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Archive for August 17th, 2007

I love french toast. My father liked it and, if she had enough time, my mother would occasionally prepare it in the morning for him before he went to work, even though she didn’t and still doesn’t like it.

We never put maple syrup on french toast; we only used jelly. It was years and years before I ever saw anyone put syrup on it. To me that seemed just plain plain wrong, not to mention too sweet. To this day, I prefer spreading just the tiniest bit of jelly on top of the bread.

If we have overnight guests, I like to serve french toast for their breakfast, with sausage links and fruit, maybe broiled grapefruit** for the sweet-tart flavor. I found a good recipe that calls for partial preparation the night before, always a good idea when one is busy with guests and trying not to appear too frazzled.

This recipe is quite easy to prepare and has a few variations for your consideration. Feel free to use syrup, if you insist!

OVERNIGHT FRENCH TOAST

1 loaf french bread, sliced in 3/4 inch slices
1/4 t. salt
2 eggs*
2 egg whites
1/3 c. of sugar (or less)
zest of 1 lemon
2 c. milk
2 T. rum, or brandy, or 1 t. lemon juice (optional)
nutmeg

*I always use an egg or two more, because I like it “eggy”

1. Mix the eggs, egg whites, lemon zest, milk, and rum in a bowl. Beat with a whisk or electric mixer for a minute or two.

2. Dip the bread slices into the egg mixture and put in a 9 X 13 baking dish. Pour remaining liquid over the bread. Cover with foil or plastic and chill in the refrigerator overnight.

3. The next morning, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Melt butter in a skillet or griddle over medium to medium-high heat. Remove as many slices of bread as will easily fit in the pan without crowding, and brown them on each side. Transfer to a cookie sheet and repeat with the rest of the bread. Dust the tops with a little nutmeg.Bake 10 to 15 minutes.

4. Serve with syrup, jelly, jam or preserves.

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**We have this recipe on Christmas morning with the french toast.

BROILED GRAPEFRUIT

SERVES 4

2 grapefruit, halved, seeded and sections loosened with knife
1/2 c. wheat flake cereal, crushed
2 T. brown sugar
2 T. coconut
2 T. melted butter
dash cinnamon

1. Prepare the grapefruit and preheat broiler.

2. Mix the rest of the ingredients together in a small bowl.

3. Sprinkle mixture over the top of the grapefruit and broil about 5 inches from the heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Watch closely; they can go from browned to burned very quickly.

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Have a nice breakfast sometime; prepare these two dishes with either sausage, ham, or bacon.

Morgana

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I know I described the way I usually fix Johnny Marzetti in the last post. Today I used a different recipe and it is extremely good. A few years ago, I was really interested in Italian cookbooks and read many from the library and bought quite a few, too many, probably. I began to notice recipes for a pasta sauce or casserole that called for blue cheese, or gorgonzola. I thought that sounded rather strange (remember, this was two decades ago, and I was really just getting involved in cooking at a level more than basic). After I had seen a number of them, I decided to give it a try.

Man, oh man! What a revelation! If I don’t convince you to try anything else in this blog, I will be happy if I get you to try adding crumbled blue cheese to a more or less standard pasta casserole recipe. Let me tell you how I did it today.

I started with leftover spaghetti sauce from a few days ago. It was just regular spaghetti sauce, ground beef, tomato sauce, some onions, garlic, herbs. Nothing out of the ordinary. I had about 2 cups leftover and decided to make Johnny Marzetti.  I began by sauteeing a chopped carrot, celery stalk, small onion, and half of a zucchini, chopped. When those were tender, I added the leftover sauce and heated it. Then, while I was boiling about a half pound of campanelle pasta (shaped like little horns or bells – but I could have used penne, or anything), I poured into the sauce about a half cup of heavy cream. Then I put in about a half cup of crumbled blue cheese and stirred all that to combine the cream and incorporate the melting cheese.

After draining the pasta, I put both the pasta and the sauce in a casserole and mixed them. I sprinkled some parmesan over the top and put it in a 325 oven for about 15 minutes to melt the cheese on top. During that time I tossed a salad and sliced some fresh bread.

The blue cheese adds a tangy taste that makes the dish rather different from most pasta casseroles. I have made it before with Italian sausage instead of ground beef. It is actually quite a bit better with sausage. The two tastes are complementary somehow. Give it a try, even if you don’t like blue cheese.

Here’s the recipe, as best as I can quantify the ingredients. Remember – I used leftover homemade spaghetti sauce. You can use whatever kind you like, with meat or without.

 

JOHNNY MARZETTI – 2nd VERSION


2  to 2 1/2 c. spaghetti sauce

1 T. olive oil

1 carrot, peeled and chopped

1 celery stalk, halved lengthwise and chopped

1/2 c. onion, chopped

1 small zucchini, halved lengthwise and chopped

1/2 lb. pasta (penne, macaroni, campanelle, whatever), prepared according to directions on package

1/2 c. heavy cream, or whipping cream

1/2 c. crumbled blue cheese

1/4 c. parmesan cheese, grated or shredded


1. Preheat oven to 325. In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil until shimmering. Add the chopped vegetables and saute until tender.

2. Add the leftover spaghetti sauce and heat medium heat. Add the cream, lower heat to medium low and stir to combine.

3. Add the blue cheese and stir to incorporate the melting cheese.

4. Put the cooked pasta and the warm sauce into a casserole and mix together. Sprinkle some parmesan on top and bake in the oven until bubbly, about 20 minutes.

5. Serve with more parmesan if desired. 

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