With the weather changing and it getting a little colder, we are all looking for something to warm us up.
I find that I am always looking at recipes and new ingredients, its an occupational hazard, working in the cooking school, well I say ‘working’ but for me its not ‘working’ its my passion/obsession.
I remember when I was a little girl and still at home, my Dad, a wonderful man, he is missed everyday….. would disappear into the kitchen and come out with a plate of something fantastic, french toast, pancakes, big bowl of popcorn to mention but a few.
We all (there was 6 of us) loved it when he would ‘appear’ from the kitchen and we could all dive in.
French toast was a favourite in our house, there was never enough french toast to go around, it didn’t matter if Dad made 20 slices or 40 slices, there was never enough (ha ha).
We did enjoy french toast for our weekend breakfast, we didn’t need to jump up out of bed get ready and grab a quick breakfast before heading off to school. So the weekend was special, Saturday could be french toast and Sunday morning would be a fry-up, oh them were the days
French toast is so easy and so delicious it just sets you up for the day….
The main ingredient is the bread and oh I do long for Mothers Pride Plain Bread, a fantastic loaf of bread, a staple for us as we were growing up. Unfortunately it is a specialty that is only to be available in Scotland, and a few towns in the very north of England.
There are no real quantities as far as this recipe goes, its all about how hungry you are and how many slices of bread you want to use.
The french call this ‘Pain perdu’ – lost bread, as its a great way to use up old/stale bread, and lets be honest about it the bread in France goes hard/stale very quickly, so its a great way to use up the bread.
You don’t need to use old bread, fresh bread does just as well, its your choice.
French toast is an easy delicious meal to put together, I know you are probably thinking ‘meal…. this is not a meal’ well I guess it all depends on at what time of the day you decide you are going to make/eat it.
Anyway lets get on with the making of this delicious food.
Get some eggs, bread, milk, a bowl, a frying pan, some vegetable oil, a steaming up of tea, some salt and lets get started.
Crack the eggs into the bowl, I usually start with 2 eggs for just me, then add a little milk, give the mixture a good whisk with a fork, make sure you break up the eggs and add a little seasoning, I like just salt, but add pepper if you like.
Put the frying pan on the heat, add a little vegetable oil and bring it up to a medium heat.
Then dip a slice of bread into the egg mixture, make sure it is covered on both sides and then lay the slice in the frying pan, you want to make sure the egg starts to fry when it goes into the pan, you don’t want the bread to just sit in the oil as it will soak up some of the oil, making your bread soggy…..
Allow the bread to cook for a couple of minutes and flip over the slices, you are looking for a nice colour on each side of the eggy bread.
Remove the cooked bread to a plate and continue with all of the bread and egg mixture.
I often have a little egg mixture left, not enough to cover another slice, and it would be a shame to through it away, so when all my bread is cooked I just pour the left over mixture into the frying pan and cook a very thin omelet, mmm a nice little addition to the plate.
There are a few different ways to enjoy ‘French toast’ we always enjoyed it with a little salt added just as you are eating each slice. Others eat it with something sweet, maybe some syrup or honey, its all down to your taste, so experiment. I prefer salt.
Dig in, and enjoy…..
French Toast (Eggy Bread)
Delicious, simple breakfast/brunch dish that will satisfy that need for fast food.
Well this is one of those dishes that I have been playing around with in my mind for a little while now.
Today was the ‘day’ that I pulled it all together and it just it the spot.
The weather is hot again today, the sun is blazing and it just feels like we are off on holiday somewhere.
My hubby went off shopping for me this morning and when he came back he was more than ready for his lunch, so I pulled this all together in about 30 minutes, and if you make the sauce ahead, then it really is a meal that can be made in 15 minutes.
I made a thick tomato sauce, starting with onions, mushrooms, garlic and diced chorizo sausage I fried them all of in a pot and then added some tomato puree, its what I had in the larder. Once it was all bubbling away, I removed a couple of ladles into a small Le Creuset frying pan, I made a couple of little dents in the mixture and cracked the eggs into the spaces, then I topped them with a little grated cheese, I used cheddar, but feel free to add your favourite cheese, Parmesan is also great in this dish.
I then popped a pot lid on top of the frying pan and left it there for approximately 5 minutes, but just long enough to firm up the egg white but leaving the yolk nice and soft**. These little frying pans are great to take to the table too, I placed a napkin on to the plate and then placed the pan on top. Be careful as the frying pan will be very hot.
** Remember the egg yolk will continue to cook when you remove it from the heat, so serve as soon as it is ready, if you prefer a soft yolk.
Eggs in Tomato sauce (Oeufs Cocotte)
Delicious 'baked eggs' in a rich tomato sauce, ideal for any breakfast or brunch. Add you favourite sausage or bacon or leave out for a vegetarian dish.
Add the chopped onion and cook for 5 minutes until softened, add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
Add the sliced mushrooms and cook for another 5 minutes.
Add the chorizo (if using) and cook for 5 minutes until they start to release the oils.
Add the tomato puree and continue cooking until the sauce is bubbling. (5 minutes)
Use a small frying pan for each serving, big enough to hold the sauce and 2 eggs. Ladle some of the sauce into a small frying pan and allow it to come back to the boil, make a dent in the sauce with the back of a spoon and crack an egg into the well. Continue with the other egg.
Season the eggs with a little salt and pepper.
Sprinkle the top with a little grated cheese.
Cover the pan with a lid and cook until the eggs are cooked to your liking.
(I prefer a soft yolk, I cooked for 3-4 minutes, until the egg white was cooked and the yolk still soft.)
Remove the frying pan from the heat and transfer to a plate.
Cut some crusty bread and use to soak up the to sauce and egg yolk.
The egg yolk will continue cooking, serve right away if you like a soft yolk.
Leave out the chorizo and you have a vegetarian dish.
Change the chorizo sausage for your favourite sausage.
Again I have been looking for those fabulous breakfast treats, you know the ones that I mean, the sweet, sticky treats that we can get away with eating at breakfast time, instead of having to wait until the morning or afternoon tea breaks.
So this week it has been the Pain aux Raisin, a version of a danish pastry.
As usual I started my search of the ultimate Pain aux Raisin recipe, looking for that one that ‘just feels right’ as I do with all my recipes.
I already had a few ideas and I have a sweet bread recipe that I use when nothing else feels ‘better’ but this week I thought I would try a brioche recipe. I had some time to work on it and for those of you who know, brioche dough should be made and left overnight in the fridge to firm up as it is very soft and difficult to work with if you don’t do the resting overnight in the fridge.
My search took me to Epicurious which I have been searching a lot lately, they have a great selection of recipes at the moment.
So their recipe for a brioche was a good start, it was simple and easy to work through, I did read the various reviews and went with it as it did point out that the dough was very soft, but it did firm up after a night in the fridge.
For me the results were too soft, the dough after a night in the fridge resting, did produce a firmer dough, but it was still very soft and difficult to work with. So the next time I will go back to my trusty ‘brioche type’ dough that has all the same ingredients but different quantities and the results are always great.
I did follow the stages of the recipe and the recipe for the creme-patisserie was fantastic and will now be my go-to recipe for creme-patisserie. As an aside, I now have a few new ideas for this recipe and will bring them to you soon.
Make creme-patisserie: Pour the milk into a medium sized pot and place on a medium heat and allow to come to a simmer. In a jug or bowl, whisk together the yolks, sugar, and cornflour and when ready, gradually pour the hot milk into the jug while continually whisking. Pour the mixture back in to the pot and cook over a low heat, continue to whisk until the mixture begins to boil. Continue whisking until the mixture is thick and smooth, take care not to allow the custard to scorch on the bottom of the pot.
Add the vanilla and butter and whisk until it is all combined, cover the surface with clingfilm and leave to the side and allow to cool to room temperature. (No need to place in the fridge).
Add the raisins to a small bowl and add boiling water to them and leave for 10-15 minutes to allow them to plump up.
So back to the Pain aux Raisin, once the dough was ready, I rolled it out onto a very well floured surface and spread the creme-patisserie over the dough, leaving a small border on the end, (short end), so that when it was rolled, I could seal the log ready for cutting.
Then drain the raisins and distribute them as evenly as possible over the creme-patisserie. Gently and firmly start to roll the dough up like a swiss roll, I used my bread scraper to help, and in hindsight, it would have been useful to have placed a layer of grease-proof paper on the work top and rolled the dough out on top of it, as it would have helped with the rolling and wrapping that is needed next.
Roll up the dough tightly and when you get to the end, wet the edge of the dough and make sure that the edge is sticking to the swiss roll/log. Now place the log onto a large piece of grease-proof paper and wrap it up, this will help with the shape while the log is resting/proving. Cover the log with some cling-film or place in a large plastic bag as I did. I also placed the log onto my baguette tray so as to keep the round shape.
Place the log into the fridge for 1 hour to prove. Remove the log and place on the worktop, slice the log into 11-12 pieces and place them onto an oven tray about 2 inches apart. Turn on the oven (220C) and while the oven was coming up to temperature I placed the tray on top of the oven to help the swirls relax and bounce back (after the cutting).
I baked the swirls in the oven for 30 minutes, I had a little peak at 25 minutes, but they needed the additional 5 minutes until they were golden brown.
I removed them from the oven and left them to cool down while I made the glaze, I placed 2 tbsp of orange marmalade into a small bowl and added about 1 tbsp of boiling water and mixed, just to thin down the marmalade, of course this will depend on how thick you marmalade is. I then brushed some of the glaze of the swirls to give them that lovely glaze and WOW they were ready.
Next time, I will make thin icing sugar glaze and drizzle some across the top, as I think it would have just finished them off, but then I do like a little drizzle of the icing sugar glaze on these types of things.
So I hope you enjoy making this recipe as much as I did and of course I do hope you enjoy eating as much as we did.
Pain aux Raisin - Raisin Swirl
Delicious soft sticky buns with creme patisserie and plump raisins, ideal for breakfast and tea breaks alike. Pain aux Raisins are a great addition to any breakfast table.
Make the dough the day before and allow to rest in the fridge over night.
Make the creme patisserie, place the milk into a medium pot and place on a medium heat and bring it to a simmer.
Add the egg yolks, sugar and corn flour to a jug/bowl and whisk together, ensure it is all fully blended. Slowly pour the hot milk into the egg mixture, whisking all the time and then pour it back into the pot and return to a low heat and gradually bring to the boil.
Continue to stir the mixture while it is on the heat until it starts to thicken, once it starts to thicken, whisk hard to ensure it is smooth. Remove the pot from the heat and whisk in the vanilla essence and butter and whisk until it is fully combined.
Cover the creme-patisserie with a piece of cling film, (touching the top) to stop a skin from forming. Leave to one side to cool down.
Place a large piece of grease-proof paper onto the work-surface and cover well with flour, then roll out the dough to a rectangle (18 x 11 inches) and spread with the creme-patisserie, leaving a 1 inch space at one of the short ends.
Drain the raisins and evenly spread the raisins over the creme-patisserie. From the short end of the dough, using the grease-proof paper, start to roll the dough up into a log. When you come to the end of the dough, wet the end with a little water and make sure the end sticks to the length of the log.
Using the grease-proof paper, wrap the log up and place it into a plastic bag or cover with cling-film and place on a baguette tray to rest. All it to rest for 1 hour.
When ready, remove the dough from the bag and unwrap the grease-proof paper, using a sharp knife, slice the log into 11-12 slices and place onto a baking tray with grease-proof paper.
Heat the oven to 220c.
Place the tray onto of the cooker until the oven is upto temperature and then place the tray into the oven and cook for 30 minutes.
Remove the buns from the oven and allow to cool while you prepare the glaze. Place the orange marmalade and boiling water into a cup or a small bowl and mix together well.
Using a pastry brush, brush the glaze over the buns.
The buns will keep for a couple of days in an air-tight box.
To warm them through, place in an oven 180C for 10 minutes.
Buttery flaky pastry, whats not to love about this.
I don’t need to ask myself that question, do you?
This weekend the air has been ringing with the sound of motor bikes, due to the Le Mans Moto Grand Prix, it was a great weekend, the sun was shinning and the the motorbikes were out in force, bringing visitors from the 4 corners of the globe.
We too had a lot of visitors over the weekend, here enjoying the local area but ultimately here to enjoy the Grand Prix, as such I had to experiment with various breakfast treats, I had seen the recipe for the ‘Cruffin’ (cross between a croissant and a muffin) a while ago, but had just not had the opportunity to experiment, so this weekend was perfect.
I researched a number of recipes, which is normal for me, and in my search I came across the piece in the Huffington Post from 15/4/15, so I had to find out what all the fuss was about, it highlighted the story about the recipes being stolen from the Mr Holmes Bakeshouse in San Francisco and of course that just confirmed my need to find out more about these wonderful creations and a recipe I had to have.
I followed all of the links in the news story and also continued my research and found the recipe from ladyandpups, how to make a cruffin with a pasta machine, which I just happen to have, so again that was an omen…….as if I really needed anything else to convince me that I needed to try this.
So I set about gathering all of the various ingredients and equipment, not forgetting the pasta machine.
I put all the dry ingredients, (flours, yeast and salt, oh I tweaked the salt a bit and added some sugar) into the bowl of my stand mixer and mixed to ensure it was well mixed.
Then I added 2/3rds of the water and turned on the machine, mixing on the low setting, I needed to add all of the water and a little more, but it will all depend on the humidity of your flour, so go easy and add the remainder gradually.
Once you have a dough, albeit a little dry but fully combined, start adding the cubed butter, I did this in 4 stages, gradually adding the butter and waiting until it was fully combined before adding the next lot.
Once everything was mixed in, I kept the machine running for another 5-6 minutes until I had a nice dough, it was very soft, and I needed to use a scraper to help with the mixing, but it did come together into a nice soft ball.
Then I left it to rise for about 1 hour, before I moved to the next stage.
I got my pasta machine out, ready for the rolling of the dough, got it all set up and floured to make sure the dough would not stick to the rollers. (all was good)
I cut the dough into 4 pieces, as directed, it was still very soft, so I rolled them out with a rolling pin, just so I had a nice long piece to feed through the pasta machine.
I started with the first piece, but the dough was really soft and it did take quite a bit of feeding and balancing the dough so as to not rip it.
I did persevere and got a nice long piece of dough, (I cut the dough in half so it was easier to handle) thin and ready to apply the very soft butter, which I did with my dough scraper. Then very gently I rolled it up into a log, and buttered the other half of the dough and continued rolling and then cut the rolled dough, down the middle in the length and I could see all the layers of nice thin dough.
I twisted the dough into a knot and placed it into a muffin tin with a little grease proof paper, this was to help with removing it from the tin.
The second piece of dough, I cut in half before I started working it thought the pasta machine, just so it was easier to work with. It was a little better, but again the dough was so soft, it was difficult to ensure I didn’t rip it, with just handling it, but ok, I got another 2 very nice long very thin pieces of dough, which I buttered and rolled as before.
With the remaining 2 pieces of dough (well actually 4, as I cut them in half before I started working with them) I floured the worktop and just rolled the dough with my rolling pin, working it both ways across and length, and I achieved the same results, a nice long very thin piece of dough, I buttered them and rolled as before then cut and twisted and placed into the muffin tin.
Next I covered them with some clingfilm and left them to rise and then it was the cooking part.
So What was the result?
It was a great result for my first attempt at a ‘Cruffin’, nice crispy and buttery, they did benefit from a sprinkling of icing sugar, and to be honest they did taste better once cooled, everything was there.
So next time, I wont bother with the pasta machine, but I will work with my rolling pin as I achieved a great result. No need for the folding and rolling process for the croissants.
Cruffin Recipe - Croissant in a muffin tin
Delicious buttery, flaky pastry, wrapped up and baked in a muffin tin, ideal for any breakfast, brunch or afternoon tea table.
Place the flours, yeast, sugar and salt into a bowl and mix together, attach to your stand-mixer with a dough hook attached, add 2/3 rds of the water and mix on a low speed until the mixture comes together, gradually add the remaining water as required. (The dough should be slightly dry and stiff, but all combined).
Gradually add the cubed butter and knead until completely incorporated. Continue kneading for 5-10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. Leave the dough in the bowl and cover with a lid or clingfilm, and allow to rest for 1 hour to rise.
Lightly dust the worktop with some flour and place the dough on the worktop. Cut the dough into 4 equal pieces.
Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough into a long strip, slice the strip into 2 equal pieces across the middle and continue rolling the dough until you have a thin slice of dough.
Using a spatula or bread scraper, apply the softened (very soft) butter to the dough ensuring every part of the dough has a thin layer of butter. Repeat this with the 2nd piece of dough.
Take a piece of buttered dough and from the short end start to roll it up into a tight log (a bit like a swiss roll).
When you are finished with the first slice of dough, place it on the edge of the second piece of dough and continue to roll the dough up nice and tight.
When the dough has been rolled, place it onto a cutting board and using a knife of bread scraper, cut the dough log from one end of the log to the other (lengthwise).
With the cut edge outwards, roll the cut pastry into a knot (not too tight) and place in your muffin tin and continue with remaining half of the log and the other pieces of dough.
Once all the dough has been prepared, cover the muffin tray with clingfilm and leave the dough to double in size, approx 1-2 hours until doubled in size.
Place the muffin tray into the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes until they are golden brown. Leave to cool for 5 minutes and then dust with some icing sugar.
Instead of icing sugar, you can make up a sugar glaze, by mixing some milk with icing sugar and then drizzle across the top of the cruffin.
Remove the cruffins from the oven and allow to cool for 2-3 minutes, just until they can be handled, brush with some melted butter and roll them in some cinnamon sugar mix.
There are a vast variety of toppings, melted chocolate, fruit compote, marmalade, just think of your favorite toppings and enjoy.....