Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Adventures in Waffling

I've lived my whole life in houses without central air conditioning and the biggest drawback is that turning on the oven just isn't an option between Mother’s Day and Halloween. That means lazy vacation mornings in the summer can’t include whack and bake cinnamon rolls. Fortunately, the internet provided the solution; the humble waffle iron.  And so began my adventure...

Cinnamon Rolls

1 can of cinnamon rolls
How to Waffle It
Plug in your waffle iron (or turn it on if you have a fancy one with switches and dials and stuff). Once it gets hot, spray it with some nonstick cooking spray. Whack the can and separate out the rolls. Depending on the size of your waffle iron, put as many on as fit comfortably. Resist the urge to cram them all on there at once because you’re probably going to have to flip your rolls around. Since my waffle iron is hinged at the back, the stuff at the front of the plates doesn't get as much contact with the plates as the stuff in the back does. After 2 minutes or so, flip the rolls in the back over and swap them out with the ones in the front. Give them another couple of minutes to finish cooking and then carefully move them to a plate using tongs. Smear them with icing and put the next batch on.
Unqualified success! I will never wait for my oven to heat up to have delicious cinnamon rolls.

Pigs in Blankets

Can of crescent rolls
Cocktail wieners
(I confess those are things I just happened to have in the fridge. I didn't buy them special for this)
How to Waffle It
While your waffle iron is heating up, whack open your can of crescent rolls and separate them out. Cut each one roughly in half. Roll up a cocktail wiener in each one. Don’t worry about neatness or getting them perfectly even. The waffle iron is a great equalizer when it squished them down. Space them out on your waffle iron so they have a little room on the sides. They cook pretty quickly, maybe 4 or 5 minutes. I experimented with putting small pieces of pepper jack cheese in some of them but I found they cheese got super-hot and leaked out so it wasn't discernible in the finished product. I need to experiment more with that. They screamed for a fancy dipping sauce but I was far too lazy and just served them with some ketchup and mustard.
My taste tester declared these the BEST HING I MADE ALL WEEK! I agree, they were pretty tasty and adorable. If I ever got around to cleaning my house so I could have people over for an ironic cocktail party, I would totally serve these.

Donut French Toast

4 Glazed donuts (preferably a little stale)
2 eggs
2 Tbsp milk or half and half
How to Waffle It
This one requires a little advanced prep.  Beat together the eggs, milk or half and half, vanilla, and cinnamon. I don’t measure seasonings so I can’t tell you exactly how much I used. Poke a bunch of holes in your donuts (enough for the eggs to get in but not so many they fall apart) and put them in a ziploc bag in the fridge for a while. How long is a while? That depends on how hungry you are. I think I left mine for about half an hour and they were fine. I wouldn't leave them in there too long or they will lose their structural integrity completely. Heat up your waffle iron and spray it down. When it’s hot, put as many donuts on as you can fit. After they've been on a minute or so, apply some gently pressure to the waffle iron to make sure the ones in front are making contact with the waffle iron. Because I’m paranoid about salmonella, I let these go for a while, maybe 5 or 6 minutes just to make sure they were cooked through. Just keep an eye on them because the sugar in the glaze can start to burn.
Heaven. I've made donut bread pudding before but these had a caramelized layer of almost burnt sugar that formed a crust for the fluffy, gooey insides. No syrup or sugar of any kind needed on them. But I do recommend a side of something salty and porky to offset the sweetness. But honestly, what isn't better with a side of bacon?


Flour tortillas (preferably a little bigger than your waffle iron)
Shredded Cheese
Anything else you have lying around
How to Waffle It
This one is a no-brainer. Heat up your waffle iron, spray it down, slap down a tortilla, dump on the other stuff, add another tortilla on top, and close the waffle iron. I applied some pressure to try and flatten it out, which worked well for cheese distribution except I had some cheese oozing around the sides and onto the counter. When it’s the color you want, grab it with your tongs and carefully slide it onto a plate. Holding the plate right up the edge of the waffle iron helps to avoid more counter messes.
Qualified success. I wasn't able to get the crispiness I like in a quesadilla but the insides were good and melty. The best part about a waffle quesadilla is you get really neat and even guidelines to cut perfect wedges. If you’re retentive like me, this is a huge bonus.


Frozen hashbrowns, right out of the bag
How to Waffle It
OK, this is even easier than the quesadilla. Heat up your waffler iron, spray it down, dump a bunch of frozen hashbrowns right out of the bag onto the waffle iron, and close the lid. That’s it. Wait for your desired level of brown and crispiness, slide them onto a plate, and salt liberally while still hot.
Meh. I like super crispy hashbrowns and I was not able to achieve them. The top and bottom were almost burnt and the middle was still squishy. This is one thing I like better from a pan. That said, a nicer waffle iron with temperature controls might make crispy not burnt possible. Or, if you’re like my friend Pookie and you like squishy hashbrowns, this is perfect.

Sausage Cheese Biscuits

Can of biscuits
Sausage (patties would be better but I did this with pieces of link sausage because that’s what was left over from breakfast)
How to Waffle It
Get your waffle iron heating up and sprayed down. Whack the can of biscuits and separate them out. Take a biscuit and split it in half. Cram some cheese and sausage into the biscuit and slap the other half on top. Carefully seal the edges all the way around. Repeat until you’re out of biscuits. I could only fit 3 on my waffle iron at a time and I did have to swap them front and back to get them evenly cooked.
Blech. I’m not sure if it’s because I used low quality biscuits or if the flaky layered kind would have worked better (I used “buttermilk style) but these came out really tough and unappealing. I think the concept is sound but I need to play around with ingredients to see if I can make them more palatable.

All of my waffling was done with my little Sunbeam EasyClean waffle iron. True to its name, it was really easy to clean. Here’s a tip for cleaning if things get stuck on. While it’s still hot, UNPLUG IT! Soak a paper towel and wring it out. Stick in in the waffle iron and close it. Now just leave it. Let the steam loosen things up before you go in and wipe it out. That made even the crustiest cheese super easy to clean off.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Tired of scrambled eggs

Greek Diner Breakfast Pie

Every three weeks, I work until the wee hours of the morning and then go back in the next day for an all-day meeting. Dinner that night is a trip to the local Greek diner, where I always order the same thing: a spinach and feta omelet with home fries (extra crispy). This dish is an homage to that meal.
·         3 cups frozen hash browns (thawed)
·         1/2 bag of frozen spinach
·         1 tbsp olive oil
·         1 tsp chopped garlic
·         pinch of dried oregano
·         salt and pepper to taste
·         1/2 cup of feta cheese crumbles
·         3 eggs
·         1/2 cup half and half (or milk)

Preheat oven to 450. Spray a pie pan with cooking spray and spread the hash browns on the bottom and up the sides. Bake for 15-20 minutes until it gets brown and crispy.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a big frying pan over medium heat. Add the garlic, oregano, salt and pepper and cook until the garlic is starting to toast a little. Add the frozen spinach and coat with the olive oil. Cook it down until the spinach is warmed through and enough moisture has evaporated so it doesn’t look as wet anymore.
Beat the eggs and half and half together, adding a pinch of salt and pepper.
Take the crust out of the oven and reduce the heat to 350. Spread the spinach over the bottom of the crust and sprinkle the feta cheese crumbles over it. Pour the eggs over everything. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the eggs are set.