January 10, 2010

Making a (French) Toast to Brunch

Is there a meal more perfect than brunch?  A bit of a sleep-in, strata or other gooey eggy thing done the night before, fresh coffee brewing and baguettes bought - or better yet - hot from the oven.  Sizzling bacon, wrapped around rosemary spears.  Portobello mushrooms, taleggio cheese melting off them in a Dali-like wave, redolent with thyme and a touch of garlic.

A bit too much food - didn't need the berry bircher parfaits after all. A lazy meal, lingering and nibbling and - yes - just half of that pain au chocolat, please.  Fresh flowers on the table, sunlight streaming in the tall tall tall kitchen windows. 

A reluctant departure, a leisurely clean up and best of all - the better part of a Sunday afternoon and the New York Times to dive into.  Don't throw out that last piece of French toast! I'll share it with you.

French Toast, Two Ways
The egg dip below makes enough for roughly half a large pannetone and a few slices of French baguette; it's so good you'll need to make more.

1 large pannetone (I used a chocolate pannetone for a decadent version)
One day old French baguette
About 1½ cups milk
About ¼ cup cream (light or heavy, depending on how really decadent you want to be)
Grated zest of one large orange
1 egg
Pinch salt
Butter for cooking
Maple syrup for serving

1. Cut as much pannetone and French baguette into thick slices as you will be cooking, and set aside.

2. Combine the next four ingredients and whisk lightly until egg is well incorporated. The mixture will be thin.

3. Quickly dip the bread slices into the egg mixture so that they are "wet" on both sides.

4.  Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium heat and melt some unsalted butter in the pan until the surface is glistening.  Place the bread slices in the pan and cook gently until golden and slightly crisp. Turn and repeat.

5. To serve, pile the French toast on a sunny yellow platter, and let the guests dig in. 


And flip....

Don't forget the maple syrup!