Friday, August 19, 2011

cooking with gp: part two. the french toast edition.

let me just start off by saying that french toast and i have sort of a bad relationship. here's the story.

kyle and i had been dating probably a year, not very long in the grand scheme of things (almost 6 years now). it had snowed about a foot, so school was either cancelled or we were on break or something. no one else was home, so i asked him to come over so i could make him breakfast and we could be all warm and cozy inside my house with the cold snow falling outside. how romantic. (i'm actually sort of gagging at myself right now. also, why would i ask him to drive to my house if there was so much snow on the ground?!) anyway, he drove over, and when he got there the disaster had already started. i had decided to make us some french toast, which i had seen my mother do one million times. i knew what ingredients i needed and all of that, but along the way, something went awry. the bread was somehow completely burned up on the outside, but still raw with egg mixture on the inside. and it kept. on. happening. piece after piece of bread basically committed suicide once it hit the pan. kyle and i just laughed about it (i may have cried a bit, but who remembers?) and once i'd used up about half a loaf of bread, we gave up and i think just ate cereal or something. a long time after, i figured i had just got the pan too hot too quickly and the bread didn't have enough time to cook all the way through. and however hilarious this story is to us now, it forever set the standards with my french toast-making abilities. i don't think i have tried it since then, just because every time i would mention it, kyle would look afraid for his life.

so, when i saw this recipe in gwyneth's new cookbook, i kept thinking about wanting to try it. in last night's state of insomnia (thank you, weird medication), i thought about it a lot -- so much that i almost just got up from bed at 5 a.m. when i was tossing and turning just to make some. but when i finally did get out of bed around 8, i knew i had to try it. homegirl didn't sleep well, so she needs something good for breakfast. please and thank you.

gwyneth's challah french toast calls for some things i didn't have, so i just used what was available for now. i didn't have challah or brioche bread, which would undoubtedly make this the best french toast ever, but hopefully next time i'll have some brioche from my dear friend christopher. (shamelessly asking) but for now, i just used some good whole wheat bread. also, i didn't have coarse sugar, so i just used regular, and instead of a vanilla bean i just used extract, which the recipe says works well, too. and i didn't have real vermont maple syrup or a banana. so basically i had nothing that she said i needed and just made some other form of french toast, but whatev. here we go.

i made very sure not to get the pan too hot too quickly. don't want a repeat of 2007. i melted the butter, made the egg mixture, dipped the bread and placed the two pieces into the pan. i sprinkled each side with some sugar while it was cooking and carefully watched so that i wouldn't get distracted and let it burn. after flipping and testing the bread to see if it was ready, i heated up some regular maple syrup in the microwave and plated my breakfast. i did add a bit of cinnamon to mine, too, since i didn't have everything else i needed and since i love cinnamon on pretty much anything.

the end result was more than satisfying and completely comforting after a restless night filled with half-sleeping, worrying, weird dreams and a thunderstorm in which i walked outside in at 3 a.m. to roll up my car windows. the bread was toasted but soft and fluffy, and the vanilla extract made the bread the perfect amount of sweetness. i definitely will try this again when i have all the actual ingredients i need. maybe i'll even try to make it for kyle, if he'll let me. thanks again, gwyneth. so far, your book has not disappointed.


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