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Colorado Springs restaurant owners share tips for making sweet and savory waffles

August 23, 2017 Updated: August 25, 2017 at 7:48 am
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A waffle made with tater tots and cheese is topped with sour cream, bacon, and raspberries as Rick Velliquette, owner of The Bistro on 2nd, makes different savory and sweet waffles in Monument on Wednesday, August 16, 2017. (Photo by Dougal Brownlie, The Gazette)

Looking for a kickoff to a great day? Have waffles for breakfast. Want to really get your day right? Have waffles for lunch or dinner. With National Waffle Day on Thursday, we're here to inspire you to celebrate the waffle.

Forget the traditional maple syrup-soaked numbers and think savory goodness instead - such as waffles made with whole wheat flour, cornmeal and even cheddar.

For some waffle intelligence, we turned to Kelly Bubach, owner of Urban Steam Coffee Bar and Café downtown, and Rick Velliquette, owner of Bistro on 2nd in Monument.

Bubach serves classic Belgian waffles and creative savory crunchy ones such as Blue Collar Waffle, made with blue cornmeal and topped with smoked ham, three eggs over easy, shredded queso and chopped green onions. Or go for his Caprese Waffle, a basil pesto waffle topped with fresh spinach, Campari tomatoes, and red pepper and olive tapenade, drizzled with olive oil and house balsamic reduction.

"I've always been a fan of waffles, since I was a child," he said. "They were always a treat in our home and not an everyday item. So when the waffle iron came out, we all got pretty excited about breakfast. There's something about the smell of them cooking. The little squares filled up with butter and syrup. They seemed a bit dessert-ish and decadent. And what little kid can resist a gooey, sticky, syrupy hot waffle?"

Inspired by former business partners, Bubach brought waffles back from his childhood.

"When we opened Acoustic Coffee Lounge in the early 2000s, we created some fun rock 'n' roll-themed waffles in our small kitchen," he said. "When I opened up Urban Steam in 2012, I was keen to bring back the funky, fun waffle concept."

He worked with a pastry chef to make a great Belgian-style batter.

"We still use it," he said, "and also a blue corn buttermilk and basil pesto buttermilk savory batter that remains popular even after five years."

In Monument, Velliquette does some magic with waffles he offers.

"I am very much a breakfast food guy," he said. "So I bought a waffle iron. You don't see a lot of wild and creative waffle dishes, so that's what I am trying to make. I'm working on appetizer and dessert waffles."

His Tater-tot Grilled Cheese and Bacon waffle has been popular.

"I only serve it at brunch," he said. "I'm working on a smaller version for an appetizer or side at dinner, which we offer as a verbal special so you don't see it on the menu."

He also likes desserts, which has morphed into the Bananas Rickster.

"Foster doesn't own this place," he said, "Rick does. I came up this one night while craving breakfast, but also I was craving a sweet dessert."

He places half a waffle in a bowl and tops it with vanilla ice cream and a hot bananas mixture.

"The waffle helps to soak up the hot banana sauce so it doesn't melt the ice cream so fast and thus not having to quickly shovel the dessert into your mouth," he said. "It's like having two desserts in one. Bound to soon be popular in New Orleans."

Our favorite waffle recipe comes from Shirley Corriher's cookbook, "Cookwise." She points out that the original recipe was found in Marion Cunningham's "The Breakfast Book."

"She graciously shared this waffle recipe," Corriher writes. "These are the best waffles I have ever had."

We could not agree more. The recipe makes eight waffles (depending on waffle iron size), but when the mood strikes for a morning sweet treat, we double the recipe. It's made the night before, so the yeasty batter can develop a great flavor; then it's ready to go in the iron the next day.

If company is staying over, and they're early risers, we set our KitchenAid double-sided waffle iron on the counter, along with a note about preheating the iron and the amount of batter to use for each waffle. Then they can enjoy a waffle or two while waiting for us to get up.

Make the most of National Waffle Day with a sweet treat the first thing tomorrow or a savory choice for lunch or dinner.

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