Thursday, November 11, 2010

Breakfast Extravaganza!

Good evening everyone! First and foremost - a big thank you to all the men and women in our armed forces. With today being Veteran's Day, you will be receiving many thanks and recognition for all the things you do. These thank you's should not be limited to just one day a year - as your sacrifices and efforts give us the freedom to do what we want, say what we think and enjoy the basic liberties that so many of us take for granted on a daily basis. Remember to honor those that served - tell them thank you for what they've done, let them know they are appreciated. Not only today - but everyday.

For tonight's blog - we're returning to a concept from the early days of the blog - building blocks. If you've been a reader since our early days, you will no doubt remember the pancake blog and subsequent reader submissions. The point of that blog was to illustrate how something so simple as the pancake can be manipulated into hundreds of different concoctions. Tonight, we're doing the same thing with the pancake's older brother - the waffle.

My recipe tonight is the basic, bare bones version of a buttermilk waffle. Sure, there are many box mixes out there that offer 'buttermilk' waffle flavoring. We've found, however, that these mixes do not come close to good, homemade, buttermilk waffles. In addition, many of these mixes are originally intended for pancakes and are just adapted to accommodate waffles as well. In my research, I've found that a good waffle mix should have some different ingredients from a pancake mix (in order to achieve fluffy, light, crisp waffles).

So, my recipe tonight is the basic version. Something you can use as a building block to further your waffle exploration. Adding blueberries, slicing some bananas, adding a pinch of cinnamon - the world is your playground when it comes to waffle exploration. The only limit is your imagination.

The Recipe: Buttermilk Waffles
Original Recipe Found In: The Complete America's Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook 2nd Edition: Every Recipe from the Hit TV Show With Product Ratings and a Look Behind the Scenes

What You'll Need:

1 Cup, Unbleached All Purpose Flour
1 Tablespoon Cornmeal (Optional - this adds a little crunch to the waffle)
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1/4 Teaspoon Baking Soda
7/8 Cup Buttermilk
1 Large Egg (Separated)
2 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter (Melted)

(Makes 4 to 6 waffles depending on the size of the waffle iron)

The waffle iron is ready - are you?

Begin by beating the egg white with and electric mixer on medium low until slightly foamy. Increase the speed of the mixer to medium high and beat for an additional two to three minutes, until peaks start to form. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk the dry ingredients together and set aside. We chose to omit the cornmeal in this recipe as Maggie and I prefer a softer, crispy on the outside only, waffle. If you like your waffles to have a little bit of a crunch - add the cornmeal and enjoy the the extra crispy bites.

In a small bowl, whisk the buttermilk, egg yolk and butter together. Set aside.

Slowly add the liquid ingredients into the medium bowl containing the dry ingredients. Using a rubber spatula, mix everything well as you pour the liquid in. Incorporate all of the liquid you pour before adding more. (I found that breaking the pouring down into 25% portions worked well - add 25% of the bowl, incorporate, add the next 25% etc.) Finally, once everything is mixed add the egg white and fold with the mixture until incorporated. Be forewarned, this batter is not nearly as soupy as box batter. You will have to spread the batter into the waffle iron rather than pour.

It's a little thick 

Following the instructions on your favorite brand of waffle iron, cook the waffles until they are the desired 'browness' and enjoy!

Not quite done yet...

In addition to the waffles, I decided to get creative and make up some 'loaded scrambled eggs' a new recipe that was concocted while surveying our refrigerator this evening.

What You'll Need:

3 Eggs
2 - 3 Tablespoons Milk
4 Slices Of Bacon (Sliced into 1/2 inch pieces)
1/2 Cup Shredded Cheese (Cheddar, pepper jack, or whatever you can find - I opted for provolone)

Begin by cooking the bacon in a large non-stick skillet until golden brown. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and transfer to a paper towel lined plate. Reserve some of the bacon grease - be sure to discard some of the grease if they cut of bacon you chose was overly fatty.

Alternatively, if your wife so happened to use prosciutto in a recipe recently you can replace the bacon with prosciutto and simply add the shredded ham when you add the cheese in the last steps.

You can optionally melt 1/2 Tablespoon of butter in the pan in addition to the grease - if you feel that there is not enough grease to evenly cover the cooking surface.

In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs and milk until combined. Add the mixture to the skillet on medium heat and cook - constantly folding and stirring the mixture until curds begin to form. Cook until the eggs are firm and still slightly moist - about 2 to 3 minutes.

Off of the heat, add in the cheese and bacon (or prosciutto), stirring with a rubber spatula until everything is combined. Serve immediately.

The End Results:

In a word, delicious. Some 'creative' scrambled eggs and basic buttermilk waffles - the two key ingredients for a fantastic, relaxing and easy to make home cooked meal. Give it a try for yourself, change things up and have breakfast for supper every once in awhile!

That's not all we have this evening, however -


The humble waffle iron, perhaps the most commonly given wedding present know to man - it's right up there with the crockpot (which we have three of - all thanks to the wedding!) I had received a waffle iron as a present two years ago - it wasn't anything special, but it got the job done. For two years, I made adequate waffles in the iron with little to no issues.

About three months ago, however, the iron began to have sticking issues. The waffles would no longer pop freely from the iron when finished cooking - instead they would cling and stick all over the iron, usually burning and making a massive mess in the process. Upon further inspection I found that my waffle iron was losing its non stick coating - I hoped that it was simply falling off...and not being ingested via the waffles. Yikes!

Regardless, the time came to procure a new waffle iron. Armed with gift cards from the wedding, Maggie and I set out to find a top of the line waffle iron that would not only make waffles, but do so with ease of use, easy to clean and solid cooking (I.E. even and efficient) being the foundations of a purchase. After a lot of searching we finally settled on this:

Food Network Signature Series Belgian Waffle Maker

We've used this little guy for two solid months now and it is safe to say we are in love. Here's the run down:

Product: Food Network Signature Series Belgian Waffle Maker
Price: $45
Found In: Kohl's Exclusive


The most important aspect of any waffle maker is...well, the waffles. This waffle maker makes fabulous, deep and hearty belgian waffles. The plate is large enough to cook four waffles at once, so there is no waiting to get the whole family's waffles done before dinner. Simply pour in the batter and lock the lid down and in a short time, the waffles are finished. The product is exceptionally easy to clean and maintain - it's non stick surface works like a charm every time (So long as you properly oil it). The waffle maker is a snap to use (although a little tricky to master...more on that later), with only one clearly marked knob to worry about and a series of beeps indicate when the waffle is done. The unit is large - yet compact. Since in is a square waffle maker, it sores flat or upright with great easy. The cord tucks under the unit for easy storage as well.


The price makes this one of the most expensive waffle irons on the market. Most of the other products run at about 1/2 of the cost of this unit. One issue that we are frequently running into is overflow with this waffle iron. Following the manufacturer's directions, we add the appropriate amount of batter and lock the lid, only to find that molten hot waffle batter comes oozing out of every corner 30 seconds later. Reducing the amount of batter used alleviates this issue, but also results in less than full and sometimes hole filled waffles. Clearly there is a 'happy medium' that we haven't found yet - but it isn't all that easy to achieve with trial and error...and a mess. The other issue we have with this iron is that it is slightly dangerous. The locking action of the lid allows the waffles to cook at a very intense heat, under pressure. This causes the liquid within the batter to be forced out of the sides of the iron in the form of VERY hot steam. The steam will 100% burn your hand (I've done this twice now) so you have to be very careful to avoid it at all costs. The issue is, the steam rises from all seams, including the front seem, which sits below the temperature dial. If you want to make adjustments to the temperature, you have to literally risk you hand to do so. If you want to open the iron to check on the progress of the waffle, you have to navigate the steam as well.
Pictured: Hinge ooze

Final Thoughts: 

The instructions recommend that you set the temperature dial beforehand and not adjust the heat - as well as to wait until the steam is completely done before checking on the waffle - so technically, they are covered. However, how many people read the instructions on the waffle iron before use? I read the instructions and still found out the hard way on what not to do with this iron. Yes, it is a fantastic waffle iron, but it does have a steep (and painful) learning curve at times. This one is certainly not child friendly, but it will make the best belgian waffles you've ever had.

Final Score: 3.5 / 5


That's all we have for you this week! Maggie and I are returning to the site of our first official date on Saturday, the Food & Wine Expo at the Iowa Events Center in downtown Des Moines. It's a gathering of everything culinary - including some celebrity chefs. One of this year's speakers is the one and only Curtis Stone - who as you may recall, Maggie got to meet at the last Food & Wine Expo we attended. This year, we have tickets to see him cook once again AND we plan on (trying) to meet him again. It should be a fun day. Look for our reactions to the Food & Wine Expo to be up over the weekend. Until then,


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