnight, and then mix everything together. I left out the 2 tablespoons of flour, and I was thankful that it wasn’t an essential–so mine are gluten-free, too!
Soak the beans first, then use the food processor to blend it all together:
This is what you end up with:
And just load ’em up into the heated waffle maker:
Admittedly, it’s a bit weird–but you know me. If it sounds good, I’ll try it at least once. So, tell me–good?
Oh, Holy Shish Kebab!
Also, note that falafel is traditionally deep-fried. But here, in the waffle maker, there’s just a little oil involved. And it’s fast, too.
I decided to enlist someone else’s taste buds, so I went to see Neighbor K with two freshly waffled Fawaffles and a little hummus. Asked her to try them and see what she thought. At first, she said she’d try them later–fair enough, no rush, but she took one bite. Then another. And another, and proceeded to gobble them up, right in front of me, until she’d finished them both. I warned her that they had onion in them, so Daft Pug should not be sampling them.
Also, I casually mentioned that I’ve never had falafel in my life, never been to a Greek restaurant either, so this was my first time making and eating it. Growing up in New Orleans, most of the food was local, Italian, and one or two Mexican. You had to go out of your way to find Greek, although I’m sure it’s not that way anymore. K’s comment: “You’ve never had falafel? You’re weird!”
And that’s the last time K was offered something to taste test, and the last time she will appear in the blog. Ditto for Daft Pug. Sorry, Little Buddy. (I have a new taste-tester lined up, the aforementioned Neighbor E.)
Meantime, I wanted to try something else I’d never used before–plantains. Friend of the blog RR is Puerto Rican by birth, and of course, his mother cooks a lot of Spanish-influenced dishes. (I’ve told him for years that if ever I find myself with a Hispanic boyfriend, she’s on the hook for some cooking lessons.) I texted him, but he wasn’t available to chat, so I sent him this picture:
RR texted back: “Look at you!” I’ve never had plantains, either. But I sure did like this one.
The first thing you do is make the dipping sauce, which is nothing more than cilantro, garlic, and olive oil:
Let that sit while you’re making the rest of it, then remove and discard the garlic. Oh, yum! Now back to the other part.
Plantains don’t “peel” easily as a banana does, you have to chop off the ends, and then make slices in the tough, fibrous covering:
Then slice like you would a banana:
A Note About Plantains
Let me back up a bit. Waffled Tostones are plantains sliced up, fried quickly, and then waffled. Plantains that have been sitting as long as these became sweet, but the first time I tried doing this, they were ripe but not sweet. These ended up being soft like a ripe banana, so it didn’t work quite as well as the first time.
But you don’t eat them raw. Ever.
Once I got the slices done, they went into the frying pan. (I used refined coconut oil.) They’re fried up pretty quickly, so you carefully take them out and put them on a paper-towel-lined plate. (Be especially careful if there are children about–hot oil is no fun in the wrong place.)
The next step is to waffle them. Fit them onto your waffle maker like so, and then CAREFULLY smash down the top and hold it while your tostones toast:
I didn’t take any more pictures of the waffled tostones, I was too busy eating them. Yes, they ARE worth the trouble.
Because the green onions became two feet high in the HeatCageKitchen garden, I decided to try Daniel’s Korean Scallion Pancake Waffle (aka “Pajeon.”) I ended up doing this twice–once according to the book, and once with gluten-free flour. Know what? They’re both good.
Plus, Daniel also points out something that I like to mention: cut the white, rooted bottoms off your scallions from the grocery store and grow them back. He suggests putting them in a glass of water–I’ve done that, and I’ve stuck them directly into the soil, and both methods work. However–I highly suggest buying organic green onions if you’re going to grow them. First, they’re probably not genetically modified, and two, no other issues like pesticides or other stuff. I’ve grown both, and the organics shoot up to the sky.
My, what big onions you have!
Thanks, they’re organic.
But seriously, this recipe, while really easy to make, is, essentially, a flour ball–so keep that in mind if you’re trying to cut down on that sort of thing. A cup of flour, a teaspoon of salt, a teaspoon and a half of sugar, and a cup of water. Mix it, and pour over your cut onions which you place in between the divots.
And the blogger learns a new word: divot, or the thing that makes the square in the waffle. (Honest, I didn’t know!)
Cover the whole thing:
Close the lid, cook them until they brown nicely (this is true for both regular and gluten-free flour) and you end up with this:
Make up a bit of dipping sauce from the book (1 tsp toasted sesame seeds, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar, and 2 tablespoons honey, then mix it or shake it up) and you’ve got a tasty little snack going on. I didn’t eat a whole gluten-heavy waffle, but I did nibble a bit that came off on the waffle plate. Tasty, just like the gluten-free version, and while it’s somewhat crispy on the outside, the inside texture is more like sticky rice. With no egg, yeast, or baking powder, it’s just kind of sticky. This is not a deterrent, however.
Daniel also suggests using other veg, such as zucchini or carrots, in place of the scallions; just cut them down to matchstick size to fit the grooves.
Another week, I wanted to try out two more recipes, but I sorta did them my way. Grilled Pineapple and Grilled Halloumi are two separate recipes from the book (there is watermelon involved with the Halloumi), and I had them just because I wanted to have something different.
I had some Halloumi left from a previous trip to Trader Joe’s; it’s quite expensive elsewhere, so I get it when I go and freeze it. (Unfortunately, at Trader Joe’s, it’s a “seasonal” item for grilling.) If you’ve never had Halloumi, it’s like feta, but not quite as acidic. Halloumi also doesn’t melt away like feta, holds its shape, and stays in the fridge for a long, long time. I started by slicing up the cheese and cooking it half and half:
After the pineapple was finished, I finished up the cheese:
I cooked it all up, and sat down to watch Season 11 of New Tricks, which had just arrived from my local library. I’m also binge-watching Sherlock.
I Was Recipe Testing
Now, before you go getting worried and thinking, “Amy’s eating pineapple and cheese for dinner?” Well, these are items I already had on hand, and it was easy, so I did. It’s not Velveeta, either. I don’t buy Halloumi very often, either–only when I head to Trader Joe’s. (No sign of them coming to my part of Houston yet.) Unfortunately, because it’s a “grilling cheese,” Trader Joe’s considers it a “seasonal item,” darnit! So if I want more, it’s back to Kroger or HEB for some that is at least double the price. Wish I’d known–one day I’ll have a cheese freezer where I can buy it on sale and keep it for whenever.
Most of the recipes in this book involve. . .flour. So, there’s a good chance I won’t be making all of them. But there are plenty of recipes that don’t involve flour or might be worth experimenting with gluten-free flours to try these interesting recipes. I sure would like to figure out how to make that pizza crust with GF flour and waffle it. Maybe next weekend I’ll try it.
Chicken & Waffles
Oh, and one thing on the famous “Chicken & Waffles”–it’s NOT, as many people believe, a “Southern dish.” I grew up in the South and never heard of Chicken & Waffles until the last couple of years. (Friend of the blog CN likes a place in Houston called The Breakfast Klub, a Midtown Houston place that serves, among other things, Chicken & Waffles. I’ve not been there myself.) Some clicking around revealed that no, it really isn’t Southern at all–and NPR has a whole story about it.
If you start talking about C&W being “Southern,” be prepared to have your face slapped. It began in Harlem, of all places, and is now served as a “soul food” dish nationwide. I wanted to yell at Ree Drummond last weekend for calling it a “Southern tradition,” because, it really isn’t. Now that you have been educated on the subject, please do not say that again. Thank you.
But you can certainly MAKE Chicken & Waffles all in the waffle maker, of course.
Some Things Aren’t Waffle-Ready
Admittedly, not everything will waffle. Smoothies, soup, salad greens–no. But to go with that Pea & Pesto Soup, a nice Gridded Grilled Cheese sandwich (page 37) or a nice Fawaffle might just fit the bill, right?
Remember, Thanksgiving is coming up quickly. Wouldn’t some waffled brownies, cakes, or other desserts have a place?
What To Make
Consider Waffled Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies, page 163, Red Velvet Waffle Ice Cream Sandwiches, page 169, or a Wapple Pie, page 175. How about some Stuffing Waffles on page 156? Consider Waffled Macaroni & Cheese on page 67, where Daniel supplies his own recipe for a baked M&C and waffling it. Sure, it’s more work than a box–but it is Thanksgiving, right? Make extra, because it’s going to go fast. And anything you can do ahead of time is always going to help.
At the moment, I don’t have any waffling recipes posted on the recipe page, but I hope to get them up soon, along with some Thanksgiving recipes (if I can find them again.) But really. . .they’re everywhere, just go look for them on Pinterest for starters.
Will You Waffle?
Give it some thought as you plan your upcoming holiday meals or even next weekend. A waffle maker can make things easier, especially if you get some extra help. Remember, it’s 110v, so you can plug it in anywhere–and that will come in handy in a crowded kitchen, any time of year.
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