4.07.2012

Compromise

Mark wanted waffles and syrup. I craved something savory.

Impasse? Not when I am in the kitchen. Compromise!

The answer was savory waffles with a 'cheesy syrup' - otherwise known as cheese sauce.


Okay, this is no big revelation considering the recent craze for chicken and waffles....  Boy, was I disappointed when I ordered that for the first time. To be fair, I only read as far as "chicken and waffles"... what more did I need to know?  In my head, that meant nice crispy waffles (which was the case) with a creamy chicken stew-like sauce poured over top (which was not the case). It was merely fried chicken sitting atop a waffle with maple syrup. What's with that? I wanted more...

So, when Mark asked for waffles this noon, and I wanted something that wasn't sugary, I headed straight for the herb garden (that he lovingly tends for my cooking adventures) and began snipping. Rosemary, sage, marjoram, thyme, chives and parsley.

Pulverized together with a bit of lemon salt, these herbs gave our waffles a wonderful flavor; they were perfect with melted butter and no syrup or sauce. But, I was in the mood to be creative, so...

I thought briefly about mushrooms as a 'sauce,' but a cheese sauce meant that I could stay home and would not have to go shopping. Cheddar cheese in a béchamel with a dash each of nutmeg and cayenne - tangy, salty and slightly sweet, this sauce made my taste buds very happy.

This is a great recipe for experimentation... use different herbs (dill waffles with smoked salmon and sour cream on top?) or try different cheese combinations in the sauce. You can add chicken, vegetables, or mushrooms and you might try spices in addition to herbs - the sky's the limit! (What about curried waffles with a yogurt-tomato-saffron cream? Maybe next weekend...)

A couple of notes:
• Make sure your waffle iron is hot. If it isn't, you end up with tougher waffles from longer cooking.
• Lightly grease the iron with cooking spray. Over-greasing will probably hurt your first waffle. Not greasing it will definitely ruin the first one!
• As each waffle is done, place it in the oven (set at 300°F) directly on the rack so that they stay crisp and don't get soggy.
• Don't cut back on the sugar - you need some to make the waffles brown.

So, that is about it! Take this basic recipe and make it your own.

Happy waffling!

~ David

Savory Herbed Waffles with Cheese Sauce

For the waffles
2 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
3-4 tablespoons chopped mixed herbs
1/2 teaspoon lemon salt, or kosher salt
3 eggs, separated
1 cup fat-free or reduced-fat milk
3/4 cup buttermilk
4 tablespoons melted butter, slightly cooled
1 tablespoon sugar


For the cheese sauce
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
2 cups fat-free or reduced fat milk
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
salt
freshly ground white pepper
freshly ground nutmeg
ground cayenne pepper


Heat a waffle iron to medium-high.

Combine the flour, baking powder, herbs and lemon salt in a large bowl. (I pulverized the herbs and salt together for better distribution.) Set aside.

In a separate, medium-sized bowl, whisk together the egg yolks with the milk, buttermilk and melted butter. Set aside.

In a third bowl, beat the egg whites till stiff, but not dry. Sprinkle evenly with the sugar and beat until incorporated. Set aside.

Make the cheese sauce. Make a béchamel sauce by melting the butter in a medium saucepan. Add the flour and blend with a whisk and cook for 1 minute. All at once, add the milk and whisk constantly until sauce thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and stir in the grated cheese, season with salt, white pepper and a pinch each of nutmeg and cayenne. Return to the heat on the lowest setting and keep warm until serving. You may need to thin it a bit at the last minute.

Add the yolk and milk mixture to the flour mixture and mix well. Gently fold on 1/4 of the beaten whites to loosen the batter, then carefully fold in remaining whites.

Preheat the oven to 300°F.

Spray the waffle iron (top and bottom) very lightly with cooking spray. Add about 1/2 cup of the batter and close the iron. When golden brown, remove the waffle and place directly on the rack in the oven. Continue making additional waffles until batter is used up, and putting each one in the oven to keep crisp.

Reheat sauce. Break each waffle into 4 pieces and stack on a warmed plate. Top with sauce and garnish with additional fresh herbs.

7 comments:

  1. Oh I wish I had a waffle iron to make this! Is that a pepper grinder in the 3rd pic from the bottom? This is the second thing I covet in this post...!

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  2. Anna - I wish you lived nearer - I would either have you over for waffles or lend you my iron! Yes, that is a pepper grinder (brass) and a nutmeg grinder (wooden). The pepper grinder is actually a Turkish coffee grinder - and they are often used these days here for pepper. Piglets that we are - we have one for black pepper and one for white!

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  3. so beautiful! I want a waffle iron pan!

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  4. I have never had savory waffles! We have two waffle irons--one for Belgian style waffles and another, a Christmas present from our daughter, for smaller waffles. So, I see a future with savory waffles! I, too, wish your readers lived nearby. Thanks for an inspiring post!

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  5. Anh - you should get one - they are not expensive - the only trouble is finding a place to store it!

    Susan - my mother used to have a Belgian waffle maker - I wonder which of my brothers got it! I think I want to play more with the savory. There are so many opportunities here!

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  6. Ohhhh... I am in love with this post! The gorgeous herbs, crisp-edged waffles, soft and gooey cheese sauce... foodie genius, David. Love the fact that you put a compromise in there - I bet that Mark wasn't at all disappointed! I'll have to make these for my husband this weekend. Though... I bet he'll ask for a side of bacon! :)

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    Replies
    1. Oooh - Laura - a side of bacon woudl have been perfect with this! No one on our end was disappointed except for our friends who weren't invited! :)

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