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Radio Kitchen - French Toast For A Spring Breakfast
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One of the first recipes my father taught me was how to make French Toast, something both my parents loved. It's one of the nicest treats you can whip up, and it is also one of the easiest, plus it has the benefit of being very child friendly.
French toast does have roots in France, where it is known as "pain perdu" or lost bread, a reference to its staleness. The idea was to simply revive the bread with a soak of eggs and milk, then fry it up. Oddly enough, the old French name was "Pain Romana", referring even further back, to Rome. Given the simplicity of the ingredients, it's likely that this is a very old idea.
There are several approaches to making French toast. The first variation is of course the bread. Fresh bread is perfectly acceptable, but thick slices of stale baguettes work really well too. The length of time given to soaking varries. Some people prefer a quick soak, while other, using thicker older bread, will let it soakovernight. A quick soak followed by a quick pan fry will leave the middle of the slices dry and bready. A long soak, followed by a quick pan fry, and then a spell in the oven at 350, will result in a pleasantly puffed up slice that is moist throughout. Traditional toppings include powdered sugar, syrups, jams and creams. For a savory approach, you can work cheeses, breakfast meats and savory jellies into the act as well.
AL'S SAVORY BREAKFAST FRENCH TOAST
To serve two:
* four thick slices of hand cut bread, preferably a day or two old
* 4 medium eggs
* 1/4 cup milk
* salt and pepper
* two slices of Canadian bacon
* two fried eggs, trimmed to fit on the bread
* 1/2 cup béchamel sauce
* 1/4 cup grated gruyere cheese
1. Crack the eggs into a bowl, and stir in the milk and salt and pepper.
2. Place the bread slices in a small baking dish, and pour the egg mixture over the slices, covering them. Refrigerate overnight.
3 . Over moderate to low heat, melt several tablespoons of butter in a skillet. Keeping the heat low, to prevent the butter from scorching, add the slices two at a time. Let them cook for about two minutes on each side.
4. Remove the cooked bread from the skillet, and wipe it clean with a paper towel. Replace two slices in the skillet, and place a slice of Canadian bacon and a fried egg on top. Cover each with the second slice, making a "sandwich". Bake in a 350 degree oven for about ten minutes.
5. Heat the béchamel sauce over low heat, and stir in the cheese, allowing it to melt. After baking the French toast sandwiches, place them on plates, and ladle of a generous topping of cheesy sauce. Serve at once.