Yes. Fish. Really.
Please. Please. Please. Please do not write me and tell me that the fish is hard to clean out of the waffle iron and that next Sunday's brunch waffles tasted like the love child of Martha Stewart and Charlie the Tuna.
(Not that any of you would say ... that.)
As the Times says, this is a serious restaurant.
It is, fortunately, a serious restaurant that doesn't take itself so seriously that it will not let a guy and his waffle iron into the kitchen.
Rob and Allie Levitt run Mado. When I pitched the idea of appearing on the blog, they didn't hesitate. And they had big plans.
Can you waffle fish?
The answer turns out to be: Of course you can. Sort of.
The waffling was not off to an auspicious start. I took off my coat, set down my bag and popped open the waffle iron. The remnants of a pretzel clung to the grids.
"Dammit. I'm really sorry about that, guys. Let me get that."
They insisted on cleaning it. I squirmed a little as I watched, still slightly embarrassed.
Brandade is typically made with salted cod. Mado, a champion of local ingredients, used Lake Superior whitefish.
Rob had formed the brandade into a patty. We waffled it.
The first attempt ferociously gripped the waffle iron and refused to let go. We scraped it out. And when I say we, I mean they.
For the second attempt, we blurred the lines a bit and coated the brandade in the waffle batter.
It was tricky to dig out of the waffle iron, but it did work.
Given the likelihood that anyone reading this will prepare fish in their waffle iron, versus the likelihood that anyone reading this will prepare waffles in their waffle iron, I'm referring you to The Best Recipes in the World for a brandade recipe and sharing the recipe not for the brandade, but for the waffles that accompanied it. They are dense, but far from leaden, with a sweet crunch from the cornmeal.
The recipe is adapted from a Martha Stewart recipe for cornmeal pancakes.
Yes, I know. This is the second waffle recipe that has worked itself onto the blog.
I do realize that the blog is in danger of sinking under the weight of its own ridiculous premise. And I do try to run a tight ship.
But then I get emails that say "OMG I LOVE WAFFLES" and I realize that nuance and the Internet have met, but they're not close.
Rob fried an egg. Allie started plating the dish.
We ate. I started and then we all dived in. We put a bit of maple syrup on the plate. It was good not just with the waffles (of course), but also with the fish. Sweet and salty.
You have to realize when you look at this dish that the "waffles" in the foreground aren't waffles at all — they're waffled fish patties. The waffles in the background? Those are waffles.
I asked Rob and Allie if I could leave my waffle iron in the kitchen to cool while I ran over to a restaurant a few blocks down to firm up details of another waffling engagement.
I don't know how I got to the place where I just run around the city inviting myself into restaurant kitchens and watching as they make the most fantastically ridiculous things.
But I did.
It's not so bad.
* * *
Waffled cornmeal pancakes
Serves 3 to 4
- 1 cup all-purpose flour [120 grams]
- 1 cup cornmeal [150 grams]
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/2 cup buttermilk [350 ml]
- 1/4 cup whole milk [60 ml]
- 1 1/2 ounces unsalted butter, melted and cooled [43 grams]
- 1 large egg, slightly beaten
1. Whisk the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda.
2. In another bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, milk, melted butter, and egg.
3. Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients until just combined (lumps will remain).
4. Grease your waffle iron and waffle the batter.
* * *
While we were waffling, we chatted. Rob had some great ideas for other waffled dishes. Allie mentioned the importance of photos in a cookbook.
It made me think.
A lot of people don't read the posts on this blog. Or any blog. They just look at the pictures. I used to be very upset by this.
Now, there are two blogs that I just visit to look at the pictures. I don't read a word of either of them. I can't. One is in Swedish and one is in Hebrew.
Kaffekokarkokboken, which, I think, means Coffeemaker Cookbook is, in case you haven't already guessed, in Swedish. Katja, the woman behind it, has appeared on a television show, been written up in a newspaper, and god only knows what else. Sweden loves her blog.
Looking at her blog feels sort of like seeing Bizarro Waffleizer, though I realize that is a very Dan-centric view of things and Katja could just as fairly say the same about this blog, Waffleizer as a Bizarro Kaffekokarkokboken.
Anyway, it's worth a visit.
The other blog is at Bazekalim.com, which I discovered after it linked to this site and have been enjoying for a while. As I write this, there's a post on pomegranates at the top of the page. I love pomegranates. I'm betting the person — as we know, you shouldn't go making assumptions about the sex of a blogger — writing that blog loves pomegranates, too. I can't be sure of this, because I can't read any of the words. But that post and all those great photos seem like a lot of effort to put into something you don't like. So we'll just say she — or he! — probably likes pomegranates, too.
At any rate, yes, I realize there are sites that could translate these blogs for me.
But what if I just want to look at the pictures?
Really, it's not so bad.
* * *
If you've never heard Good Food out of KCRW in Los Angeles, you're missing out on a great show. Over the weekend, Good Food aired an interview with me about this blog. You can download or stream the show through that link. I had a lot of fun talking to chef/host Evan Kleiman, to whom I've been listening for years. (Credit for the image they used in that post goes to Marisa of Food in Jars.)
I should note as a postscript: Before we hung up, Evan told me she was buying a waffle iron.