In one of my cooking classes, I read out loud the book The Sandwich Swap. While a tad heavy handed in terms of a social message, it's an overall wonderful story about two girls from different backgrounds. One brings in a daily lunch of pita stuffed with hummus and cucumbers. The other girl brings in a daily lunch of a peanut butter and jelly on white bread. So I brought in ingredients for both sandwiches and the students made each sandwich and then voted on their favorite. The butter (didn't use peanut butter) and jelly sandwich won by a long shot, but making hummus was a fun activity.
For my second class, I had only two students, both of whom are older. They asked if we could make toast in a skillet with butter. After one bite of a piece of white bread, soaked in some butter, and crisped - I was hooked. How long has it been since you've had toasted white bread?!? For me, it's been a long, long time.
We always buy health bread for our weekend toast or whole wheat English muffins. And if I'm making sandwiches, I'll usually buy ciabatta (which I know is technically an Italian white bread, but is a little more special than your average supermarket loaf of white bread) or whole wheat, even though everyone knows white bread makes killer grilled cheeses. On my way home, I picked up a loaf of country white bread for the weekend.
Using toasted white bread, I made my husband a smoked turkey and swiss cheese sandwich with whole-grain mustard, tomatoes and sliced red onions and pickles on the side. For the Superbowl, I made turkey reubens with sauerkraut and horseradish sauce on the same toasted white bread.
And for breakfast as a special treat on Sunday, we had melty and sweet french toast, topped with ripe slices of banana. French toast is incredibly easy and fast to make first thing in the morning. By the time I was done, we had a fresh pot of hot coffee brewed to drink alongside.
There are so many ways to make this breakfast favorite extra special. Add coconut extract or almond extract to the egg mixture. Or use challah or brioche bread (I would have done this if we had either loaf handy). You can also warm up the maple syrup and serve it alongside in a pitcher or dust the top of your french toast with confectioner's sugar.
We went for simple and fast, but this a great, basic recipe for a morning treat (and fabulous way to use up any leftover white bread).
Serves 2 - 3
4 - 6 slices white bread (can substitute any other eggy bread such as challah or brioche)
2 - 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups whole milk
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 pinch salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cardamom (optional)
1/4 cup light brown sugar
Maple syrup, for topping
Bananas or fresh fruit, for topping
Optional: Confectioner's sugar, for dusting
1. Stack your bread on a plate. Place your saute pan (large enough for 2 slices to cook at once) on the stove. Find some tongs and a spatula.
2. Heat your pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of the butter.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, spices and sugar until combined. Use your tongs to dip in one piece of bread at a time, turning it until coated and carefully placing in the saute pan. Be careful - if you leave the bread in the bowl too long, it will absorb too much liquid and begin to disintegrate and turn to mush. You want the slice of bread to soak up enough of the egg mixture, but retain its texture.
4. Once the butter is melted, saute both pieces of bread for about 1 - 2 minutes per side, until golden brown and cooked through. Serve warm with desired toppings.
5. Repeat for remaining 2 pieces of bread and 1 tablespoon of butter, if desired.
6. Once the pan is again empty, add another tablespoon of butter to melt and begin the dipping process again. You are making these 'to order' because you don't want the bread to fall apart in the mixture. If you're only serving 2 people, you may not need the remaining 2 slices.