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Breakfast & Brunch

Breakfast & Brunch

Cornflake Crusted French Toast

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While having brunch a couple of weeks ago with some friends, I found myself struggling to choose between two delicious yet different dishes: the Duck Egg Shakshuka, and the Cornflake Crusted French Toast.

Did I want savory or sweet? I ultimately went toward savory, and it was delicious. The Shakshuka was unlike mine, the tomatoes were really fresh and light. I enjoyed it immensely.

Flash forward a couple of weeks later and I still hadn’t shaken the idea of cornflake crusted french toast. It stayed with me, so this weekend when I opened the pantry and spotted my lonely box of cornflakes, I decided to acquire all of the ingredients so I could make a version of it at home.

I used Ina Garten’s French Toast recipe as the base, because it’s one of the best renditions of French Toast I’ve eaten. Her custard is eggy and not sweet, and the orange zest and vanilla really perfume the Challah bread beautifully.

Once the bread has soaked in the egg mixture, I breaded each piece in a mixture of crushed cornflakes and sliced almonds. It added a really great crunch to the finished toast. Two pieces, along with some coffee, was enough for the two of us to share.

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Cornflake Crusted French Toast

Ingredients:

  • 1 loaf day old Challah bread, sliced into 3/4″ to 1″ thick pieces
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1½ cups whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 cups partially crushed cornflakes
  • ½ cup sliced almonds
  • unsalted butter
  • canola oil

To serve:

  • grade B maple syrup
  • raspberry preserves or apple butter (optional)
  • fresh berries, to garnish (optional)
  • sifted powdered sugar (optional)

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

I find this recipe works best when the Challah is a day old and pre-sliced the night before. You wan the pieces to be a little on the thick side, so anywhere between 3/4″ to 1″ is the ideal width.

In a large shallow bowl (I used a pyrex baking dish) whisk together the eggs, milk, orange zest, vanilla, salt, and honey. In another large bowl combine the cornflakes and almonds and partially crush them with your hands. Soak all of the bread pieces in the egg mixture, turning once until the custard is absorbed, about 3-4 minutes. Place the bread in the cornflake mixture, and bread each piece, making sure to press the cornflake and almonds into the bread.

Heat 1 tablespoon of butter, and 1 tablespoon of canola oil into a large skillet (I used nonstick) over medium heat.  Add the bread to the skillet and cook for 2 – 3 minutes on each side, until nicely browned. I like to drain my pieces on paper towels before popping them into the oven to keep warm while I finish making the rest of the french toast pieces. Continue adding butter and oil to the pan as needed to cook the remaining slices of bread.

Serve hot with maple syrup, preserves or apple butter, and powdered sugar, if using.

Breakfast & Brunch Desserts

Apple Cider Doughnuts

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Last week was the second installment of National Doughnut Day. Celebrated twice a year – once in June and again in November – it’s a day to channel your inner fat kid and go nuts for the bliss that is sweetened fried dough.

Apple Cider Doughnuts just made sense, considering that it’s November and all. I don’t fry at home very often, primarily because I live in an apartment with a pathetic excuse for a fume hood, and the place smells like I fried something for a week after the fact.

I tried this recipe from a decade-old article in the Washington Post. I reviewed quite a few of them circulating the net, and I chose this one because I liked the ingredient list. The pastry chef who wrote the recipe worked at Hearth Restaurant, and she reduces the apple cider considerably to concentrate the flavor. Considering most Apple Cider Doughnut recipes can be lacking, this is a very smart move.

I did make one modification to the recipe. I ended up reducing 2 cups of cider instead of the 1 cup called for in the recipe. The final yield was ½ cup, which I separated by adding ¼ cup to the recipe, and using the remainder to add to some powdered sugar for the glaze. It was the smartest idea I’ve ever had. By far.

Cinnamon-sugar was the traditional covering, and since people tend to get almost evangelical about that kind of stuff I covered the bulk of the doughnuts that way. The cider glazed ones were better. Way better. They went long before I got any photos of them.

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Apple Cider Doughnuts

adapted from this Washington Post article

Ingredients:

Doughnuts:

  • 2 cups apple cider
  • 3½ cups flour, plus extra for the work surface
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 4 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup buttermilk (low-fat or nonfat will work fine)
  • Vegetable oil or shortening, for frying

Glaze:

  • 2 tablespoons reduced apple cider
  • 1 cup powdered sugar

Cinnamon-Sugar:

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1½ tablespoons ground cinnamon

Instructions:

Make the doughnuts: In a saucepan over medium to medium-low heat, add the apple cider and reduce gently to about ½ cup (this took about 25 to 30 minutes). Separate into two ¼ cup portions and set aside.

Meanwhile, in another bowl, add the flour, baking powder and baking soda, ground cinnamon, sea salt, and nutmeg. Set aside.

Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and granulated sugar together until the mixture is smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, allowing each to fully incorporate before adding the next. Make sure to scrape the sides of the bowl down occasionally with a spatula.

With the mixer on low, slowly pour in ¼ cup of the reduced apple cider and the buttermilk, and mix until it is combined. Add the flour mixture and mix until it is just incorporated. The dough will be wet and sticky at this point. This is okay.

Prepare two half sheet pans with parchment paper and sprinkle them generously with flour. Turn the dough onto one of the sheet pans and sprinkle the top of the dough generously with more flour. Flatten the dough gently with the palm of your hands or with a rolling pin until it is even and about ½-inch thick. Feel free to use more flour if the dough sticks to your hand. Place in the freezer to firm up for at least 20 minutes.

Remove the dough from the freezer and using a 3 to 3½-inch doughnut cutter (you can also use a 3 to 3½-inch biscuit cutter and a 1-inch biscuit cutter), cut out your desired doughnut shapes. Place them on the other prepared sheet pan. Once all of the doughnut shapes are cut place the sheet pans in the refrigerator. You can re-roll the leftover scraps of dough and cut additional shapes from them.

Prepare an adjacent counter with several layers of paper towels. Prepare the glaze by adding the remaining 2 tablespoons of reduced apple cider to 1 cup of powdered sugar in a bowl. Whisk well to remove any lumps. If you are using the cinnamon-sugar mixture to top your doughnuts, combine the two together into a medium sized bowl and toss with your hands until the cinnamon is evenly distributed. Set the bowls aside.

Add enough oil to a deep fryer or pot to come up about 3 inches to the side. Attach a deep fry thermometer. Heat over medium until the oil reaches 350 degrees. Add a few doughnuts to the oil and fry until golden brown, about 1 minute or so. Flip doughnut over and allow to cook another 30-60 seconds. Remove from pan promptly and drain on paper towels for about a minute. Add more doughnuts to the pot.

Working quickly, toss the warm doughnuts into the cinnamon sugar mixture. If you are glazing the doughnuts, allow them to cool slightly before you dip the tops into the glaze. Serve warm, because nothing in the world is better than a warm doughnut.

Breakfast & Brunch

Sweet Corn and Raspberry Muffins

I find muffins (along with scones) to be the ideal breakfast food for a home on the go. I frequently run out my front door every morning with a coffee in one hand and some form of breakfast in the other.

This corn muffin base is from the Bouchon Bakery cookbook. I received a copy as a Christmas gift last year, and I turn to it when I’m looking for an ultra-precise recipe. This book is anything but simple. Even a muffin requires advanced planning and a 36 hour resting period in the fridge. The author mentions rest allows the flour to fully hydrate, which makes the muffin crumb tender. Well, it works. These muffins are airy, light, and really delicious.

I know weighing ingredients before baking is an idea most people rebel against, but it’s really the only way for me to consistently bake well. Most bakers never weigh or measure a thing and they manage to create beautiful confections every time. I’m not one of those people.

I made some minor changes to the original recipe. I added corn flour in place of the cornmeal, because I simply don’t care for the texture it imparts. I had some berries in the fridge I needed to use, so I folded some raspberries into the batter just before I scooped and baked them. I think blackberries, or a mix of your favorite berries, would be lovely in this.

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Sweet Corn and Raspberry Muffins

adapted from the Bouchon Bakery cookbook

Ingredients:

  • 201 grams | 1 ¼  cups + 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  •   51 grams |  ⅓ cup fine cornmeal (I used 51g of corn flour here)
  •   12 grams | 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 135 grams | ½ cup + 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  •  7.2 grams | 2 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 168 grams | 2/3 cup whole milk
  •   90 grams | ¼  cup + 2 tablespoons eggs
  •   90 grams | ¼  cup + 2 ½ tablespoons canola oil
  •   72 grams | ½ cup + 2 tablespoons frozen corn kernels

Optional:

  • 6 ounces | ¾ cup fresh raspberries

Batter Instructions:

I follow the muffin method when mixing muffin batter.

  • Combine Dry
  • Combine Wet
  • Add wet to dry
  • fold until combined

If this is too simplistic, here’s instructions:

Sift the dry ingredients together into a medium size bowl. Gently whisk the bowl contents to evenly disperse the ingredients.

Combine all the wet ingredients in a separate bowl and whisk until they’re fully combined.

Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl of dry ingredients. Grab a spatula and fold the mixture together until it’s roughly 50% combined. Add the corn kernels and continue to fold until all ingredients are just combined. There can be a few lumps. They’ll disappear when baked. Lastly, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the batter rest in the fridge at least overnight, or for up to 36 hours.

Baking Instructions:

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Prepare muffin tin with cooking spray and/or muffin cups. Remove the batter from the fridge and gently fold in the berries. Divide the muffin batter equally amongst the muffin tins. This recipe is originally designed for a jumbo six muffin pan, but I’ve managed to squeeze about ten small muffins out of it.

Once the oven’s preheated place the pan on the center rack in the oven, and lower the oven temperature to 325°F. Bake muffins for about 25 – 30 minutes, rotating once halfway through baking. The muffins are done when they’re golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool completely before enjoying.

These muffins are best the day they are baked, but will last around three days if wrapped well and kept at room temperature. They can also be wrapped individually and frozen for up to one week.

Breakfast & Brunch

Shakshuka

This past weekend North Texas was hit with a pretty serious ice storm. Below freezing temperatures prohibited the ice from melting, and we were without power for about 24 hours. I spent that day cuddled up on the sofa reading books and lighting as many candles as possible.

I’m happy to report that our power has been restored and our home is bright and warm again. With that said, I am still feeling that chill deep within my bones. I decided to make this warm, hearty, and comforting dish for breakfast in an attempt to warm us up from the inside out.

Shakshuka is a popular North African dish of eggs simmered in a spicy tomato sauce. My inspiration spans both the West Coast and Europe. I first had this for breakfast one day at Tasty n Sons in Portland, and a few months ago my husband attempted to create Yotam Ottolenghi’s version out of his book Jerusalem: A Cookbook.

This dish is inherently adaptable, so by all means use what you have on hand and make it your own. My variation contains a mix of roasted peppers, onions, garlic, and a diverse mixture of spices I had in my cabinet. This ended up making way more sauce than I needed, so I removed about half of it and froze it for future use. Then I cracked some eggs along the surface, and transferred the entire skillet to the oven. Once my whites were set I garnished it with some sliced green onions and fresh herbs. We enjoyed this immensely and washed it all down with a couple cups of piping hot coffee.

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Shakshuka

(inspired by Jerusalem: A Cookbook, written by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi)

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups roasted bell peppers, peeled, seeded, and thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. turbinado sugar
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ½ tsp. cracked black pepper
  • Salt, to taste
  • 28-oz can whole peeled tomatoes with juice
  • 6 large eggs
  • Fresh herbs for garnish (I used green onions, parsley, and cilantro)
  • Crusty French bread, for serving

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°F.

In a large skillet heat the olive oil over medium high heat until shimmering. Add the onion, a pinch of salt, reduce the heat to medium, and cook until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the minced garlic to the onion mixture and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes more. Add the roasted peppers and continue cooking, about 1 to 2 minutes.

Add all of the spices, salt, and pepper and cook for 2 – 3 minutes, the spices should coat the onions and fat well and be quite aromatic. Add the tomatoes and their juice, along with the sugar to the skillet, increase the heat to medium high, while breaking up the tomatoes and stirring to incorporate all of the ingredients. Once the sauce begins to bubble pretty rapidly reduce the heat to medium low and allow the mixture to gently simmer, uncovered, about 20 – 30 minutes. Taste for seasoning, and adjust if necessary.

Now this is where you can get creative: You can make this a one pot dish or you can take the presentation up a notch and make individual servings for everyone. I decided to make it a one pot meal so I removed enough sauce to leave about an inch to an inch and a half behind in the pan. I poked little wells across the surface, and cracked an egg in each one. I seasoned each egg with a pinch of salt and pepper, and popped it into a 400 degree oven until the whites were set but still had some jiggle, about seven minutes. Remove from the oven, garnish with sliced fresh herbs, some finishing salt, and black pepper. Scoop into bowls and serve immediately with some crusty bread to sop up all of the delicious sauce.