Monte Cristo Waffles

We broke down and got a great stereo system a couple weeks ago to help bring a little life to our home office. We situated it in the center of the apartment so that no matter where you are, you can hear the music. Since its arrival, we've easily slid right into a routine; soft Indie Rock in the mornings and some blend of R & B or Classic Rock in the afternoons that carries us into the evenings. The only apparent break in this routine has been on the weekends. That's when the jazz on comes on and breakfast changes from quick bites of yogurt into something a little more exciting.

Last weekend, while we were enjoying our relaxing morning of jazz, I got to work on breakfast while Richard brewed some coffee. With the help of my waffle iron, I gave a classic, favorite brunch sandwich of mine a fun new twist. A Monte Cristo, under normal circumstances, is a relative of the grilled cheese sandwich, only with a French Toast exterior and usually the addition of ham and Maple Syrup or jam and it's that sweet-savory combo that keeps me going back for more. Here, a cornmeal and mustard batter became a great bed to lay some good quality Black Forrest Ham and shreds of Gouda before a quick stamp from the waffle iron left fun tracks for maple syrup to slip right into. Just before serving, powdered sugar was finely dusted on top to give the waffle a sweet finish to contrast the savory fillings.

It didn't take long for us to eat these up and inspired by them, I foresee a lot more waffley fun ahead of us. There's just something about those little bits of cheese seeping out of the waffles and the slices of ham poking out of the batter, gaining a nice crispness to them. The cornmeal compliments the tangy mustard and gives the whole thing such an enjoyable little crunch while the powdered sugar and maple syrup duo give it all a nice, sweet finish. For best results, I recommend serving with homemade Bloody Mary's and a healthy dose of jazz music on a lazy Sunday morning.

Monte Cristo Waffles

- 2 cups All Purpose Flour
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 cup cornmeal
- A generous pinch of salt
- 2 TBS Dijon Mustard
- 2 eggs
- Enough buttermilk to form a thick batter (about 2 cups)
- 1/4 lb. Thinly sliced ham (I used a good quality Black Forrest Ham)
- 1 cup Shredded Gouda (or other cheese of your preference)
- Powdered Sugar (optional)
- Maple Syrup

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cornmeal and pinch of salt. Whisk ingredients together until combined. In a separate small bowl, combine Dijon mustard and whisk until well combined. Add the egg-mustard mixture to the dry mixture and stir in just enough buttermilk to make a thick batter (about 2 cups).

Heat waffle iron and add a half a ladle of waffle batter. Working quickly, lay ham and sprinkle cheese on top before adding another 1/2 ladle on top and closing the waffle iron. (Be careful not to add too much batter or it will run down the sides!) Cook until desired doneness and serve warm with powder sugar and maple syrup, if desired.

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