Monday, February 19, 2018

Crunchy French Toast: A Recipe Review

So, here's the thing: I don't really like french toast. I mean like, typical, traditional, made with sandwich bread french toast.  Because I'm a texture gal, and french toast is just...mush. You can put real maple syrup on it, powdered sugar, fresh bananas or strawberries...whatevs. It's still soft on soft on soft.  And I just don't dig it. add an element of crunch or crustiness, and I'm all in. I've talked about the UH-MAZE-ING Bananas Foster French Toast I had at Surrey's in New Orleans, and I've had dreams about this stuff called rabanada from Brazil that's essentially deep fried french toast with a creamy custard inside and crunchy churro-like outside.  Or a good french toast casserole or bread pudding where the corners that stick up have had a chance to get crusty while the interior is soft and delicious?  Count me in.
Surrey's banana's foster french toast. (Click on photo for recipe)

Well...we have a big loaf of Italian bread in our fridge, so I was thinking, hey, maybe it's time I finally try to make pain perdu ("lost bread", or traditional french toast)... But then I was thinking...what if pain perdu is just an even bigger chunk of soft on soft?  I're supposed to soak it overnight...what if it's just a big blob of squish?  (Also, the recipe called for like, 6 eggs, and what if I WASTE six eggs on squishy toast?)
Pain Perdu, from Time Life's "Creole & Acadian Cookbook", 1971. 

And I couldn't pull the trigger.

So...instead, I did a search for "crunchy french toast"...and the first recipe that popped up was from The Pioneer Woman.  And while I've never met Ree Drummond, I have a lot of faith in her.  Mostly because she's never let me down.  She seems to share my appreciation for relatively easy recipes that taste darn good.

So I showed the pictures to the Hubs, who said, "yeah, I'd eat that", and decided to go for it.

Now--the original recipe calls for regular sandwich bread, but I still wanted to make fancy french toast with my fancy bread.  So that's the only change to the original recipe--I used about 1-inch thick slices of the Italian bread.  I still made 4 big pieces of toast--and probably could have made a little more, I had plenty of egg mixture but would have had to mix up more of the crust. Plus, if you serve with some fruit on the side, one piece is PLENTY for the average appetite.

Since it's not my recipe, I'm not sharing here, but I've littered this post with links back to the original recipe so you can snag it.  The secret to the crunch?  Panko breading (mixed with sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and butter). SOOOOOooooo good.

I made this on a Sunday morning before church.  Takes about 5-10 minutes of prep, and then, depending on how big your pan is and how many servings you're trying to make, about 10-20 minutes to cook (I could only fit 2 slices at a time in my pan).  I think if I'd used my 14-inch skillet, I could have fit 3 pieces at a time, but I didn't want to risk splattering butter everywhere in the frying process.

And everyone in the house loved it. I cut it up into sticks for the toddler, who devoured them (even without syrup--I just put a little powdered sugar on his).  I will DEFINITELY be making this again.

And maybe someday I'll woman-up and try out pain perdu. I'm sure it's amazing. ...Maybe.
In case anyone is braver than I, here is the recipe for pain perdu from the 1971 Time Life Creole & Acadian Cookbook. This recipe also calls for a pound of lard and "orange flower water"...both of which I don't exactly stock in my pantry.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Thirsty Thursday: Sparkling Greyhound

I have really been on a sparkling water kick.  I'm trying to cut back on my soda consumption--I generally only drink diet soda's, but I noticed I don't feel great after drinking one.  But I still want carbonation.  So I've been trying out different sparkling water brands.  So far, my favorite has to be Hyvee's brand grapefruit sparkling water (which we can generally get on sale for like $2-2.50 per 12 pack).  However, I really like Perrier as well (it's just a little pricier).  It reminds me of our honeymoon in Europe--everywhere we ate, if we ordered water, the server would say "gas, no gas?"  "Gas" of course being carbonated water.

So, this is yet another one of those "what do we have in the house" cocktails.  And at the time, we had some lime flavored Perrier, some grapefruit juice (for a grapefruit blonde beer we were brewing), and of course, Missouri's own 360 Vodka.

While I'm not a cocktail connoisseur, I do know that a orange & vodka is a Screwdriver, orange/cran juice and vodka is a Madras, and a grapefruit and vodka is a Greyhound. So, by adding in the Perrier, we have a delicious and refreshing Sparkling Greyhound!  BONUS: This is also relatively low calorie--only 173 calories per 12 oz glass! (For comparison, the same amount of red wine would be over 250 calories.)

INGREDIENTS (makes two cocktails, ~8% ABV each)
2 large glasses, half-full of crushed ice (man, I love our new ice dispenser on our fridge)
2 oz vodka
4 oz grapefruit juice
4-6 oz sparkling water (whatever flavor, or unflavored, that you like)

Combine vodka and juice in the glass with the ice and stir, then top with the sparkling water.  Garnish with lime or grapefruit wedge (if you have it).