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Storage is always an issue living in New York City, especially when it comes to much-coveted counter space; there never seems to be enough. It makes me pretty merciless when it comes to appliances and kitchen equipment. This also means I can’t afford to keep any one-trick ponies hanging around, so it was only logical for me to look beyond basic waffles when it came to cooking with my waffle iron.
A few years back I read about waffle grilled cheese in Jennifer Carden’s Toddler Café cookbook. It’s easy. Instead of cooking your grilled cheese in a skillet on the stovetop, you throw it into a preheated waffle iron doubling as a panini press. It’s a genius idea, and makes its way into my daughters’ lunchboxes a few times a week. My husband, Mikey, loved it so much that I would often gussy up the filling by using fresh mozzarella and tomato jam. It was the best of both worlds for him, from a culinary standpoint.
Then my eyes were opened even wider when my friend Silvana’s book, Cooking for Isaiah, came out. She had the brilliant idea of making shredded potato pancakes in her waffle iron. This works better in a standard waffle iron than a deep Belgian-style one, and is a fun twist on latkes.
It was only natural that I recently started using my waffle iron for making French toast. At first I was worried the bread would be too soggy and fall apart. The key is using thick-cut slices of bread. Here’s a few Food Network recipes to get your creative juices flowing. They all call for standard cooking techniques (read: cooking in a skillet), but I say it’s safe to think outside the box and preheat your waffle maker.
- Taleggio and Pear Panini (pictured above)