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Posts Tagged ‘red velvet waffle’

  1. 30/30 WTF! #14: THE VonGRIDDLE WAFFLE

    February 21, 2011 by Cas

    Let’s call this an exercise in avoiding copyright infringement.

    If a certain clown-helmed fast food chain didn’t boast a surname rooted in the foothills of Scotland, or some Old guy’s farm that had a pig, (e-i-e-i-ohhhhh….) then perhaps on some alternate plane of retail food oligopoly a restaurant could exist with a DIFFERENT on-the-tongues-of-the-masses name — like “Von Tussel’s”.

    And I’m not just using that as an example because I have “Hairspray” blasting in the background. I’m also trying to stay out of jail.

    So when I say something like “this is inspired by the maple-infused breakfast sandwiches of your favorite fast food chain,” feel free to TOTALLY misinterpret that as my son — eyes wide with expectation, his brows high and bright with hope, like two golden arches — having come to me with an idea like… oh, I dunno… “Hey, Pop, how about knocking off the VonGriddle?”

    “Knock off” is such an ugly term. It’s like saying “blackmail” when what you really mean is “firm persuasion.”

    I prefer to think of it is taking inspiration from — and maybe even enhancing — a tried-and-true American favorite.

    An American favorite that is unfortunately highly protected under a staggering number of equally American laws that keep hacks like me from getting too close to its favor for our own gain.

    So remember: when it comes to such recipes here in our 30/30 WTF! Experiment, they have NOTHING to do with whatever established chain food restaurant you may have planted inextricably in your subconscious. We’re talking my own Pretend Restaurant. VonTussel’s. And it would be the farthest of intentions for me to ever consider stepping on anyone’s toes in my simple attempts to bring you hot, satisfying, delicious waffle creations you can enjoy in leisure or on the go.  Like the VonGriddle.

    Or the Egg VonMuffin. Or the Big Von…

    “Hold the Gherkins, hold the Romaine, ‘cuz our food won’t give you Ptomaine…”

    (Yes. I know. That the OTHER guy’s jingle. Burger Prince.)

    1/4 lb. Loose sausage (breakfast or link)
    2 Tbsp. Maple syrup (real, fake, really doesn’t matter for this)
    1 Cup Bisquick
    1/2 Cup milk
    1 Large egg
    1/4 Cup maple syrup
    1 Tbsp. sugar

    Waffle Iron/Cook Time: MEDIUM HIGH

    Fry and crumble the raw sausage. When it’s browned, add the 2 Tbsp. of maple syrup, and continue cooking until the syrup caramelizes over the meat, about 2 minutes or until the only liquid in the pan is the fat from the sausage. Set aside to cool.

    Mix remaining ingredients, stirring by hand for one minute to blend thoroughly. Add crumbled sausage mixture and mix thoroughly.

    Grease waffle iron with nonstick spray or butter. Divide batter into two batches, and cook waffles until golden brown. Remove to serving plate and serve warm with butter (and if desired, more maple).

    Or, like our restaurant chain’s spokesman — the beloved Mime, Russel VonTussel — would tell you to do (or indicate through highly skilled but silent gestures), let them cool, break into individual waffles or wedges, pop them in a ziplock and freeze. Take ‘em out and toast ‘em on hurried mornings when the cat’s coughing up a fur ball and you run out of mascara halfway through your second eye but still want something hot and tasty to eat on your way out the door. Which, over the course of a single day, was how the remainder of this batch disappeared…


  2. 30/30 WTF! #8: SNICKERDOODLE WAFFLE

    February 15, 2011 by Cas

    From the “Out of the Fire and Into the Frying Pan” files…

    Here’s the deal, Foodies, on making cookies in a waffle iron — and I can boil it down to one very simple, hard-and-fast rule of thumb that really and truly simplifies the process:

    Don’t.

    Cookie dough just isn’t made to be manipulated this way. It needs resting time without being poked, it needs to be lifted gingerly from beneath. There’s a whole lot of ominous portent in the cookie/waffle iron relationship.

    And yet, to please the masses and because I’ve heard tell and read tell of others who INSIST this pairing can work if you put your time in, nurturing it, changing your expectations, I forged ahead. And just like every romantic relationship of mine which held similar portent, had similar cheerleaders hindered by major impairment of one or all of their sensory capabilities, and had me committed to please everyone else involved no matter what my instincts told me, instead of saying “thank you, no, I’ll pass” I devoted way too much time to trying to put lipstick on a pig. Or sugar cookie dough on a griddle.

    Babies… Daddy tried. It didn’t work. They can’t all be home runs, or pigs in drag.

    But I salvaged the remains, and crafted something rather yummy. A friend and I having coffee today in a Times Square chain coffee house I cannot mention by name (Celestial Male Deer need not fear a breach of anonymity), we actually broke open a bag of these and enjoyed with our tea. Or rather he did. I’d had quite my fill already.

    The tastes are simple and basic, and because I wanted a more buttery, cookie consistency, I created a batter that yields something that plays on your tongue somewhere between Grandma’s snickerdoodles and street vendor Churos — those long, fried sticks of crispy, sugary dough that seem to be almost as popular as hotdogs on midtown street corners these days, and twice as abundant as sleeping indigents in the subways.

    So if, like me, you don’t have a grandma to bake you snickerdoodles anymore (and truth be told, my two Italian Nanas were, instead, into rainbow cookies and taralla when they were here with us every day), and you don’t really salivate over open food being sold 3 feet away from racing rail rats the size of hairy pheasants, you can whip up a batch of these babies and kick back with a book and cup of tea and smile contentedly thinking of all the reasons you loved grandma so.

    1/4 Cup sugar
    1 tsp. Cinnamon
    1/4 tsp. Salt

    1 Cup Bisquick
    3/4 Cup sugar
    1/4 Cup milk
    1 Large egg
    2 Tbsp. melted butter or vegetable oil
    1/4 tsp. salt
    1/4 tsp. cinnamon
    1-1/2 Cups crumbled sugar cookies (home-wrecked or store-bought)

    4 Tbsp. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted

    Waffle Iron Setting/Cook Time: MEDIUM HIGH

    Mix first three ingredients in a small bowl, and transfer to a flat plate. Set aside.

    Mix all remaining ingredients except cookie crumbs and butter, and beat by hand with whisk or fork until smooth. Add cookie crumbs and mix thoroughly. Divide into two batches.

    Spray waffle iron and spread batter over griddle. Close iron and cook to golden brown.

    Allow waffles to cool a minute on griddle before removing. Cut into individual waffles or wedges, and brush tops with melted butter. Immediately turn hot waffles buttered-side down into cinnamon sugar mixture, turn upright, and place on plate or serving dish. Serve warm, or at room temperature. The waffles will crisp up a bit as they cool.

    Hi, Grandma Hazel and Grandma Louise. Love you. Thanks for being in the kitchen with me when I was little. And for still being here now :*


  3. 30/30 WTF! #7: EAT-YOUR-FEELINGS GRILLED CHEESE

    February 14, 2011 by Cas

    Happy Valentine’s Day.

    Now go screw yourself.

    While the rest of you happily coupled crap-weasels are off eating chocolate and toasting with champagne, my soul mates — my single brethren and sisteren  and fuck you I know that’s not really a word — will be home, watching “Sleepless in Seattle” and wondering why Rosie O’Donnell was never taken seriously as an actress, or reliving the series finale of “FRIENDS” on DVD, shouting along with Ross at his answering machine, “Get off the PLANE, Rachel!”

    And eating comfort food.

    Me, I’m stuck with waffles, because I promised you 30 frigging days of waffles. And unlike every man who’s ever told me he loved me, I keep my word.

    So I figured I’d make it a good, comfort food waffle so we could stay on-topic with this Experiment, but still hit all those places in our souls and hearts that we think should be filled with a doting partner but are, in reality, better served by a glop of melted cheese.

    And so many people have told me about growing up with this as a common method of sandwich making that I decided to stop judging and feeling sorry that they only had one appliance in the kitchen, which they forced into a servitude for which it was never designed (I also had a college roommate who made soup in the coffee pot and ate it with a butter knife) and to give the process a whirl.

    I’m giving you options in this one because honestly, I don’t know if I care to leave the house today to hit the grocery, so whatever the hell is in the refrigerator will have to do. Then again, other single, lonely men who at least have their shit a little more together (enough to be seen at the Food Emporium, or to stop crying long enough to go out and fetch a new box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch and half gallon of chocolate milk at the Duane Reade) will sort of be milling about… vulnerable prey… ripe for the pickin’…

    Enjoy this. I’m now contemplating putting on a pair of skinny jeans and heading out for… supplies…

    “To market, to market, to buy a fat pig”

    Aww, who the hell am I fooling. A few more of these and I’ll be my own fat pig.

    2 Slices unhealthy, white bread
    (if you dare use whole wheat, I’ll beat the shit out of you. White. Processed.
    I want to hear my coffin lid creaking as I chew this sandwich)
    1/2 to 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
    (I have nothing funny to say here. Dijon is a very serious condiment)
    1/2 Cup shredded cheddar
    (or any other cheese you have or want. See if I give a fuck. It’s not always
    about you. Just make sure it is FULL FAT. None of that nonfat plastic shit
    I usually pretend is just as good. It’s not. The only thing it’s ”just as” is orange)
    2 Slices boiled, Virginia, or black forest ham. Or turkey. Or whatever cold cut
    meat selection you buy by the 1/4 lb. from the ever-cheerful deli man who
    silently feels bad that you’re still shopping for one. Or use 3 or 4 strips of
    cooked bacon. Knock yourself out. Who have we got to stay thin for?
    Butter (however much you want to use to –get this — butter the bread)

    Waffle Iron Setting/Cook Time: HONESTLY, DOES IT REALLY MATTER?
    NOBODY IS HERE TO SEE HOW THIS TURNS OUT AND YOU’RE JUST
    GOING TO STAND THERE EATING OVER THE SINK IN YOUR BATHROBE
    AND WASHING IT DOWN WITH DIET COKE OR SKIM MILK STRAIGHT
    FROM THE CARTON ANYWAY

    Spray the waffle iron. Because that’s what this recipe calls for: non-fat cooking spray, to keep the calories to a minimum.

    Butter one slice of bread and place it butter-side down on the griddle. Spread on  the mustard, and top with half the shredded cheese. Lay the meat over that, and then top with the remaining cheese. If your sandwich is being, like the last guy you dated, belligerent and uncooperative, press it gently with your fingers. This will keep the fillings in place, but it won’t convince it to get a job or to stop leaving its fucking underwear in the middle of the floor. Finally, butter the second slice of bread and place it on top.

    Close the lid. Push with all your might. Force it if you have to. Screaming “why can’t you just fucking love me for who I am and stop waiting for me to hurt you like your father,” I find, does nothing to enhance the cooking results, but it feels God-damned great.

    When it’s done, act like you always do: keep waiting for it to get better instead of taking it off the heat when you first sense you should. Let it start getting over done so that both you AND the sandwich start feeling resentful. And then when you finally DO decide to get off your ass and do something about it, screw the God-damned forks and spatulas — just use your fucking fingers, so you REALLY get burned. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. ALL your friends warned you. But would listen? Fuck no, you moron.

    Cut it into wedges so you look dainty eating it in front of the bathroom vanity mirror. Finger foods are never as fattening. Enjoy it however you like, but really — at this stage in life can you enjoy ANYTHING anymore?

    And a note to all those lovebirds with your chocolates and your champagne: they say chocolate stimulates the same neurological reactions as being in love. So if your relationship was really that good, you wouldn’t NEED the chocolate to feel loved. And face it, friends: expensive as hell and frou-frou out the hoo-hoo as it may be, champagne is just bubbly liquor and you’re obviously both drinking to make it easier to spend yet another god-damned night together.

    I’ve got my grilled cheese sandwich.

    And look… Oh my God you guys, she did it! Rachel…

    You got off the plane….


  4. 30/30 WTF! #6: CROQUE MADAME BRUNCH WAFFLE

    February 13, 2011 by Cas

    Whatever your religious beliefs or sexual orientation, today for me as a Christian is the Lord’s Day, and as an Urban Homosexual it’s Brunch Day. I know that somewhere out there a like-minded lot of you are sitting reading this in nothing but panties and a t-shirt reading “Rested, My Ass — on the SEVENTH DAY He Made a Pitcher of Mimosas and Had the Gang Over for Eggs Florentine.”

    Derived from the French “croquer,” which means “to crunch,” the Croque Monsieur (tell your kids it’s a “Mister Crunchy” sandwich and they’ll be freaking begging for these) is believed to have surfaced and gained immediate popularity in Paris around the turn of the 20th century. Commonly, as we do here, the addition of a fried or poached egg is like a quick trip to a Swedish clinic for Monsieur, and he is instantly transformed into Croque Madame. Apparently, fin-de-ciecle Mesdames et Madamoiselles liked to eat a bit more than their male counterparts, and at least ordering an egg atop their breakfast sandwich was a bit more dainty than ordering two. Then again, the poor girls were wearing corsets. I say, if they could stuff it into their poor trussed little tummies, they deserved to eat all they damn well pleased.

    That being said, a croque (be it a he or a she) is traditionally made thus: sliced rustic bread is buttered and broiled to toast it a bit; it is spread with a beshamel sauce, covered with gruyere cheese and salty ham, broiled and served (with or without its jaunty egg chapeau) covered with more beshamel.

    Here, I’ve made it so the whole process (aside from the final sauce) is streamlined and takes place on the waffle iron, which you might have fired up for other brunch delights in addition.

    I could eat dozens of these, but as I’ve stopped and started eating while writing my daily entry here, I’ve found that given time to let it process, your body will find it not only filling but truly, to-the-bone SATISFYING if you just eat one portion.

    I’m sharing what will make 8 waffles; a portion is two per person.

    Note I’ve substituted mozzarella cheese for the gruyere; you may go the traditional route and switch back, but there are enough flavors at work to allow for a milder (and more typically already-in-your-fridge) cheese.

    The further beauty of this is that you can open the top when the bready waffle part is done and still allow it to cook your eggs to desired doneness as they’re on the bottom.

    Waffle Iron/Cook Time: MEDIUM HIGH

    1 Cup BISQUICK baking mix
    1/3 Cup milk
    2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
    1 Large egg
    1/4 tsp. Ground black pepper
    1 tsp. Dried parsley flakes

    2 Tbsp. flour
    2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
    1 Cup milk
    1/4 tsp. salt
    Dash ground black pepper (or to taste)
    1/8 tsp. Nutmeg

    4 Large eggs
    4 Slices boiled ham
    1-1/2 Cups shredded mozzarella cheese

    Mix first six ingredients until well combined; set the bread batter aside.

    In a saucepan, melt butter; add flour and, over medium heat, mix well and continue to stir as roux darkens to a kicky shade of tan. Bone is good; ecru is pushing it. If you start nearing the raw sienna stage you may consider starting over.

    Add the milk, raise heat to medium high and, whisking constantly bring the sauce to a boil. Once thickened, remove from heat, add salt and pepper and the nutmeg, stir thoroughly and set aside.

    Now, get crackin’, kiddies: open the hot waffle iron and grease it with cooking spray or melted butter. Breaking the eggs one at a time on the edge of a bowl, crack an egg to cover the seam between two waffle sections — one egg for each two squares or wedges. If the yolks break, so be it. It’s meant to happen. If they don’t, that’s meant to happen too. Ditto for spreading to the edges or staying put. Que Sera, Sera…

    Next, sprinkle half the cheese over the eggs, and then quickly lay two pieces of the ham over the cheese. Fold, tuck, nip, rip, or whatever you have or care to do to make it stay within the outer borders of your iron, but let it cover the seam between the two half-portions you’ve by now visually determined will go to specific brunch company (“that one where the edge of the white made a little smiley face, that goes to Armando; the runny one that looks a lot like a sneeze where I also sort of skimped on the cheese and that one jagged piece of ham looks like Margaret Thatcher… we’ll let Stewart have that one because I don’t even know whose idea it was to INVITE Stewart today….”) .

    Finally, spread half the batter over the top (yes, this is high already) leaving some expansion room at the edges. Close the top and let it cook until the waffle itself is golden. As long as the egg is cooked to your desire and the cheese is bubbly and oozing, it’s done.

    Cut the individual portions and transfer directly to serving plates. Top each with a good portion of the beshamel sauce and enjoy.

    Who the hell am I kidding? I’m going back for seconds…


  5. 30/30 WTF! #5: SALTY CARAMEL PECAN STICKY BUN WAFFLES

    February 12, 2011 by Cas

    DON’T GET ME STARTED. While I originally felt that religions should be founded on the tenets of the Brownie Waffle, and that Red Velvet Waffles were perhaps the first sign of the Second Coming, these now make me feel whole new worlds of brilliance and wonder should form from the supernova that is this sweet and decadent creation.

    A note on the genesis of this recipe: while soliciting some help with the technical aspects of publishing this blog, my amazing and beautiful friend Amy said, “May i suggest something with salted caramel? Or pralines… I love pralines.”

    This was not her idea of technical help, but content suggestion. And I was immediately captivated by the prospects.

    Amy, dear, we ALL love pralines. And if we don’t, well, we’re simply not trying hard enough to live a good life.

    Herewith, something surprisingly simple — seriously, the most labor-intensive aspect is unwrapping the caramels — and not surprisingly, as incredible as they sound just in discussing them.

    25 Kraft (or comparable) caramels, unwrapped
    2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
    1/3 Cup milk
    1/4 tsp. salt
    1/4 Cup chopped pecans
    1 Tube Crescent Roll dough (Pillsbury or store brand, 8-roll size)

    Waffle Iron Setting/Cook Time: MEDIUM

    (If I actually had to be the one to tell you to unwrap the caramels, there is truly nothing I or anyone else can do to help you in the kitchen or in life. Truly. I love you, but really? Anyway…) Place the caramels, butter, milk and salt in a saucepan, and over medium heat stir them occasionally until the caramels begin to melt. Once the mixture starts melting, keep stirring to avoid any burning. It won’t ever come to a boil; the sauce is ready when all the caramel is melted and it’s uniformly smooth and glossy. If you find you want to scrap the waffle idea and just pour the caramel sauce it into a mug and lock the doors and drink it — it’s ready. Take the sauce off the heat, add the chopped pecans, pour into a mixing bowl and set aside to cool, stirring occasionally.

    Meanwhile, open the crescent rolls. If you’re like me, this is a horrific process. As a child, back when the Poppin-Fresh cans still required by design that a spoon be used to press at the seam to open, I found this process tantamount to unsuccessfully attempting to defuse a bomb. Now, waiting to see if the auto-open cans open automatically instead, I still act as if it’s the 4th of July and I’ve been handed a lit M-80 bomb that may or may not go off in my hand. These things scare the shit out of me, and if I open 10 cans for a recipe then my guests in the other room will hear POP-”Aieeee!” 10 times.

    When the caramel is cool enough to touch without pain (warm but not hot) take each of the crescent dough triangles and, ripping them into 2 or 3 random pieces, drop them into the caramel. When you’ve added half the dough to the caramel, gently fold the dough into the mixture, coating it completely. Repeat with the remaining dough. YOU DO NOT WANT TO MIX THE BATTER; what you’re aiming for here is fat, fluffy ribbons of dough swimming in a caramel bath.

    Grease your waffle iron, divide the batter into two batches, and place the first batch in the center of the griddle, leaving plenty of room around the edges because this will expand a good deal. Close the iron and cook to medium.

    Open the iron and check, since irons vary. Your waffles are done when the caramel is no longer liquid and has started to crisp up but not turn dark. By this point, also, the dough will be cooked through (3 or 4 minutes). If you prefer them crispier and totally dark and caramelized, knock yourself out and close the iron and let them cook longer. The darker the coat the deeper the caramel’s flavor.

    Remove from the iron to the plate and serve warm. Or cold. Or frozen. Or covered in dirt. There’s literally no way to make these unappetizing.


  6. 30/30 WTF! #4: PESTO MASHED POTATO WAFFLES

    February 11, 2011 by Cas

    These were inspired by a few recent events. First, my sudden realization that there seems to be no way to encounter a mashed potato these days without it having to be a GARLIC mashed potato (that sounds like a complaint, doesn’t it? Well it isn’t. Food Daddy is Italian, and from Brooklyn. Mama rubbed garlic cloves on her nipples before breastfeeding me). It’s great for us, but a lot of pressure on the mashed potato to be the garlickyest around, and I don’t like my food to feel competitive, or unfairly scrutinized. Second, I said “I love garlic but enough with the garlic mashed” one night when pressed to make garlic mashed for a “comfort food” dinner, so I thought I’d shake things up a bit by adding not just plain garlic but actual prepared pesto sauce. Third, I realized while creating the Pesto Mashed Potato dish that one of my favorite side dishes growing up was when my Mom, who not only didn’t really rub garlic on her nipples but didn’t really breast feed me either, would mix cubed swiss cheese into the potatoes, put them in a baking dish covered witha layer of bread crumbs and melted butter, and bake them. Lord in Heaven, if I could give you ONE note about the way you run things down here, you should stop packaging potatoes in those dirty brown skins we just wash and peel off anyway, and start packaging them, straight from the earth, in casserole dishes, and they should come from your bounty already pestoed and cheesed-up with their bready topping already dotted with butter. And if you’d be kind enough in your infinite grace and wisdom to make ovens come preheated at all times to 375, that’d be really omnipotently cool of you as well. The fourth and final event was an out-of-the-blue comment from a total stranger eating mashed potatoes. “God,” he said, which really rather wraps the whole divine-inspiration theme of this tome up nicely, “I wonder if you could put these in a waffle iron and make them crispy…”

    …And there was the mashed potato for its traditional comfort and goodness. And there was pesto, with its savory, cheesy, garlic-heavy goodness. And the spirit of the Lord moved over the kitchen and said, “Let the potatoes meet with the pesto, and may they forever be infused with the rich and gooey addition of mozzarella cheese. And the potato and the pesto and the cheese shall meet upon the plates of the waffle iron and shall forever be sealed together in a crispy outer coating of golden buttery goodness. And the creatures of the land ate of the Pesto Mashed Potato waffles and this pleased the Lord. And there was evening and there was morning. The Eighth Day. And it was good.

    Because I have invoked the Lord’s name in this entry, I will endeavor to refrain from use of F-bombs herein. I sure hope I don’t fuck up. Shit. OK — change “herein” to “hereafter” and I’m fucking golden. Hereafter.

    Waffle iron: on HIGH

    1 Cup milk
    1 Cup water
    2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
    1/2 tsp. salt
    1-1/2 Cups mashed potato flakes (such as Hungry Jack)
    1 Large egg
    1 Cup shredded mozzarella cheese (part skim or whole milk)
    3 Tbsp. prepared pesto sauce (homemade or store bought)

    Bring milk, water, butter and salt to a boil. Turn off heat, add potato flakes, and mix thoroughly until the potatoes are thick and fluffy.

    In a small bowl, beat the egg; add a spoonful of the mashed potatoes, stirring it into the egg until smooth, to temper the egg and keep it from cooking on contact when added to the rest of the potatoes. Did you just learn a trick? Good. Well  now, add it the egg to the rest of the potatoes, and mix until thoroughly incorporated. You will notice them thickening a bit.  Let the potato mixture cool for two minutes, then add the pesto and mix thoroughly; finally add the shredded cheese, and mix just to incorporate consistently.

    Spray waffle iron with cooking spray, or brush with melted butter.

    Divide the batter into two batches. For each batch, spread the potato mixture over the griddle, leaving about 1/4″ expansion room from the edges. If you’re unsure of depth or width or any of the other concerns raised in grade school geometry, press the lid down almost all the way and immediately lift it again. Check your imprint and spread, just to assure yourself you’re doing fine and it really doesn’t matter, because it’s not brain surgery it’s mashed potatoes in a waffle iron.

    Cook a full cycle on high. Open to check for doneness, and as long as the waffles aren’t burnt (individual irons will vary) close and continue to cook. You’re aiming for a deep, dark golden crust that resists piercing by a fork. When they are done (dark, crispy outside, resistant to pushing, opinionated, self assured, nonjudgmental, like every good waffle or teenager should be) let them sit in the open iron for at least a minute to steam off. This will let them set a bit, making them easier to remove and move to a serving plate without ripping them. Cutting the individual serving wedges while they sit won’t hurt this process either.

    The longer they sit in the plate (you don’t want them COLD, but you want them solid) the more set-up they become, and that equals more betterer.

    Did I really just say “more betterer”? What the fuck?

    Ooh… sorry for my mouth, Lord. But thanks for mashed potatoes — now with pesto, and now in waffle form.


  7. Some WAFFLE Insights

    February 10, 2011 by Cas

    These are insights ABOUT waffles and the 30/30 Waffle Experiment. These are NOT actual insights from the waffles themselves. Experience has taught me that once they’ve been flash-baked in a super-hot iron, waffles have painfully little to say (at least nothing of any real importance, anyway).

    I really just want to pass along notes as we go. There are things I’m discovering as I undertake this challenge, and I want to share those discoveries with you to assist in your use and enjoyment of my recipes, as well as to add to your own arsenal of culinary knowledge as you expand and experiment and charge forth on your own creative journeys.

    I’m also discovering, as I go through a great many familiar steps over and over, but with a refreshed approach, or as I’m approached by my Food Daddy Foodies in the blog comments or personal inquiries, that there are things fitting into three distinct categories of “Why I Haven’t Already Told You This”:

    - I didn’t realize there were options that others realize
    For example, Nancy from Albany asked if the butter used in a frosting recipe was salted or unsalted. Duh on Daddy! Just because every time I place a grocery order I automatically click on the 1-lb. block or 4-stick box of unsalted, it does NOT mean that’s what you have or plan to stock in your own kitchen. I forget sometimes that not everyone can hear what’s being discussed in my own head, which I chalk up to the fact that when you talk such as I do, 24/7, leaving very little to anyone’s imagination, you forget that the world is not actually privy to your OWN imagination. This also leads into the second:

    - I have personal preferences I forget are not universal
    Like the butter example above, certain choices have become second nature over time either out of habit or through actual trial and error leading to definitive “winners” among my most commonly used practices, ingredients, equipment, and such. Flour is another example. I keep whole wheat flour in a huge container, as my main “go-to” flour. If I’m making a batch of pancake batter or baking up a couple dozen muffins, this is what I use. For those particular purposes. But because I find definite drawbacks to whole wheat when it comes to things like making a beshamel sauce or thickening a gravy or making a light and voluptuous popover, I also keep a smaller supply of unbleached white all-purpose flour on hand. And because the distinctions are so vivid and necessary in MY understanding of things, it’s perhaps completely egotistical but not at all surprising that I’d simply reference “flour” and assume you know which one to use. You may indeed have your own preferences depending on the application; you may be a lost little lamb expecting much more guidance than my glib, one-word ingredient directive offers. In either case, I am learning that for someone who tends to use dozens of words to oversimplify an already simple concept, I have to be much more aware of when further explanation is not garnish, but main course. And finally…

    - There’s a high degree of streamlining to be found in standardizing certain options I did realize exist
    We’re talking waffles here. So let’s use waffle batter as an example to explain this last realization. If I have time, I prefer to make my waffles and pancakes from scratch. Whether or not the finished product tastes better than a commercial mix is certainly up for debate, but I like the flexibility and variety to be had in making it myself. Sometimes I want some buckwheat, sometimes I want a sweeter batter or a more buttery crumb. I can control these variations with my own ingredients. But box mixes are at once time-saving, consistent, and reasonably fool-proof. So I always have box mix on hand. And to be honest — and this sort of element of my existence leads friends to think there’s evidence of a schism in the time/space continuum in my life, because such seemingly unnecessary abundance should NOT be so commonly present in  a studio apartment in midtown Manhattan — I generally have FOUR or FIVE different prepackaged mixes at my disposal. Now, before you think I’m a hoarder or merely (though admittedly) obsessive-compulsive, each one has its own reason to be. Let me also say that no matter what they call themselves, I call them all “Baking Mix” because, essentially, the stuff in the box or bag is composed of grain milled into flour, a leavening agent, salt, often times a sweetener, and sometimes shortening. So be they “waffle mix” or “pancake mix” or, depending on the brand, “self-rising flour” or the self-appointed blanket label of “baking mix”, they can all provide similar results with a bit of tweaking depending on the application. So yes: I have one box I keep in the refrigerator that calls itself “Complete”, and to make a batch of pancakes all I have to do is add some water. When I sleep in on a Sunday and awake to a 16 year-old who has stopped just short of eating a box of tissues and a bottle of chocolate syrup for breakfast rather than disturb his exhausted Dad, I can jump up and say a heartfelt “thanks, Bud!”, and even with stopping to pee and wash my hands, it’s still just a few short minutes before a plate of home-cooked comfort is sitting on the table in front of him. If I’m making breakfast for a bunch of people, or baking (and not completely from scratch) and have a bit more time, I use a “Baking Mix” product. But I admit, I have TWO of those (one is also in the refrigerator) and they’re both THE SAME BRAND; but one is the brand’s ORIGINAL variety, and the other is its Lower Fat and Cholesterol counterpart. When I’m feeling old-school I use the first; if I’m actually going to eat what I’m cooking for the gang, I will use the latter, so I feel that much less guilty (though not THAT much) for the departure from my normal eating habits. I also keep a specialty mix on hand — Swedish Pancake mix, or Multi-Grain baking mix, or Buckwheat Belgian Waffle mix — and will tap into that on occasion. And, finally, I have a sack of gluten-free baking mix on hand at all times because I myself, though sometimes I pretend this is not the case, have a severe intolerance to gluten, and I have enough people with gluten sensitivities or outright celiac disease in my life that this is always an essential. But again, because I am never satisfied and seem to have New York City’s most expansive studio apartment in history, I also have a canister housing, safeguarding and displaying my own homemade gluten-free baking mix. But all of this being said (and in far too extensive an essay already) I neither expect nor recommend you yourself keep all of these different products, nor are they necessary for our purposes in the 30/30 Waffle Experiment — especially since you aren’t necessarily waffling along with me daily, but finding and bookmarking a recipe or two for later use. So my choosing an “All-Purpose” product to use when box mix (and not scratch) is called for in these recipes will make it easier for ME to assure the consistently good outcome of these recipes, and for YOU to try your hand at several different varieties without quickly being made to feel that you need a rift in the time/space continuum running through both your pantry and your bank account to accommodate my kitchen whims.

    See what happens when I have two cups of coffee early in the morning? Food Daddy + Caffeine = Please Shut Up Already,  Goddammit.

    To the point, finally…

    - Butter is always unsalted. You can always add salt to a recipe whereas you cannot suck salt back out. If it’s all you have, or your preference is for salted, just omit any other salt called for in a recipe; if the butter hasn’t provided enough salt to your taste, add a bit more salt back into the recipe. Look at the POWER I just gave you.

    - If it’s not a scratch recipe and a batter is based on or includes a traditional waffle mix, I will be using and highly recommend BISQUICK. I love this stuff. It’s what I have open in both the original and heart-smart varieties at all times. I will say, though, that through the years I’ve waffled back and forth between BISQUICK and, though it calls itself “self-rising flour” instead of “baking mix”, PRESTO brand. Comparable results. But though I love the “hasn’t changed in 60 years” look of the PRESTO box, I grew up on BISQUICK and sometimes a Food Daddy just wants his mommy…

    - Unless I give you a specific order of operations, it’s always safe to assume that you should mix your wet ingredients and dry ingredients separately, and then add wet into dry. Once mixed, add-ins if used are then added. But I try to make this process clear in each recipe.

    - Err on the side of under-mixing. There’s something magical about waffle mixes. You dump a pound of powdery stuff in a bowl, dump an egg and some liquid in, basically do little more than tap the side of the bowl and you have a lumpy, inconsistent bubbling glob that somehow turns into divine, fluffy, moist-yet-crispy-coated baked bits of wonder. Maybe that’s overpromising, but with most simple quick-bread type batters and doughs you don’t want to over-mix because you develop too much of the gluten (the grains’ proteins) causing too “doughy” or elastic a consistency. But this consistency IS necessary for certain things to turn out right, and it goes from being a bad thing to a good thing, and thus when something really has to be worked well I’ll mention (in sweeter and more professional terms) that you should really beat the shit out of a batter for our desired results.

    - Know your waffle iron. I’m a creature of habit and familiarity. I live with my stuff and love my stuff. A vase, if I love it, is on display with flowers in it or not at all times. I need to know it’s there, and the same color it was yesterday, and ready to receive flora at a moment’s notice. The same with my kitchenware, and especially the ones that affect the outcome of a product by definition. A plate just has to lay there and be flat and keep gravy from dripping through your fingertips when you hold meatloaf on it. But things like my oven, my baking sheets, my food processor, my panini press — they all have quirks, personal constitutions, strengths and deficits that must be understood, respected, capitalized upon or circumvented. My waffle irons are no exception. And yes, I used the plural. I had four, but when I moved to my new apartment I pared down to two: the Belgian and the Multipractic, which by way of the Heaven-sent removable plate innovation is both easier to clean and able to dedicate itself to making different items, from sandwiches to square waffles to Pizzelle. But I know how each operates. I know that setting the Belgian to “6″ (its max) means a very crisp, dark outside in a sugar-heavy batter, that “4″ is the no-brainer for the common waffle, and that wetter, denser, but not tightly-bound batters will need a double-length ride to achieve a consistency that’s both palatable AND easily removed from the griddle. These sorts of things you learn about your tools by using them. Experience both asks the questions and listens to the answers. And I know my stuff well. I can assure you that by the end of the 30/30 Experiment, I will have developed such intense familiarity with my Belgian Waffle Iron that even the Tea Party movement wouldn’t wince at the prospect of our marrying legally.

    And while I’m certain to think of more notes and insights as we go along, one final thought:

    - WHY WAFFLES? I’ll tell you why. First, portion control is built in. The iron tells you “break here” for an individual serving, be it your very own square or rectangle, or a wedge of the round variety. But much more importantly, a waffle iron cooks — and perfectly — baked goods that otherwise in other forms in other appliances (including the oven or a stove-top pan) would take much longer with much less consistent results. It provides a center that’s heated through and an outside that is deep and golden and crisp. There’s more surface contact than on a baking sheet or in a skillet, because top, bottom and sides, every inch has a direct heat source applied to it. And the heat is consistent over the whole surface so there are no undercooked spots and overcooked spots and then that one really good spot for your inner Goldilocks that’s just right. The depth and width, because of the pattern of divots pressed into your waffle, are the same across the entire waffle. If you look at its array of squares as a grid of walls and floors, the whole building is built to the same scale with walls and floors a consistent thickness — so unlike a soft pretzel which has you savoring the thick, doughy knot in the center, a waffle gives you the perfect bite in EVERY bite. And because of all those “walls and floors” — greater surface area if you were to take out your teeny tiny tape measure — every positive adjective you could apply to the exterior of your waffle… golden brown… crispy… crunchy… smooth… caramelized… applies to much, much more — the ENTIRETY, actually — of your finished product.

    Enjoy Life,

    Cas


  8. 30/30 WTF! #3: Thanksgiving-in-a-Waffle Waffle

    February 10, 2011 by Cas

    So here we go: a Savory waffle, as so many have asked if there would be any. I assure you… this is the first of many.

    I was thinking of this as an appetizer — a cool and convenient way to serve a bunch of things in one neat little package, so one could conceivably stand with one in hand, talking and holding a cocktail or cat-o-ninetails (depending on the type of gathering) in the other.

    But just one wedge of the Belgian proved VERY filling, so this would be a great and interesting side dish, or two of them with a green salad or some steamed or sauteed veggies would make a great and very satisfying meal.

    This idea came to me because I’m one of those oddballs who likes to throw all the Turkey Day leftovers between two slices of bread and call it a Thanksgiving Sandwich. Here, a reason to enjoy those same flavors, only crispier and without having to carve a bird.

    1 Box Stove Top Stuffing (for Turkey or Chicken)
    1-1/2 Cups water
    4 Tbsp. butter (unsalted)
    4 oz. (1/4 lb.) sliced deli turkey breast, chopped
    1/4 Cup dried cranberries
    1/2 Cup BISQUICK Baking Mix
    1/2 Cup Milk
    1 Large egg

    Waffle Iron: on HIGH.

    In a small bowl, plump cranberries by covering in hot water. Set aside.

    In a saucepan, bring water and butter to a boil. Add stuffing mix, stirring vigorously to moisten thoroughly. Remove from heat.

    Add diced turkey to stuffing mixture. Drain cranberries and add to stuffing mixture.

    With a fork, lightly beat egg, milk and Bisquick in a separate bowl, until thoroughly mixed. Add to stuffing mixture and stir well to mix completely.

    Spray waffle iron with cooking spray. Divide batter mixture into two batches; for each batch, spread batter over iron leaving room (1/2″) from the edges. Close and cook (know your waffle iron, people) until VERY WELL DONE.

    Open lid, and allow to cool on iron for a minute. Carefully transport to a plate to cool to serving temperature, and top with:

    QUICK GRAVY:

    1 Tbsp. Butter
    1 Tbsp. Flour
    3/4 Cup Milk
    1/4 Tbsp. Dry chicken bullion
    Dash of pepper (to taste)
    1/2 tsp. Dried parsley

    In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Add flour and stir constantly to brown the resulting roux to a light caramel color. Add milk, stirring constantly to break lumps and keep stirring as it comes to a boil. Stir in remaining ingredients, remove from heat, and spoon over warm waffles.

    Gobble gobble…


  9. 30 Day Challenge: THIRTY THINGS YOU DIDN’T THINK YOU COULD MAKE IN A WAFFLE IRON, BUT CAN (and, in my humble opinion, totally SHOULD!)

    February 8, 2011 by Cas

    “They say everything’s better with chocolate. Everything’s ALSO better with square holes punched all over it’s crisp, buttery, golden brown surface…”

    - Cas Marino
    THE FOOD DADDY

    Here’s the “experiment” folks, or the “challenge”, if you will: every day, I will test and post another “make it in the waffle iron” concoction, based on the popularity of my other online (and offline) conversations about my first two entries… THE BROWNIE WAFFLE and THE RED VELVET WAFFLE.

    Please note that not everything is necessarily from scratch. Some ideas are made easier by use of readily available (but tested and quality-assured) packaged mixes and such. If I’ve used one here, trust that I’ve tried it and enjoyed its results.

    Also note that my tests were done with one of those fabulous round, twist-half-way-through-the-process, electronically timed, State Fair type of Belgian Waffle makers. You might not have one, so use your square one. But don’t hate. I’m single. I have to have something to come home to at night, and my appliances are all I’ve got, goddammit…