This year’s commercial love weekend is a lonely feast. My love package of Chocolate Chip Yogurt Cookies, Cornmeal Lime Butter Cookies, and Roast Lemon-Thyme Almonds was shipped last week for the West coast. In the spirit of maintaining a busy mind, this declared romantic weekend is full of freelance work.
However, I’m treating myself to Orange French Toast topped with fresh Pears and Cherries. This version uses stale Honey Wheat Bread made from scratch in my kitchen. French toast is not a popular breakfast dish, because it’s made with soft, commercial bread that has a longer shelf life because of the preservatives. The result is a French toast with a soggy center. It’s actually a recipe at its best with thick slices of French or Italian loaves (since moving to New York, I’ve discovered Challah is a buttery option, too). Such bread is fresh for one day. It’s a great bread to include in a romantically planned menu. I recommend serving half a loaf as garlic bread to accompany a meal of lasagna and salad. By the next morning, the loaf is hard and stale (slice it the night before if making French Bread). Using the mantra, “no food goes to waste,” day-old bread slices are temporarily soaked in a milk and egg mixture, before it’s lightly fried in a skillet.
Usually caramelized pears top most of my sweet breakfast bread recipes, such as pancakes . This time they’re served fresh. The cherries are out of season, but the local grocery store had them on sale. It’s a worthy spurge. Adding orange zest and fresh maple syrup to the egg batter makes this a special dish. Layering the French Toast with pear slices, topping it with pitted and halved cherries, slice almonds, and powdered sugar is an impressive breakfast meal for your honey.
Love is to food as life is to the heart. How are you spending your Valentine’s Day?
2 eggs (add one more if an eggier batter is desired)
1 cup organic milk
A dash of salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. vanilla
The grated zest and juice of one orange
2 to 3 tbsp. dark maple syrup
6 to 8 slices of stale, hard bread (challah, French/Italian Loaf, or leftover Honey Wheat bread ; sliced 1 to 2 inches thick)
4 Bosc pears; peeled and cored, sliced length-wise
About 1/2 to 3/4 lb. fresh cherries; pitted and sliced in half Garnish: Dark maple syrup, powder sugar, and almond slices (toasted)
1. Preheat oven to under 200°F. Leave the oven door ajar. Place a plate inside the oven.
2. Whisk the eggs, milk, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, orange zest and juice, and maple syrup together to make the batter.
3. Pour batter into a large shallow pan or bowl. Place bread slices into the batter. When they’re just beginning to soft, but they’re still hard, turn them over to soak the other side. Don’t let the bread become soggy or they will fall apart.
4. Meanwhile, heat butter or olive oil in a skillet over medium-low heat.
5. When the bread is soaked and the butter is hot, place bread slices in the skillet. Cook for a few minutes until the underside is golden brown. Flip bread slices over and cook until the other side is golden brown, too. Place French toast onto the plate that is in the oven. Continue cooking the rest of the bread.
6. To Plate: Sprinkle a few almonds onto a plate. Place the first slice of French Toast on top of the almonds. Layer pear slices over the French Toast. Sprinkle a few more almond slices on top. Place the second slice of French Toast on top of the first layer. Sprinkle a few more almond slices on top of the second layer. Place the third and last French Toast slice over the second layer. Sprinkle a few more almond slices on top. Spoon plenty of fresh cherries over the layers of French Toast, pear slices, and Almonds. Drizzle maple syrup over the cherries and dust the plate with powdered sugar.
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