Monday, May 24, 2010

The Secret To Perfect French Toast, Cutest Ever Children's Snack, and The Best All-American Dinner... Not Bad For A Monday :)

I consider myself to be somewhat of an expert on the subject of breakfast, especially in the realm of pancakes and french toast. It was with great skepticism then, that I put a recent tip into practice.... Cook your french toast in oil as opposed to butter. Don't you need butter to lend flavor? I decided to leave that to my hot buttered rum raisin sauce and found that the new frying method made this dish fantastically good, with a crisp outer texture and a soft slight chewiness in the center... everything you never knew you always wanted in french toast.

French Toast with Hot Buttered Rum Raisin Sauce

the toast
8 slices challah bread, sliced 3/4 in thick
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups of milk
1 TBS sugar
canola oil for frying

the sauce
2 TBS butter
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 TBS rum
1/3 cup raisins

mix the egg, milk, and sugar in a large bowl or a sqaure pyrex type dish that will allow you to soak the bead in it for 30 seconds or so per side
heat a large pan over med high, add the oil, and heat until a drop of batter spatters when dropped in
cook the bread for 1 to 2 minutes per side and allow to rest on paper towels until ready to serve.
to make the sauce, remove the pan from the heat and drain the oil
add the butter, syrup, rum, and raisins, and swirl in pan until combined and heated through
pour over french toast and devour

Humpty Dumpty sat in a pot, Humpty Dumpty got really hot, we colored his shell, and then when he fell, we really enjoyed him a lot! This is a snack idea that I came up with that is super easy, fun, and nutritious. Hard boil an egg or two per child (something that can be done days in advance), have them decorate the eggs like little Humpty Dumpties (Isabella decided to make a Mrs. Dumpty as well) and then have them peel and eat! If you add some fruit or perhaps a few crackers and cheese, voila, you have lunch done! This also is a great picnic combo, or, if your child old enough to be school-aged and young enough to not be embarrassed by you, make your own little 'mom' picture or message on the hard boiled eggs and send them off in the lunch bag.

Most of us love good ol' American homecooking....there is so much comfort (and calories) that can come from a piece of meat and two side dishes that everyone seems to have their favorite recipes in this genre. After you try these sides however, you'll never look back! I had my mother and a good friend of mine over for dinner last night and they both commented on the green beans, saying "I never knew green beans could taste like that". Macaroni and cheese is one of my all time favorite foods- anytime is is featured on a menu, in an aritcle, or in a cookbook, I have to try it out. What I leave you with is what I have found, through all of those taste tests and my own personal experimentation, to be the ultimate macaroni and cheese. Super creamy, slight crunch on top, and if you opt for the drizzle of white truffle oil, a symphony of I-don't-know-what.... it is superb.

Jenna's Best Ever Green Beans

2 TBS olive oil
1 to 1/2 lbs french green beans (hericots verts)
scant 1/4 cup small diced onion
3 cloves or garlic, mined
1 TBS fresh chopped basil, or 1 tsp or so, dried
1/2 cup hot water
scant 1/4 cup sugar
1 tps sea salt
a few grinds of fresh pepper

heat the olive oil over med high heat and sauté the garlic and onion until soft and fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes.
add all other ingredients and let cook for 15 to 20 minutes until beans have desired tenderness

Jenna's Best Ever Macaroni and Cheese

1 and 1/2 cups macaroni (I prefer a whole grain pasta I this recipe)
1 1/2 cups of evaporated milk
2 eggs
1 tsp tsp whole grain or dijon mustard
1 tsp salt
dash of hot sauce
2 TBS butter
2 1/2 cups freshly grated cheddar cheese (preferably raw-milk for ultimate creaminess, Alta Dena is a great brand)

1 cup fresh white bread crumbs*
1 TBS butter

*To make fresh bread crumbs, simple remove the crusts from some fresh white bread and blend in a food pocessor for a few seconds. Make a big batch and store in a ziploc in the freezer- they keep great! If you purchase bread crumbs from the grocery store READ THE LABLE as most of the brands have all manner of fortified nastiness in them.

mix the egg, milk mustard, hot sauce, salt and pepper in a small bowl
in a medium saucepan, cook the noodles in salted and oiled boiling water al dente, 7 or 8 minutes, drain and return to pan
add the 2 TBS butter to the pasta, then add the milk and egg mixture along with the cheese and allow to thicken, stirring occasionally for 3 or 4 minutes
meanwhile, make taosted breadcrums...
put 1 TBS butter in a pan over medium heat until it stops foaming
add the breadcrumbs, stir for a few minutes until golden
serve atop the macaroni and drizzle with white truffle oil

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