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Comfort Food #7: Eggy Bread/French Toast

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You wouldn’t believe how something so inexpensive and so simple to make could be so tasty!

Even now when I bite into a warm slice of just-out-of-the-pan French toast, it brings back such wonderfully comforting memories. We never grew up calling this delicious snack eggy bread like most people did; instead it was the more fanciful French toast. And until today, I didn’t realise that it was also called Gypsy toast!

Mmm... Yummy French toast!

Mmm… Yummy French toast!

 

I think I might have been about five when Mum first made this for me and my sister. I was a very fussy eater and it was very difficult for my mum to get me to eat anything. I’d never finish meals and would only ever pick at my food. However, when I first tried French toast it was definitely love at first bite! I couldn’t get enough of this yummy fried bread. It was quite good for my parents because growing up, we didn’t really have a great deal of money, so Mum must have been thrilled that the one thing I wanted to stuff my face with was as cheap as… well, a loaf of bread! French toast was very much a firm favourite in our house when I was growing up, not just with me but with all of us.

French toast: my first attempt in as long time

French toast: my first attempt in as long time

 

That’s hardly a surprise considering that French toast is eaten practically all over the world, so it really is a very popular dish. It’s unclear where or when this dish was created and by whom. It may not even have originated in France!

The basic ingredients for French toast: eggs, milk, bread, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon

The basic ingredients for French toast: eggs, milk, bread, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon

 

The earliest form of French toast is believed to have originated as far back as the fourth century, when it was found in a collection of Latin recipes. In Sweden, Finland and Norway, French Toast is known as ‘poor knights’ after the fourteenth century German name for this dish Arme Ritter.

The sweet egg and milk mixture

The sweet egg and milk mixture

 

My love for French toast took on another dimension when I met my husband and began my frequent trips to visit him in the States. As an American, he’d been eating French toast his entire life – well since he was old enough to eat anyway! But there were two major differences: in America, French toast is eaten as a breakfast food rather than an anytime snack, accompanying bacon and eggs, and served with lots of maple syrup. Furthermore, French toast in the States is always a sweet dish whereas Mum’s French toast was always savoury. In fact, I don’t think I know anyone other than Mum who made the savoury version.

French toast cooking away!

French toast cooking away!

 

I also found so many different ways of making French toast while I was in the States. You can use pretty much any kind of bread; flavourings such as vanilla, nutmeg or cinnamon, and you can stuff them with mascarpone and fruit such as blueberries before you fry them. Then there are amazing French toast casseroles, where the bread is left to soak in the egg mixture before being baked in the oven not too dissimilar to our bread and butter pudding – delicious!

And into the pan they go!

And into the pan they go!

 

I saw an episode of Nigella Express where she made jam doughnut-flavoured French toast. I didnt even know such a thing existed! It sounded like a fried piece of heaven and I cannot wait to get stuck into that. French toast may be quite a simple concept but with so many variations it has become something quite spectacular. I’ve heard that there are even French toast cupcakes! I’ve never seen one before nor eaten one but I plan on rectifying that situation!

With a good bit of Butter! Image from pixabay.com courtesy of s_masako

With a good bit of Butter! Image from pixabay.com courtesy of s_masako

 

I suppose it sounds as though I’m more geared towards sweet French toast but I do think both the sweet and savoury versions are equally tasty. I couldn’t choose between the two types. And neither could I choose between Mum’s savoury French toast and my brother-in-law Dizzy’s yummy sweet cinnamon version. So I’ve included the recipes for both. Hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

MUM’S SAVOURY FRENCH TOAST

Serves 1-2 people

INGREDIENTS:
2 slices of sliced white bread, cut in half, crusts on.
1 large egg
1 tbsp. semi skimmed milk
Salt and pepper to taste
Oil for frying

METHOD:

  • Heat a little oil in a frying pan. just enough to stop the bread sticking to the pan.

  • Mix together egg, milk, salt and pepper in a bowl.

  • Plunge each piece of bread into the egg mixture so that it is well coated on both sides.

  • When pan is hot, add bread.

  • Cook until side is golden brown then flip over and cook the other side.

  • Eat!

Simple yet delicious!

Dizzy’s Cinnamon French Toast

French toast and syrup. Image from pixabay.com courtesy of annaj

French toast and syrup. Image from pixabay.com courtesy of annaj

 

Serves 1-2 people

INGREDIENTS:

2 slices cinnamon bread or cinnamon raisin bread

1 large egg

1 tsp. sugar

A dash of vanilla extract

Oil for frying

Butter and maple syrup to serve

METHOD:

  • Heat oil in pan.

  • Mix together egg, sugar and vanilla in a bowl.

  • Coat each side of the bread with the egg mixture.

  • Brown each side.

  • Serve with butter and maple syrup

Note: If you cannot find cinnamon bread, you can add a 1/4 tsp. of ground cinnamon to the egg mixture. Butter can be used instead of oil for frying, and the French toast can even be deep fried in very hot oil. All depends on how health conscious you want to be!

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Comfort Food #6: Perfect Full English

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I usually include scrummy sweet desserts and puddings as part of my comfort food recipes for Nostalgia Pie and my incredibly sweet tooth is to blame for that! If ever I need a dose of good old fashioned comfort, sugar hits the spot remarkably well and as I’ve overindulged my sweet tooth over the years, most sugary things make me feel quite nostalgic.

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However, for the first time, I’m including a savoury dish: The full English. Also known as a fry up or heart attack on a plate! the full English is thankfully not a thing of the past. It is very much alive and kicking and served in cafes, pubs and restaurants up and down the country and due to it’s ever increasing popularity – even now when we are constantly reminded of healthy eating concepts – it will be for years to come. Fry ups are an iconic part of any English menu and are as synonymous with England as fish and chips or Yorkshire pudding. Tourists visit England hoping to sample this dish as part of their British experience.

fu8

A traditional full English consists of bacon, eggs, sausages, baked beans, tomatoes, mushrooms, black pudding, fried bread or toast, and quite often a potato component such as bubble and squeak or hash browns. It is served with a hot drink such as tea or coffee. Fry ups vary slightly depending on which region in the United Kingdom it is being served.

fup4

A full English breakfast was always a firm favourite in our household, especially with my dad. As we were a family of six, there obviously wasn’t time for such a major blow out during the week, so it would be saved for Sunday brunch instead. Also, along with a cappuccino and an effervescent berroca tablet, I found it to be the perfect hangover cure!

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And I really missed it during the time I spent in the States. Don’t get me wrong, American breakfasts are amazing and I loved tucking into them but there were times when only a full English would do and even though Americans are aware of our super greasy delight, it was very hard to come by in the cafes and restaurants in health conscious Portland, Oregon. Of course, I could have just made it myself at home but the ingredients tasted a lot different in the States than they did at home. Even though there were what seemed like fifty seven varieties of bacon and sausage, it wasn’t the same as what we got at home, so I much preferred to serve them with waffles or pancakes for breakfast as it seemed to accompany them much better.

However, a fry up isn’t just a breakfast food. It’s way too delicious to only be served at one time of the day. It makes a great lunch or dinner, especially if served with chips. Cafes in the United Kingdom often include it on their menus as an ‘all day breakfast.’ Fry ups often have a reputation for being calorie-laden; artery clogging and extremely unhealthy so naturally it’s not something you would want to serve up everyday.

posh fry up

But there are ways in which you can cook a full English so that it a lot healthier but still as yummy. It depends on the quality of the ingredients used and also despite its name, ‘fry ups’ don’t have to be fried! The recipe I’m going to use is my own and it’s always been a hit with everyone – even if I say so myself! The majority of components in this dish are grilled or oven cooked so it’s much better for you. The egg could also be poached if you wish to further reduce the amount of fried components you have on your plate. Any variety of bacon, sausage and bread can be used although I recommend cutting a slice of bread from an unsliced loaf as I find the slices in most pre-cut loaves too thin.

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So whether it’s for breakfast, lunch or dinner, I hope you enjoying cooking Dark Angel’s healthy(ish) Full English!

Dark Angel’s Full English

For one person

INGREDIENTS:

2 bacon rashers
1 sausage
1 egg
1 slice black pudding
1 large potato, peeled and diced
1 tomato, halved
1 handful of button mushrooms, sliced thickly
1 thick slice of bread
Baked Beans
Butter
Olive oil
Lemon juice
Dried herbs of your choice
Salt and pepper (optional)
Ketchup and/or brown sauce

METHOD:

  1. Add a splash of lemon juice, some salt and pepper to the sliced mushrooms.
  2. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius/ 390 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. Lightly grease an ovenproof dish with some olive oil. Season potatoes with salt, pepper and dried herbs. Add a splash of olive oil and place in oven.
  4. Preheat grill, and after about 10 minutes, start grilling bacon, sausages and black pudding.
  5. Butter both sides of bread.
  6. After 10 minutes, place tomato halves under grill.
  7. Cook egg as preferred.
  8. Place sliced mushrooms under the grill.
  9. In a heated pan, start frying slice of bread so it is lightly brown on both sides.
  10. Heat baked beans,
  11. When all components are ready, take off heat and put on plate.
  12. Serve with ketchup and/or brown sauce and EAT!!!

REMEMBER:

A full English might appear easy enough to implement but timing is the key to delivering a successful dish. With so many components, all of which have different cooking times, it can be tricky. Always keep an eye on each component as it is being cooked.

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