Breakfast has always been one of my favorite meals. I particularly enjoy going out for brunch at one of my favorite places in the city. When my brother was in college, he stumbled across a charming breakfast place called the 14 Carrot Cafe, a few blocks down from his apartment. While my family and I only went to brunch there once or twice while my brother was living nearby, I adopted the 14 Carrot as my go-to place during college and have been pretty attached since. While my preferred breakfast to date is their reliable pumpkin pancakes, I have fond memories of the the homemade waffles they served years ago. I would always order the waffles (without toppings) and savor each perfectly sweetened and fluffy bite. They were some of the best waffles I have ever tasted. Unfortunately, the waffles disappeared from their menu one day. When asking a long-time server the reason for their absence, she informed me the waffle iron had broke and there were no plans to fix it. That was it – the waffles were gone. I asked for the recipe, but never did get a copy. While I was extremely sad to say goodbye to my beloved 14 Carrot waffles because of a broken appliance, those little quirks are some of the reasons I love the place.
The 14 Carrot Cafe is family-owned and there is rarely a day the owner is not there at the cash register, ready to check us out. I love the local art on the walls, the pictures of Greece (where the family is from), the familiar waiters and waitresses who have been serving us for the past 15 years, and the chocolate peppermint candies in the jar up front. One day, my husband and I stopped by for some pumpkin pancakes (for which I did receive the recipe for and will hopefully post one day soon), and the owner was not there. When she returned, we asked where she had been; she reported that she had spent a month on a small island in Greece, tracking down her family history for a book she was writing in her spare time. Interestingly, upon retrieving family records, she discovered several of her family member’s birthdays were not in fact accurate. One story led to another and we stood up front of the bustling little restaurant for 10 minutes while the owner delved further into her story – another reason this place is close to my heart.
While the 14 Carrot Cafe no longer serves my favorite waffles, I have a close second. My husband and I often eat waffles for dinner at home. They are quick to throw together and can be deeply satisfying comfort food after a long day at work. I came across this recipe online a few months ago on the Sprouted Kitchen and have made it more times than I can count. These particular photos were taken last Monday (8/24) on National Waffle Day, which we happily celebrated and enjoyed with a batch of these waffles. I have adapted the recipe to be gluten-free and dairy-free but all-purpose or whole wheat flour can be substituted as well as regular buttermilk. I think this recipe is by far one of the most flavorful waffle recipes I’ve tasted, which I think is a result of the mix of non-traditional flours, use of orange juice to bring out the sweetness, and the richness of dark muscovado sugar which has a high molasses content.
Multi-Grain Waffles (Gluten-Free, Vegan)
Adapted from the Sprouted Kitchen, makes about 6 waffles
1 large, organic egg (or substitute 1 chia egg)
1 1/2 cup unsweetened non-dairy buttermilk (add 1 1/2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar to unsweetened almond milk and let sit for 5 minutes)
2 Tbsp. orange juice
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 Tbsp. melted coconut oil
2 Tbsp. flax meal
1/2 cup almond meal
1/2 cup plus 1 Tbsp. all-purpose gluten-free flour blend
1/2 cup gluten-free oat flour
2 Tbsp. dark muscovado or brown sugar
dash of cinnamon
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. sea salt
Heat your waffle iron and apply non-stick spray. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg, non-dairy buttermilk (or regular buttermilk), orange juice, and vanilla. Next, whisk in the melted coconut oil.
In a large bowl, add the dry ingredients and combine. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ones and stir until just combined. Let the mixture sit for a few minutes while the flax meal absorbs some of the liquid. Add a ladle of batter to your waffle iron. When the light or timer on the waffle iron goes off, remove the cooked waffle and enjoy warm with real maple syrup or butter (Earth Balance works here for a non-dairy option). However, one of my favorite combinations is plain Greek yogurt, strawberries, and cacao nibs.