Wednesday, June 1, 2011

French Toast - Breakfast of the Gods

I do still plan to re-shoot my pizza entry, but softball season is in full swing and it might be a few weeks before that happens.  In the meantime, let's talk about breakfast...

Breakfast is one of my favorite meals.  I love cold cereals and milk, I love English muffins with butter & peanut butter.  I like hot cereals like oatmeal and farina (Cream of Wheat).  I really love eggs.  But for me, the crème de la crème of breakfast foods is French toast.

You might not be surprised to learn that the best French toast is made with day old French bread.  I'm sure that, like me, you've all grown up with French toast made with whatever sliced bread was in the house.  That sliced bread variety is also delicious--but if you have some French or Italian bread left over from a pasta dinner earlier in the week, slice that stuff up and make your French toast with it.  If you've never had anything but the sliced bread variety, you are in for a real treat.

One common mistake people make with French toast is not seasoning the eggs sufficiently.  I've seen French toast made with eggs and a sprinkle of cinnamon.  I guess if that's all you've got that it's still better than pancakes, but for proper French toast you need more than just some cinnamon.

French Toast Ingredients:
Vanilla extract
Cinnamon - fresh ground if you have it
Nutmeg - fresh ground if you have it
Optional - cream, milk or half-and-half


It's hard to give precise measurements.  For two people, I'd usually go with three eggs, a generous teaspoon of vanilla, more nutmeg than cinnamon, and a teaspoon or two of sugar.  I also add about a yolks' worth of milk, cream or half-and-half to my egg mixture.  The cinnamon and nutmeg really are "to taste".  Personally, I like a lot of nutmeg.  You might like a lot of cinnamon or maybe just a hint of both.  Experiment!

It's easy to make a larger batch, too.  Just increase everything as you increase the eggs.  A good rule of thumb would be to use one egg per person plus one egg.  Four people?  Five eggs.  This would be for two or three slices of bread per person.

Mix everything together, whipping the eggs, cream and spices in a large bowl until you have a smooth, consistent batter.

Put a skillet on medium heat.  A non-stick skillet with a little bit of butter or oil is best.  Dip the bread into the egg batter, allow to soak for a few seconds.  When you pull the bread out of the batter, allow the excess to drip off before you put it into the pan.  Cook until done on one side, flip and cook the other side.  This won't take long.  A minute or two at the most.

Serve hot with butter and maple syrup or your favorite jelly.

A word on maple syrup: use the real thing if at all possible.  It's delicious, it's natural and it's usually minimally processed.  If you're used to artificially flavored corn syrup, the flavor might seem mild at first but after a bottle or two you'll never go back to the fake stuff.

If you're feeling adventurous, you can use French toast as the basis for a Monte Cristo sandwich, with ham, turkey and some good Swiss cheese (typically Emmentaler or Gruyere).  Delicious!

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