Sunday, June 21, 2009
Baked Challah French Toast
Never say never
Tall icy lemonade is my greatest pregnancy craving. From her first surreptitious taste, Belle was hooked. I frown on her drinking juice and consuming sugar, but “do as I say and not as I do” is not exactly my style. So, over the months of pregnancy, many evenings I let Belle share my icy lemonade. I sit on the couch head sagging and she stands leaning on the side table stirring the ice with a spoon. In these quiet moments, she spends her time inquiring. Why does the ice spin in the glass? Where is the ice going? What is ice? Her life is all inquiry and desire.
Recently, I was told by a teenager that I really don’t value my Iphone because I am not nearly as tech-savvy as he. Somewhere between age two and age 16 you get to the point that you know everything. The world has become clear, your path is known, your life solved. In that sweet spot of life, I often uttered the phrase—“I would never…” I am thankful that it was a time before cell phone video cameras and social networking so that the arrogance of youth is not captured forever. But, my mind’s eye remembers the tone and the stupid self-assurance. The black and white nature of teenhood seems to fade into grey eventually, either through maturity or complexity of life’s situations.
Strata was a word that I abhorred. Baked egg concoctions seemed like a marker of someone who had given up, of someone who felt the easy way was the right way, of someone without discerning taste. They were the sort of wives who couldn’t be bothered. Casseroles were all laziness and lack of flavor. Any time-saving baked concoction was high on my list of I would nevers.
And, then we had the baby. We still wanted to continue to entertain; we still wanted to join friends together around food. With a child who was basically nocturnal for 5 months, I was fairly confident any cooking that involved dexterity and concentration was out. And, unembarrassed, I started to look again at my pyrex baking dishes. Empathy is a difficult skill to learn; for me it was learned through experience. We haven’t gone all casserole all the time, but in a pinch a baked make ahead meal for guest is not a cop out. Actually, it is an earnest act of entertaining—instead of focusing on the food, the service or the décor, you are focusing on the fact that spending time with the guests is the supreme element in entertaining. And, it turns out many of these baked dishes are quite tasty.
Baked Challah French Toast
(reading the recipe at balance made me think about making baked french toast again.)
Toast 1 sliced loaf of challah
In a bowl combine:
8 oz cream cheese
2-3 T brown sugar
2-3 T maple sugar
Spread the cream mixture on the challah and overlap into a pan
In a large bowl mix:
2 cups half-and-half
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
pinch of salt
Pour the eggy mixutre over eggs and then weigh french toast down with another pan. Refrigerate over night.
The next morning, bake with a water bath for 60 minutes at 375 degress.
Serve with strawberries and maple syrup.