God bless the Belgians and their waffles.
Having attended the Cliff Huxtable school of kitchen philosophy, I firmly believe that the right gadget will make me a wiz at cooking. So last July I bought this waffle iron.
I started slowly two weeks ago, using existing mixes to create full-sized, deep-pocketed Belgian waffles for breakfast, complete with strawberries, bananas, and whipped cream. They were easier and less stressful to make than pancakes.
But why limit the waffle iron to breakfast? Last week I managed to create, from scratch, some tasty Mexican cornbread waffles served at dinner with black beans. Best of all: the batter is egg-free, so even true vegetarians like my parents can enjoy it. (Not sure about vegans, though; do they consume evaporated milk?)
2 cups yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup wheat or all-purpose flour
1/4 cup ground flaxseed meal
5 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil or melted butter
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1/4 cup sugar or sugar substitute
1 1/2 cups carbonated water
Stir the 3 variations of flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. With a spoon or spatula, fold in the oil or butter, evaporated milk, and sweetener. The mixture should be thick and lumpy. Then add the carbonated water, enjoy the fizzing effect, and stir until the mixture is thin enough to be pourable. Let sit for about fifteen minutes, so the mixture becomes more airy and fluffy.
(Feel free to add some picante sauce or watered-down salsa, finely chopped chili peppers, or something else you want to Mexicanize the cornbread batter. Cheese is not recommended, as it will probably stick to the waffle iron.)
Preheat the Belgian waffle iron at whatever setting is recommended for breakfast waffles. Use a vegetable cooking spray on the hot surfaces -- use a lot, much more than what breakfast waffles would require. Pour enough of the mixture to fill most of the iron, use a plastic spatula to flatten the batter a little, then close the iron. The waffle should be golden brown in a few minutes. Re-spray the iron with copious amounts of cooking spray for each new waffle.
Serve with black beans, salsa, and thinly shredded cheddar cheese. Or whatever.
Yield: 4 Belgian-sized waffles