Thursday, May 1, 2014

A Stack of Waffle Grilled Cheese

University: a place of discovery and learning.

It was during my first year that I discovered I hated living in res and I learned how to live away from home.

Other poignant discoveries were that I liked coffee (thank you and miss you, Java Jive!), that the U of A campus in fall is one of the most beautiful places in Edmonton, that the stairwells of the Fine Arts Building are a great place to meet people and rehearse directing projects, and that walking into the Engineering building with your Complete Works of Shakespeare will get you a lot of funny looks.

And I learned to love that campus and my time there like no other time and place.
This sandwich is one of my proudest student achievements.

Being a university student also forced me to learn how to cook for myself. It wasn’t ever fancy or all that pretty but I learned because I had to and because there was only so much Subway or Edo that I could stomach. By the time I earned both my degrees, I had also graduated from Kraft Dinner and had moved on to other meals. But the one student meal I love to bring back from time to time is the Waffle Grilled Cheese

I wish I could say this sandwich was born from a great stroke of culinary inspiration but it was the stack of dirty dishes marinating in the sink that forced me to find another way to make a midnight study snack. It was out of desperation, and I’d like to think a subconscious sense of courtesy towards the upstairs neighbors that I wasn’t about to tackle the dishes at that hour, that I turned to the waffle iron I got for Christmas.

That silent, reliable, quick-heating waffle iron then became one of the best gifts I had ever received. In the student days - and in some of the first-year-teacher days - I used it more for grilled cheese than for waffles. It always saved on dishes and time and it got the job done with only a little mess. Plus, the waffle ridges are perfect for holding lots and lots of ketchup, salsa or hot sauce.

About to become golden and waffle grilled.
Like any good student meal, the required ingredients are minimal (Got bread? Got cheese? Got power? Go!), but for this post-grad version, I added some bonus ingredients to tackle that other great student meal – breakfast for dinner!

You will need:

-A sturdy waffle iron
-Sandwich bread, any kind
-Mozzarella cheese
-Cheddar Cheese
-Eggs, fried sunny-side up with the yokes medium done
-Sausage patties
-Ketchup or your choice or condiment
The sizzling means it's working.

The Process:

1-Plug in the waffle iron and let it heat up.
2-While it’s heating, fry the sausage patties and the eggs.
3-Slice the cheese and arrange on the bread slices.
4-Once the eggs and sausages are cooked, layer them on top of the cheese on one slice of bread.
5-Top of the sandwiches with more cheese and the other bread slices.
6-Carefully place the sandwiches in the waffle iron and close it up as best you can.
7-As the sandwiches grill, press the waffle iron down gently to compress them more compactly.
8-Let grill until the waffle ridges are golden and the insides are melted.
9-Remove from heat, slice and serve with your favorite topping.

Definitely one of the quickest and easiest grilled cheeses I’ve made, but the real fun is in the presentation. Stacked up on each other, they resemble an ordinary pile of glistening waffles, fresh from the grill, just waiting to be drowned in butter and syrup. But these are special waffles stuffed with spicy sausages and smothered in gooey, melted cheese. Try adding your favorite spices to the eggs for a little something extra and swap out the syrup for a hearty drizzling of ketchup. Eat it with a knife and fork or get greasy with your hands, in true grilled cheese style.

I traded-in the student-poverty and exam angst when I finished degree #2 in 2009 and finally moved above ground. To quote the teacher that I've now become, "the learning never ends" and although I’ve moved on in so many ways, that waffle iron has always come with me. Even now when I own a small sandwich grill, it’s still fun to haul it out for some Waffle Grilled Cheese so I can appreciate where I was and how much I still discover and learn each day.

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