Langlois Stuffed French toast

Finished stuffed french toast
This is another recipe J and I learned to make while at the amazing Langlois Culinary Crossroads. It is perfect for a new year’s day breakfast or brunch. While it looks complicated, it’s actually pretty easy. The hardest part os stuffing the brioche!

Bread and filling ingredients:
1 loaf Brioche (stale is better!)
8 ounces cream cheese
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 lemon zested and juiced (we’ve also used an orange and it is delicious!)

Custard ingredients:
6 large eggs
1 and 1/2 cups whole milk (for extra richness, use heavy whipping cream or half and half)
6 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter (if using salted, omit the salt above)

Directions:
Stale Brioche Bread
Cut the Brioche into about 6 2 by 2 rectangular pieces. Using a skewer precut the hole for the filling. You will have to turn it around to make a hole larger than the skewer. This is where slightly stale bread comes in handy.
In a medium sized bowl, beat the softened cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla and lemon zest and juice together on medium speed until well blended.Stuffed French Toast filling

Put the filling into a ziptop bag. Cut off the corner. Pipe into the skewer holes.
How to stuff french toast bread
If this doesn’t work, you can make a sandwich by making a pocket (think pita pocket), just make sure to only cut through one side of the bread or it will be more difficult to brown. Set this aside.
In another medium sized bowl, beat the eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla and salt. Dip each piece of stuffed bread into the custard and turn once to completely coat. Cover and chill for at least 30 minutes (overnight is better!) but no longer than 24 hours.
IMG_3198When you’re ready to cook, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large skillet melt the butter over medium to medium-high temperature. Brown each piece of stuffed bread on all sides. Do not move it around. Do not check and see if it’s browning. Let it sit longer than you think it needs to. About 5 minutes per side. Place the browned pieces into a casserole dish and cook in the oven for about 10 minutes. Garnish as you please and serve.
Stuffed French Toast Recipe

My opinion:
Sometimes we cover this in powdered sugar, other times maple syrup. It’s just as good alone though. We’ve served this to friends and family and everyone has raved about it each time.

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Shakshuka (Eggs in purgatory)

Shakshuka

During the last few months of my pregnancy, I had to increase my protein intake. Lucky for me, J found several recipes that tasted good, included several servings of vegetables and had lots of protein. This one from Tori Avey with a few modifications quickly became one of our favorites.

You can modify the spice level based on your tastes. If you want to add more eggs, feel free! It’s just as good the next morning on toast like huevos rancheros.

Ingredients:
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 medium brown or white onion, peeled and diced
1 clove garlic, minced (we use more!)
1 medium green or red bell pepper, chopped
4 cups ripe diced tomatoes, or 2 cans (14 oz. each) diced tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp chili powder (mild)
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
Pinch of cayenne pepper (or more to taste)
Pinch of sugar (optional, to taste)
Salt and pepper to taste
5-6 eggs
1 container plain feta
1/2 tbsp fresh chopped parsley (optional, for garnish)

Directions:
Heat a deep, large skillet or sauté pan on medium (we use our cast iron skillet for this). Heat olive oil in the pan. Add chopped onion, sauté for a few minutes until the onion begins to soften. Add garlic and continue to sauté till mixture is fragrant. Add the bell pepper, sauté for 5 to 7 minutes over medium heat until softened. Add tomatoes and tomato paste to pan, stir to blend. Add spices and sugar, stir well, and allow mixture to simmer over medium heat for another 5 to 7 minutes until it starts to reduce. Taste the mixture and spice it according to your preferences. At a minimum, add salt and pepper to taste. You can also add more sugar for a sweeter sauce, or more cayenne pepper for a spicier shakshuka. Sprinkle the feta over the dish, or mix it in if you like. Then crack the eggs, one at a time, directly over the tomato mixture, making sure to space them evenly over the sauce. In our cast iron skillet, we can get about five eggs around the outer edge and one in the center.

Shakshuka (just added eggs)

The eggs will cook over easy on top of the tomato sauce. If you prefer more done eggs, you can heat the oven to 350 degrees and cook in the oven until set (when the skillet is jiggled, the eggs don’t jiggle back). We leave the mixture uncovered and let simmer for between 5 and 15 minutes, or until the eggs are cooked and the sauce has slightly reduced. Be careful at this point, because the mixture can go from reducing to burning quickly. Serve in a bowl alone, over rice or with some french bread.

My opinion:
This dish is delicious hot or cold. With sides or alone. It’s easy, filling and perfect for a late fall evening.

p.s. Summer 2016 update: without the cayenne pepper and the chili powder, our toddler loves this dish. We just add the extra spices onto our own plates. 

Vietnamese Bo Luc Lac

  
As the arrival of our daughter gets closer, J and I have started perfecting some of our favorite restaurant dishes at home. We finally got this dish perfect and couldn’t be happier. The original recipe can be found here.

Beef Marinade Ingredients (makes the gravy):
1.5 pounds beef sirloin (or any cut you like) cut into 1 inch cubes
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1.5 tablespoons sugar (we have found brown works pretty well)
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon soy sauce (we used regular, but the original recipe calls for thick)

Vinaigrette Ingredients (for quick pickling of the veggies and a tablespoon or two in some white rice makes a HUGE difference!):
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1.5 tablespoons sugar
1/2 tablespoons salt

Dipping Sauce Ingredients (this is our favorite part, it really brings the whole dish together!):
Juice of 1 lime
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper

Non-sauce Ingredients:
1 red onion, thinly sliced (you can use yellow in a pinch)
2 bunches of iceberg or watercress or romaine, long stems trimmed
2 tomatoes, thinly sliced
Cooking oil for frying

Directions:
Prepare marinade by combining garlic, oyster sauce, sugar, fish sauce, soy sauce and sesame oil with the beef for at least half an hour, preferably 1-2 hours let marinate in the refrigerate. (Note: If you’re thinking ahead (like we occasionally do), feel free to combine the beef and the marinade and freeze the mixture. Then you can just take it out of the freezer and put it in the refrigerator when you leave for work.)

Prepare vinaigrette by mixing rice vinegar with salt and sugar. It should be a balance of sour, salty and sweet. It should look something like this:
Vinaigrette for quick pickling

Thinly slice the red onion and use about 3-4tablespoons tablespoons the vinaigrette to pickle and set aside covered in fridge for about 10 minutes (longer is better here too!). Prepare bed of lettuce and tomatoes in a serving platter and set aside.

Heat a large wok or pan over high heat. Add about 2 tablespoons cooking oil and when it begins to smoke, add an even layer of beef and allow to sear for about 2 minutes, before “shaking” to sear the opposite sides for about another 1-2 minute more to brown all the sides. Do this in batches to cook all the beef if necessary. This will sear the beef so it looks like this:
Vietnamese Shaking Beef

Transfer beef to bed of watercress and tomatoes. Drizzle another 3-4 tablespoons of vinaigrette over the beef and greens and top with pickled red onions. Lastly, squeeze lime juice over salt and pepper in a small bowl and use for dipping the beef, or feel free to just drizzle it on. The dipping sauce should look like this:
Bo Luc Lac dipping sauce

My opinion:
This has to be in my top 10 favorite dishes of all time. I love the veggies and the balance of all five flavors. I also love that the rice isn’t even really necessary for this to be a filling meal. Plus even if you do all the prep work right before dinner, the whole start to finish time is only about 30 minutes.

Mom’s banana bread

My mom didn’t make banana bread very often because she doesn’t really like bananas, but my dad, sister and I did, so when she made it, it was a great day. I was pretty surprised at how easy this is to make. It’s perfect for a cold late winter day.

Ingredients:
2 and 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar (if it’s lumpy, it’s ok)
3 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla (you can add a bit more if you want!)
1 egg
3 very ripe bananas (you can use two if you prefer less banana flavor)

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a loaf pan with butter or Crisco. No need to flour the greased pan. Mix the wet ingredients into a bowl, adding the milk last.

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Mix the dry ingredients. If your brown sugar is a little lumpy, that’s ok! It will add pockets of caramel notes.

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Mix the dry ingredients and wet ingredients together.

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Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 55 to 60 minutes until the top is brown and a toothpick comes out clean and the sides start to pull away from the greased pan.

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My opinion: This makes your whole house smell amazing. It’s delicious and one of my most favorite breakfast foods. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can add chocolate chips, dried fruit, nuts, peanut butter (if you add peanut butter reduce the oil by one tablespoon). The options are endless!

Jeb’s Chili

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One of J’s favorite dishes is his father’s chili. It makes more than enough for three meals and a few lunches for us. Like most of our favorite meals, this one gets better the longer it simmers. It looks complicated, but I promise it’s easy and worth it.

Base Ingredients:
1 and 1/2 pounds chili or stew beef (you can also use ground beef if you want)
1 pound pork chop cut up (or you can use ground pork)
2-3 green bell peppers chopped
1-2 onions, chopped

Sauce Ingredients:
1 beer (any kind, cheap is particularly good)
1 teaspoon oregano
2 tablespoons cumin
1 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons chili powder (REGULAR chili powder, not ancho, not super, not hot. Trust me)
1 teaspoon coriander
2 teaspoons ground chipotle (we buy them whole and use a coffee grinder for this)
IMG_6843 3 cups chicken broth
1 clove garlic
1 – 28 ounce can diced tomatoes
1/4 to 1/2 cup diced celery
1 tablespoon sugar
1 can rotel or green chiles
lime juice as needed

Directions:
Brown the meat. Add the chopped bell peppers and onions and cook until desired caramelization. In a separate pot make the sauce by adding the first 11 ingredients and simmering for about 45 minutes until smooth.

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Then add the tomatoes and meat and peppers and onions. Simmer one to two hours.
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Add 1 to 4 tablespoons massa flour to thicken if needed (most of the time we leave this step out).

My opinion: This is delicious with shredded Monterrey jack cheese, lime juice and tortilla chips. J prefers his with corn bread. It’s perfect for a cold winter’s night.