Really Good French Toast

This recipe is not to be taken lightly -- it produces THE best French toast I have ever had. I think the recipe came from heaven. Just kidding! It is from Cook's Illustrated. But, I think they got it from heaven.

Santa was nice to Vanilla Bean this year. Which is clearly a reflection of my skillz in the kitchen. Actually, I think Vanilla Bean received more gifts than me this year. Humpf. Earning top billing is the 2009 Cook's Illustrated cookbook, a compilation of all of their magazines from this year. They take out all of the trials and tribulations for us, publishing only the best recipes and tips.

They came up with 3 key steps to perfect French toast: start with dry bread, hold the egg whites, and soak the bread properly. These simple steps produce a more custard-like French toast that is crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. Gone was the eggy flavor! I will never make French toast the same again.

Really Good French Toast
from Cook's Illustrated

8 large slices of white sandwich bread (we used challah, which was recommended in the book)
1 1/2 cups whole milk, warmed
3 large egg yolks
3 tbls. light brown sugar
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tbls. unsalted butter, melted, plus 2 tbls. for cooking
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tbls. vanilla extract
Maple Syrup

Preheat oven to 300° F. Bake bread on wire rack until almost dry throughout (center should remain slightly moist), 8 minutes per side. Remove and let cool 5 minutes.

Whisk milk, yolks, sugar, cinnamon, 2 tbls. melted butter, salt, and vanilla. Transfer mixture to a shallow pan.

Soak bread in mixture, 20 seconds per side. Using a slotted spatula, pick up bread allowing excess to drip off, set aside; repeat with remaining slices.

Heat ½ tbls. butter in skillet over medium-low heat. Transfer 2 soaked bread slices to skillet and cook until golden brown, 3-4 minutes per side. Wipe skillet down; repeat with remaining bread.

To keep everything warm while you are making the rest of it, put the cooked pieces on a baking sheet in a 200 degree oven. Serve warm, with a mimosa, and enjoy.


Pork Enchiladas with Green Sauce

I cheated on this recipe. I fully intended to make my own green sauce. But, I remembered I had bought a jar of tomatillo sauce a few weeks ago and decided to use that before I spent money on tomatillos. The Vanilla Bean Kitchen is nothing if not thrifty!

Adapted from Everyday Food

1 pork tenderloin (about 1 pound)
1 tsp. ground cumin
2 tbls. olive oil
1/2  onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 jalapeno, chopped
1 jar tomatillo sauce (I used Ortega)
1 cup of frozen corn kernels, thawed
corn tortillas (6-inch)
2 cups grated white cheddar (we used Monterey Jack)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place pork on a rimmed baking sheet; rub with cumin, and season with salt and pepper. Roast, turning once, until an instant-read thermometer registers 145 degrees (about 20-25 min.). Let cool for 10 minutes; cut into chunks. Using two forks shred pork. Set aside.

To add a little depth to the tomatillo sauce, heat oil in a saucepan and add the onion and garlic. Cook until softened, about 4-6 min. Add tomatillo sauce and simmer. If it cooks down, add a little bit of water.

Wrap stacked tortillas in damp paper towels and microwave for 1 min. to soften. Spoon some tomatillo sauce on each tortilla, add some pork, corn kernels and cheese. Roll up and place seam side down in a baking dish. Top with remaining sauce and cheese. Cover dish with foil and bake until sauce is bubbling 15-20 min. Remove foil and continue baking for 15 min. Let enchiladas cool before serving.



Nothing can get me blogging again quite like the holidays! Once again, I have a long list of Christmas treats on my baking list. My thighs are whining already.

After two failed attempts at fudge, I went with a sure bet...Gingersnaps. This recipe came from my Grandma and remains one of my favorite Christmas cookies. What's even better, baking them gets your kitchen smelling like the holidays. Not the fresh Christmas tree smell. The cinnamon, cloves, gingerbread smell.

3/4 cup of Crisco
1 cup of sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup of molasses
2 cups of flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. each of cinnamon, ginger, and cloves

Cream the first three ingredients. Slowly add the remaining ingredients. Roll into balls and roll in sugar. Get in the Christmas spirit and add some red and green sugar in there too. Bake at 375 degrees for 12 minutes.

To keep them soft, my Grandma would put a piece of bread with the gingersnaps in the jar or container. Or, I could be making that part up. I do that sometimes.