I broke down (rather easily) and got a Presto 3510 FlipSide Belgian Waffle Maker at amazon.com (actually, someone else broke down and bought it for me. thank you!), and have been spending the past week making waffles in my spare time. first, a word about this nifty little device: people, you *need* one. not only does it make beautiful, round, huge, deeply pocketed Belgian waffles in about 3+ minutes each, it's very easy to clean and will make you instantly popular. *update: this little waffle iron is a star! it does everything I want it to do: not stick to batter, bake waffles that have the proper texture (a crisp, crackly crust enshrouds each waffle's tender, delicious interior.
instead of using regular cooking oil or spray to season the grids, I brushed them lightly with a mixture of canola oil and lecithin in a ratio of 3:1 -- this (or an olive oil version) is what I use to make all my cookware nonstick - more about it some other time. not a one of the waffles has stuck to the iron nor come apart -- they all release instantly and beautifully.
the first recipe I tried (one I found somewhere for buttermilk waffles that uses a popular baking mix) came out all wrong -- too eggy, too sweet, too soft. so I decided to go back to an older waffle recipe I used to bake in a regular waffle iron with great success, and it turned out great! here it is:
fabulous cornmeal waffles
1-1/4 cups all purpose flour (I used King Arthur unbleached white flour)
3/4 cup cornmeal (for extra yummy texture, I used Bob's Red Mill medium-grind yellow cornmeal, and no, I don't work for Bob's, I swear!)
2 tablespoons sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder (aluminum-free)
scant 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1-3/4 cups buttermilk (I always have tons of real buttermilk in my freezer, as it's a by-product of making butter)
6 tablespoons melted butter
2 eggs, separated
first, mix the dry ingredients: in a large bowl or jug stir together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. make a well in the middle of the dry mixture, and pour in the buttermilk, melted butter and egg yolks, stir to combine (but don't overmix). beat the egg whites to firm peaks, stir 1/4 of the beaten egg whites to the waffle batter to lighten it, then fold the remaining egg whites in. make sure to get your waffle iron clean, prepared and heating before beating the egg whites; by the time you're done with the batter, the iron should be hot.
to cook, pour a generous 3/4 cup - scant cup of this batter into the center of the iron and let it spread out a bit. set a timer (with my particular iron, I found these waffles took between 3 minutes 15 seconds and 3 minutes 30 seconds to cook completely without over-browning). I then flipped the waffle over -- it's fun, but I don't think it's essential to flip. if your waffle iron doesn't have have this feature (or you forget to flip), it doesn't seem to make much difference. cook the waffle just until the steam stops pumping out of the iron (it doesn't have to stop completely, but if you stop the cooking while the steam is still going strong, your waffle will be under-cooked). keep the finished waffles warm in a toaster oven or regular oven set at about 200 °F until they're all done, then serve.
I topped these with homemade butter, fresh raspberries and maple syrup. in the fall, I like cornmeal waffles as a side dish for roasted chicken or pork, served with sliced apples sautéed in butter, cinnamon and a little brown sugar. I'm sure there are many more variations; next time I'm going to omit the sugar and add shredded sharp cheddar and jalapenos to make savory waffles to serve with fried chicken.
this recipe made about 4-1/2 waffles, so I'll probably double it next time and freeze the extra to heat in the toaster oven for quick breakfast. and perhaps some day, my freezer will no longer be overflowing with buttermilk!