More spring, and the multi-purpose waffle iron
May 8, 2015
Still on my spring kick, I cooked one of my seasonal favorites — sauteed yellow squash with onions — last night, along with pork loin chops and new potatoes. And one of the finest kitchen innovations ever, for which I will forever be grateful to my foodie friend, Kim Shook — waffle iron cornbread.
I mean, think about it. If you are cooking for two, how difficult is it to make cornbread? The smallest muffin tin is 6 muffins. My smallest skillet is 6 inches in diameter. I could fry hoecakes, but when I want cornbread it’s generally with summer veggies, which generally means that I have all the units on the stovetop occupied.
And Kim posted a pic on the eGullet forum one evening, of her pulled pork barbecue accompanied by cornbread waffles, and the big ol’ light bulb went on in my head.
I have a Belgian waffle maker. One single round cornbread waffle, split in half, should be about enough for me and Child A for dinner. (Not so for breakfast, when I am making yeast waffles, in which occasion Children A, C and I will eat two apiece. Shamelessly.) So I stirred up about 3/4 of a cup of cornbread mix, an egg, a couple of tablespoons of bacon grease, some salt and a splash of milk, and poured the resultant batter into the waffle iron.
Perfection. I may never make cornbread any other way. Because, you see, I like the crispy outside crust the best, anyway, and there’s a fine proportion of that in these cornbread waffles. Schmeared with a little butter, they’re just about perfect, and firmly in Sweet Baby Jesus territory. Don’t be afraid to let them go through an extra cycle of the “ready” light; you want ’em extra crispy, or at least I do.
Note: I could easily make these gluten free for Child B by using masa instead of cornbread mix. The big quarrel with masa for cornbread is that it’s crumbly. That wouldn’t be a factor in this prep, much like it isn’t in a tortilla or an arepa. H’mm. Speaking of which, I may make arepas tonight, just because I can.
The squash has been a standard for me for longer than I care to remember; Mama always cooked it this way, and I do, too. I sliced up a small sweet onion and threw it in the skillet with some olive oil to soften, while I sliced up four or five small to medium yellow crookneck squash. Threw in the slices, salted liberally with Lawry’s Seasoned Salt and some black pepper, turned down the heat, clapped on the lid, and turned my attention to something else. I occasionally stirred them to get a different layer of squash to the bottom, and finished them at a higher heat with the lid off to caramelize a bit. Just perfect.
As were the new potatoes. I picked out the bigger ones — mostly ping-pong ball size — out of the bag I’d bought, washed them and cut them in half. Put the on with some water, a couple of tablespoons of butter, and some salt. Let them cook done, drained the water, added some more butter and a little freshly ground pepper and tossed them, then left them on the turned-off unit to stay warm.
You know, when you think about it, it’s really hard to screw up fresh spring/summer vegetables. The prep is just so simple. You’re not doing anything very exceptional other than applying heat and a few simple seasonings, just to let the marvelous flavors of the veggies themselves shine through.
Sure, you can do other things with veggies. I’ve done zucchini and crookneck “pasta,” strips shaved off with a carrot peeler, steamed, and tossed with butter and tarragon, and that’s wonderful, as well as pretty. You can slice them thick, lengthwise, and grill them, or coat them in Parmigiano and bread crumbs and bake them. You can saute green beans in a variety of condiments just until they’re crisp-tender, and you can blanch and shock early peas and use them in a salad. And asparagus — well, as previously discussed, you can do most anything with asparagus.
I do love me some veggies. Anxiously awaiting green beans and fresh sweet corn — the corn stash in the freezer is running low! — and summer peaches.
M’mmm. Farmers Market tomorrow. Maybe I’ll see you ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em there.