Savory French Toast with Red Pepper-Tomato Maple Syrup

Savory French ToastIn my house we always seem to have half a loaf of partially stale French bread laying around. I can only save so much for bread crumbs and since I was sorta in the mood for breakfast for dinner but didn’t really want something super sweet I came up with this.

Since having the baby cooking has become a little more challenging in that I don’t have as much time, or the use of both hands while cooking. So I’ve started developing one-handed recipes. These are very forgiving recipes where if you have time to measure ingredients great! But if not, just eyeball it and everything will work out. A dash of this, a sprinkle of that and dinner will still taste wonderful.

6-7 Slices French bread, slightly stale
3 Eggs
3/4 C Milk
1tsp Mustard, dry ground or prepared
1tsp Favorite herb (thyme, oregano, marjoram etc.)
1/2 tsp each of Salt and Pepper
Dash of Cayenne pepper

Arrange bread slices in a single layer in a dish, 9×13 pan works well. Whisk the remaining ingredients together and pour over bread. Let it sit for at least an hour and upto overnight.

1 Tomato, diced*
1/4 C Red pepper diced**
1C Real Maple Syrup
1/4tsp Pepper

Put everything in a small pan and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the peppers are soft.

Heat a large skillet on medium heat, add a little oil/butter. Place the soaking bread in the hot pan, turn over when the first side is golden brown. When the second side is golden brown transfer to a plate and serve with the warm syrup.

( I didn’t have and arugula or spinach in my fridge last night, but I bet the bitterness of the greens would be a nice foil to the sweetness of the syrup. So if you feel like trying it, serve this dish on a bed of greens. If you do try it, please let me know how it is!)

Serves: 2

*I used a fresh tomato, but I bet canned diced tomato would taste just as good, maybe better depending on the season and your location
** yellow, red or orange peppers can be used for this recipe. I’ve seen frozen bags of grilled sliced peppers that I think would taste fantastic here. Or frozen corn would be a good alternative too.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese

Most pumpkin cream cheese spreads you can buy taste like frosting; way too sweet for anything but dessert (and this is coming from a girl who considers pie an appropriate breakfast). I want to be able to taste some of the tang from the cream cheese and a little bit of the earthiness of a pumpkin, not just have a creamy sugary cinnamony spread on my bagel. So that’s what I came up with. Enjoy!

1 Cup Cream cheese
1/4C plus 2T Pumpkin puree
1T Brown sugar
1/4tsp Ground ginger
1/4tsp Ground cinnamon
Dash of nutmeg

Whisk it all together and enjoy on bagels, crumpets, toast, graham crackers etc.

Roasted Rhubarb Buttermilk Ice Cream

For me rhubarb has always been a sign of spring. Although the weather here in Seattle doesn’t quite feel springlike to me, seeing this vegetable in the stores gives me hope of sunny days to come. I love the tartness and it’s beautiful pink color, and his recipe plays them both up nicely. I served this for Easter in phyllo cups with a strawberry sauce, it would also be good with fresh strawberries or in a glass of champagne for Mother’s day brunch!

5 Stalks Rhubarb, washed and cut into 2in pieces

2T Butter

1/3C Sugar

pinch of salt

3C Cultured buttermilk

1tsp Vanilla

Place the rhubarb, butter, sugar and a pinch of salt in a 9×13 pan and roast in a 375 degree oven until the rhubarb is soft and the sugar is golden; about 35 minutes. Smash the rhubarb with the back of a spoon, or puree, and cool. Once the rhubarb is cold stir in the buttermilk and vanilla, and pour into an ice cream maker and follow the instructions for your machine.

Grape “Salad”

Usually when you read salad, you think of leafy greens and a dressing of some sort, maybe some croutons or other  vegetables too. Something healthy. But in the Midwest, salad is a looser term. It generally means a bunch of stuff thrown in a bowl with something liquidy to bind it all together. Often they use ingredients that my gourmet self wouldn’t dream of eating, like one of my favorite “salads”, Cheesy cheese, it has Velveeta! But when you add lots of butter, corn and Ritz crackers to it, even the snobbiest of foodies can’t resist. One of my sister’s favorites, is a combo of apples, Snickers and Cool-Whip. Don’t judge until you try it!

This grape salad may not look the prettiest but it sure tastes amazing! you can use any type of grape, but I prefer large red skinned grapes. You could probably  make this a little healthier by substituting Greek yogurt for the sour cream, but I’d recommend trying the original first.

1# Grapes, rinsed and taken off the stem

1/4C Cream cheese, softened

1C Sour cream

Toasted pecans, chopped

Brown sugar

In a large bowl stir together cream cheese, sour cream and a pinch of salt until smooth. Fold in the grapes and refrigerate until cold, about 45 minutes.  Generously sprinkle with brown sugar and toasted pecans and serve.

Carrot Cake Ice Cream

The other day I was challenged by my cousin to make carrot cake ice cream, and here it is! This dessert has the tang and creaminess of cream cheese frosting plus the warm spices of a traditional carrot cake. One taster yesterday said that it tasted like I made a carrot cake  and placed it in the freezer (this recipe is way easier and gluten-free!)

1 3/4C 2%Milk

3/4C Sugar

1/2tsp Cinnamon

1/2tsp Ground ginger

1/8tsp Nutmeg

8oz Cream cheese, room temperature

1/4tsp Vanilla extract

1 1/2tsp Lemon juice

1/2C Grated carrots

pinch of salt

Heat 1/2C milk, sugar, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg is a small saucepan until the sugar dissolves. Place the cream cheese in a bowl and whisk until smooth, add the warm milk mixture and again whisk until smooth. Whisk in the remaining ingredients and pour into an ice cream machine.

Red Wine Poached Pears with Egg Nog

I had an epiphany last week, while trying to persuade a non egg nog loving co-worker to give it a try. She was convinced that it was made with raw eggs, so I started to explain how I’ve made it in the past. And that’s when I realized that egg nog is basically creme anglaise, a classic vanilla sauce served with desserts! So I looked around my kitchen for ingredients and came up with this recipe.

This dessert can be served hot or room temp, if you serve it hot it’s important to use low fat egg nog. I tried using regular nog on hot pears and it curdled; tasted great but it didn’t look pretty.

 

 

4 Pears, peeled, halved and cored

1 1/2 C Red wine*

1/2 C Water

1/3 C Brown sugar

1/4C Dried cherries

1/4inch Piece of ginger, peeled

1/2 tsp Cinnamon

1/2 tsp Vanilla

Light egg nog

Bring wine, water, brown sugar, dried cherries, ginger, cinnamon and vanilla to a boil in a medium non reactive pan. Add the pears and reduce to a simmer. Simmer until the pears are soft, turning the fruit over occasionally; about 30-45 minutes. Remove the pears from the poaching liquid, and set aside. Simmer the poaching liquid until it  becomes syrupy, about 15 minutes or so. Add the pears back to the syrup to reheat the fruit. Place 2 halves of a pear in a glass, spoon in some of the syrup and drizzle some eggnog over the top.

You can poach the pears 2 days in advance. Any remaining syrup tastes great on ice cream or yogurt!

 

*Instead of wine you could use a non-sweetened red juice, like cranberry or pomegranate-cherry.

Supremed Oranges with Infused Wine Syrup

Oranges with red wine syrup
For those of you who can’t make it to my class, here is a recipe that I’ll be teaching. A very easy, refreshing and impressive dessert.

1/2 Bottle of red wine
1/2 C Sugar
1/2 Cinnamon stick
5 Oranges, supremed *

Combine wine, sugar and the cinnamon stick in a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer until the wine becomes syrupy, about 20 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and cool. (The syrup can be made a week in advance)

Supreme the oranges-cut off the top and the bottom of the orange. Place the flat side of the fruit on the cutting board, and cut down the sides, following the curve of the fruit, and remove the skin. Hold the fruit in the palm of your hand and cut between the membranes to remove orange segments. Check out this video if you need a visual-http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AjOEGQ18F-A
Divide the fruit between 4 small bowls. Generously spoon the cooled syrup over the fruit and serve.

*A bay leaf, a few peppercorns or whole cloves can be substituted for the cinnamon stick.