Waffles

Not just for breakfast anymore

By , Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

During my childhood, Saturday mornings meant time to indulge in a leisurely breakfast impossible any other time of the week.

Many a morning, my sister and I would drag ourselves out of bed and while still in our PJ's, rifle through a small kitchen cupboard, and retrieve our mother's old chrome waffle iron - a family heirloom. Pouring a simple batter onto the hot iron which proved just as enjoyable as devouring the hot, crispy squares slathered with butter and saturated in maple syrup.

Up until the mid '60s, that's pretty much what a waffle was to most Americans. Then came the 1964 World's Fair in New York. There, thick yeast waffles, piled with fresh-sliced strawberries and topped with schlag (whipped cream) had fair-goers lining up at the Belgian pavilion - not a hard sell.

Recommended: Mother's Day: 20 breakfast and brunch recipes

Today most Americans shun the idea of savory waffles made with ingredients like, say, smoked salmon or broccoli. But with the debut of Dorie Greenspan's new book "Waffles from Morning to Midnight" (Morrow, $15.) that trend could find its way onto American tables.

While Ms. Greenspan keeps her waffle irons (she has five) sizzling as she tests recipes that include bananas, strawberries, and other sweet toppings, she also explores such savory combinations as Curried Waffle Club Sandwiches (one of her favorites). Greenspan offers some general advice, "When you stop thinking about waffles as a breakfast item but rather as a starch, anything you can make as a sandwich you could make as a waffle. Their shape with pockets that capture and hold sauces make them perfect for savory waffles."

Zucchini-Cheddar Waffles

1/3 cup virgin olive oil

1 large shallot, peeled and finely chopped

1 large garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped

1-1/4 cups buttermilk

2 large eggs

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons double-acting

baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoons salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1 small zucchini (about 8 ounces), scrubbed, not peeled

1/4 pound sharp Cheddar cheese

Butter or sour cream for topping

Pour olive oil into a small heavy skillet and warm over very low heat. Stir in shallot and garlic. Heat until you can smell the warming ingredients (about 1 minute). Remove from heat.

Meanwhile, whisk together the buttermilk and eggs in a medium-size bowl. Add the shallot mix to the buttermilk mixture and whisk vigorously.

Preheat waffle iron. If you want to keep waffles warm until serving, preheat oven to 200 degrees F.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Grate the zucchini and Cheddar into a bowl. Mix with a rubber spatula (or your hands) to distribute evenly. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and stir with a spatula until just combined.

Lightly butter or spray the grids of your iron, if needed. Brush or spray the grids again only if subsequent waffles stick.

Spoon out 3/4 cup of batter (or slightly more than your iron's manufacturer recommends) onto the hot grids. Use a spatula or wooden spoon to smooth the batter almost to the edge of the grids. Close the lid and bake until browned and crisp. Serve immediately or keep them, in a single layer, in a preheated oven.

Makes about 5 6-1/2 inch round waffles.

Serve on large plates topped with butter or sour cream. For brunch, offer an assortment of smoked fish or meats. For an easy lunch, serve with a simple tossed salad.

- Recipes adapted from "Waffles from Morning to Midnight."

Smoked Salmon and Dill Waffles

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 cups milk

2 large eggs

3 to 4 ounces Nova Scotia smoked salmon, finely chopped

1 small red onion, peeled and finely diced

1/4 cup snipped

fresh dill

Softened cream cheese and finely chopped scallions or crme frache (or sour cream) and salmon caviar for topping.

Preheat waffle iron. If you want to keep waffles warm until serving, preheat oven to 200 degrees F.

Melt the butter; reserve. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and pepper. In another bowl, whisk together milk and eggs. Pour liquid ingredients over dry ingredients and whisk gently to combine. Fold in the salmon, onion, dill, and melted butter.

Lightly butter or spray the grids of your iron, if needed. Brush or spray the grids again only if subsequent waffles stick.

Spoon out 1/2 cup of batter (or the amount recommended by your waffler's manufacturer) onto the hot iron. Spread the batter evenly over the grids with a metal spatula or wooden spoon, stopping right before the edge. Close the lid and bake until golden and crisp. Serve immediately or keep the waffles, in a single layer, on a rack in the preheated oven while you make the rest of the batch.

Makes about 6 6-1/2 inch round waffles.

Serve them with either a scoop of cream cheese and a sprinkling of chopped scallions or a generous spoonful of cram fraiche (or sour cream) and some salmon caviar when you're looking to make a splash.

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