Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Belgium-style Waffles

I absolutely love family heirlooms that can be passed down from generation to generation, especially when they're cooking related. When people talk about a cast iron skillet that has been in their family for years, it makes my heart swoon. There's a beautiful, poetic quality in imagining different people living during completely different times, yet using the exact same piece of equipment.

Tradition transcending time

Sadly, because my family left Iraq in the 60's/70's -- leaving behind most of their worldly possessions-- there aren't quite as many things in my family that are true heirlooms. However, I've still managed to treasure the few things I was able to keep after my grandmothers passing: her old Cuisinart (which I still use), some coasters we used to play the game memory with as little children, a few glass jars, her semovar, and her wooden tool that (I believe) was used to make kilecheh.

Glass jars (left), wooden mold (upper right), and her original semovar for making tea - complete 
with a chamber down the middle for hot coals (lower right)

So when I was in Wisconsin visiting the boy's family, and his parents mentioned that they could no longer use their old-school waffle maker after switching to a glass-topped stove, I was beyond excited when they told the boy he could have it. A 30+ year old waffle maker with no cords and no electricity! Just a straight-up cast iron pan (with these little heat "thermometers" letting you know when the pan is hot) that you put directly on the stovetop.

Lasts the test of time

While these waffles tasted great, I have to be honest-- I think I loved them even more because of the history and the story behind the waffle maker.

Just standing over the stove, lifting the heavy beast and flipping it over to evenly cook the waffles brought me pure excitement! I was one with my food in my time travels to the past.

It was my first time ever making waffles, and of course the learning curve is a bit steeper when using a piece of equipment that's a little less fool-proof than an electric one. But I have to say that it was an overall success, and we were able to enjoy some of the lightest, fluffiest, most tender waffles I've ever had. (Thanks to the boy's dad for letting us know the key to a good waffle is separating the eggs and folding in the beaten egg whites.)

Paired with pure maple syrup from New York, it was pretty damn awesome (if I do say so myself).

Yours in celebrating family history through food,

Belgium Waffles, from the book Cooking (by James Peterson)

If you want a beast of a cooking book that teaches you all the basics you could ever possibly imagine wanting to know in the kitchen, this is the book. But the recipes also look fabulous. With a ton of step-by-step photos for things you really need to see pictures of (eg, breaking apart an entire chicken) its a great book. This is the first recipe I tried from it (we're borrowing it from the boy's parents) but hopefully I'll be testing a few others.

Yield: 4 waffles, 8" in diameter


2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups milk
8 TBSP butter, melted
4 eggs, separated

  1. In bowl stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt until well combined. Whisk in 1 cup of milk, 8 TBSP of butter, and the egg yolks. Work the batter until smooth and free of lumps, and then whisk in the remaining 1/2 cup milk.
  2. In a separate bowl, using an electric mixer or whisk, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Using a large rubber spatula, fold the egg whites into the batter until just combined.
  3. Preheat a waffle iron according to the directions. Spray with non-stick spray and ladle in 1 cup of batter, spreading it to the edges.
  4. Close the waffle iron and cook according to the directions, or until crisp and browned.


Sanda said...

I love the samovar, it's gorgeous! I imagine it can be heated using coals for a charcoal grill?...
Enjoy your "new" waffle maker - I bet you'll be able to pass it down to your kids someday (for them to use and cherish)...

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