It’s jaffle season. The time of year when two pieces of bread and a jaffle iron can not only feed a hungry stomach, but can warm the heart (and burn the tongue). The best tasting jaffles are the ones made in a cast-iron jaffle mould that is shoved into a campfire using the long handles. Beanies and gloves keep extremities warm while the white-hot coals toast the bread and seal the filling into a golden pocket of smokey goodness. But the great outdoors is not a prerequisite for an excellent jaffle. The creativity afforded by the blank slate of white bread buttered on the outside is worth having fun with, crackling fire or no.
Two jaffle combinations have settled into high rotation in my kitchen this year. One was borne out of the need to recreate a favourite menu item from a cafe that rudely closed down and the other was inspired by Melbourne cafe Pope Joan.
Mushroom and gruyère is an earthy, nutty combo that perfectly suits a campfire meal. Sautéing the mushrooms with some garlic and thyme before putting the filling into the jaffle does add an extra step in the process, but it also adds a big whack of flavour. The mushrooms soften and soak up the fragrant garlic, creating a warm, comforting filling that sits on top of a generous schmear of Dijon mustard and is crowned with gruyère, a cheese that loves to melt. The result is a meaty, hearty filling sans the meat that conjures up tall trees, pine cones and warm jackets even if you’re enjoying it at your kitchen table.
Gathering flavours around a cheese that likes to melt is a worthwhile place to start for a jaffle. Taking a ball of buffalo mozzarella sends us to Italy with spicy sopressa salami coming along for the ride. Add basil for a sweet smelling note and picked green tomatoes for an acidic punch. The result not only warms the belly but adds a bit of fire to the mouth and is comforting in the glorious way that Italian food can be.
What are your favourite jaffle combinations? Are you a ham-cheese-tomato purist? Have you strayed into dessert jaffles where Nutella subs in for cheese? I’d love to add more combos to my repertoire, so please let me know.
Mushroom and Gruyère Jaffle
Sauté a few large, sliced mushrooms in butter with a clove of finely chopped garlic and a sprinkle of thyme leaves. Butter 2 pieces of sliced white bread on the outside, spread the inside with Dijon mustard, then place in the jaffle iron. Fill the jaffle with some of the mushroom mix and grate a generous amount of gruyère over the top. Grill until golden on the outside.
Salami and Pickled Green Tomato Jaffle
Butter 2 pieces of sliced white bread on the outside then place in the jaffle iron. Fill the jaffle with enough sopressa salami slices to cover the bottom, then layer on pickled green tomatoes, a few basil leaves and finish with grated buffalo mozzarella. Grill until golden on the outside.