Saturday, November 30, 2013

FFwD: Sugar-Coated French Toast

We celebrated Thanksgiving last Saturday. My in-laws are here, and we had big plans to go to Rome during Matt's 4-day weekend on actual Thanksgiving. Sunday, Charlie and I got sick. Tuesday, our dogsitter cancelled on us, and we couldn't find a replacement on such short notice. End result: Charlie and I are on the mend, though still congested, sitting around the house, staring at my dog, while Matt and his parents are eating awesome food and touring wonders of the world. Clearly, I win, since I don't have to get out of my pj's if I don't want to. Suckaaas.

At the supermarket yesterday (the humiliations of which you can read about here), I decided that I was going to get off my slacker butt and make this week's French Fridays with Dorie recipe, even if I had  no access to/no plans to make my own challah or brioche. I found these weird little rolls:
The bag says "Venezianina al burro." Burro means butter, so this was the closest I was going to come to a buttery bread. Italians don't bake with butter often, in case you were wondering. After a year of consideration, I've decided that butterless baked goods, and the fact that brown sugar doesn't exist here are the two key factors that drive Italians crazy for chocolate chip cookies. Want to feel good about your baking skills? Gift brownies or chocolate chip cookies to an Italian. They'll claim it's the greatest thing they've ever eaten. At first I thought they were making fun of me, but I now think they're sincere.

I downsized the recipe, since I was only making it for me and wee man. Even still, these rolls had plenty of cream, milk, and eggy goodness to soak in. The thing that makes this recipe really special is that you melt butter in the pan, sprinkle the butter with a good amount of sugar, and then add the drenched bread. This creates a creme brulee crispy sugar effect. Oh baby.
In the future, I may once in a while steal the sugar trick and just add it to my normal no-cream, no-extra-egg-yolks, less-of-a-heart-attack version of french toast. It would turn it into a treat, no cream necessary.

I thought for sure Charlie would eat this dessert-for-breakfast. He was way more interested in the whipped cream I made to accompany it. At some point I told him that I was taking the bowl of whipped cream away if he didn't taste the french toast. He allowed a bite into his mouth, acted like I'd poisoned him, spit it back onto his plate, then carried on with the whipped cream. That's right, my kid had a bowl of whipped cream for breakfast. Don't judge. It's not like creamy buttery bread crusted in sugar really makes a complete meal.
"This tastes buono!" Gotta love his Austrian-run, Italian-teachered, also speaks English school.
Here are two catch-up recipes. I did actually cook these on time, with the group. I just never blogged about them. I didn't have much to say about them then, and I don't have much to say about them now. They were fine. More hassle than they were worth, and they're not the best versions of roast chicken or pot roast I've ever had. They're not even the best versions in this book. So, photographic evidence that I made:
Hurry-Up-And-Wait Roast Chicken
Boeuf a la Mode
I'm pleased to say that I finally, FINALLY found a celery root at the supermarket, so I'll be able to catch up on Dorie's celery root puree soon. I saw it, I nabbed it. Unfortunately, I didn't realize I'd also need potatoes until I got home and read the recipe. Eventually, all ingredients will be in my house simultaneously.

Thursday, November 14, 2013


My in-laws have come to visit, and are staying for a month, so I doubt I'll be updating the blog much while they're here. They're off on a tour of the National Archaeological Museum here in Naples right now, so I'm stealing five minutes to knock out a quick post.

I made (Bowties) al Ragu (pg 113 of Rome), because Charlie's revived his food-related stubbornness, and I thought surely he'd eat it, as he asks for "red spaghetti" all the time. I was wrong. Wouldn't taste it. This sauce took two hours to cook, and came out tasting exactly like my Grandma's. That's not a good thing. Grandma is German. Her red sauce comes out of a can. It's fine, but hers takes a whopping three minutes to make/heat up.
Conclusion: Just okay. Absolutely not worth the time, effort, or 1/4 cup of wine that could be put to better use in my glass.

The following night, I made Spaghetti alla Carbonara (pg 98), because it's one of Charlie's go-to restaurant orders, and I wanted to try it at home before my in-laws arrived. They both have assorted fat and carb-related dietary restrictions, so I didn't want to serve it to them. Not the greatest carbonara I've ever eaten, but very good, and Charlie INHALED it, exclaiming all the while, "This spaghetti is AMAZING." This has never happened before, for anything I've cooked. I wish more food made him happy. Despite the caloric consequences, carbonara may need to show up at my table a little more often.
Conclusion: Liked it, calories be damned.

My mother in law is a fan of biscotti, so I made Tozzetti (pg 173). I'm rarely totally happy with how my biscotti turns out. Either it's the wrong texture, falls apart when I'm slicing it, the chocolate melts all over the place, etc etc. This hazelnut biscotti recipe was a pain in the ass in dough form. It was super sticky and wet, and the directions ("using a spatula, transfer the rectangles to the prepared baking sheet") indicate that it was not supposed to be. There was no transference via spatula. I basically had to glop it over with my hands and form it into a mostly-oblong shape. However, once baked the first time, they sliced perfectly, and turned out exactly the way I expect a store-bought biscotti to be.
Conclusion: Loved them.

A few from Feast: 

Know how I'm always disappointed by "fast" Indian recipes by non-Indian people? Nigella's Keema (pg 234) is a wonderful, quick version of the minced meat and peas that I like to make when I have two hours. It's not as flavorful as Jaffrey's version, but it's got lots of spice and lots of flavor, and takes a third of the time. I can now eat Indian on a weeknight. Thank you, Nigella.

Conclusion: Loved it.

The Quadruple Chocolate Loaf Cake (pg 272) is moist and rich and delicious. This is one of my favorite things I've baked in a long time. My one complaint is that the recipe says to line the loaf pan with plastic wrap. Nigella puts your worries to rest, saying, "Don't panic, it won't melt." Lies, I tell you! Lies! It DID melt. It disappeared into my cake, so I cut thickly around the sides and bottom of the cake. According to the FAQ on her website, she has changed this instruction to line with buttered foil. Didn't help me last time, but it will help me next time.
I had to serve this to company. Good thing it tasted good.
Conclusion: Loved it.

Slime Soup (pg 350) is a nice, easy, more-filling (it's blitzed with mozzarella) pea soup made from frozen peas. It's from the Halloween section, thus the title. I served this to my in-laws, without sharing the name with them, and they liked it.
Conclusion: liked it.