Introducing Clark…My First Ever Guest Editor/Contributor

Hellodie from the great ENC…I want to introduce the older son of my dear lifelong friend Michѐle. I trust that you will learn more about him as the blog expands and he contributes more often with a more contemporary (read that as younger!) offering. This Friday heads up gives you time to study his recipes for two French Toasts, grab the ingredients, and bake it all up this weekend. Prep it for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner…Home Grown and Orchestrated like a Beautiful Symphony…That’s our Clark! And Now…

In his words: Hey I’m Clark – I’m 23 and live in Washington DC. Food has played an important role throughout my life whether eating out or cooking at home. Now that I have my own kitchen, I’ve been focused on developing new recipes and flavors as I cook to sustain and entertain.

I feel like the potential of French Toast often gets overlooked as an exciting dish because most restaurants don’t offer much variety around it. From my experience, most places that serve French toast don’t do it justice and I think that can be attributed to a few things. For one, assuming it’s a breakfast place, they are probably putting out high volume of orders. Often times this can result in thinner slices and drier toast, understandably due to the need to conserve portions and put out orders quickly. Another reason might be because better restaurants often only serve French toast as a breakfast item, allowing it to get overlooked as a featured dish. Whatever the case may be, I definitely prefer making it at home because you can control all the flavors and variables that go into the dish.

French toast can be so much better if you just take the time to soak the bread enough to yield a soft fluffy result instead of a chewy dry texture. Here are two recipes that can help you step up your French toast and get creative with the flavors.

Cardamom French toast (sweet)

Ingredients:
Custard dip
Coconut milk – 1-2 cans
2 egg yolks
Mirin (can replace with sugar or honey)
Cardamom – 1-3 tablespoons
Cinnamon – 1 tablespoon
Freshly ground nutmeg
Vanilla extract – a few drops
Coconut extract – a few drops (optional)

Other
Loaf of challah or brioche
Butter
Sliced almonds or other crush nuts
Poppy seeds or sesame seeds (optional)
Citrus zest (optional)
Mint (optional)

Toast:
Step 1:
Combine all the custard ingredients to until they are mixed well. Adding the miring or sweetener to the custard will help the toast to caramelize when cooking
Step 2:
Cut bread into 1.5 inch slices (you need thick slices up to 2 in. If you want)
Step 3:
Soak bread in custard; make sure it gets fully coated on both sides and soaks up the liquid
Step 4: (medium to high heat, 5-7)
Add a knob of butter to a nonstick pan and let it get hot – the butter should be bubbling before you put the toast in
Step 5:
Set the toast in the pan and let it sit until the bottom starts to brown and crisp up, then flip and let the same happen to the other side.

Syrup/custard reduction:
Take the remaining custard and put it into a small pot on the stove and bring to a simmer. Add in more mirin (or other sweetener) and let it simmer uncovered so it reduces into a thick paste. Add more nutmeg/cardamom to taste. Once the custard is at the desired consistency, turn off the heat and mix in the nuts.

Plate the toast and top with your syrup reduction, citrus zest, poppy seeds and mint (or whatever else you would like)

Garlic & onion French toast (savory)

Ingredients:
Savory custard dip
Coconut milk – 1-2 cans
2 egg yolks
Garlic cloves (a couple)
Garlic powder
Onion powder
Any other herb/spice mixes (thyme, oregano, etc…)
Salt

Other
Loaf of challah or brioche
Onions
Zucchini
Herb yogurt sauce
Butter

Caramelized Topping
Step 1:
Slice onions and zucchini into thin pieces
Step 2:
Add sliced onions and zucchini to a sauce pan with some oil and salt to taste
Step 3:
On medium heat, cover with a lid and let them cook down, stirring once in a while until they caramelize (add a little butter or deglaze if needed)
Step 4: (Optional)
You can add different flavors to the caramelized onions like curry powder or paprika

Toast:
Prep steps:
Mince garlic
Combine all the custard ingredients and mix well.
(Optional but better) Heat custard to a brief simmer to bloom the garlic & herbs, then let cool in the fridge until room temp again

Step 1:
Cut bread into 1.5 inch slices (you need thick slices up to 2 in. If you want)
Step 2:
Soak bread in custard; make sure it gets fully coated on both sides and soaks up the liquid
Step 3: (medium to high heat, 5-7)
Add a knob of butter to a nonstick pan and let it get hot – the butter should be bubbling before you put the toast in
Step 4:
Set the toast in the pan and let it sit until the bottom starts to brown and crisp up, then flip and let the same happen to the other side.
Step 5:
Lay down some type of sauce, plate the toast and top with the caramelized onions and zucchini

Notes:
This dish is great paired with a light salad or mixed greens
You can use cream too; I just prefer coconut milk
In the picture I used leftover beef that I had from lunch but to keep it simple, I just used caramelized onions for the recipe
You can customize most of the herbs, seasonings and flavors that go into this to make it your own

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