We have so many tools for cooking now. The best ones can be used for multiple tasks because, well you know, same counter space but several purposes. I mean, most of us don’t have unlimited kitchen storage, even if you’re like me and have multiple shelving units lined up against your garage walls. So, multi-purpose is good.
Who would have thought, for example, that air fryers can toast nuts, make dried garbanzos (wonderful snacks!), and roast garlic faster and more efficiently than a regular oven?
Waffle irons have seen a resurgence since home cooks realized these seldom-used appliances are more versatile than we thought. I think it started when someone tried making a grilled cheese sandwich in one because they didn’t have a panino press. E ecco la, as the Italians say. (“And there it is!”)
First, I tried making pizza in it. Get some dough from Trader Joe’s or the local bread bakery, stretch a piece large enough to fit the pre-heated waffle iron, spray on some oil, lay it out, and lower the cover. Note: Keep the dough thin because it will rise quite a bit in the waffle iron.
When the dough is nicely browned, add toppings, and run it under the broiler to melt the cheese. It’s not quite what you get from the local pizzeria, but it’s great for a quickie lunch or supper.
A few details for waffle iron cooking: Always pre-heat the iron. Spray generously with oil, or butter it well. It will help avoid any sticking problems. Go easy with any mixtures that tend to spread—batter, eggs, dough, etc.
Try these for starters
• Falafel works well. It doesn’t require deep frying when you scoop the mixture into a pre-oiled waffle iron and cook until brown and crispy. Serve with hummus or yogurt mixed with Mideastern spices.
• Brownie waffles are yummo. Spray oil on the heated waffle iron and spread brownie batter on it. Close the cover, bake, and serve warm or cooled topped with ice cream.
• Make waffle sandwiches. Use cornbread batter in an oiled waffle iron and cook until browned and crispy. Use the waffles like bread to make BLTs, fried egg sandwiches, or other savory choices.
• What else goes well with cornbread? How about chili? Cook up your favorite chili and ladle it on top of cornbread waffles. Give it a final flourish with shredded cheese and sour cream.
• Hey! What about waffle cakes? Ladle some cake batter onto an oiled and heated waffle iron. Bake until cooked through. Layer them with frosting, whipped cream, ice cream, lemon curd, or whatever strikes your imagination.
• French toast, anyone? Dip bread slices in your usual French toast mixture of eggs, milk, sugar and spices. Then cook on an oiled, pre-heated waffle iron until browned and crispy on the outside. Serve with your favorite syrups.
The list goes on
• Or an omelet. Yes, you can. Scramble up some eggs, add herbs, throw in some cheese and maybe some chopped ham. Pour it onto a buttered, pre-heated waffle iron, and cook on low for about 4 or 5 minutes. Note: be sure to butter the iron well to prevent sticking.
• Pizza fritte, or fried pizza. This is essentially fried pizza dough stuffed with melted mozzarella. Oil and pre-heat the waffle iron. Stretch a piece of pizza dough to fit. Cook until browned. Then slice open crosswise with a sharp knife. Fill with mozzarella strips, like a sandwich, and return to the waffle iron to melt the cheese. Serve with marinara for dipping, if you wish.
• Leftover mashed potatoes can be cooked up in the waffle iron, too. As always, grease and pre-heat. Mix some shredded cheese or herbs into the potatoes, and then scoop onto the waffle iron. Cook until browned.
• Heck, you can do the same with frozen hash browns. Serve with your breakfast eggs.
Here’s something that Gary told me was on the news this week. Cicadas are coming back this year. But the story also mentioned The Cicada Cookbook (Chris Royal, 54pp).
No, it’s not a joke. People all around the world really do eat these insects because they’re rich in protein. (I’m not one of them.) If you want to check it out, the book is available on Amazon for about $7.
TIP OF THE WEEK
Speaking of tools that have more than one use… how about that egg slicer? Use it to neatly slice strawberries or mushrooms.
RECIPE OF THE WEEK
Spring is a great time for chilled pasta salads, and this one is a winner. The truffle oil is worth the splurge. And you can make this vegan or not. Thanks to Feasting at Home for the recipe.
SPRING PEA PASTA WITH TRUFFLE OIL, LEMON & MINT
Serves 4 as main course or 8 as a side dish
1 pound pasta
3-4 cups fresh peas
5 scallions, thinly sliced
1 shallot, very finely diced
1 cup chopped fresh mint
1 cup chopped Italian parsley
1/2 cup olive oil
2 lemons, zested and 1/4 cup juice
2 cups fresh pea shoots, baby spinach or arugula
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon white pepper (or black)
1 tablespoon truffle oil, preferably white
Goat cheese crumbles (optional)
1. Boil pasta in a generous amount of salted water, according to package directions.
2. While the pasta is cooking, prep the rest of the ingredients. Chop the scallions, shallots and herbs. Zest two lemons and measure out 1/4 cup lemon juice. (You may need more).
3. Once the pasta is just about done, add the peas to the boiling pasta water and blanch for one minute, or just until bright green. Immediately drain, place pasta and peas in a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice. Season with the salt and pepper.
4. Toss in the pea shoots (or other greens) and add the scallions, shallot, herbs and lemon zest. Stir together.
5. Taste, adjusting salt and lemon juice, if necessary. Drizzle with truffle oil. Top with goat cheese and serve immediately.
NOTE: If making this as a cold pasta salad, rinse pasta and peas in very cold water to stop the peas from cooking any longer. If making the pasta salad ahead, always taste it right before serving. It may need a little more seasoning.
Contributed by local news sources