From the kitchen of: Isabel Makes: 6 slices
Total time: 10 min to prep, 10 minutes to cook
I have recently found the BEST bread to use for french toast. I can now die happy. If you’re new to billy bread, here’s the scoop. Locally made right here in Richmond by Billy Bread Bakery, billy bread is a naturally leavened bread that has five simple ingredients: wheat flour, spelt, rye, water and sea salt. These five ingredients crafted together makes the ultimate french toast. It holds up perfectly when soaked in the custard because it has this wonderful hearty crust and the inside is firm and chewy. I’ve made french toast a million times before with other types of bread, but they turn out either too moist or too tough. I will never go back to soggy french toast ever again. So go ahead, find yourself some billy bread if you’re in Richmond, and make yourself one hellava damn good french toast.
6 1-inch slices of Billy bread or any rustic Artisinal bread
1/2 cup milk
1/2 can of 5 oz. evaporated milk
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon sugar
freshly grated nutmeg
2 tablespoon butter
1. Pick your bread. There are so many choices to choose from. If you live in RVA, go ahead and spend $5 on Billy bread. I found mine at Little House Green Grocery. If you don’t live in RVA, any crusty, rustic bread will certainly do. Slice 6 1-inch thick slices and set aside.
2. Prepare the custard and soak the bread. In large and shallow dish, combine the eggs, milk, evaporated milk, cinnamon, nutmeg and sugar. Once custard is well-combined, soak the bread. Lay the bread slices in the dish and allow one side to soak for about 3 minutes. Flip the bread over to soak the other side. The thicker and more stale the bread is, the longer it will soak. There should be little to no liquid left.
3. Cook the french toast. Heat a large non-stick skillet at medium temperature. Once the pan is hot, add 1 heaping tablespoon of butter. The butter will melt and slightly bubble. Add three slices of the soaked bread and cook one side for 2 minutes or so. Flip over once it’s golden brown and cook the other side for another 2 minutes. If pan is getting to hot, lower the temperature slightly. Repeat this step for the remainder of the bread.
4. Serve hot. Stack three perfectly cooked french toast on a warm plate, drizzle maple syrup and sprinkle some powdered sugar. Dive right in and enjoy!!
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From the kitchen of: Isabel Makes: 10-12 crepes
Total time: 5 min to prep, 30 minutes to cook
A crepe bar is nothing without the crepes, right? Well, in my quest to make delicious French crepes, I’ve learned many things. In fact, six things that you could find incredibly helpful when making crepes on your own:
- It literally takes less than 5 minutes to make the batter. Just toss everything into the blender.
- Don’t need a fancy pants crepe pan if you have a nice non-stick skillet at home.
- To help cook the crepes, pour batter using a measuring cup with a spout. Makes it easier to control.
- Yes, you can make crepes the night before. Just cut out a square of wax paper and place between crepes to prevent sticking. Cover tightly with plastic wrap.
- To reheat crepes the next morning, I used the microwave, which worked out just fine. Just reheat in small batches for 30 seconds or so. Keep an eye on them because you don’t want them to dry out.
- Practice makes perfect. The first one or two might not come out so perfectly. They may not be as golden brown. But no worries, it’ll get better.
So making crepes isn’t as difficult as you think. You don’t need to be French. You just need to go for it because they’re just the perfect platform to fill with anything savory or sweet. I prefer sweet though :) If you like sweet too, lets take a look at the crepe bar I put together. But first, here’s the recipe for my simple and full-proof crepes. Enjoy!
for the crepes
1 cup flour
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons melted butter (plus more butter for cooking)
1/4 cup cold water
for the bar
variety of fruit (blueberries, bananas, raspberries)
fresh whipped cream
1. Blend up crepe batter. In a blender, add the first five ingredients: flour, eggs, milk, sugar and melted butter. Puree until mixture is smooth. Slowly add the cold water last and blend for a few more seconds. Pour crepe batter in a 2-cup measuring cup with a spout. Set aside for now.
2. Cook the crepes. Meanwhile, heat up a non-stick 8, 10 or 12-inch skillet on medium-low heat. Whatever you have on hand. Once pan is hot, add a little butter to coat the pan. Pour enough batter to thinly coat the bottom of the pan. To help the batter spread evenly, pour with your left hand and slowly swirl the pan with the right. Cook until the underside of the crepe is golden brown, about 2 minutes. Flip the crepe over using a spatula and with your fingers. Cook for 30 seconds more. Remove crepe and place on a warm plate. Remember, to help prevent sticking, cut out squares of wax paper and place between crepes.
3. Now, it’s time to set up the bar! What else goes well with crepes if you’re in a sweet and breakfast-y mood? Anything your heart desires! Fruit is a must in a crepe bar. The sweetness of the fruit helps with the delicate and airy flavor of the crepe itself. I served fresh raspberries, sliced bananas and strawberries, and blueberries. I got all the fruit minus the bananas at Costco. Prices can’t be beat if in season.
To add some texture to the crepe, you’ll need some nuts. I love almonds, so I bought a bag of sliced almonds and toasted them in the oven for a few minutes. Believe me, they will burn quickly. My first batch ended up the garbage. Oops!
Another addition to the crepe bar are freshly whipped cream, cocoa powder and powdered sugar. To make the whipped cream, just combine 1 cup of heavy whipping cream with 2 tablespoons of sugar. Whisk until you get stiff peaks. Don’t over whisk though, you’ll end up with butter.
Last, but not least, Nutella! Every crepe bar should have this. The Nutella just pulls everything together. Everyone goes nuts over it. Just smother a heaping spoonful of it along the crepe, top with all the fixings, fold it over and devour it. So this is how you can set up a crepe bar at your home, perfect for any occasion. And don’t limit yourself to the fillings I put together. The best thing about crepes, they go with anything. Enjoy!
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The best thing happened at work last Friday. Our team (Podzilla) began a new tradition of bringing breakfast in every Friday morning. Best idea EVER. Susie, a fellow art director and cook/baker, signed up first and let me tell you, we were in for a treat. The day before she sent out a menu of what she was going to prepare. Yes, a menu of homemade whole wheat cranberry walnut bread, egg casserole with ham and hash browns, and lastly, fresh fruit. Everything she made for us was beautifully crafted and amazingly delicious. Lucky for you and me, she gave me the recipes she used, which I have included in this blog post. Many thanks to Susie for a great start to our Friday morning breakfast!
Whole Wheat Cranberry Walnut Bread
Serves 10 to 12
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup honey
1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries, rinsed and dried with paper towels
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat the oven to 375º.
Butter a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan and set aside.
Stir the flour, cinnamon, baking powder and baking soda together in a large bowl.
Cut in the butter cubes using a pastry cutter until coarse crumbs form; set aside.
In a large glass measuring cup, whisk together the buttermilk, vanilla, egg, and honey.
Gently stir the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture just until blended.
Fold in the walnuts and cranberries.
Spread into the prepared pan.
Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.
Allow to cool in pan for 30 minutes.
Remove from the pan and let cool completely on a wire rack.
In the meantime, whisk the glaze ingredients together in a small bowl and drizzle over the bread.
The whole wheat cranberry walnut bread was outstanding. It had a nice texture from the walnuts and some tartness from the cranberries. The simple glaze dressed the bread giving it some sweetness to every bite. Susie also brought a medley of fruits to accompany the bread and egg casserole. Strawberries, green grapes, sliced bananas and blueberries. Can’t get much better than this.
Last, but not least, the main dish. Susie’s egg casserole was so delicate and fluffy. It was baked to perfection. Very moist, didn’t feel heavy at all. I’ve had my share of egg casseroles and they tend to be very dense, but this was airy and light. Susie prepared it the night before and baked it in the oven the morning of. After the casserole was done baking, she wrapped it in foil and bath towels so that it kept hot during the car ride to work. It was steaming by the time the team broke into it. Genius!
Overnight Egg Casserole with Ham and Hash Browns
1 cup (4 ounces) Monterey Jack cheese, grated
1 cup (4 ounces) extra sharp Cheddar cheese, grated
1 package (30 ounces) frozen shredded hash browns (such as Oreda), thawed in the refrigerator
16 ounces (2 cups) fully cooked thick ham slices, cut into small cubes
1 can (7 ounces) chopped green chilies
2 cans (12 ounces each) evaporated milk
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Butter a 9 x 13 inch baking pan.
Grate the cheeses and set aside.
Sprinkle the hash brown into the pan covering the bottom completely.
Then sprinkle on in layers the ham, chilies, and cheeses; set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, evaporated milk, and pepper; pour evenly over the casserole.
Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.
Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking.
Bake, covered with the foil, at 375º for 1 hour.
Remove the foil and bake for an additional 25 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Loosely cover with foil and let stand 10 minutes before serving.
Thanks so much Susie for sharing the recipes with Pretty Tasty Things readers. But more importantly, thank you so much for treating us to this artfully prepared breakfast. It was such a delightful morning!
From the kitchen of: Southern Biscuit and Pearly Squirrely Makes: 24 biscuits
Total time: 15 min to prep, 10-12 min to bake
I was first introduced to these Southern Biscuits during our trip to Ohio a few weeks ago for a wedding. I fortunately had a chance to talk and mingle with the bride and groom’s family. I was speaking to the groom’s grandmother, Pearly Squirrely, and the discussion of biscuits came about. Pearly Squirrely lives in Charleston, WV, a throw stone’s away from the infamous Biscuit World. She told me about her own recipe for pepperoni biscuits telling me that the secret was the flour. The next morning after the wedding, we gathered for breakfast where she baked these moist, airy biscuits with bits of pepperoni mixed in. When I asked her how she made them, she practically said, just follow the directions on the back on the flour. Haha. I guess her secret was not so much the ingredients, but the mix.
3 1/4 cups Southern Biscuit Complete Mix (found at Food Lion)
1/2 bag 7 oz Hormel Pepperoni, chopped
2 tablespoon butter, melted
1. Prepare the pepperoni. Roughly chop the pepperoni, about half a 7 oz bag. Set aside. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 450°.
2. Prepare biscuits. In a large mixing bowl, add the Southern Biscuit mix with buttermilk stirring with fork or wooden spoon. Stir together using as few strokes as possible, just mix until completely combined. At this point, also add the chopped pepperoni and lightly mix in with the dough. The dough will be a little sticky and loose. (We didn’t add the pepperoni until later, which was a mistake. Better to add the pepperoni at this step.)
3. Cut out biscuits. Place the dough on a floured surface using some of the biscuit mix. With a floured rolling pin, gently roll the dough 1/2-inch thick. Using a floured biscuit cutter or glass cup, cut biscuits and place them in baking pans so the sides are lightly touching. With the remaining dough, reform and cut out more biscuits.
4. Bake. Place biscuits in the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes until tops are lightly golden brown. Remove biscuits from oven and brush melted butter over the tops. Serve warm and enjoy!
FROM THE KITCHEN OF: Isabel Canfield
TOTAL TIME: 20 min to prep
MAKES: 2 pieces of toast
Eating perfectly cooked eggs with slices of freshly ripened avocados has got to be one of my favorite things in this world to eat. I don’t know where this combination originated from, but I can certainly eat this for breakfast, lunch or dinner. This dressed-up toast is my go-to meal for Jared and me if all we have in the kitchen is cheese, eggs, bread and avocados. With these four main ingredients, you can whip up a very hearty meal full of protein in less than half an hour. And just so you know, it does take a little bit of practice to perfect an over-medium egg, so don’t fret if you mess it up the first time. In the end, you’ll end up mixing up the cooked egg anyway. This toast may be a little messy to eat, but let me assure you that it will be devoured in minutes.
2 slices of Artisan bread (Focaccia)
1/2 avocado, sliced
1 teaspoons butter
salt + pepper
1. Slice bread. Choose a good artisan bread. I love fresh baked focaccia, while Jared loves multigrain. Slice half-inch-thick slices of bread and add the slices of fontina cheese to cover the surface. Set aside. (I doubled this recipe since I made some for Jared, of course.)
2. Cook over-medium eggs. In a small omelet pan, heat about 1 teaspoon of butter over medium temperature. When the butter has melted and tiny bubbles form, gently crack two eggs into the pan. Season with salt and pepper. Cook this side of the egg for a minute or so. You’ll know it’s time to flip them over when the clear part of the egg has turned white. With a rubber spatula, separate the two eggs. Tilt the pan and gently slide the spatula underneath the egg. Carefully flip it over. Cook the other side for an additional 30 seconds for over-medium eggs.
3. Toast bread and slice avocados. While you’re frying the eggs, place the bread with fontina cheese under a low broiler in the oven. The broiler gets hot, so keep an eye on it to prevent burning. At this point, slice an avocado in half and remove the seed with a knife. Take a spoon and scoop out the avocado from the skin. Lay the avocado flat on a plate and slice into long pieces.
4. Assemble toast. As soon as the eggs are to your liking, remove from pan and place in a bowl. Using a fork and knife, dice and mix the eggs together. Remove the toast from the oven and place the slices of avocados over the melted cheese. Next, add the “scrambled” eggs over the avocado. Serve hot and eat immediately.