My Junk Mail Box has been inundated of late by offers of roses for Mom on Mother’s Day. Yes, I read the stuff that lands in my Junk Mail box. Even worse, I like some of the junk mail I get, although I admit that I’ve never consciously purchased anything from one of those offers. I think it appeals to the same “hunter / gatherer” instinct that causes me to spend way too much time trawling the aisles of the supermarket hunting new things. Don’t come with me to Zabar’s unless you have a bit of free time on your hands.
Anyway: the roses. My Mother likes roses, but whenever she has been given daisies she always claims those as her favorite. I distinctly remember her buying bunches of daisies for herself every now and then.
She’s not the only Mom who has expressed this preference: I have a friend (a Mom of an eight month old and a three and a half year old (!)) who agrees with my Mom.
So why all the fuss about roses? Note to 1-800-Flowers: some of these women want daisies.
The other classic gift for Mom is breakfast in bed. I’m afraid my Mom has never gone in for this either, but don’t let that throw you: breakfast is her favorite meal. She would just prefer to have it served on a beachfront terrace in some pampering resort. My kitchen is small. I can do breakfast. I can’t do beachfront resorts.
That’s okay. As the man says on TV, “Make it work.” The breakfast foods my Mom likes are corn muffins and waffles. Why not combine the two? Cornmeal waffles anyone?
As I saw it, there were two roads I could take to get to my goal: Muffin Avenue or Waffle Boulevard. I thought that the ideal would be to serve Mom the waffle equivalent of a crunchy muffin top. Sounds like a good idea, yes? I mixed a very basic corn muffin recipe and fired up my trusty waffle iron. The result was best described as pointless. I ended up with a waffle that just wasn’t the right consistency, and a muffin top that had some crunch but lacked the springy mattress of crumbs that always lies under the crunch of a muffin top. Most disappointing was that the direct heat of the waffle iron was too intense for the cornmeal, lending it a flavor that wasn’t burnt, just sort of over-toasted.
Better to let a waffle be a waffle. My dream waffle (dream waffle???) has a happy blend of flavors and textures: a little sweet, a little grainy, with its fluffy insides held in check by a lightly crisp jacket. Good waffles pair expertly with more than just scrambled eggs and bacon. Throw a couple of waffles on a plate and place a few slices of turkey with a touch of gravy and you’ll never look at an open face Turkey Sandwich the same way again. (Chicken and Waffles? Molto bene!)
I’m getting ahead of myself: first I have to make the waffles. I didn’t want to go through the fuss of yeast waffles; this was definitely a make and bake exercise. The burning question (well, hopefully NOT burning) was: how much cornmeal should I add to my waffle recipe to give it a lingering hint of corn muffin while still remaining a waffle? Too much cornmeal would prevent the waffles from puffing up in the iron, too little and why bother?
My favorite plain waffle recipe (from The Baker’s Manual by Jospeh Amendola and Nicole Rees) seemed like a good starting point. It makes a thin, eggy batter that I assumed would hold up to my addition of cornmeal like a good soldier. The recipe calls for ¾ cup of cake flour. I swapped that out for ½ cup of yellow cornmeal. This, along with the addition of a bit of extra sugar and stingy amounts of cinnamon and nutmeg was ideal.
The result was a moist waffle with an almost malty sweetness. The next time I’ll feel free to add perhaps another tablespoon or two of cornmeal, but it really isn’t necessary. These are waffles that are definitely waffles, but there is that faint undercurrent of muffin, and that’s all I need. A dusting of confectioner’s sugar, and a sliced strawberry or two were all I needed to be happy, and I’m sure Mom will be too. (If your Mom likes Maple Syrup, serve her the real thing. It’s a special day, right?)
In the meantime, Happy Mother’s Day to Dori, Alexandra, Leslie, Betsy, Cindy, Rosemarie, Sylvie, Barbara, Nancy, and all the other moms who have made our lives so happy. (And oh yeah: my Mom too!)
Click here for the recipe for Cornmeal Waffles.
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