Sun Sweet Apricot Stuffed French Toast

INGREDIENTS:

8 ounces mascarpone cheese, room temperature
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 tablespoons milk
4 teaspoons sugar
Apricot jam
24 fresh apricots
12 slices brioche bread
8 eggs
1/2 cup milk
Vegetable oil

METHOD:

In mixing bowl, combine mascarpone, cream cheese, vanilla and almond extracts, 2 tablespoons milk, sugar, and 3 tablespoons apricot jam. Set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together eggs and milk. Place mixture in a shallow baking dish (such as a Pyrex oblong dish), large enough to hold six slices of bread.  

Lay out the slices of bread. Spread one side with the mascarpone cream mixture and spread  the other slice lightly with apricot jam. Place bread together to form a sandwich. Set  aside and continue the rest of the slices.

When finished assembling French toast “sandwiches,” place them in the egg mixture; turn to soak both sides.

Pour 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in sauté pan and heat over medium heat. When oil is hot, cook French toast until until nicely browned on both sides. Serve with fresh cut apricots and a mint leaf sprig. Dust with powdered sugar and serve with maple syrup, if desired.

YIELD: Serves 4-6

SOURCE: Chef Marcie Bei Magdaleno from De Laveaga Lodge Restaurant

Fluffy French Toast with Strawberries and Orange Syrup

Make-ahead French toast is a great time saver for brunch! Use extra thick cut “Texas” egg bread, if you can find it. Otherwise, use challah or brioche and slice the bread yourself.

INGREDIENTS:

Butter (for greasing large baking pan)
8 1-inch-thick egg bread slices
2 cups half and half
6 eggs
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated orange peel
1 tablespoon Triple Sec, Grand Marnier or other orange flavored liqueur
Fresh strawberries or blueberries

METHOD:

Generously butter large baking or roasting pan.

Arrange bread in single layer in prepared pan, fitting closely together. Whisk half and half, eggs, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg to blend in medium bowl. Pour egg mixture over bread. Cover pan and refrigerate until bread absorbs mixture, turning once, after 3 hours. Cover tightly and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 400°F. and position rack in lower third of the oven. Uncover pan and bake French toast until golden brown, puffed, and tester inserted into center of bread comes out clean, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk together stir orange juice and cornstarch in small saucepan until smooth. Add sugar and stir over medium heat until thick, about 8 minutes. Add butter, lemon juice, orange peel, and Triple Sec and whisk until butter melts.

Recut French toast into 8 separate slices. Serve with warm orange syrup and top with fresh berries, if desired.   

YIELD: Serves 8

Vanilla Orange Pain Perdu with Balsamic Strawberries and Cream

INGREDIENTS:

4 slices day old French bread, sliced 1 inch thick
1 vanilla bean, split
1 tablespoon orange zest
2 eggs
1 cup cream (or half and half)
Butter, for cooking
2 cups strawberries, sliced or halved
2-4 tablespoons sugar (or honey)
2-4 tablespoons high quality Balsamic ninegar
2 teaspoons Meyer lemon juice
2 tablespoons mint leaves, torn
1 cup whipped cream

METHOD:

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Whisk the eggs and cream together and add the orange zest. Scrape the vanilla bean seeds into the cream and add the whole bean too.

Soak the bread in the egg mixture for 5-20 minutes depending on how hard it is – you don’t want it soggy, but you want the custard to sink in.

Heat the sugar or honey in a bit of water and add the strawberries, vinegar, lemon juice and boil quickly, then remove from heat.

In a non-stick pan, heat a bit of butter over medium heat and add the soaked bread slices and cook until browned. Flip slices and cook until golden brown. Place French toast on a baking sheet and put in the oven to finish, about 5-7 minutes, or until the custard cooks (not runny inside the bread).

Spoon some strawberries on the plate, place the toast on top and spoon more strawberries on top. Add a dollop of whipped cream and sprinkle with mint leaves.

CHEF NOTES: You could easily make this more elegant by turning it into bread pudding–dice the bread and mix with the custard and put into greased ramekins and bake at 300 degrees until the tops are golden brown and the custard is set.

YIELD: 2 servings

SOURCE: Recipe courtesy of Executive Chef James P. Smith, III

Pain Perdu

INGREDIENTS:

1 loaf brioche or challah, sliced 1” thick, night before
3 eggs, beaten           
1 egg yolk           
1 cup cream           
1 cup milk           
1/2 cinnamon stick
1 clove           
1 star anise           
1/2 vanilla bean, scraped           
1 tablespoon oil spray (Pam/ vegalene)           
2 tablespoons butter           
3 cups farm fresh berries, washed and trimmed as needed           
1/2  vanilla bean, scraped           
2 ounces lemon verbena           
1 cup orange juice           
2 strips orange peel
1/4 cup sugar or honey

METHOD:

Bring the cream and milk to a simmer with the cinnamon, clove, star anise and 1/2 vanilla bean with the seeds. Let steep 5 minutes. Strain and cool.

Boil the orange juice and add the sugar or honey, lemon verbena and the remaining vanilla bean. Simmer and add the berries successively by firmness (strawberries, then blackberries, then blueberries, then raspberries) and simmer and hold warm off heat.

Whisk the eggs and yolk into the cream and milk and soak the bread in it for 1 minute each slice.

Heat a griddle and spray with oil and sauté the French toast until browned, then add the butter and flip and cook through.

Lay the French toast on a platter and pour the berries over the top. Sprin-kle with powdered sugar and add whipped cream or crème fraiche, if you like. Garnish with lemon verbena leaves and serve. Enjoy!

YIELD: Makes 12 servings.

SOURCE: Recipe courtesy of Chef Jamie Smith

Make Ahead French Toast with Berries

INGREDIENTS:

1 loaf Francese or French bread , cubed
1  (8 oz.) package cream cheese, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 cup fresh blueberries, raspberries or blackberries
12 eggs, beaten
2 cups milk
1/4 – 1/3 cup  sugar, honey, agave syrup or maple syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla
Powdered sugar, for dusting
Maple or berry syrup

METHOD:

Place half the bread cubes in a greased 13 x 9 inch pan. Layer cream cheese cubes evenly over bread. Sprinkle blueberries over top. Cover with the remaining bread cubes.

In a large bowl, whisk eggs, milk, sugar (or sweetener of your choice) and vanilla. Drizzle egg mixture evenly over bread. Cover and refrigerate 2 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cover pan and bake 30 minutes. Uncover and bake 25 to 30 minutes more, or until center is firm and top is golden brown.

Lightly dust casserole with powdered sugar. Serve with blueberry or maple syrup.

SERVINGS: 6

SOURCE: Annaliese Keller of Malabar Trading Company