Friday, March 6, 2009

Griddle Crack

I don't usually have such a Pavlovian response to an email solicitation, but the folks at Williams Sonoma reeled me in like a hungry trout with a simple promise of waffles on the stove top and these photos showing just how easy it is, and how delicious the results.

I literally went right over to WS and bought this pan. Actually, no, first I did a bit of research because I am a careful consumer and I have serious trepidation about carcinogens in non-stick surfaces. PFOA's (Perfluorooctanoic Acid), the stuff that makes Teflon Teflon
has been at the center of controversy for years in the non-stick industry. It's either a miracle chemical that makes clean up in the kitchen a breeze, or a contributor to a slow, painful cancer death, depending on whether you believe scientists or Dupont's lobbyists. The EPA seems to take both sides of the issue conceding that PFOA's are likely carcinogens but, in typical government fashion, claiming more research is needed.

Maybe it's just me, but I like to err on the side of caution and avoid cooking products that use the stuff. So imagine how thrilled I was when I went to the Nordic Ware (maker of this fine waffle pan) website and discovered their commitment to green production. Based in Minnesota, the company not only produces non-stick cookware without the use of PFOA's, they have been awarded a Green Recognition Award from both their city and state.

Armed with that knowledge, I went straight to Williams-Sonoma in Los Gatos and bought the pan. Next morning I fired up the stove and made a batch of whole grain panaffles, as I like to call them since they are really a pancake waffle hybrid. I also like to call them griddle crack. They are that addictive.

On the first attempt, I used a whole grain pancake mix. They were great, but didn't have the lightness of a waffle, so I went back to WS and bought their Belgian Waffle mix. These were more like the traditional waffle. Light, fluffy and sweet. A definite improvement. A couple days later I made my own batter and whipped up savory sweet potato waffles that I served with barbecue pulled chicken (like pulled pork, but less artery clogging). Again, they were fantastic and amazingly easy. In all cases, clean up is a joyous, magical experience. The pan looks as though it hasn't even been used when you're finished. I brush the surface with a little melted butter before pouring the batter in, but I'm not sure it's even necessary.

At $39.95, the pan is cheaper than a waffle iron and takes all the guess work out of knowing when they're done. Just a note, when you flip the waffles (and flip you must, but it is remarkably easy and mistake free), you will not get the same waffle wells on the second side. You'll only get the waffle pattern marks. Hence the panaffle name. Technically, they are not waffles, but your tastebuds won't know it. And neither will those you serve them to as long as you serve them waffle side up.

I have definitely cut back on unnecessary purchases in these recessionary times, but on Sunday morning, while enjoying these little beauties with a nice, frothy latte, the definition of necessity becomes a little broader.

(The two photos above come from the Williams Sonoma site. This last one is Sunday brunch at my house. And just for the record, no, I'm not getting paid by WS or Nordic Ware. I'm just waffle lover spreading some joy.)

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