Giada De Laurentiis sometimes reminds us of a modern day Julia Child, with an Italian flare of course. Throughout the years, De Laurentiis has been the comforting television personality walking us through cooking at home. When we cook dinner at night, we find ourselves turning on recorded Giada At Home episodes just to hear her soothing voice teaching us how to pronounce things with an Italian accent, and then making us realize we fail miserably at it every time. Nevertheless, there’s still hope for her Italian recipes…isn’t there?
When we heard that she was coming out with a new cookbook, Happy Cooking, we couldn’t wait to tear through the recipes. Trading in France for Italy (don’t worry France, we will always love you), we decided to try to cook our way through it (you know the same way Julie Powell cooked her way through Julia Child’s cookbook), and share a few of our experiences with you. First, up polenta waffles with all the fixings. Yeah…we said fixings.
Our first thought was: Heck yes, these waffles with polenta are perfect for brunch. They’re the waffles we’ve been searching for all our lives, the waffle to our yang. Why you ask? Well, you know that friend that always wants to share pancakes with syrup when all you want to share are things like eggs benedict and salty french fries at brunch (I mean come on, you might be hung over and salt is the cure for that)? Worry not, you can still brunch-co-exist with your friend with this waffle recipe in tow: Because yes, these waffles swing both ways.
The first step was quite simple: Put all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Check. Then all we needed to do was whisk the egg whites until soft peaks formed. We start whisking, and kept whisking, and then whisked some more. We searched for soft peaks with the same desperation one reserves for getting stranded in the desert and searching for water. It was sad to see that we thought we were in shape until these egg whites kicked our asses and gave us arm cramps, hence we moved on to Operation X…a.k.a an electric whisk. This little gadget did in five minutes what we couldn’t even come close to doing in what felt like five years…we think it’s time to start doing Patina Miller’s arm work out.
Step three went off quite smoothly once we got over the fact that lumps were okay. Just like that song “a little party never killed nobody,” Giada was all like “a few lumps never killed nobody,” or at least that’s how we heard it in our minds. It read more like “a few lumps are fine.”
Finally, we got to the good stuff: Making the waffles on our brand new waffle iron. While our first waffle was cooking we realized we were about to have delicious, perfectly cooked waffles but no ‘fixings’ fixed. What would Giada do? No doubt take a sip of her mimosa and chill, because she’d somehow be multitasking seamlessly. We’re not as cool, so one of us got the sweet fixings ready while another grated the cheese and sliced scallions faster than you could say “prosciutto” (you know, the way Giada says it).
Finally, our brunch was ready. And then it was gone. Yeah…just like that. These waffles are so good it won’t take long for them to disappear off the table – which is probably better anyway so we aren’t tempted to nibble on them all day long.
Polenta Waffles with All the Fixings
From Happy Cooking, Giada De Laurentiis
SERVES 6 TO 8
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup medium-grind cornmeal
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
¾ cup buttermilk, at room temperature
¾ cup low-fat milk, at room temperature
½ cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Vegetable oil cooking spray, for the waffle iron
Bacon or pancetta, cooked and crumbled
Strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries
Grated Cheddar or crumbled feta cheese
Chopped fresh herbs
Dark chocolate chips
Chopped toasted walnuts, pecans, and almonds
Chocolate-hazelnut spread, such as Nutella
Preheat the oven to 200°F. Heat a waffle on. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
In a separate bowl, whisk or beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. If you prefer, beat the eggs in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment until soft peaks form.
Form a well in the dry ingredients and add the egg yolks, buttermilk, milk, oil, and vanilla. Whisk until combined, being careful not to overmix. A few lumps are fine. With a large rubber spatula, gently fold the whites into the mixture until just barely combined, taking care to maintain the airy texture.
Lightly spray the heated waffle on with vegetable oil spray. Ladle the batter onto the waffle on and cook until the waffles e lightly browned and steam is no longer emerging from the sides of the waffle maker. Keep them warm in the oven while you cook the remaining batter.
Arrange the waffles on a platter and surround them with small bowls of toppings.
*Sponsored by Crown Publishing Group. Photographed by Alli Shepherd.