Category: brunch

Panettone French Toast

Sometimes, I procrastinate.

This recipe is something that I’ve wanted to make for years. YEARS. Why have I never done it? Procrastination, my friends. Well, that, and severe lack of Panettone. Now that I live in Little, Little Italy (Lasalle), there is an abundance of this fluffy Italian treat – at all times of year! So many varieties to choose from in fact, that I found it slightly overwhelming. Do I want currant Panettone? Chocolate Panettone? Coffee Panettone? Mixed Fruits? Original? Yellow? White? Which brand do I choose? (Italians and Panettone lovers, please weigh in on this – I still don’t know!)
Once my choice was made (chocolate-filled!), I decided to go ahead and let it sit on my counter for weeks. You see, I’m SO good at procrastinating, that I also procrastinate eating things. How does someone NOT consume an entire pannetone all by themselves? Self-control, people. Self. Control.  I knew that this particular panettone was destined for great things. This particular panettone was born to be transformed. This particular panettone would soon become a marvelously chocolatey, marvelously boozy breakfast miracle. Five months and mucho procrastination later, I share with you the one and only way that you’ll ever want to eat panettone again.
Panettone French Toast with Chocolate
an original recipe by allison sklar

Notes:  Leftover panettone freezes very well, and is easier to cut into cubes when frozen. Don’t use more than half of your panettone at a time, or you’ll end up with an overflowing pan, soggy toast, and unhappy tastebuds.

ingredients

1/2 packaged panettone, cut into cubes
1/4 cup chocolate chips

2 tbsp Nutella

2 tbsp milk


6 eggs

1/4 cup 15% cream
1/4 cup Bailey’s or chocolate liqueur 
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp brown sugar



method
Line a 9×13″ baking tray with parchment paper. Place cubes evenly into tray. Sprinkle with chocolate chips.

In a microwave safe bowl, heat milk and nutella for about 20 seconds, until soft. Whisk together and drizzle over toast.

Whisk together eggs,  cream, liqueur, vanilla and sugar until very frothy. Pour over panettone mixture.

Bake at 350F for 25 to 30 minutes, or until set and golden. 

Serve hot, sprinkled with icing sugar if desired.




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Frittata Frittata

Is there anything prettier than a frittata? When done right, this easy meal makes for a stellar sunday brunch centrepiece. The awesome thing about these that the variation possibilities are endless. Veggies, meats, cheeses… Mix and match your favourite combo, arrange it in the dish, pour your egg mixture over it, bake, and voila! Frittata magic.

Some of my favourite variations:

Smoked gouda & figs
Olives, arugula & feta
Pears & brie
Bell peppers, cheddar & mushrooms
Cheddar & apple
Chard & chile

So go ahead, impress your guests & get your frittata on!

Spinach, Goat Cheese & Tomato Frittata
an original recipe by allison sklar

ingredients
6 large eggs
1/4 cup cream (15% or higher)
2 tsp corn starch
1/2 cup chopped spinach
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 log goat cheese, crumbled
salt, pepper & fresh thyme
oil or butter, for greasing

method
Whisk cornstarch into cream. Whisk eggs with cream mixture until frothy. Mix in goat cheese, spinach and spices. Pour into greased 9″ or 10″ shallow round baking dish. Arrange cherry tomatoes on top. Bake at 325F for about 25 minutes, until eggs are set and no longer runny. Serve hot.

Stuffed Dates with Pistachios

Quick! You just found out that you have guests coming over and you haven’t had time to cook up any appetizers. You know they’re going to be hungry as soon as they walk in the door. What do you do? Simple. You make these stuffed dates, of course! These babies have been a lifesaver for me, time and again. So quick to throw together, and always a hit. It’s a little sweet and savoury gourmet at your fingertips. Make a couple right now, just to see what all the hype is about. But, be warned. These beauties are highly addictive. I got the idea for these at a NYE gathering one year. The host had put out something very similar, using pine nuts instead. I happened to have pistachios at home when I decided to try it out. If you want to add a really interesting middle eastern twist, you can try adding a tiny drop of rosewater and a pinch of cardamom to the cheese. Note that rosewater isn’t for everyone, though I think it works perfectly in this setting.

Stuffed Dates with Pistachios and Honey
makes 24

24 medjool dates, pits removed
1 tub old fashioned cream cheese (Liberté brand, if you’re in Canada) or plain goat cheese
1/2 cup shelled pistachios
Honey, for garnish
Rosewater (optional)
Cardamom (optional)

Open up your dates on the long side, removing the pit and creating an opening to hold the cheese. (If using rosewater and cardamom, mix into cheese now!) Spread cheese inside and top with pistachios. Arrange on a platter and drizzle with honey.
(Seriously, seriously simple.)

Peaches and Cream (Grilled Peach Melba Sundaes)

What better way to test out our new BBQ than by grilling… peaches?! No but seriously. That’s exactly what we did last weekend. An unexpectedly delicious combination, the charred brown sugar and butter coating resulted in an explosion of flavour. We got so excited about it that we started grilling other fruits too. We tried out some pineapple, and I can’t wait to try grilling bananas next. I’m telling you, if you haven’t tasted grilled fruit yet, you really haven’t lived. Tossed into a fish taco, cubed up in a salad, on little toothpicks with cheese… the BBQ takes fruit to a whole new level! 

Alright, let’s get back to the peaches. So imagine this. Smoky sweet peaches. On top of vanilla ice cream. Drizzled with warm raspberry syrup. Topped off with fresh berries and a sprinkle of toasted slivered almonds.
Yeah. You know you want it. 
This über summery dessert would look super cute all layered up in a mason jar, but I opted to serve it in crystal wine glasses instead, putting a fancy twist on a casual sundae. What a hit! I threw on a dollop of fresh whipped chantilly cream (I couldn’t help myself), and a dash of cinnamon. Perfection in a glass. 
Now now, I can’t take all the credit. Though the cinnamon was my idea, the whole recipe actually comes from Canadian Living’s wonderful July issue, on newsstands today! But just for you, loyal readers, I’ll include a link to the recipe below so that you can try it out yourself. It’s quick and easy, and looks as fab as it tastes. Throwing together a last minute brunch and don’t have time to make the raspberry syrup? Don’t fret. Some store bought jam would work in it’s place! Oh, and take my advice, top it with a dash of cinnamon. It brings all the flavours together so nicely. 
Peach pit removal tip: to remove peaches from the pits, slice down the middle and twist while the skins are still on. If your peaches are ripe enough, the pit should come out without much fuss! 
For the full recipe, click here. 

Stellar Brunch (Oven-baked french toast with caramel sauce)

Springtime peeked it’s shy little head out to say hello to us Montrealers this week, and I instantly felt excited & inspired. There’s just something about warm weather and sunshine that get me into a crafty mood. Quite a good time to be feeling creative, as I’ve had a lot of decorating to do recently: we’ve officially moved into our new apartment! The perfect way to settle in? A good old-fashioned Sunday Brunch!

Though bagels and lox are generally my choice brunch food, I decided to make something a little more decadent this time. Introducing Oven Baked French Toast, and her bff, Caramel Sauce. Make this for your next brunch if you’re looking for a dish that is surprisingly quick & easy, and as eye-catching as it is tasty. Bonus: the air will fill with a warm, sweet aroma as your guests arrive.

This is a decadent, salty-meets-sweet, stick-to-your-ribs kind of breakfast – definitely weekend food! Tip: to make it extra yummy, you can prepare it the night before so the bread really gets some time to soak up the eggy goodness. This is also a perfect way to use up some stale bread you have lying around – once it soaks up the egg mixture, it’ll come right back to life!

Oven Baked French Toast
an original recipe by allison sklar

NOTE: I’ve included two versions of caramel sauce here. One is a shortcut (no-fail) caramel, and the other is the traditional method that we were taught in pastry school. They yield slightly different flavours, and the shortcut method is a little more rich. If you’ve never made caramel before, I suggest you try the shortcut method first!

what you’ll need

french toast
1 small loaf of your favourite bread, sliced or cubed
(challah bread, or other fluffy, soft bread works best)
6 eggs (8 if using a large amount of bread)*
1/4 cup icing sugar*
4 tbsp milk or cream
1 tbsp vanilla
2 tbsp cinnamon sugar **
1 to 2 tbsp butter, melted

caramel sauce (traditional method)
460g granulated sugar
160ml water
240g light/white corn syrup
125ml heavy (35%) cream
2 tbsp butter
pinch sea salt

OR 

caramel sauce (shortcut method)
1 cup packed brown sugar
3 tbsp butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
pinch sea salt

how to do it

french toast
Place all of your bread in a large mixing bowl.
Beat eggs with icing sugar until colour turns light yellow and mixture becomes fluffy.
Whisk in milk (or cream) and vanilla. Pour over bread and toss to coat. Allow to sit until mixture is absorbed, about 10 minutes. This mixture can also be prepared overnight.*

Grease a shallow, oven-safe dish with butter. Preheat oven to 325F. Lay bread mixture evenly into dish. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Bake for approximately 30 minutes, or until bread is golden brown. Meanwhile, prepare caramel sauce.

caramel sauce (traditional method)
In a heavy bottomed saucepan, bring granulated sugar and water to a boil, while stirring with a heatproof spatula. Once mixture boils, stop stirring and reduce heat to medium. Continue cooking, brushing down the insides of the pot with a pastry brush dipped in water to avoid the formation of sugar crystals. Use a candy thermometer to bring the mixture up to 140C(285F). Carefully add in butter, cream and salt, stirring constantly. If mixture feels too thick, add more cream, a little at a time, until desired consistency is reached.

caramel sauce (shortcut method – no thermometer needed!)
In a heavy bottomed saucepan, warm butter over medium heat. Add brown sugar and cream. Stir with a heatproof spatula in figure 8 motion, until sugar is dissolved. Continue cooking, stirring slowly but constantly, until mixture begins to thicken, about 6 minutes. Voila! Caramel!

Pour sauce over hot french toast. Sprinkle with icing sugar or more cinnamon sugar just before serving.

Eat & enjoy!

notes
*If doing this overnight, increase the egg quantity to 8 to 10 eggs and the sugar to 1/3 cup.
** If you cannot find cinnamon sugar, make your own using equal parts of cinnamon to sugar.