Corn and Green Onion Waffles

I have, I promise you, a beautiful recipe for today that churns out beautiful waffles. But this weekend being what it was, I had to make a choice between editing photos and grading papers. I chose the responsible option. (At least, between those two choices. Other choices this weekend were less responsible. Related: holy god, do you guys remember how GOOD frappucinos with whipped cream are?!)

At any rate, I’ll get right to the meat – as it were – here, and promise weakly that images will follow. These are my standard beer batter waffles, except that half the flour is replaced by cornmeal, resulting in a crisp finish on the ridges and squares that even stands up to melted cheddar cheese (more on that in a tic). Before letting them sit to rise, you stir in a heap of corn kernels and green onions, and you end up with something that, depending on your currently location’s definition of “autumn,” could be a lovely alternative to cornbread to balance against your steaming bowl of chili, or a substantial side for a crisp salad like this one.

Because waffles cook one at a time, if you want to eat with your dining partners, instead of taking turns, it’s handy to have a system for keeping them warm. My favorite is to preheat the oven to 250F with a wire rack resting over a cookie sheet inside. As each waffle is done, I sprinkle on a few tablespoons of grated cheddar cheese and stow the laden circle in the oven. While the remaining waffles bake, the cheese melts into a perfect gooey layer, and the waffle, with its cornmeal armor, stays crisp and light underneath.

Corn and green onion waffles
Makes about 8 5-6-inch waffles
Approximately 2½ hours, including rising time
1½ cups (12 ounces) beer, the darker the better
1½ teaspoons active dry yeast
3 tablespoons maple syrup
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) melted butter, cooled
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup corn kernels, fresh or defrosted
6 large green onions, pale and dark green parts only, thinly sliced
Optional: grated cheddar cheese

 

  • In a 2 cup glass measuring cup, or a small microwave safe bowl, heat the beer until just warm to the touch, about 40 seconds. Add yeast and the maple syrup and let them mingle for 5-10 minutes. The yeast will foam up considerably, thanks to the extra sugars and yeast already in the beer.
  • While the yeast proofs, whisk together the cooled melted butter, the salt, and the eggs in a large bowl. Be sure there’s room for the batter to expand.
  • Add the beer and yeast mixture and whisk to combine, then add the flour and cornmeal a little at a time, whisking to combine thoroughly. Add the corn kernels and green onions and whisk again until only vegetable lumps – not flour lumps – remain.
  • Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set it on the counter for 1-2 hours.  The mixture will slowly develop lethargic bubbles and begin to smell quite bready.
  • Once it has had a chance to rise for an hour or two, either stow in the refrigerator overnight, or preheat your waffle iron!
  • Drop the batter in generous batches (mine can take about ⅔ cup at a time) onto a preheated, greased waffle iron. Close the lid and cook for the recommended amount of time, or until the waffle is crisp on the outside and deeply golden. Mine take about 6 minutes.
  • As you finish each waffle, you can either drop it directly onto some lucky person’s plate, or stow it on a wire rack in a preheated 250F oven. If desired, sprinkle each waffle with 1-2 tablespoons grated cheddar cheese before placing them in the oven, so the cheese can melt before serving.

 

 

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Apple Cheddar Waffles

2015 Blog September-0463Although I object to the idea of swapping all of your usual décor with pumpkins and corncobs the moment calendars proclaim it’s the first day of fall, by the time mid-October rolls around I’m both cool with the harvest theme and starting to crave richer, belly-warming food. I have such ideas about bread, and stews, and short-ribs, and roasted everything…

2015 Blog September-04502015 Blog September-04522015 Blog September-0455Los Angeles is making this hard lately. With temperatures in the 90s during two of the past three weekends, it’s difficult to convince myself to cook anything, much less wax poetic about its warming spices and satisfying heartiness. My bedroom feels like the inside of a dryer. I might have fleeting dreams about fluffy, toasty, steaming biscuits mounded with chili, but all I can truly imagine consuming is a series of popsicles and frozen grapes.

2015 Blog September-04562015 Blog September-0457But I will say, if it’s cool enough where you are that the thought of using heating implements in your kitchen doesn’t throw you into depression, you should make these waffles immediately. I first made them a month or so ago when it didn’t feel like Dante might mistake our kitchen for one of the circles of Hell. They were so good – fluffy and light from their yeasted batter, crisp and burnished with crackling edges of melted cheese – that it was only a week or two before we had to make them again. Like the grilled cheese sandwiches I pushed on you last year, they pull from the classic combination of cheddar cheese and apple pie. A wedge of salivation-inducing cheese against the sweet tartness of apple desserts is a worthy experiment in many cases, and here, soft, tender apple bits and pockets of melted cheese folded into a crisp waffle drowning in maple syrup is a combination you’re going to want to make all season, if the seasons would ever straighten themselves out. And if you simply aren’t enthused by a recipe that advertises itself with a pile of apples and sharp-as-you-can-get cheddar cheese, I’m not sure we can stay friends.

2015 Blog September-0467These start from my basic yeasted beer batter waffles recipe, which is adapted from King Arthur Flour. You can use milk instead of beer if you must, but between the yeast and the heat most of the alcohol is processed out, and the slightly bitter flavor of dark beer is such a welcome addition, balancing the rich cheese and tart apples. The first time I made these I was concerned about the apple pieces cooking all the way through in the short time they are enfolded in the waffle iron, but I needn’t have worried. They are in small enough pieces that they will cook. I like to leave the skins on for extra tartness, but you can peel them first if you prefer. Apples and cheese play well in both sweet and savory directions, so while I think a glug of maple syrup – we like to warm it up with a pinch of red pepper flakes for a little kick – makes these a complete meal, I could also see them providing a perfect raft for a moist thigh of roasted or fried chicken, or even piled with a fresh kale salad studded with walnuts and dried cherries. 2015 Blog September-0464

Apple Cheddar Waffles
Loosely adapted from King Arthur Flour
Makes about six 7-inch waffles
2-2½ hours (45 minutes active time)
1½ cups (12 ounces) lukewarm dark beer, such as a stout or a porter
1½ teaspoons active dry yeast
3 tablespoons maple syrup
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) melted butter, cooled
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 green apple, diced into ¼ inch-½ inch chunks (1⅓ – 1½ cups, approximately)
1 generous cup grated sharp or extra sharp cheddar cheese

 

  • In a 2-cup glass measuring cup, or a small microwave safe bowl, heat the beer until just warm to the touch. Add yeast and let them mingle for 5-10 minutes. The yeast will foam up considerably, thanks to the extra sugars and yeast already in the beer.
  • While the yeast proofs, whisk together the cooled melted butter, the maple syrup, the salt, and the eggs in a large bowl. Be sure there’s room for the batter to expand.
  • Add the beer and yeast mixture and whisk to combine, then add the flour 1 cup at a time, whisking to combine thoroughly. Switch to a rubber spatula and fold in the apple chunks and the cheese. Stir well, as the cheese may want to stick together; we want it evenly incorporated.
  • Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set it on the counter for 1½-2 hours (how fast it rises and bubbles will depend on how warm your kitchen is, but longer rise = deeper flavor).  The mixture will develop lethargic and then more energetic bubbles, and begin to smell quite bready.
  • Once it has had a chance to rise and is covered with a near-consistent layer of bubbles, either stow in the refrigerator overnight, or preheat your waffle iron!
  • Drop the batter in generous ⅔ cup batches onto a preheated, greased waffle iron (or whatever capacity your iron can handle). Close the lid and cook for the recommended amount of time, or until the waffle is crisp on the outside and deeply golden, with dark crisp cheese lace protruding. Ours took about 7 minutes per waffle. (If you refrigerated your batter for a few hours or overnight, be sure to bring it back up to room temperature before cooking)
  • Serve hot with your choice of sweet pourable topping. We like maple syrup warmed with a pinch of red chili flakes in it, for a little kick. If you need to keep the waffles warm, stow them on a wire rack over a baking sheet in a 250F oven until you are ready to eat.