Since returning to civilization, where people brush their hair and leave their track pants at home, I'm slowly trying to ease back into life, which means I've been eating a lot of avocado on toast while trying to sort through a couple months worth of mail and answering a few hundred emails. At the beginning of December, I decided to go home for a bit and take a well needed break from all things serious in nature, to clear my mind, and set good intentions for 2014. Last year was a bit of a doozy. I spent the year trying to work through some trivial/non trivial personal stuff and too be honest, not nearly enough travel. I went back home to visit friends and family, lived out of a really awkward bulky suitcase with a busted wheel for 5 weeks, rolling it around through a few feet of snow, and partook in a lot of fun activities including and not limited to: cross country skiing, eating a ridiculous amount of sugar, playing A LOT of Cards Against Humanity, and catching up on Homeland (not going to ruin anything for you, but oh good lord that show gives me chest pains). I survived a pretty intense snow storm, lost power for a few days and remained sane thanks to family, blankets, candles, and a well-stocked liquor cabinet.
I stepped back into my kitchen a few days ago, took stock of things I needed and cursed myself for not cleaning out the fridge before I left. I grabbed a light sweater, not the giant parka, toque, mittens etc. that I have been accustomed to wearing back home, and walked to the grocery store to fill my cupboards with all things delicious, including a box of Maldon salt that I now sprinkle on everything, including that sour green apple I ate last night, and my oatmeal this morning, the latter being non-intentional. It feels nice to be back in my space, with all of my favorite ingredients and favorite tools. Everything is set up and stored just the way I like it, although this time I returned to a wonderful surprise, a brand spanking new waffle iron. So now that I own a shiny waffle iron, and have a well stocked liquor cabinet with a fancy new bottle of gin, I probably don't have to leave the house for a while. Which is awesome because I am really digging this work from home pants optional thing I've got going on here.
Now that I have a personal waffle iron all to myself, it's been waffles for dinner everyday since Saturday! I've been working on this aged cheddar waffle recipe, one that I first discovered at a small cafe Lady Marmalade in Victoria BC. It was always a great spot to recover from a heavy night of drinking, but unfortunately, the staff also had the same idea, which was moderately apparent from the hunched over stature, lack of enthusiasm, and faint scent of tequila perspiring from their skin. The food was good and local, the atmosphere vibrant and eclectic, the coffee mediocre, but always flowing. My favorite thing on their menu was this spinach and aged cheddar waffle with a tomato cream sauce. I've often thought about this recipe since leaving Victoria, and was pretty excited to have been able to create something similar.
I first starting experimenting with just a simple classic waffle recipe that came with my waffle iron. I've been tweaking the ingredients, experimenting with baking soda verses powder, adjusting the sugar and salt quantities, and using oil versus butter. I've come up with a pretty simple recipe, egg, milk, butter, flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. I added in a cup of aged shredded cheese at the end and then cooked for 4 minutes on the waffle iron. The waffles are light and soft, and the perfect amount of cheesiness. The sauce is a combination of garlic, tomatoes, orange juice and cream. It is a pretty wonderful combination.
AGED WHITE CHEDDAR WAFFLES IN A CREAMY TOMATO ORANGE SAUCE
makes 2 waffles
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp butter
1 cup canned diced tomatoes in juice
1/2 cup cream
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 tbsp butter, melted
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp sugar
pinch of salt
1 cup aged white cheddar, shredded
To make the sauce, fry the minced garlic in butter on low heat for a minute, just until it becomes aromatic. Add the diced tomatoes, the juice from one orange and the zest from one orange. Simmer for a couple of minutes. Transfer to a food processor and pulse until smooth. Slowly drizzle in the cream until combined. Season with salt and pepper. Serve warm.
To make the waffles, preheat the waffle iron. While it is warming, mix the egg, milk, and melted butter in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, add the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt and combine. Add the wet to the dry and combine with a whisk. Add the shredded cheese and stir.
Pour the batter into the waffle iron and cook for 4 minutes (medium darkness, classic waffles). Remove the waffles from the iron, cut in half, and pour a generous serving the of tomato orange sauce on top. Serve with avocado and garnish with green onions.