Familiar-Old French Toast

When I started writing all this food stuff, I never thought that I would write so much about sausages or mac and cheese or, as I will today, french toast for dinner.  My aspirations for dinner are usually somewhat higher. But I have to say, I dial my culinary efforts way back when I am home with my kids alone. We all have a better time. This week’s menu plan has been working so well for us – I think I am going to have to have a Parenting Alone category.

Everyone knows that a kid behaves a lot better if they are well fed than if they’re starving or have been fed a bunch of something nasty. So when Martin is out of town, I work hard to plan fun meals that have very familiar and nourishing components. I suppose a lot of people might resort to prepared foods and take-out. I resist prepared foods of any stripe. I can’t bring myself to be fed by an entity whose main culinary goal revolves around the bottom line. Who knows what they really put in their concoctions to keep the price down? I bet that sounds really paranoid. Also I find those mysterious cans and jars completely unsatisfying. When I’m tired I need something that’s really delicious.

So tonight, the LAST night of single parenting (yay!), we will end with french toast with berry compote and bacon (with tea of course) and then we can all finally go back to eating “normal” food – whatever that is.

Here is the recipe, for what it’s worth. You can make french toast in any old way – some people only use eggs!  I have seen a recipe in Joy that soaks the bread simply in maple syrup – how reductive! – (it sounds weird to me – I must try it some day!) Tonight, I’ll do what my parents did, although I like to use challah or brioche instead of sliced Roman Meal – the floppy, spineless, whole wheat, plastic bag bread of my childhood. For me, that would be taking the familiar too far.

  • Start the bacon in a cold non-stick pan and turn the heat to medium-low.   Unlike cooking other meats, you want to start the bacon in a cold pan to prevent it from curling up.  Cooking it over relatively low heat saves you from a greasy mess all over the stove.  Also, if you are multi-tasking with cooking the french toast, making tea, etc. you’ll increase your chances of having everything come out perfectly instead of smoking and singed. You can flip the bacon as you mix the milk and egg mixture and cook the french toast.

Challah french toast with berry compote – The 1997 Joy of Cooking

  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tbsp sugar, or maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 6 slices challah
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • maple syrup
  1. Whisk together the milk, eggs, sugar, vanilla and salt.  I use a shallow pan, wide enough to soak 2 slices of bread at once – like a gratin dish.
  2. Heat up a non stick griddle or large non-stick frying pan, medium – medium high heat.
  3. Dip the bread slices, one or two at a time into the egg mixture until saturated but not falling apart.
  4. Melt the butter and add as many slices of bread as will fit into the pan. Cook until golden brown on the bottom then flip.  Cook until second side is golden.
  5. If you are doubling the recipe or you want to serve them all at once, keep them warm on a plate in a 200 F oven.
  6. Serve with maple syrup and berry compote.

Berry Compote

Take 1 1/2 cups frozen berries and a squirt of maple syrup, honey, sugar OR agave and put them in a Pyrex or other microwave safe bowl. Heat up in the microwave for 2-3 minutes.

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