Cheese-and-Jam French Toast Sandwiches

January 13, 2012 at 5:16 pm | Posted in breakfast things, sweet things | 9 Comments
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cheese-and-jam french toast sandwiches

By the time Wednesday rolls around, I’m usually thinking seriously about my weekend breakfast options.  Geez, that sounds pretty lame, but I eat granola and yogurt every morning during the workweek, so I’m more than ready for a switch-up by the time Saturday arrives.  Usually I’ll go with pancakes over French toast, but last weekend I couldn’t resist the photo of “French toast sandwiches” in a great breakfast cookbook I have.  This is a lot like stuffed French toast, except here you just sandwich together two slices of bread (I used homemade brioche that I had in the freezer) rather than making surgical-style incisions and injections into one fat slice.  The filling is just a schmear of soft cream cheese and your favorite jam.  I think a marmalade or a tart jam works best…I used my homemade plum jam here…especially if you plan to slosh it with maple syrup.

Cheese-and-Jam French Toast Sandwiches– makes four servings
adapted from Williams-Sonoma Breakfast Comforts by Rick Rodgers

4 eggs
1 cup milk
finely grated zest of 1 orange
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice or orange-flavored liqueur
1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
8 slices challah, brioche or other egg bread
4 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
6 tablespoons jam or orange marmalade
canola oil or butter for cooking
unsalted butter, at room temperature, for serving
maple syrup for serving

-Preheat the oven to 350°F.

-In a large shallow bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, orange zest, orange juice and vanilla. Lay one bread slice on a work surface and spread with one-fourth each of the cream cheese and jam. Top with another bread slice. Repeat with the remaining bread, cream cheese and jam.

-Preheat a griddle over medium-high heat until hot. Lightly oil the griddle.

-One at a time, dip the sandwiches into the egg mixture and turn gently to coat evenly, keeping the sandwiches intact. Let stand until the bread has soaked up some of the egg mixture, about 30 seconds.

-Remove the sandwiches from the egg mixture, letting the excess drip back into the bowl, and place on the hot griddle. Cook until golden brown underneath, about 2 minutes. Turn the sandwiches over and cook until browned on the other sides, about 2 minutes more. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet.

-When all four sandwiches are on the sheet, place the sheet in the oven and bake until the cream cheese melts, about 10 minutes.

-Serve the French toast sandwiches immediately with butter and maple syrup.

Tuesdays with Dorie: Basic Buttermilk Biscuits

October 11, 2011 at 12:20 am | Posted in biscuits & scones, breakfast things, groups, tuesdays with dorie | 15 Comments
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basic biscuits

…or something like that.  I had intended to make Buttermilk Biscuits.  I had followed the recipe…it said it was “basic.”  I had been having such good luck with scones recently that I thought biscuits would come out of the oven.  I’m pretty sure that, while what came out was delicious, it was technically not a biscuit. It was something more bready, with a bottom that had essentially fried in its own butter on the baking sheet.  More English muffiny maybe.  Whatever happened, this little breakfast roll was great with homemade jam…both apricot and concord grape.  I’ll have to try again for proper biscuits though.

For the recipe, see Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan or read Cooking for Comfort, as it was Jennifer’s pick this week. Don’t forget to check out the TWD Blogroll!

Concord Grape Jam

October 8, 2011 at 7:04 pm | Posted in breakfast things, jams & preserves, sweet things | 3 Comments
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concord grape jam

Is there a food that you were deprived of as a child and now, as mistress of your own grocery list, you can’t get enough of?  Well, I guess I really have a few of them, but one is certainly grape jam.  There was never a jar of Welch’s to be found in our kitchen cupboard growing up.  It was PB&J with raspberry usually standing in for the “J”…good, sure, but not that sweet, sticky intensely purple-black jam that I only had at friends’ houses (thank you Angie and Christy!).

For my now-slightly-less-childish-palate, the storebought stuff is actually too sweet for me.  Luckily it doesn’t take a whole lotta effort to make a few little jars of my own grape jam, with the sugar dialed down a few notches (or the grape dialed up).  And now is the time to do it…the concord grape season is short, but it is now and, for the time being, they are pretty easily found at the greenmarkets here in NYC.

I did a lot of research before making this jam, and the recipe is a hodgepodge of several I found, with the sugar adjusted to my taste.  You’ll get a homemade jam that is very grapey and plenty sweet, without making your cavities zing.  You do have to peel the grapes before you start, but with concords it’s a cinch…just give them a pinch.  The skins practically fall right off.

This recipe makes just a few half-pint jars of jam, so I don’t bother to can it.  If you keep it refrigerated, it should last a couple of months at least.  I will probably eat every last drop just like in the picture…spread with peanut butter over a slice of junky white bread.  With potato chips on top.  I was too embarrassed to show you that part.

Concord Grape Jam– makes about three 1/2-pint jars

Steph’s Notes:  I like the texture from the noticable bits of skin in my final jam.  If you’d rather have a smoother end product, purée the skins with the sugar, salt and lemon juice in the food processor before adding to the saucepan in step 3.

If you have trouble telling if your jam is done, you can pop a small plate into the freezer to chill.  Spoon 1/2 teaspoon fruit mixture onto the cold plate and allow to set for 30 seconds. Tip the plate 45 degrees to one side; jam should be a soft gel that moves slightly.  If mixture is liquid and runs quickly down the plate, return the jam to the heat and cook, stirring constantly, 2-5 minutes longer; then repeat the test.

2 1/4 lbs de-stemmed concord grapes, washed
9 oz sugar
1/8 t salt

1-2 T lemon juice

-Working over a large, nonreactive saucepan in which you will be making the jam (to catch juices), skin the grapes by gently squeezing each one between two fingers.  The skins will pop off easily.  Let all of the pulp and any juices fall into the saucepan.  Put the skins into a medium bowl, stir in the sugar, salt and lemon juice and set aside.

-Over medium heat, bring grape pulp to a simmer, cover and cook until soft, about 5-10 minutes. Push through fine strainer and discard seeds.

-Return the strained pulp (now more like juice at this point) to the saucepan and add in the sugar/skin mixture.

-Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.  Turn down the heat and cook over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until the liquid runs off the side of a spoon in thick, heavy drops, 20 to 30 minutes.  Skim off any scum that rises to the surface of the jam during the cooking process.

-Spoon the jam into three clean 1/2-pint jars (you can sterilize the jars and lids first with boiling water, if you are so inclined), leaving about 1/4 inch of space at the top.  Close the jars and let the jam cool to room temperature.  Store the jam in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.

Tuesdays with Dorie: Apple Nut Muffin Cake

October 4, 2011 at 12:09 am | Posted in breakfast things, cakes & tortes, groups, muffins & quick breads, simple cakes, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 10 Comments
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apple nut muffin cake

This Apple Nut Muffin Cake is quintessential fall baking…apples, cinnamon, brown sugar, walnuts and raisins…all things that make your house smell great.  Rolled oats (and swapping a little whole grain flour for AP) make this easy breakfast cake feel even more wholesome.  It is just like a muffin in terms of technique and texture, but, not that I would ever really call muffin-making fussy, you simply slap the batter into a cake pan and go….ready for coffee in about 35 minutes.

For the recipe, see Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan or read Baking and Boys!, as it was Katrina’s pick this week.  Don’t forget to check out the TWD Blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie: Flip-Over Plum Cake

September 27, 2011 at 12:01 am | Posted in breakfast things, cakes & tortes, groups, simple cakes, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 11 Comments
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flip-over plum cake

Plums are one of the last tastes of summer fruit.  Let’s not be too sad to see the summer go…instead, let’s celebrate with plum cake– Flip-Over Plum Cake.  This is the world’s easier batter to throw together…a quick whisk and that’s it.  It doesn’t even have any eggs.  That was kind of a curveball, actually– I had to, like, quadruple check the recipe to make sure I wasn’t missing something.  Scatter the plums over top and toss it in the oven.  The plums magically turn into a sweet-tart jam layer on the bottom, and the bizarrely egg-less batter turns into delicious cake!

Dorie has this in the breakfast section, and it’s so tasty, I’m sure it would be a fabulous way to start the day, but a little whipped cream turns it into a perfectly lovely dessert, which is how we ate it over here.  I’m betting it would also be great with peaches or nectarines, although I am partial to that intense plum-red color bleeding though.

For the recipe, see Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan or read Project Domestication, as it was Becky’s pick this week.  Don’t forget to check out the TWD Blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie: Cornmeal and Fruit Loaf

August 30, 2011 at 12:01 am | Posted in breakfast things, groups, muffins & quick breads, tuesdays with dorie | 10 Comments
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cornmeal and fruit loaf

An earthquake and a hurricane in the span of a few days– what a weird weather week for New York City!  If it weren’t for Irene cancelling work this weekend and keeping me housebound, I would not have gotten to make this Cornmeal and Fruit Loaf.  Something about baking at home helps calm my nerves if I’m feeling anxious, and wondering if our house would make it through the big storm without any major damage was making me fret (more than just a bit).  Thankfully, a little water in the basement was the extent of it for us.  If you are on the East Coast, I hope you managed to stay safe.

Whether you are baking to take your mind off something, or just because you want a tasty breakfast treat, this loaf works.  It’s totally made by hand…theraputic, quiet and easy.  And it’s hearty and satisfying to eat…cornmeal and apples (fresh and dried) give it great texture.  It’s not too sweet, so it definitely leans more towards a comforting breakfast or snack than dessert.

For the recipe, see Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan or read the always enjoyable Engineer Baker, as it was Caitlin’s pick this week.  Don’t forget to check out the TWD Blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie: Carrot Spice Muffins (aka Morning Glories)

August 9, 2011 at 12:01 am | Posted in breakfast things, groups, muffins & quick breads, tuesdays with dorie | 9 Comments
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carrot spice muffins

“Muffin” is a weird word.  And I just realized that I totally spelled it wrong in the titles of my last two muffin posts.  How dumb, and obvious now that I look at those posts again.  (OK, I’ve just gone back and corrected that, so it’s as if it never happened).

These Carrot Spice Muffins are something of a substitute for when your tummy really wants a piece of Bill’s Big Carrot Cake (wow, that cake was awesome…I think about it all the time) for breakfast, but your head just won’t let you.  Like a good carrot cake, they have lots of add-ins beyond carrots…walnuts, coconut, raisins and, of course, a gentle amount of warm spices.  Unlike carrot cake, though, they are sans that decadent cream cheese frosting (but now that I think about it, a thinned out cream cheese glaze would have been fabulous!), and they are a bit dialed down in the oil department.  These seemed like they could be a vehicle for a little fiber boost as well, so I swapped about 25% of the flour with whole wheat.  I also used unsweetened desiccated coconut instead of the sweet stuff.  Then I ate two.

For the recipe, see Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan or read The Dogs Eat the Crumbs, as it was Nancy’s pick this week.  Don’t forget to check out the TWD Blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie: Cream Scones

July 12, 2011 at 12:01 am | Posted in biscuits & scones, breakfast things, groups, tuesdays with dorie | 9 Comments
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cream scones

It’s steamy hot out…hot and gross…but these Cream Scones were sooo worth turning the oven on for.  Butter and cream…they are a combo to be reckoned with.  I don’t know how two things that are so rich can make something that is so light, crumbly and almost melt-in-your-mouth, but there you have it.  I’ll be making these again when it’s cooler out and I can stand a proper cuppa to go along with them.

After many attempts at scones and biscuits that wound up looking annoyingly like pancakes (sad!), I think that with my last few batches, I’ve finally gotten it down.  I already told you all this stuff with the last one, but….now I grate my cold butter, and then pop it into the freezer while I assemble my dry ingredients.  Then I just give a quick, fingertippy toss of the butter and dry stuff.  I find that this way, I don’t have to do as much rubbing and working to get the two incorporated.  Also, I pat the scones out a little fatter than Dorie says to ensure a tall rise (which I don’t think the angle on this photo shows, but I assure you, they were nice and high).  Of course I get one or two fewer scones per batch, but that’s fine by me.

I skipped the currants here (I didn’t have any), but they aren’t really necessary anyway…especially when there’s jam.  Also not strictly necessary (but crazy delicious!), one of my favorite things about British-style tea service is the thick cream you spread on along with jam.  I found some of that Luxury Clotted Cream in a local shop, and shelled out for it in anticipation of these guys.

For the recipe, see Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan or read Cafe Lynnylu, as it was Patricia’s pick this week.  Don’t forget to check out the TWD Blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie: Chocolate-Chocolate Chunk Muffins

July 5, 2011 at 12:01 am | Posted in breakfast things, groups, muffins & quick breads, tuesdays with dorie | 12 Comments
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chocolate-chocolate chunk muffins

Will you think less of me if I admit to you that I don’t really “do” chocolate for breakfast?  I eat sweet stuff for brekkie all the time–usually pancakes or waffles drowned in syrup– but chocolate for some reason feels a bit too indulgent.  I made a little exception this past weekend (since it was a holiday and all) for these Chocolate-Chocolate Chunk Muffins.  OK, these  really are great with coffee.  They’re not too sweet at all, and I did follow suggestions to add more chocolate chunks by doubling the amount of chips I folded into the batter at the end.  Hey– if your gonna have chocolate for breakfast, you may as well really have chocolate for breakfast.

And, if chocolate in the a.m. isn’t really your thing either, I can assure you that they are also fab for dessert with a scoop of ice cream (may I suggest something like Strawberry- Sour Cream Ice Cream?).

For the recipe, see Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan (it’s also here on Epicurious) or read The Way the Cookie Crumbles, as Bridget got to pick again this week.  Don’t forget to check out the TWD Blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie: Date-Nut Loaf

June 21, 2011 at 12:01 am | Posted in breakfast things, cakes & tortes, groups, simple cakes, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 18 Comments
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date-nut loaf

I hate to admit it, but I didn’t think this Date-Nut Loaf seemed like much when it came out of the oven.  It was kind of pale, and when I sliced into it, I thought it looked a little dry.  Boy, I was wrong!  This was a great cake with a cup of coffee for breakfast.  It’s actually really soft and has a tender crumb.  My husband was pumped for this, because he loves dates.  They taste like soft brown sugar nuggets in the cake.

I made a half recipe in my little loaf pan, so I shortened the baking time to under an hour (and didn’t bother to foil tent it).  Because it sounded like a good candidate for a little whole grain flour swapping, I subbed about a quarter of the AP for whole wheat pastry flour.  I haven’t yet tried Dorie’s suggestion of toasting left over slices, but if there’s any remaining tomorrow morning, I might give it a shot.

For the recipe, see Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan or read Popsicles and Sandy Feet, as it was Mary’s pick this week.  Don’t forget to check out the TWD Blogroll!

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