I had just taken a reservation for a boat rental over the phone the other day and both Steve and Terry asked what time they were coming down and what boat we needed to get. I said we would need “Teal,” but also said there was no hurry brining her in. I explained that the group was going to have breakfast first.
Terry went back to his oatmeal and Steve took another bite of his pastry and both kind of asked what I had for breakfast. What was my response? I took a sip of my coffee and said “ah.” They both looked, and I told them I added a Carnation instant breakfast to the coffee to make it a mocha while at the same time making it breakfast. I thought of using that as my article, but then kind of figured it wouldn’t really be much of a recipe: pour two cups of coffee into a mug, tear open an envelope of instant breakfast, pour it into the coffee and add the desired amount of half and half. OK, so today you get lucky and get two breakfast recipes instead of one.
We talked breakfast for a while and French Toast came up a few times and how it can be a fairly temperamental breakfast to make at home. There are a few keys to making a good French Toast. First, be sure to pre-heat your pan or griddle to medium high. If the pan is not hot enough, all the egg mixture will run out the bottom and look like your toast is floating in a pond. I will use clarified butter on the griddle instead of whole butter, so that it doesn’t burn or use a little oil and butter together, and remember, you don’t need much.
Watch the temperature of the pan so it doesn’t get too hot and burn the toast. You may have to adjust it up or down until you find the perfect temperature. It should take about three to four minutes or so per side and the middle may expand up a little and feel slightly firm and not too wiggly to the touch when done. Use hearty bread that can absorb the egg mixture without immediately getting so soggy you can’t get it on the griddle without it falling apart. A brioche about ¾ inches thick or a slightly stale French loaf works well.
One last thought: French Toast is basically like having dessert for breakfast (it’s similar to bread pudding), you might not want it every day, so enjoy it when you do make it.
8 slices, ¾-inch thick brioche or slightly stale bread
¾ C half and half
1½ T cinnamon
1 T brown sugar
1 t vanilla
1/8 t nutmeg
1/8 t salt
2 T Grand Marnier (optional, but good)
A touch of butter (optional)
Sprinkle of powdered sugar (optional)
Real maple syrup (mandatory)
Wisk the eggs with all the ingredients down to and including the Grand Marnier. Soak the bread about a minute on both sides to be sure it absorbs the mixture. Add a tiny amount of clarified butter or whole butter and oil mixed to slightly coat pan or griddle. Place the toast on the pre-heated griddle, spoon on a tiny bit more egg mix and let cook about 3 to 4 minutes until golden. Flip and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes until golden and slightly firm when pressed in the middle. Top with a little whole butter, a sprinkle of powdered sugar, and a gallon of real maple syrup. Just kidding about the gallon, go by taste.
By Chef David “Smitty” Smith
Trained under Master Chef Anton Flory at Top Notch Resort in Stowe, Vt., Smitty is a personal chef specializing in dinner parties, cooking classes and special events. For more information and archived copies of Stir it Up, visit chefsmitty.com. Smitty welcomes your questions and comments at [email protected] or (530) 412-3598.