Breakfast for Dinner

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Last night, we ate my kid’s favorite dinner, which is not dinner at all.  Breakfast for dinner is very popular in our house, especially after discovering Cook’s Illustrated’s Challah French Toast recipe a few years ago.  You know how when you go to a great brunch place on the weekends and order a mimosa and a specialty French Toast with some sort of amped up, fruit-laden syrup and it tastes so much better than any French Toast you could ever make at home?  Well, we don’t do that anymore.  This French Toast recipe is so good that I think any starchy pancake or French Toast order while out at brunch (or a diner in New Jersey) is a waste of a someone-else-is-cooking experience.  Better to let someone else do the really complicated stuff, like eggs Benedict, while we’re out.

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Breakfast for Dinner at our house is usually Challah French Toast, bacon and yogurt parfaits, made by layering yogurt, any berries we have on hand and granola.  My oldest daughter said last night, “We’ve been eating lots of healthy things, so we deserve a treat.”  She’s four.  Then my husband called and said he was leaving his office “shortly”.  I reminded him that last night was Breakfast for Dinner night and he came home immediately.  He’s not four.

Cook’s Illustrated Challah French Toast, from The New Best Recipe All-New Edition

Though thick-sliced challah is best for French toast, you can substitute high-quality, presliced sandwich bread. Flipping challah is easiest with tongs, but a spatula works best with sandwich bread…To vary the flavor of the batter, add ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon or ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg with the dry ingredients, or substitute almond extract for the vanilla.  (Note:  I’ve doubled the recipe.  This comfortably feeds four for dinner.)

2 large eggs
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cup milk
4 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 tablespoons sugar
2/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
8-10 slices day-old challah, ¾ inch thick,
or 12-16 slices day-old high-quality sandwich bread
Unsalted butter for frying
(1 tablespoon per batch)

Heat a 10- or 12- inch skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium heat for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, beat the eggs lightly in a shallow pan or pie plate; whisk in the melted butter, then the milk and vanilla, and finally the sugar, flour and salt, continuing to whisk until smooth. Soak the bread without over saturating, about 40 seconds per side for challah or 30 seconds per side for sandwich bread. Pick up the bread and allow the excess batter to drip off; repeat with the remaining slices.

Swirl 1 tablespoon butter in the hot skillet. Transfer the prepared bread to the skillet in a single layer; cook until golden brown, about 1 minute 45 seconds on the first side and 1 minute on the second. Serve the French toast immediately. Continue, adding 1 tablespoon butter to the skillet for each new batch.

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