Friday, September 30, 2011

Friday link roundup and a recipe for a savory version of French toast

A fair amount of cooking went on this week even though it didn't seem as though it was going to work out that way. You see, I neglected to go to the farmer's market last Saturday. I was too lazy to go. My son had his little Happy Feet Soccer class in the morning, and I didn't want to miss it again. As a result, I didn't have a whole lot of fresh ingredients to work with. But somehow I managed to pull out a great meat sauce on Monday, come up with a savory version of French toast and serve it with caramelized onions and bacon, and make red beans and rice last night. Tonight's Friday treat? This fondue minus the brandy. With some ice cream for dessert.

I'd love to share the red beans and rice recipe, but it's not there yet. I added too much tomato to the mix, making it too acidic. It was definitely edible, but it just wasn't up to the level of wow-I've-died-and-gone-to-food-heaven I was aiming for. Especially given the amount of time that went into it. And the fact that I used up all the rest of the delicious pickled pork Mike made a few weeks ago. Oh well.

Another disappointment this week was the photos of the savory French toast. Not pretty. Not appetizing. It's getting darker in the evening, so the natural light that makes photos gorgeous is fading, and I don't yet know how to compensate (if anyone has some tips, please share). So I deleted all my toast photos. Here are some photos of a stunning sunset we had a few days ago instead. Some of these look unreal.

Although things didn't work out perfectly on the cooking front this week, I am proud to say we didn't have to resort to picking up dinner from Chipotle (our go-to fast food restaurant because of their efforts to use ingredients that are as sustainable and local as possible). Don't get me wrong, I love their bowls, but it feels good to be the one who creates the food that goes on the table, you know?

I also came across several good articles to share:

  • I read this article about boiled cider from The Washington Post a couple of weeks ago and tried the accompanying recipe. It took all day to reduce the cider, but it was so worth it. I have this delicious syrup that I have been using to sweeten our morning oatmeal, and I also added some to the red beans and rice. It's so sweet and intense; it's like a sunrise explosion of sweet apple in your mouth. I am almost out and plan to make more this weekend. Another plus is that making it gives the house that fall smell of warm cider.
  • Here's a story about a family from Arizona that pledged to buy 100 percent local for an entire year. I come across stories like this from time to time where someone forgoes something entirely for a year or however long, and I have to admit I couldn't do that. I don't want to. I prefer to take a more evolutionary approach path to locavorism and sustainability by replacing, eliminating, or changing one thing at a time. It's what I can do. Still, these stories provide inspiration as well as ideas for what I could do better. 
  • Came across this story about a man who created his own bread starter, from which all his loaves of bread derive. I have tried making sourdough once--it was not a success--but I look forward to trying again some day.
  • On the farming and sustainability front, the Agronomy Journal published results from the first long-term, large-scale study of the economic feasibility of organic farming versus industrial farming. As it happens, organic farming is profitable in the long term. These kinds of results are really starting to break down old arguments that industrial methods are the only economically viable methods. Think about these results in combination with the United Nations' study's findings Civil Eats reports that indicate organic farming is a viable method for feeding everyone on the planet, and toxic status-quo industrial methods start to look increasingly out of touch.
  • Having grown up in Sweden where the potato is nearly as fundamental to the diet as rice is in China, this report from Marcus Samuelsson's website that the USDA plans to take potatoes off the menu just  pissed me off. Writer Dylan Rodgers was none too pleased either and explains the importance of the potato throughout history. 
  • In contrast, this story about the pawpaw from NPR made me very happy. The pawpaw is a native fruit. Mike and I hunted for them last year to try them, but we were too late. We found a location with a whole bunch of pawpaw trees, but most were down by the time we saw them. I am just excited that someone is paying attention to a homegrown fruit. Wonder if a wander in the woods is in the cards for me? 
So that's the article round-up for this week. And here's that recipe for a savory version of French toast I promised:
  • 8 slices bread
  • 1 cup half and half or cream 
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup grated cheese (Cheddar or Parmigiano Reggiano)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp ground pepper
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • butter (for the skillet)
  1. Place bread slices in a glass baking pan
  2. Whisk together half and half, eggs, cheese, salt, pepper, paprika, and thyme. Pour the mixture over the bread in the pan. Let it sit for at least 10 minutes, but you can also start it the night before. (Flip the bread slices at least once to make sure both sides get a good soaking.) 
  3. When ready to cook, take the bread slices out of the baking pan and let them dry off for a few minutes on a baking rack while you melt some butter in a skillet over medium heat. 
  4. When the butter starts to sizzle and brown a little, place two slices in the pan. Let each side cook until golden brown (about 2-3 minutes) and remove from the heat (keep them warm in an oven heated to 275 degrees Fahrenheit while you do the next batches). Start each batch with a new pat of butter or else they will stick to the pan a lot. 
  5. Serve with caramelized onions and bacon (if you like). You can also add a tiny drizzle of the apple syrup I talked about up above. It's mighty good and makes a nice, simple breakfast for dinner.   



  1. Glad it was helpful! For more up-to-date links to food info, you can also follow my Twitter feed @tora_estep. I am not always able to write up all the great information I come across, but I frequently retweet stories.