This week we made French toast - one of the simplest and cheapest things you can make for any meal of the day. It's also one of the fastest and most variable dishes I know of, and one I learned very early on at my mother's hop. Of course, over the years I've learned a few tricks and tips along the way to jazz up my version - thoroughly drying out the bread (to a "crouton" texture) so that it soaks up the maximum amount of custard possible is my standard practice now, because it makes even whole grain bread (like what I used today) a perfect base. By adding just a smidge of sugar along with vanilla and nutmeg to the eggs and whole milk, and whisking in my most recent "secret ingredient" - a scoop of custard powder - turns everything into a decadent, creamy sop for the bread and cooks to a crisp exterior while maintaining that "bread pudding" mouthfeel inside.
Finally, there's the topping. While maple syrup is perfectly acceptable (and wholly supported by me, especially when the dark, grade B version is available), I opted to take my French toast to New Orleans and go a Bananas Foster route. A whack of butter, brown sugar and bananas caramelized slowly before finishing with more vanilla and a touch of lemon juice, making a perfect topping for the Pain Perdu as well as a crepe filling and crown for an open-face peanut butter and banana sandwich. The dregs of banana that were left after 3 days of cooking (the photo showed the batch I made for 30 kids, with 12 bananas!), I pureed into luxurious banana "butter" and baked into some of the richest banana bread I've ever made - Heaven!
Sautéed Bananas on Pain Perdu
Makes 8 slices, 4 (generous) adult servings
2 tbsp salted butter
1 ½ tbsp dark brown sugar
3 large, “firmly ripe” bananas, sliced cross-wise into ¼" slices
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
¾ tbsp lemon juice
*Adults - add a splash of bourbon or rum to the bananas when they finish cooking for extra decadence!
¾ cup whole milk
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
2 tbsp vanilla custard powder or "cook & serve" vanilla pudding mix (note: eliminate the sugar if using pudding)
1 tbsp sugar
¼ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp cinnamon
8 thick slices whole grain bread (I used this)
Non-stick cooking spray
- Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
- When butter begins to bubble, sprinkle in the sugar and cook 2 minutes, without stirring.
- Add the bananas and cook, stirring gently to avoid burning, for 2-3 minutes – until tender and caramelized but still holding their shape.
- Set aside.
- Heat the oven to 275F.
- Place bread slices on a baking sheet and bake for 4 minutes per side, until dry but not coloured. Set aside.
- Whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla, vanilla custard powder, sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt in a large casserole dish. Set aside.
- Heat a large, non-stick skillet over medium heat.
- Place 2 slices of bread in the egg mixture and let soak in the egg mixture for 30 seconds - 1 minute per side. The bread should feel heavy but not fall apart.
- Spray the skillet with cooking spray and add the soaked bread.
- Cook until the outside is golden brown and crisp and the inside is cooked through, about 4 to 5 minutes per side.
- When the French toast in the pan is almost done cooking, soak the next two slices in the egg mixture.
- Move the cooked slices to a plate, slice in half on the diagonal and top with the bananas.
- Repeat with remaining ingredients.
Total Fat: 13.7 g
Cholesterol: 159.6 mg
Sodium: 525.9 mg
Total Carbs: 70.0 g
Dietary Fiber: 6.7 g
Protein: 16.3 g