Posts Tagged ‘breakfast’

‘Pain perdu’ is ‘lost bread’ is French toast

16 January 2019

A sign of the times, my grand old age, or a big sister’s indefatigable propaganda, I’ve become much better at not throwing food away. No doubt the most common victim of under-consumption (or, rather, over-acquisition) in our house is bread. Pain perdu is my favorite recycling method.

‘Pain perdu‘ is French toast, though it isn’t specifically French. Its French name means ‘lost bread,’ though it may not always have been about saving stale bread.

Historical references date back to a Roman cookbook, Apicius de re Coquinariawhose exact date and origins are imprecise though probably from the third century: white bread soaked in milk and beaten egg, fried, and drizzled with honey. One of many aliter dulcia (‘other sweet dish’).

Later references to bread soaked, spiced, and cooked span countries and centuries, and has assumed many names. ‘Eggy toast’ and ‘German bread,’ ‘poor knights of Windsor’ in English, Arme Ritter in German. English references from the 17th century describe a bread soaked in wine rather than milk — the origin of its now most common epithet?

Pointing to the use of brioche and spices, both the Oxford Food Dictionary and Larousse Gastronomique suggest a dish too precious, historically, to be a recipe about stale bread. But is there necessarily a contradiction — even a royal kitchen will have had ways to reuse old bread.

My method is to cut the pieces of bread into small chunks, creating a Kaiserschmarrnstyle French toast.

‘Pain perdu’ recipe
Quantities for about 3 cups of cubed bread

About 3 cups of cubed stale bread
Whole milk (at least 2 cups)
3 eggs
2 Tbsps sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
Pinch of nutmeg
Small handful of raisins
Apple or pear
Unsalted butter or clarified butter, which is less prone to burning
Maple syrup to serve. Also, optionally berries or a fruit compote.

Place the cubed bread in a large bowl and pour just enough milk over the bread for it to be absorbed. Let this sit, tossing occasionally, until the bread is moistened. This can take anywhere from about 5 to 20 minutes, depending on the type of bread and how hard it is (beware not to let the bread soak for too long, the pieces of bread should be wet through but not become crumbly and disintegrate).

In a smaller bowl, beat the eggs with a fork and add another 250 ml (1 cup) of milk, the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and raisins. Beat well to combine and pour the egg/milk mixture over the bread. The bread should absorb the liquid with a bit left over. If it is too dry, add some milk. If it’s too ‘liquidy,’ don’t pour all of the liquid into the cooking pan (otherwise it won’t brown, it will become a soggy omelet).

Peel, core, and cut the fruit into quarters and then eights.

Heat a heavy cast-iron or non-stick skillet over medium to high heat. Melt a generous pat of butter in the skillet, and when hot, pour in the wet bread/egg mixture. Let it brown for a good few minutes before stirring. If using apple, add it now. Cook and stir until all the pieces of bread are golden (occasionally, if necessary, I add more butter).

Serve with maple syrup or accompanied with berries or a fruit compote.

Savory oat, leek, and pecorino scones with za’atar

17 December 2012

DSC_0061

English purists wouldn’t accept these as ‘scones.’ Scones are plain, eaten at tea time, with strawwwberry jam and clotted cream. I’ll worry about that in a few months. I’m still firmly implanted stateside and not above studding scones with currants (ha!), dried cranberries and apricots, almonds, gruyère, walnuts, or even caraway.

I could have named these differently, of course, but they are scones because I made them using a scone recipe. From England. It’s a recipe I copied when I lived there many years ago, when I was ten or so. It’s the second oldest recipe I collected, just after that of the banana cake.

These scones were a happy accident. Leo had a performance at school last week, which was to be followed by a potluck breakfast. As often — or always — happens, at first I wasn’t sure what to bring, then decided I’d pick up something easy like juice since Thomas was in London and I alone with the children all week; later I realized too many parents were already planning to bring juice. So for once, just this once, I wouldn’t bring anything. It’s OK to do that once. Of course the night before, filled with guilt, I felt I absolutely had to bake something, and must make do with whatever was in the house.

So these scones happened. I tasted one just a few minutes out of the oven, with butter melting from the warmth. It was really good. And better still with a little citrus jam — er, ‘marmalade.’ Cold, the next morning, the scones were not quite the hit. It seems people prefer sweets in the morning.

I would insist that these scones, which are very quick to prepare, should be made just before breakfast (or brunch) and eaten immediately, warm, or, if later, toasted.

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Makes about 16 scones

I used za’atar to add zest and depth of flavor, but I realize it’s not necessarily a house staple (I just happened to have some) and could be substituted with chopped fresh thyme (lemon thyme even better! — is that not helpful?).

1 1/2 cups butter
3 cups flour
1 cup rolled oats
6 tsps baking powder
2 tsps za’atar
1 cup milk
2 eggs
1 cup coarsely grated pecorino
1 long or 2 small leeks
Zest from 1 lemon

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment and butter generously.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, oats, baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and za’atar.

In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs and add the milk and melted butter. Combine this with the oat/flour mixture until all the flour is absorbed.

To clean the leek remove the coarse outer leaves, rinse thoroughly under running water, opening up the inner leaves slightly to make sure no sand remains. Slice the leek very thinly.

Add the leek, ground pecorino, and lemon zest to the dough. Stir to combine well.

With a large soup spoon, scoop out balls of dough and place them on the baking sheet.

Bake for 22 minutes. The outside should be starting to turn golden and feel slightly resistant to the touch but not firm (it will become harder as it cools).

Serve quickly, while still warm, with delicious butter and orange marmalade…

(These scones are really very delicious when warm, so they should be eaten immediately, or toasted or reheated in the oven later.)

Spelt buckwheat buttermilk pancakes

5 June 2012

I expect everyone has an opinion about pancakes.

Pancakes must be light and fluffy, of course, but they must have character. I don’t make plain white flour/milk pancakes, if I can help it. Every Sunday (right, every Sunday *on which I make pancakes*), I experiment. Spelt, oat, whole wheat, buckwheat; buttermilk, yogurt, kefir, ricotta; orange and thyme; fruit, nuts, coconut; … . Some improvisations are better than others.

This recipe strikes just the right balance. There isn’t much buckwheat and that’s how it should be. Just a little heft, tempered by the tang of cultured milk.

***

I used white and whole spelt flours though regular wheat flours would also work. The key here is a small proportion of whole grain and a little buckwheat.

4 Tbsps butter

1 1/2 cups (175 g) white spelt flour

1/2 cup (75 g) whole spelt flour

2 heap Tbsps buckwheat flour

2 Tbsps sugar

1 tsp salt

2 tsps baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

2 eggs

2 1/2 cups (600 ml) cultured buttermilk

Coconut oil for the pan (I use coconut oil to cook pancakes. It works perfectly because it doesn’t burn.)

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Melt the butter and let cool to room temperature.

Into a large bowl, sift the flours together with the sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.

In another, smaller bowl, beat the eggs well with the fork before adding just 2 cups (500ml) of the buttermilk and finally the melted butter. (Add the rest of the buttermilk only if the batter is too thick.)

Pour the wet ingredients into the flour mixture, and mix swiftly, just enough to combine completely (a few bumps are nothing to worry about, it is important not to overstir the batter).

Grease griddle (non-stick pan) and place over high heat. Once the griddle is hot, pour little puddles of batter (the size is entirely up to you, but keep in mind that they will expand quite a bit), reduce heat to medium, and stay close, checking constantly until you start noticing bubbles popping up. Turn over the pancakes with a wide spatula and, within barely a minute, the pancake is ready. To make more pancakes, repeat process, adding a little oil every time to make sure they don’t stick.

The pancakes can be kept in a covered pan in a 250°F (120°C) oven for a little while if you want to make all the pancakes first and serve them at once.

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Related posts

Orange thyme pancakes

Crepes

Banana cake

Cuban bread

Breakfast in Montréal | Le Cartet and Olive + Gourmando

17 July 2011

In my fantasy life I keep clearly organized folders of clippings, weblinks, and friends’ recommendations, collected over the years, about noteworthy restaurants and singular out-of-the-way hotels all over the world. That way, when one day I go to Sicily, Copenhagen, Singapore, or Atlanta, I will know just where to stay and what to eat.

In my real life I have no folders, I don’t always buy a guidebook in advance, and we rarely book a hotel before we leave. It’s charming and spontaneous, as vacations should be, and sometimes leads to unexpected, memorable moments like sleeping in a thousand-year-old manor house nestled on Dartmoor in the South of England. But not always.

So our family of five drove up to Québec over Fourth of July weekend in what may well be the last trip of our aging VW Beetle. The only room we were likely to find in Montréal during a weekend that turned out to be not only the height of the jazz festival but also Canada Day, was in a large nondescript hotel. And, despite the fact that since I acquired the cookbook five years ago the legendary restaurant “Au Pied de Cochon” alone seemed worth the trip up to Québec, I hadn’t booked a table.

We saw a lot of Montréal in a day and a half. We walked more than was reasonable with three young children, from the old port up past the recent Bibliothèque Nationale du Québec toward Parc La Fontaine and finally to Parc du Mont-Royal before heading to the jazz festival.

In the end we barely stopped for lunch, and didn’t plan for a civilized dinner; but we did eat two exceptional breakfasts. I would have stayed weeks longer just for the granola, the scones, and the apple cinnamon bun.

Le Cartet

Le Cartet has a store in the front with a large relaxed restaurant in the back. Everything on the breakfast menu seemed tempting and it was hard to choose. It’s the type of breakfast I like. You don’t have to decide for just eggs or just granola (though you can certainly opt to simply eat two soft-boiled eggs with toast).

The brunch plate I ordered included ginger granola with cashew nuts, yogurt, and blueberries; poached eggs on mesclun salad and whole wheat toast; cheddar; figs; and fresh fruit. And a very good cafe latte.

Le Cartet

106 McGill St
Montréal, QC H2Y 2E5
Canada

+1 514-871-8887

www.lecartet.com

Open Mon-Fri 7am-7pm, Sat-Sun 9am-4pm

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Olive+Gourmando

Olive+Gourmando was crowded on Saturday morning, as it apparently often is, so we decided not to wait and rather take our breakfast out to a small park around the corner: coffee, croissants, scones, and an apple cinnamon bun to put all apple cinnamon buns to shame.

The blueberry scones, too, were probably the best I have eaten, perhaps thanks to a generous amount of lemon zest and, I would guess, a respectable quantity of butter.

Olive+Gourmando

351 Rue Saint Paul Ouest
Montréal, QC
Canada

+1 514-350-1083

www.oliveetgourmando.com

Open Tues-Sat 8am-6pm

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Related posts

Eating out | Shack at the end of the road, Las Galeras, Samana, Dominican Republic

Banana cake

10 February 2011

I have had this recipe since I was 7 or 8 years old. I must have been in second or third grade; a friend in my class brought a banana cake to school to celebrate his birthday and offered photocopies of the recipe. I kept the photocopy, and it appears that I have collected recipes ever since. Not obsessively or excessively, but, every once in a while, I wrote down a recipe I liked.

Some years ago I copied these recipes into an orange, cloth-bound dummy book (a sample with blank pages) on the architect R.M. Schindler that I was editing at the time. The recipes compiled in the “Schindler book” (as I now very personally refer to it) are not anonymous, they are not newspaper clippings I fell across and found enticing – they are all linked to memories, and people.

This banana cake reminds me of my first school in France, of Jacob (my school friend) and his family with whom we have not completely lost touch; it evokes their music and a lemon tree in their San Francisco garden that I have seen only in photographs.

Also, it is a very good banana cake. I resisted tweaking the recipe except for the walnuts, as I seem unable to refrain from putting nuts in a cake.

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10 Tbsps (125 g) butter

3/4 cup (150 g) brown sugar

3 eggs

3 very ripe bananas

1 lemon or orange

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 3/4 cups (200 g) flour (half whole wheat)

2 tsps baking powder

1 tsp sea salt

1 cup (100 g) shelled walnuts (optional)

***

Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C).

In a large bowl, beat butter until creamy. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add eggs and beat with a wire whisk until smooth.

Mash bananas well with a fork and add to butter/egg mixture.

Grate zest and juice the lemon (or orange) and add to batter with the vanilla extract. Mix well.

Mix together flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl and add to batter. Stir gently, just enough to blend everything together. Gently stir in walnuts, if using.

Line baking pan with parchment paper, butter the paper, and pour in the batter.

Into the oven for 45 to 55 minutes, until a knife inserted in the middle of the cake comes out dry. (If, like me, you like the cake to be very moist, take it out of the oven a little sooner, when the tip of the knife is still wet.)


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