Saturday, May 30, 2009

French Toast

I know that french toast is one of those things that you can't really mess up, but just because you can't mess it up doesn't mean you can't make it better! Now which one of these is gonna fill your belly and make you smile on a Saturday morning??

The other night we went to one of those pancake houses, and I never order breakfast food from those places but I wanted something sweet so I did... I ordered french toast, when it arrived it got me thinking about how many people settle for this stuff that they call french toast. I have visited Paris when I was a young girl but I have never lived there so what I am about to say is just my 2 cents and may be wrong but I think in France the bread is as good as it is in Sicily, Spain, Italy... it isn't flat sandwich style bread. It is a nice hearty bread. It is the kind of bread you can make a meal out of. I don't think french toast was ever meant to be the flat flimsy stuff we eat these days. OK rant over... we had french toast this morning, and I thought I would share it. Although I am not sure it needs a recipe but I will let you know what all I used.

The custard
6 eggs
1-2 cup or so of whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons of vanilla (I don't measure but it was close to that)
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 tablespoon cinnamon

The most important part of the meal the bread...I try to get the day old bread so my type of bread will vary from a french loaf to a brioche (the best but really costly) again, what ever is on the reduced rack. Today it was a mountain loaf, sometimes called farmers bread.

You need to slice the bread the night before and let it sit out and get a little dry. Please slice it thick about 1-2 inches. I usually put it in a paper bag so I don't have to worry about the kids finding it and eating it all before breakfast! You want to soak the bread in the custard for a min or so before throwing it in the pan. We are coming along nicely here!! I used a lot of sugar in the custard so the sugar will caramelize (burns... caramelize just sounds yummier) on the toast so I like to let it get a little darker than this that caramelized sugar on top is just so yummy. Plus you want to make sure you give it time to cook inside since it is thicker.

Time to eat!

Now in my opinion this is what french toast is suppose to look like.

It was so yummy my little girl couldn't stay out of it, I told her not to touch it until we were all sitting... so she licked it! :o)

Friday, May 29, 2009

Flank steak with Chimichurri sauce and corn on the cob with compound butter

Chimichurri sauce is a great one to know. This is a great sauce to use as a maranaide or as a topping for any meat. You can flavor it as you like the basic recipe I use is 2 parts parsley to 1 part cilantro. A lot of people really love the flavor of cilantro and if that is you then use equal parts but I think cilantro can be a little overpowering.
Here is what is in it today.
2 bunches parsley
1 bunch cilantro
zest of 1 lemon
juice of 1/2 lemon
a few tablespoons red wine vinager
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoonsish of olive oil (here I like to use the extra virgin becasue I use this as a finishing sauce)
a shake of crushed red pepper flakes

Throw it all in the food processor and let her rip!

And here you have the star of the show. It is best to let this sit in the chillbox for at least an hour so the flavors mix up for you.

I rubbed both sides of the meat with this and let it sit about 30 minutes.

Then we threw them on a nice HOT grill.

A compound butter is also a wonderful thing to have on hand. This one has a mexican flare with cliantro and lime zest that is it 3 sticks of butter 1 bunch of cilantro and the zest of 1 lime. Toss it in the food processor and .....

When it is mixed roll into a log in a little plastic wrap and put in the chill box or the freezer. You will see the beautiful specks of cliantro on the corn in the later pictures it is so beautiful.

Speaking of corn all I do is peel back the husks and get all the strings off, then pull the husks back over the corn and throw it on the grill... it is a great way to have corn the flavor is so wonderful you almost don't need the compound butter... almost :o)

And then you can pull the husks back and you have great corn "handles". See the pretty green specs on the corn?

A little extra chimichurri sauce on the steak and you have a very flavorful dinner! YUM!!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Pork scallopini in a garlic and white wine sauce with couscous

I LOVE finding a good sale! I got two packs of boneless pork chops for less than $3 This was a great budget friendly meal. Lets break it down a little...
Pork $3
1 box couscous $2
1 box Swanson chicken broth$2
OK only $7 I did use a few other things but I always have garlic olive oil and wine laying around so I am not adding it into the cost. Not bad to feed a family of 5!! And it was just DEEELISH!!!

To flatten pork I wrap my cutting board in plastic wrap then lay the pork and cover it with another sheet of plastic this is great for a few reasons, it keeps the meat from falling apart while you are pounding and you just toss the plastic and there is no meat mess to clean up:)

Pound that baby flat!

I thinly sliced about 6 cloves of garlic and fried them SLOW AND LOW until crisp and lightly golden. Remove the garlic and you have your garlic infused oil to cook the meat in.

My cooking station, ready to go chops, pan of seasoned flour (salt pepper and granulated garlic)

You just want them slightly golden like this don't over cook them they are supper thin so they cook fast.

This is the wine I used tonight it a little more than the walmart wine but this is the wine we had with dinner last night so I had some left over. But the wine makes the sauce so even if you have to use the 2 dollar wine it is better than skipping it. By the way I really liked this wine it ran about $12 but it is a nice pinot grigio.

After the meat is cooked add a cup or so of wine and 2 cups of chicken stock and let reduce until you can run a spoon and see the drag line. Then put your pork back into the pan turn off the heat and cover and hold until ready to serve.

I LOVE couscous! If you haven't tried it you should it is a tiny little pasta that cooks in no time you will be amazed to see how it is cooked!!
I like the whole grain it has a great texture and more flavor than the white stuff. See how tiny it is! (pardon the lovely shot of the hand :)
Dump the box into a bowl (I like to use metal for this but glass works too)
Bring 2 cups liquid (I always use a broth, here we used the chicken broth) to a boil
Pour the hot liquid over the couscous give it a little stir and cover with plastic that is it baby! Let her sit for at least 5 minutes and you have it ... I always add a little parm and parsley.

Plate up your scallopini and top with the crispy garlic and fresh parsley. Doesn't that look YUMMY!!?!

Dinner is served! We had a little roasted veg with parm and crusty bread with a little olive oil (extra virgin) to dip the bread in. I tell you what, we ate good! I made this entire meal for 5 for less than you would pay for a plate at your local dive.