Will It Waffle by Daniel Shumski (also the author of the blog Waffleizer.com)
Have I ever mentioned that I love waffles? Well, I do. I love belgian waffles, freezer waffles, plain waffles, chocolate chip waffles, and pretty much any other kind of waffle you can think of. So when I saw a galley for Will It Waffle, I pretty much had to take a look.
The author opens the book explaining the differences between styles of waffle irons and the tools that will be most helpful. The good news is that basically all you really need is a waffle iron - everything else is just an extra "nice to have". One of the most useful parts of the introduction is the section on how to clean your waffle iron. If you've ever made a specialty waffle (e.g. we once made s'mores waffles!), you've probably ended up with gunk all over your waffle iron, taking it temporarily out of commission. Shumski has been there too, and gives you multiple strategies for cleaning out the waffle iron. I wish I'd had this section a couple months ago when my waffle iron was covered in toasted marshmallow!
The recipes start with the most familiar use for a waffle iron - Breakfast and Brunch. But remember, the book is called Will it Waffle, so the recipes aren't actually for waffles! This chapter has recipes for Crispy Waffled Bacon and Eggs, Sweet and Savory Waffled Sausage Patties (made with ground pork and spices rather than pre made sausage!), and Blueberry Cinnamon Muffles (Waffled Muffins). I really appreciate the detailed notes on each recipe, noting which type of waffle iron can be used (almost all of them are good with both belgian or standard), how long it will take, and tips for storing batter or waffles. I can't emphasize enough that this book is all about non-traditional waffle iron usage. For some reason, I was constantly surprised by the many, many ways that a waffle iron could be used to cook different foods!
The next chapter, Main Courses, includes sandwiches (e.g. a Waffled Cuban Sandwich), quesadillas (Green Chile Waffled Quesadillas), and even steak (Waffled Filet Mignon?!?!). I will admit that I was a little worried when I first started looking through the book that there wouldn't be many vegetarian options apart from plain waffled carbohydrates (the first recipe was for bacon after all), but happily, I was wrong. Although there are recipes for meatballs and BLTs, there is also a waffled portobello mushroom cap and Fawaffels (waffled falafel).
The fourth chapter consists of Snacks, Sides, and Small Bites. I wasn't sure what was left to waffle at this point, but I was pleasantly surprised. The Walloumi (waffled halloumi cheese) looks delicious, and like a great way to use an amazing but slightly challenging cheese. (If you haven't had halloumi, it's a grilling cheese - you can either fry it in a pan, or grill it, or waffle it I guess!) There were also Waffled Chicken Fingers, and a Caprese Salad on Waffled Eggplant. I'm a little confused on how some of the recipes in this section differ significantly from the Main Courses section (I probably would have put the Sweet and Sour Waffled Shrimp Wontons in mains), but that doesn't have a significant impact on the book's usefulness.
After the main course comes Desserts! Personally, I think waffles are highly underrated as a dessert food, so I was excited to look through this chapter. There's a lot of variety in this chapter, which is fun. From Waffled Pineapple to Waffled Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies to Red Velvet Waffle Ice Cream Sandwiches. I could see most people getting a lot of use out of this chapter, since it pushes the limits of what we expect to get out of a waffle maker, without going so far that it requires completely reconceptualizing what the appliance is for. (I'm not sure I'll ever forgive the author for waffling homemade pierogi. I may only be about 25% Polish, but that's Polish enough to be mildly outraged. Obviously I'm joking, but still!)
Finally, the book closes out with a chapter on Waffles that has two fairly standard waffle recipes. I feel like this more basic chapter may have been better at the beginning of the book rather than the end, but I can also understand why the author wouldn't want to put the most standard recipes right at the beginning.
There were times when this book made me go "Really? Why did you need to cook that in the waffle iron?" Example: Bibimbaffle, bibimbap cooked in a waffle iron. On the one hand, it's genius - traditional bibimbap is cooked in a hot stone bowl so that the rice gets crispy on the bottom. The waffle iron would probably do a really good job of approximating that. But at the same time, it's waffled bibimbap - which is kind of ridiculous.
Overall, I would say this is a really fun book. The photography is well done and does show that the food was waffled, rather than being cooked some other way. And I will admit that I now look at my waffle maker in an entirely different way. If you're a fan of the author's blog or looking for more ways to use your waffle iron, I would highly recommend this book. I would also recommend it to public libraries with somewhat diverse cookbook sections - this is the kind of book I could see people borrowing for curiosity (and then for the delicious recipes).
note: I received a free digital review copy from NetGalley (this is one of those perks of being a librarian!)