Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Orange & Cinnamon French Toast

Let's talk breakfast. It's kind of my favorite meal. Y'know, besides dessert. That counts as a meal right? (I mean it should the way I do it.) I gravitate toward the sweet things personally: pancakes, waffles, French toast.

And no matter how many fancy-schmancy ways I make French toast, I still like my mom's the best. White bread, simple egg/milk mixture, and syrup. But if I can't have my mama's, this one will surely do in a pinch. It's got a nice tang from super-good buttermilk and orange zest and a hint of warmth from a sprinkling of cinnamon.

I used: semolina bread, cinnamon, orange zest, eggs, buttermilk, and salted butter. 

You need a nice shallow dish that will hold the bread. Pour in the milk and crack the eggs in.

A fork works for breaking up the yolk and incorporating the eggs into the buttermilk.

Cinnamon and orange zest add extra flavor.

I chose this semolina bread partly because I had it on hand and partly because it was a nice bread for French toast. Even though it was sliced on the thinner side, a little staleness made it sturdy enough for soaking.

I let it sit a few minutes on each side. French toast is commonly made with thick slices of challah or other sturdy bread that are probably a little stale. Because fresh bread will fall apart in the liquid mixture. So really, French toast is economical. Also, I definitely had enough liquid left to do another slice, so I made another slice. Because that's how I roll.

I melted a little butter in a cast iron skillet. You could use another sort of non-stick skillet, but you want to make sure your toast pieces will fit.

Getting the heat right can be tricky. You want it warm enough to, y'know, cook the toast, but not so hot that it just cooks the outside and leaves the inside soggy. My preference is to start it on medium-low to cook both sides through and then turn the heat up to medium to get a nice crust on the very outside.

Kind of like this. I like the crispiness the edges get and the little caramelized spots on the bread.

And can we just agree to use real maple syrup? Like the for real for real stuff. Because this is kind of why syrup exists.

Oh who am I kidding, this is why syrup exists.

Orange & Cinnamon French Toast (serves 1 very hungry lady or maybe 2 sensible people)

2 large eggs
1/2 c buttermilk
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp orange zest
2-3 slices of sturdy bread (staler is better in this case)
Salted butter, for sautéing
Maple syrup, for serving
  • Whisk together eggs and buttermilk in a shallow dish. Add cinnamon and orange zest and stir to combine.
  • Lay the pieces of bread in the liquid mixtures. Let them soak 3-5 minutes on each side. While bread soaks, heat a cast iron skillet on medium-low heat. Add a hunk of butter and let it melt. 
  • Gently place soaked bread pieces in the warm skillet. Let cook until lightly browned on one side and flip. Let cook until lightly brown on the other side and increase heat to medium. Let the toast crisp around the edges and develop darker brown spots and flip. Crisp the other side and remove from skillet.
  • If you're making a big batch of French toast, I advise heating your oven to 300º and turning it off. Place cooked French toast on a plate and set in the oven to keep warm.
  • Serve French toast with extra butter and syrup. And bacon. Or bacon substitute if you don't partake in the pig.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Instagrammin' Late Winter/Early Spring 2013

Some of the things I've done and found the last 3 months...

First things first. I ran a 10K!!!! Like the whole thing. Like UP the bridge. And down it. And to it. And down King Street in Charleston. 

And then I drank a fancy martini. Because CARBS, y'all. Just kidding. I drank it because it was refreshing, and I'd already sucked down a bottle of water.

I arranged a happy hour for our Columbia "office". We finally got warm, sunny weather, so tacos and margaritas it was!

Paradise Ice is a local Italian ice and custard shop. It's incredible and the owners are SUPER nice. The classic lemon was so tart and flavorful I couldn't stand it. And by couldn't stand it I mean that I scraped the bowl trying to eat it all.

Another place I'd like to write an ode to is Smash Burger. Dudes. Firstly, they use Duke's for their mayonnaise, which automatically makes them tops in my book. And you can get the fries with rosemary and garlic. I'd go for just the fries, but it's a juicy cooktop burger too. 

What, I like fries okay? These were Will's birthday fries from Rockaways. Rockaways is a kind of hole-in-the-wall place on Rosewood with my favorite pimento cheese fries everrrr.

I went to a chili cook-off, where I stumbled on these cornbread cupcakes with cream cheese-jalapeno frosting. It was one of those things that I wasn't sure I liked but couldn't stop eating.

Does it get more comfy than this? Hangin' on the couch with a blankie and cheese puffs, watching baby tv? I think not.

Crust Bakehouse is my first choice for scones. I could run there it's so close...but I don't. This is a chocolate-coconut scone and remains my favorite. I've also had their chocolate sable and peanut butter cookies. Worth every bite. Crust makes all sorts of breads and has pizza dough ready to go for you, so go get some!

I might not have mentioned that I moved into my own supercute apartment. My best moving tip is to buy a bottle of wine with a screwtop. Because you might not know where your corkscrew is until it's too late. Unless you're way more organized than me (totally possible). But better to be safe than sorry.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Malted Rice Crispie Treats

Today I took a drive through the back roads of South Carolina, going from Charleston to Columbia. It took me longer than driving on 26 would've, but truly I'd rather drive on open back roads than dodge cars on the interstate.

One of my favorite scenes that I come across at least of couple of time I drive on our highways is of a ramshackle building overgrown with wisteria. Seeing the soft purple flower, newly bloomed against crumbling walls stirs something in my heart. 
It's a similar feeling to biting into something reminiscent of childhood, made better by knowledge gained in (marginal) adulthood. 

I don't know how much instruction you need for crispie treats, but here it goes. You'll need: crisped rice cereal, marshmallows, vanilla extract, salted butter, and malted milk powder.

Begin browning the butter in a small pan. All good things begin with browned butter. I prefer just slightly less than medium heat in case I forget to pay as much attention as I should.

In a large pot, start melting the marshmallows over medium-low heat. Don't set it too high or your marshmallows will get a little too toasty. You could totally do this in a large microwave-safe bowl. I prefer not to microwave plastic, and I don't have glass mixing bowls--so stovetop it was.

Nutty and golden. Perfect.

Pour the butter over the semi-melted marshmallows and start stirring.

When the marshmallows are close to smooth, stir in the malted milk powder...

And the vanilla extract. Keep stirring until the marshmallow mixture is completely smooth.

The cereal is the last to join. Just keep mixing until you don't see any large patches of marshmallow. Although those parts are definitely my favorite. So maybe save just one.

I like to press the crispies in a pan using a sheet of wax paper sprayed with nonstick spray. Remember, the bigger the pan, the thinner the crispie treat. 

Made for both a girls' weekend and Easter, these are best transported on roads with lush greenery.

Malted Rice Crispie Treats (makes 16-25 squares, depending on pan size)

2 tbs salted butter
10 oz marshmallows (miniature or large are both fine)
1/3 c malted milk powder
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
4 c crisped rice cereal
  • Spray a pan with nonstick spray. An 8x10 will yield a thicker treat, a 9x13 will yield a thinner square. The choice is yours.
  • Begin by melting the butter in a small pan. Let it continue to cook until it becomes golden brown and smells nutty.
  • While butter browns, begin melting marshmallows in a large pot. Pour in the browned butter and stir until marshmallows are almost smooth.
  • Stir in malted milk powder and vanilla extract until completely incorporated and smooth. Stir in the cereal a cup or so at a time until all the cereal has been mixed in.
  • Spread the mixture in the prepared pan. Spray a piece of wax paper with nonstick spray and press the mixture until it fills the pan evenly. Allow to cool before cutting and serving.