Archive for the ‘Meals’ Category


French Toast: Updated for Mother’s Day, 2010

May 9, 2010

For a blog that has been named The French Toast for over two years, it seems strange that I have only posted one actual recipe for french toast. So Happy Mother’s Day to all the mom’s out there. Sit down with your kids and enjoy this easy and delicious french toast recipe.

French Toast
Makes 12 slices

When possible, use day or two old bread for french toast, as the dry bread will soak up the custard and not get soggy. If you don’t have time to leave your bread out overnight, go ahead and dry the bread slices out on the middle oven rack for 20 minutes on the lowest heat.

About a year ago, Cook’s Illustrated (link on the right) did a feature on the best ways to dry out bread for bread puddings or french toast. They prefer drying bread out in the oven rather than using stale bread, noting that the bread tastes fresher when dried in the oven and still has all the benefits of day-old bread in terms of texture. So perhaps it’s best to skip the whole stale bread thing anyway?

You can use almost any kind of thick-cut bread for this, including sourdough and french bread. I really like the slightly sweet taste of challah or brioche.

12 slices stale or dried bread, cut 1/2″ thick
1 c. half and half
1 c. milk
2 eggs plus 1 egg yolk
2 T. sugar
1 t. ground cinnamon
1 t. vanilla
1/2 t. bourbon or grand marnier, or other liqueur
1/4 t. kosher salt

  • In a medium bowl, beat eggs, egg yolk, and sugar until well mixed.
  • Add milk and beat until incorporated, then add cinnamon, vanilla, bourbon, and salt. Pour into a 13″ x 9″ pan and set aside.
  • Preheat a non-stick skillet or, better yet, a cast iron griddle, over medium heat.
  • When hot, add a small pad of butter and melt.
  • Meanwhile, soak bread slices in custard for about 30 seconds to a minute per side.
  • When foaming subsides, place bread slices on griddle and cook for 3 minutes per side or until golden brown.
  • Add a small amount of butter in between batches. Toasts can be kept warm in a 250° oven.
  • Serve with warm maple syrup, butter, jam, powdered sugar, or any other delicious topping!


Saturday Morning (Lazy) Breakfast

May 8, 2010

This morning was a lazy one, to be sure. While we woke up at a decent time and had an early morning coffee, I spent the rest of the morning reading the news and catching up on e-mail while Jared played video games (again). It wasn’t until 11 or so that we even thought about eating.

Mornings like this are wonderful and a luxury, so why not have a wonderful and luxurious breakfast to go along with it? This frittata, which you could make in any number of ways, is delicious with it’s sweet red peppers, creamy, tangy feta cheese, and rich eggy custard. It also makes a great dinner alongside a simple green salad.


Red Pepper and Feta Frittata

6 eggs
3 T. half and half or milk
1 t. warm water
Pinch of kosher salt
2 T. butter or olive oil
1/4 c. finely chopped red pepper
1 small shallot, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
Black pepper, to taste
1/4 c. crumbled feta cheese
1/4 t. dried oregano or 2 T. fresh parsley, minced

  • Turn on oven broiler to high, and place oven rack to highest position for broiling.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk eggs, half and half, water, and salt until well combined. Set aside.
  • In a broiler-safe nonstick skillet over medium heat, melt butter until foam subsides (if using oil, wait until oil is glossy and hot).
  • Add shallot and red pepper and saute until soft and shallot is translucent, about 1-2 minutes.
  • Add garlic and saute another 30 seconds.
  • Add egg mixture and stir to evenly incorporate pepper mixture into the eggs. Turn heat down to medium-low.
  • Let cook without stirring for 3-4 minutes or until the eggs are cooked about halfway through. The mixture on top will still be very wet and uncooked.
  • Transfer pan to the oven and cook under the broiler for about 2-3 minutes or until the eggs are puffy and cooked through. For the last 30 seconds, top the frittata evenly with feta cheese.
  • Remove from the oven and let stand for 30 seconds.
  • Using a rubber spatula, loosen the bottom of the frittata from the pan by running the spatula around the sides and bottom.
  • Slide the frittata out onto a serving plate, sprinkle with black pepper, dried oregano or parsley, and slice into wedges. Serve.

I served this frittata with challah toast topped with a sprinkling of olive oil and dijon mustard. Delicious for a slow Saturday morning. Then I went out and mowed the lawn…that part was not so much fun.




April 29, 2010

For the second time this week I’ve been seduced by the call of the Minimalist. This time, I was thinking about a video from back in February about Yakisoba. He describes the sauce for yakisoba as any number of ingredients — mostly condiments — that make up a slightly sweet and salty, though decidedly Asian sauce.

Yakisoba was a fairly common meal in our house growing up. We’d buy the fresh egg noodles from that Maruchan company (yup, the same people who make every college student’s Ramen stash), stir fry up some pork or chicken, vegetables, and pour on the sauce from the package. Honestly, I still crave that meal sometimes. It’s that good. And in fact, I don’t discourage you from trying it.

Nevertheless making your own sauce is really simple so there’s not a whole lot of reason to not do it. And while yakisoba is made with chinese-style egg noodles traditionally, I actually enjoy the tenderness of Japanese soba noodles, made with buckwheat. You could use any number of noodles that you’d like, including Italian angel hair (in a pinch), but I’d stick with either tradition or soba.


For the sauce:
1/4 c. soy sauce
1/4 c. worcestershire sauce
2 T. mirin, honey, or sugar
2 T. ketchup
2-3 dashes (to taste) tabasco sauce PLUS 1 dash or more sriracha if you have it.
1/2 t. dijon mustard

Everything else:
2 T. ginger, minced
1 T. garlic, minced
3 thin-sliced pork chops, cut into strips
2 carrots, finely diced or shredded
1 small head savoy cabbage, shredded (about 3 cups or to taste)
Any other vegetable you love, like snow peas or mushrooms, about the same quantity as carrots.

  • Mix all the sauce ingredients together in a small bowl, set aside. (boy that was easy)
  • Bring a pot full of salty water to a boil over medium high heat. When boiling, boil noodles according to package until tender. Drain in a colander and toss with a little sesame oil to prevent sticking. Set aside. (see? nothing to it!)
  • In a large skillet or Chinese wok heat 3 tablespoons of peanut oil until hot. Add ginger and garlic and saute for 60 seconds or so.
  • Add pork and saute until it begins to brown. Don’t worry about fully cooking the meat here as it will continue to cook as we continue on to the next step.
  • Add carrots and cabbage and saute for about 5 minutes until the vegetables are tender. You might need a little water in case it starts to stick. I didn’t though.
  • Add noodles and sauce and toss together until well combined and the noodles are warmed through.
  • Serve, garnished with chopped scallions and more sriracha to taste.

Here’s the before and after. Clearly we liked it.


Balsamic Marinated Skirt Steak

April 28, 2010

Believe me, I love me some good fajitas. But you know, I live in San Diego and Mexican food is everywhere. Really good Mexican food. Everywhere. So when I saw some really great skirt steak at the market this week, I thought of taking the fajita steak staple and turn it into something a little different, something say, Italian.

Well, wouldn’t you know it I made a nice tangy balsamic marinade and then turned my attention to the side dish options. I roasted up some bell peppers, sauteed some onions and before I knew it, I was one tortilla away from, you guessed it, fajitas.

Thank God we were out of tortillas. How embarrassing!

Back to the steak (I’m eating it as I’m writing this, by the way, so I can tell you it’s delicious and you should make it tonight). The marinade was a simple mix of balsamic, olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic, some dried herbs (thyme, oregano, and fennel seed and yes you could use fresh herbs here, too), red pepper flakes, and fresh parsley. Poured over the steak and marinaded for an hour the steak was incredibly flavorful and sweet.

So skirt steak isn’t just for fajitas anymore! They’re also for, well, okay Italian fajitas.

Balsamic Marinated Skirt Steak

1/2 c. olive oil
1/3 c. balsamic vinegar
1 t. dijon or yellow mustard
1 T. kosher salt
1 t. ground black pepper
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2 t. each oregano, thyme, fennel seed
1 t. dried crushed red pepper flakes
1 small handful fresh parsley leaves, chopped
1 lb. – 1.5 lbs. skirt steak, cut into 4-6″ pieces (any more than this and you’ll probably need to increase quantity of the marinade)

  • Sprinkle steak pieces with a small amount of kosher salt on both sides, set aside for 10 minutes or up to a day.
  • Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix all ingredients (except the steak) together until they form a smooth sauce. Pour into a quart-sized zip log bag. Add steak and marinate for 1-2 hours. I wouldn’t go for too long here because a) the steaks are thin and b) it will get pretty salty after too much longer. Honestly a short marinade time here will be fine.
  • Heat a small amount of olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium high heat. When hot, sear each steak for 60 seconds on each side until brown.
  • Remove steaks from heat and immediately wrap in foil for 10 minutes.
  • Cut steaks across the grain and serve as you please.



Radicchio and Shrimp Soup with Rice

April 27, 2010

Every week or so, Mark Bittman writes another column and produces a short video segment for the New York Times under his culinary pseudonym, The Minimalist. Those of you who have read this blog for a while will recognize that many of the dishes that I prepare on a regular basis come straight from either the Minimalist column or from his cookbook, modestly titled The Best Recipes in the World.

Tonight’s quick meal is no exception. After having watched his video on a soup made from bitter greens, rice, and water, I thought I’d make my own version, enhancing the flavors a bit and making it a bit heartier for a springtime supper.

A thoughts: radicchio (and the escarole Bittman uses) is quite bitter. If bitter’s not your thing, swiss chard or even spinach could be used in this recipe, though the cooking times would have to be adjusted. I like the bitterness of the greens though, and encourage you to try them. It cooks up in 20 minutes, makes plenty of leftovers, and is just really good.

Radicchio and Shrimp Soup with Rice
Adapted from Mark Bittman’s The Minimalist

1 slice of bacon
1/2 small onion, minced (about 1/2 cup)
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
Scant 1/2 c. short grain white rice, such as arborio
1/4 c. dry white wine.
1 head radicchio, cleaned and coarsely chopped (about 3-4 cups)
6 c. good chicken broth or stock
1 c. small shrimp, peeled and deveined
Kosher salt and pepper, to taste

  • In a dutch oven or large, deep saute pan, heat a small amount of olive oil over medium heat until hot. Add bacon and fry until fat is rendered. Reserve the bacon (minced) as garnish.
  • Add onions and saute for a minute or two until translucent. Add garlic and continue to saute for 30 seconds more. Add rice and cook for 1 minute.
  • Add white wine and stir until absorbed. Then add greens and stock, sprinkle with kosher salt and pepper, and cover.
  • Turn heat down to medium low and simmer for 20 minutes or until the greens and rice are both tender.
  • Add shrimp and cover until shrimp are cooked through.
  • Adjust seasonings, garnish with bacon, and serve with crusty bread.

And once I get my camera back from my friend, these photos will improve. I’ve included (probably illegally) Mark Bittman’s for comparison (his is the pretty one).


Spanish Garlic Shrimp

April 1, 2010

Amazing. I can’t believe I haven’t posted this recipe yet. This is one of those stand-bys in my house that I make, say, monthly. These shrimp are incredibly versatile. You end up with these tender shrimp and incredibly aromatic and flavorful olive oil perfect for dipping bread after you’ve polished off the shrimp.

Here’s a few serving suggestions, just to get you started:

  • toss some cooked spaghetti noodles into the pan when you’re finished and you have a quick and delicious pasta dish
  • serve over warm cheesy polenta for shrimp and grits
  • three or four of these shrimp on top of a green salad make an ordinary garden salad look like the start to a a gourmet feast
  • make a quick saffron garlic aioli and drizzle on top for a aromatic Spanish appetizer

As you can see the possibilities are quite endless. So peel some shrimp and get started!

Spanish Garlic Shrimp

16-20 medium-sized shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 nice sized pinches of kosher salt
1/4 c. good extra virgin olive oil
1/4 c. yellow onion or shallots, minced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 T. smoked paprika (or sweet will do, too)
1 t. fennel seeds
1/4 t. or to taste crushed red pepper flakes
1 T. lemon juice (optional)
Chopped italian parsley, to garnish

  • Toss prepared shrimp with kosher salt, set aside
  • Pre-heat a large skillet over medium heat. When hot, add olive oil. Warm for 30 seconds.
  • Add onions and saute for 30-45 seconds. Add garlic, paprika, fennel seeds, and red pepper flakes and cook until aromatic.
  • Add shrimp, making sure not to crowd them too tightly. There should be a little space in between each shrimp. This helps avoid steaming the shrimp, which you don’t want to do.
  • Cook for 2-3 minutes, flip shrimp over and cook for another 2 minutes, until cooked through but still tender.
  • Add lemon juice (if using) and garnish with parsley. Serve immediately.

Enjoy, everyone! Come back tomorrow for Strawberry Shortcake with this season’s first strawberries. Delicious!


Potatoes Stewed in Tomato Sauce

March 31, 2010

Tonight was taco night at our house, called either Bell Manor or Chateau Klonsky, depending on who you are talking to at any given moment. Using leftover roast chicken, some jack cheese, crisp lettuce and the following potatoes stewed in tomato sauce, I wish taco night was every night.

These simple potatoes I gathered from some recipe or another. but are most recently inspired by a Pakistani dish in Art Smith’s Back to the Table. My version is decidedly NOT Pakistani, and much closely resembles southern Italian flavors than anything else, but nevertheless, it made for some great chicken tacos. Enjoy!

1/4 c. minced onion
1 small clove of garlic
1 T. fresh thyme
1/2 t. fennel seeds
1/8 t. cayenne pepper or a few dashes hot sauce, to taste
3 small yukon gold potatoes, diced into 1/2″ cubes
1.5 c. tomato puree (I use Pomì brand, but you could always make your own, too!)
1 t. kosher salt
Black pepper, to taste
1/4 c. water

  • In a pre-heated skillet (over medium-low heat), heat a tablespoon or two of oil until hot, then add onions.
  • Saute onions until translucent, about two minutes. Add garlic, herbs, and spices. If using hot sauce, omit a this step and add at the very end.
  • When the kitchen begins to fill with the scents of thyme and fennel, add potatoes.
  • Cook potatoes for about 5 minutes, or until they begin to soften a bit.
  • Add tomato sauce, salt and pepper.
  • Cook until the potatoes are tender. If the mixture gets too dry, add water as necessary. When the potatoes are finished cooking, no water should remain in the pan, creating a thick, flavorful and aromatic sauce.
  • Add hot sauce, if using, and adjust seasoning to taste.
  • Serve, say, in a chicken taco! Alternatively, you could spoon over brown rice, or on a bed of mixed roasted vegetables.