Sunday, September 25, 2011

On Cheddar Waffles or "How to Have a Cooked Breakfast When You Really Don't Want to Cook"

As much as I love being up hours before anybody else, I do not like cooking breakfast. If I did get up early, I ate hours ago and am probably jonesing for a sandwich and an iced tea by the time everybody else is awake. If I did not get up early, then I am a raging crankypants because I'm starving and mad at myself for not awakening earlier. (If you are new to the site, here's how it goes: I describe my neurosis, then show you some bad photos of how I've bungled a recipe. I get some therapy for cooking through the crazy; you get to feel good because you're not insane and have probably never ruined nachos. Win-win.)



We are far more likely to do breakfast for dinner (brinner) than do a full spread on a Sunday morning. But what if there was a way to pre-make breakfast hours--or even days--ahead? Aha! Enter the waffle. Not just any waffle, but waffles made from scratch with cheddar cheese. Cheap, fast, delicious and not as unhealthy as you're thinking. Stick with me on this.

Like so many great recipes on this site, lemon sugar cookies and au gratin potatoes for instance, I've shamelessly ripped the concept of cheese waffles off of Matty's family. I can't tell you I ever thought to put anything in waffles, but if I did I'd think of dried blueberries or toasted pecans. I would have never thought of cheddar cheese. Trust me: it's awesome.
You notice you won't need a lot. I used 6-10 pieces of cheese in the tiny cube size above for each waffle half. It's important that you dice the cheese up instead of grate it. If it's grated, the pieces are too small and you will actually add much more cheese than you need to in order to really taste it. Pour the batter, then put the cheese pieces on top.

Now, are you ready to see how they look cooked?

Want to see it again?

Bam.

Since the cheese goes on top of the batter, it is in direct contact with the hot griddle top. What you get is a little bit of browned cheese crust atop chewy cheddar middle atop waffle. 

Now don't think I don't know that adding cheese to a processed flour item that we're just going to smother in fake maple syrup and butter is not the healthiest thing. I did make some shockingly successful changes to the original recipe to try to cut down on the fat. The original Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook calls for 1 3/4 cups of milk and 1/2 cup of cooking oil. My first version started with 1 1/4 cups of milk and 1 cup of sour cream, which is really, really good, but probably not healthier than 1/2 cup of vegetable oil. (And truly, the reason I originally made that substitution is because I didn't have any oil that didn't taste like french fries.) But yogurt? Why, yogurt in place of sour cream in place of oil works just fine. It gives the waffle a slight zing, just a little bit of interesting. Trust me, you'll love it.


Cheddar Cheese Waffles (Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook)
(Click here for slightly more printable version.)

1 3/4 c all-purpose flour
1 T baking powder
1/4 t salt
2 eggs
1 c plain lowfat yogurt
1 1/4 c milk
Sharp cheddar cheese, cubed small

1. Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl.
2. Whisk eggs and yogurt in separate bowl until smooth, then mix in milk.
3. Mix egg mixture into flour mixture until combined but do not overmix.
4. Pour into hot waffle maker. Add cheese as desired. Close lid and cook until browned to taste.

Also, I think you should pay close attention to the fact that these waffles did not come out of a bag. Waffles do not need to come out of a bag. Waffles are flour, baking powder, salt, milk, eggs...easy easy easy. And cheap!

Now how does this answer The Great Breakfast Issue? Let's say you're up before everybody else and don't want to have a bunch of low-blood sugar zombies competing with you for the Most Ornery award. Solution: make the waffles and keep them in the oven. When you start to hear signs of life, turn the oven to 200 or 250 degrees to warm them up, fry some eggs and set the table. Now, let's say you want something immediately easy to munch on before work, after work, at midnight? These freeze very well. Just separate them with waxed paper and put the whole mess in some freezer bags into the freezer. When you're ready to eat, pop one into the toaster. Again, no need to buy anything pre-made. (Though you should remember that if you went nuts with the cheese, you may want to watch the toaster while you toast. Just in case.)

If you're interested in my two cents, I am not a maple-flavor fan. Yes, yes, Vermontians (and you know who you are), I'm sure if it has dribbled out of a tree and boiled to bejeezus it's miles away from colored and flavored corn syrup. But in general, there is something about the smell of maple that sits in my sinus and gets me all PTSD. (Just ask Matty about my irrational maple aversion.) So my topping of choice is vanilla yogurt and if I can help it, fresh strawberries sliced and mashed with sugar. But these are great with maple syrup (real or fake), fruit syrup, yogurt, jam, or just a fried egg with a drippy yolk.

And nobody has to know how you really feel about making breakfast. It'll be our little secret.

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