Saturday, January 18, 2014

Cornmeal Waffles

My family is big on breakfast.  For little Mr. Picky, it's probably the only meal all day that I can be sure he will eat really well, so I try to make it a good one.  Pancakes and waffles are always a hit.

Waffles used to intimidate me.  Like, a lot.  But some recipes, like Cooking Light's Bacon Maple Waffles would be so irresistible that I would overcome that hesitation.  Then I found Mollie Katzen's recipe for Amazing Overnight Waffles, and waffles became a regular occurrence.  It creates the most perfect waffles: tangy, crisp, delicious.  But the fact is that I don't always have my act together enough to remember or think to prep batter the night before.

Enter a Better Homes and Gardens breakfast magazine, and their recipe for Cornmeal Buttermilk Waffles.  Quick, easy, made of things that I usually have on hand (except the buttermilk...we'll get to that!), and just different enough to be interesting.

Here's what you do:  Get your waffle maker prepped.  For me, that means spraying it down with coconut oil and plugging it in to heat.  You want it to be nice and hot when those first waffles go in, so it doesn't turn into a sticky mess.  I have a 4-square Belgian Krups that we've had since we got married.  It's got dings and smudges and it has a wonky leg that I have to keep re-supergluing, and there are probably fancier machines on the market, but with some things, I'm just a "stick to what works" kind of gal.

Now, get your "high maintenance" ingredients ready.  Things that need a couple of minutes to prepare.  In this recipe, it's melting a stick of butter (yes, a stick...comes out to less than a tablespoon per waffle, less than restaurants probably throw on top automatically), and making "buttermilk", unless you happen to have buttermilk on hand.  So, get the butter heating, and then, in a 4-cup measure, pour just under 2 cups of milk, and then add white vinegar to get to the 2-cup mark.  Give it a quick stir and let it sit a few minutes.  Voila!  Buttermilk!  Any time you need it.

In a large bowl, mix a cup of cornmeal, a cup of flour, 2 tablespoons of sugar, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda, and a teaspoon of baking powder.

Kind of looks like Wilson, doesn't it?
In the measuring cup with the milk, add 2 eggs and a teaspoon or so of vanilla, and then stir in the butter, a little at a time, as to not cook the eggs.  Stir it well to combine.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, and mix until everything is moist.  There will still be lumps...don't overmix.

If you wanted, you could add in something extra here.  The nice thing about this cornmeal base is that it works well in either a sweet or a savory direction.  Crumbled bacon, shredded cheese, berries, chopped nuts...all would be good in here.

Ladle the batter into the waffle iron and cook according to the directions for your machine.  I've found that it's hard to overcook these.  I mean, don't get me wrong, I'm sure you could if you tried, but I've literally forgotten that I put a batch in and come back 5 minutes later to find them golden and perfectly crisp.

Serve with your favorite toppings.  Butter, whipped cream, syrup (our newest fave is a strawberry fig syrup we got up in MI), honey, cheese...whatever you feel like!

This recipe makes about 12-16 of these square waffles for me, depending on how heavy my hand is in pouring the batter.  It's just enough for my family, if they are served with something else, like fruit or bacon or eggs.  It's easy to double the recipe (or even 1 and a half), and if you have extras, you can just wrap them in parchment and then seal in a ziplock bag and pop that in the freezer.  Pull them out later, pop them in a toaster, and you're all set for a quick and easy breakfast!

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