I have had dreams of gorgeous lace patterns in my food for a long time. I have fantasized about the colors and flecks that would dot the surface of a golden crust. I have wanted a waffle maker for eons. For, literally, a few years now.
Thing is, it was never a need-to-have. True, it is not an expensive appliance. I could get a basic one, one that would make my fantasies come true for the price of a week's worth of coffees. But, you see the coffee is essential and the waffles were not making quite the same argument to my brain cells that were craving caffeine. But, once the glow from the coursing caffeine settles in, I start thinking about ways to getting both. ha!
Eventually, after many many weeks of the battle of the browns (coffee and crisp waffles) and me not ever eating waffles (another indicator it was not a need) because I don't much like the super sweet ones that I typically find here, I decided I needed to show the world the full potential of the concept of a waffle! Now, that was a NEED! It was a calling and that is allowed to be completely irrational without need for logical support.
So, the waffle maker came home, happily on sale from Amazon. My first attempt at using it was to test a new gluten free flour blend that I mentioned here. It worked beautifully and I realized something that I had not even considered before. It is the fastest 'bread' one can ever make!
You see, if you are gluten free or simply wheat allergic, like me, it is absolute pain in the ass to find bread substitutes that are fluffy, light and do not taste like card board because the US still has not caught with gluten free baking as much as our friends across the Atlantic. In comes, the savior, the humble waffle maker.
In 15 minutes flat, you have a strong, flavorful base that can be crunchy but also soft to be dipped in soups and such. And, grilled cheese?! Oh yeah! Suddenly, I had made a case for the waffle maker all on its own. Hallelujah!
And, then started a series of progressively challenging the little appliance with increasingly tougher combinations to waffle up. I have to say this one was particularly tough on the fella. It took a few trials to get him to accept the batter and not rage on it. It may be something about chickpea flour being a denser one that a blend or regular one. It does soak up a lot more water.
Then, it may also be that it was not a smooth enough batter with the roasted squash and scallion chunks. Eventually, I worked that out by whisking the squash into as smooth a batter as I could and the scallion were soft enough to not make a fuss.
Eventually, though, I realized the volume of liquid was really where the play was. It needed to be really runny, runnier than normal waffle batter, because of the chemistry of the constituent ingredients.
Once I had that figured out, the maker was the most cooperative little thing ever, churning out crisp, perfectly browned almost-pizzeles that was fantastic as a base for carrying a full blown topping of seared cod, roasted acorn squash slices and lemon-pickled red onions.
So, that is my waffle concept - an alternative bread. One that is easy, quick with a wide array of flavor possibilities all the while being a totally fun thing to make and eat. I am super excited to try out so many more combinations I have in my head to flesh out this concept. Stay tuned as make this a Waffle Nation! ;-)
Turmeric Toasted Chickpea and Acorn Squash Waffles
1/2 cup chickpea flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/3 cup buttermilk
1-1/3 cup of water
1-1/2 tsp olive oil
1 egg, whisked
1/4 cup pureed roasted acorn squash (make this as smooth as you can)
2 T thinly sliced scallions
1-1/2 tsp finely chopped jalapeño or Serrano pepper
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp cumin seeds
salt and pepper to taste
1 T butter/oil to brush on top
Whisk together the squash, oil, buttermilk and egg to really smooth fluid.
Sift in the flour, baking soda, turmeric and cumin seeds.
Add half of the water quantity and set aside for 10 minutes. The batter will thicken at this time.
Add the remaining water in a thin stream until you get a runny batter. You may not need to use all the water but do not exceed the amounts mentioned in the recipe.
Fold in the scallions and jalapeño and rest for a couple of minutes. Meanwhile, pre-heat the waffle maker until ready to cook.
Pour a 1/4 cup of the batter in the center and cook per maker instructions.
As you make the batches, the batter may thicken depending on how quickly you are flipping them. If so, just add a few drops of water to thin it.
Brush the warm waffles with butter and keep warm in a 200F oven until ready to serve.