By Lynn Andriani
No need to limit the waffle iron to lazy, Sunday-morning breakfasts when you can use it at lunch to make warm panini -- and a slew of other outrageously good dishes, from mac 'n' cheese to cookies.
You can cook a grilled cheese in the frying pan, toast it in the toaster oven or stick it under the broiler, but none of those methods will give you the multidimensional crunch that a waffle iron will.
In his new cookbook, One Good Dish
, chef David Tanis shares this technique used by his aunt, whose signature sandwich "was embossed with square dimples, like crisp inverse croutons, and cheese that oozed and crisped at the edges." Use a mix of your favorite cheeses and follow Tanis's two golden rules: Butter the outsides of your bread; and, sprinkle with sea salt before serving.
A waffled square of cheesy pasta is a thing to behold, as Dan Shumski, who wrote the short-lived blog Waffleizer
, discovered. Through trial and error, he found that the key is breading cold blocks of mac 'n' cheese (like this mixed-cheese version
) in flour, egg and bread crumbs; they hold up well to the machine's heat and weight. Even if yours don't come out perfectly, you'll still get the same glorious result: a gooey inside with a crispy, crusty exterior.
When you want a fresh cookie and simply cannot wait for even the toaster oven to bake them, the waffle iron comes through. Heating on both sides transforms a ball of dough (store-bought or homemade
) into a hot and crisp cookie in a minute and a half, or even less. There are three keys to ensuring your cookies won't burn or stick to the grids: First, crank the heat up as high as it'll go. Second, make sure you coat the iron well with a generous application of nonstick spray. And third, use room temperature -- not chilled -- cookie dough.
If the whole scrambled-eggs-in-a-tortilla-to-go thing just isn't working for you (we know: it drips), but you still want to be able to make eggs at home and eat them on your way somewhere, try the waffle-ironed version. Whisk two or three eggs with a dash of milk and stir in diced peppers, mushrooms or onions; shredded cheese; or minced herbs. Pour onto an iron you've preheated to medium-high heat, cook for about two minutes, and you'll have a delicious breakfast you can eat with one hand.