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Monday, May 11, 2015

Parlez Vous Francais?

An ordinary weekday morning...a Saturday spent visiting friends...your birthday!  All present fine opportunities for some French toast.

Let's be frank here.  Do you actually need a recipe for something like French toast?
But as my mother would say, could you stand to be reminded of a few things?
Of course you could!

So let's get started:

1.  French toast makes people happy.
It just does.  Tell them you're making french toast and watch their smiles light up the room.
Who says 'no' to French toast?
Well, my two-year old niece does.  She says no to everything, but that's a story for another time.

2.  So, about the French toast...let's start with bread.
Just consider this a gentle reminder that your French toast is completely dependent on the kind of bread you decide to use.  So go ahead and use the last two slices of that lame wheat bread you use for sandwiches, but don't expect miracles.  Not in the super-amazing-happiness-bringing category of French toast I'm talking about.  Yours could be good in a pinch, but mine requires a teensy bit of planning:  you've come across a new bakery and they have some beautiful challah!  Go for it.  Or, you're in the bread aisle of your local supermarket* on a Thursday and think:  I could make French toast on Saturday morning...yes, indeed...grab that loaf of brioche and make sure your syrup supply is stocked.
*I'm  not entirely certain about the odds of finding a loaf of brioche in a generic supermarket, but I'm happy to report that finding challah bread in a random Florida grocery store a couple weeks ago on vacation was a snap.

Bottom line:  you want some kind of eggy, rich bread as the foundation for your French toast.

3.  Heavy cream + eggs = French toast perfection
What, you normally use skim milk?  Skim milk is never a part of the makings of first-class anything.  Fine for your coffee (I'm rolling my eyes here) but most emphatically not for cooking.  'Nuf said.
For one loaf of challah bread you'll want to whisk 3 eggs with a 1/2 cup of heavy cream.  (Like how I went from zero to a hundred there?)

4.  Additions
There aren't any.  Seriously.
But, oh, okay, I suppose if you really feel you need to add something here you could go with a splash of vanilla to the egg/cream mixture, I guess.  And then there are those of you out there who feel cinnamon should be sprinkled hither and yon.  Don't let me stop you.  But know this...all you really need here is the bread, the cream and the eggs.  And, right...there's also...

5.   Butter
About butter.  I'm not going to make apologies here  for loving butter.  And I'm not going to cheerfully tell you that you can make this by using olive oil instead.  (Please don't.)  Just know that the fabulousness of this French toast directly correlates with frying it in a nice-sized-knob of butter.

6.  Process
Once you've got your ingredients set up, we all know hoow this goes down, right?  Slice bread 1" thick.  Whisk the eggs and cream together.   Get a pan or griddle HOT over some medium-high heat and add a tablespoon of butter.  Dip a slice of bread in the egg mixture, making sure all the sides are well coated and add to the hot pan.  You want to hear sizzle.  Flip when golden.
This all moves fairly quickly...not more than a couple minutes per side.  Once I get started I pile the finished French toast on a platter in a warm oven until ready to serve.

7.  Toppings
Maple syrup is the obvious choice, but a more offbeat idea I loved as a kid was whipped up by a favorite aunt and uncle when we were on vacation together:  top the French toast with a sprinkle of juice from a freshly squeezed orange half followed by a shower of powdered sugar finished with a garnish of orange slices.  It's an unexpected, but lovely combination.

8.  And, finally, a word about bacon.

Recipe adapted from Food52.
Serves 4.

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