Savoury French Toast

Spring is almost here at Fat Weka Farm…but not quite. The daffodils are starting to make an appearance but this flowering cherry taken last year  on 1 October is my true sign of spring.  Perhaps it will flower earlier this year. It’s still holding out with it’s tightly wrapped buds.   In the meantime I won’t be saying goodbye to the nightly warmth and handy cooking space of our wood burner.

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A fire and a dark beer is the perfect matchings for this easy dinner option in winter.

Throughout winter I’ve utilised this radiant warmth to also cook our dinner most nights. One quick favourite has been savoury French toast with a winter slaw.

French toast for breakfast is generally sweet and is a great way to use up sourdough bread.  Sourdough tends to get hard rather than go mouldy.  Sometimes it’s so hard you can work up a sweat just slicing it.  But it magically revives as does any stale bread with the french toast treatment.

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I was lucky enough to be given some duck eggs making a richer custard and a good yellow colour.

Simply mix one egg with half a cup of milk, salt, pepper and about 1 Tbsp of parmesan cheese grated.   If you want a herby punch then add a little sage or thyme. One egg should be enough for four slices of bread and 2-4 people depending on what you choose to add as toppings.  It needs to be thin enough to soak in and coat the bread with the eggy milk liquid.

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I tend to soak the bread in a flat bottomed plate – a pasta dish is ideal. Give it a minute to soak in.

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This bread is a wholemeal from Gilberts and I’ve added some thyme to the egg and milk.

Heat a heavy pan (ideally cast iron) and add a knob of butter or your favourite oil.  Once it begins to sizzle add the soaked bread to the pan.  Cook each side until it browns.

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To assist with the melting of cheese I cover with a pot lid for a few minutes.

Once you have turned over one side you can add a slice of cheese on top.

I like to add slaw on top but you can top with anything you like.  In this case I added some smoked mackerel along with the slaw.

 

20170907_084518 Another option for breakfast is a topping of bacon. When I do this I first begin cooking the bacon and then the french toast in the same pan.

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In summer it’s delicious with tomatoes, basil, black pepper and a drizzle of your favourite oil.  It’s a year round easy breakfast, lunch or dinner depending what you have in the fridge or garden to top it off and an option when the bread is no longer fresh and needs reviving.

A  weekend treat is to have a classic sweet French toast.  Just replace 1 tbsp of parmesan and the salt and pepper for 1 tbsp of caster sugar and either a dash of  vanilla essence or a grinding of nutmeg.  I like to make this sweet version using a raisin bread or sweet bread. Our local bakery Gilbert’s Fine Food’s Date and Walnut sourdough or their delicious and rich Brioche works a treat but when I use a sweet bread like these I just add 1 tsp of sugar.

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Date and Walnut sourdough from Gilbert’s Fine Food bakery, Dunedin.

Top with sliced banana or cooked apple, kefir or yoghurt and a little maple syrup. Our grandson Beau’s favourite is just with maple syrup.  My favourite of course is with my son’s preserved apricots – Augustines of Central.

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Augustines preserved apricots are available at Farro Fresh stores in Auckland, Moore Wilson’s in Wellington, Provisions in Cromwell and Florences in Wanaka. They are tree ripened, spray free and processed by hand in a Central Otago Riesling syrup.

When spring gets here with longer days of daylight, I will want to spend more time outdoors so time saving dishes like this are useful.  One real time saver I have discovered this winter on a trip to Melbourne has been three little hand peelers….more on that next posting.

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Cooking Corn Waimarama Style

I was welcomed to Hawkes Bay by the waving green fields of sweetcorn.  During our stay in the Bay I discovered the very best way to cook corn from Peter’s old mate Fred Hardy.

I love the colours of the beehives near Waimarama, Hawkes Bay

We were invited to lunch on a perfect day at Fred and Chris’s bach at Waimarama Beach about  a 20 minute drive past vineyards and olive farms south of Havelock North.

View down to Waimarama Beach – a very dry season 
We sat under an umbrella around a magnificient round totara table and talked about the locally grown corn we were going to have for lunch.  Fred is a born communicator and wasn’t at all phased by the camera when I asked him if I could video the process. 
Chris has a real eye for colour and design.  She has made their
simple 1960’s bach look a picture with the use of colour and planting that
showy red Bougainvillea that we don’t have a hope of growing down south.
Chris is just as much a foodie as Fred. Here’s how she made this easy and delicious cream cheese spread that we put on crackers as a starter.
Chris’s cream cheese spread – easy to whip up for unexpected guests
 if you have a spare cream cheese in your fridge and you can use any pickle but the lime was perfect. 
Cut in half a cream cheese, sandwich the two halves with lime pickle (homemade by Chris – must get that recipe) and top with a good coating of a dukkah of your choice.  To keep the dukkah in place lightly pour olive oil on top and serve with your favourite cracker.   Chris served it with plain rice crackers and it was so tempting to have more than you should.
Now onto Fred’s method of cooking corn on the barbeque in a way that keeps all the flavour and the kernals plump and juicy.    It’s simple but you need to prepare ahead of time.
Step 1:   Cut off the silky end of the corn. Find a large bucket and hold a running hose over the end you have just cut.   You can feel the corn husk being filled with water.  Place the corn in bucket with water.
The hose has to be pushed hard against the trimmed top of  the corn and your hand
 makes a seal to ensure the corn husk is being plumped up with water
Step 2:  You need to soak the corn for at least an hour before cooking and to keep them submerged put a weight on top.
This terracotta saucer is ideal but you can also just use a couple of bricks
or pavers too to keep the corn submerged
Step 3:  The cooking of the corn.   Heat your barbeque until really hot and lay the soaking corn on either the plate or grate.   If you have a cover like Fred does then that will decrease the cooking time.   Turn regularly for about 20 minutes.   To watch and see how Fred does it click on the arrow…..

Fred’s Waimarama Style Corn Demonstration

If you cannot play the video from the blog then go to this link to see the video on You Tube.
Here is how the corn will look when cooked – sometimes the husks are blackened and
even flame up as they dry out
Step 4:  Cut the stalk end of the corn off and with heavy duty gloves, twist and squeeze the corn out of its husk onto a plate.   It should come out free of all the fibre and be a beautiful yellow.  It helps of course if the corn is as fresh as possible.
Fred’s Sweetcorn was particularly good accompanied by a sprinkling of Kelp Pepper
 to reflect the seaside location (and its so full of nutrients)
On the way home to Napier look what was in front of us…..
Beekeeper moving hives near Havelock North
In September 2012 one of my early postings was called “A Vintage Morning Tea – Nan’s Pikelets”.   Peter’s sister Monica was inspired to purchase a modern griddle plate that is caste iron ridged on one side and flat on the other.   It works really well for pikelets because the ridges underneath seem to make the heat disperse evenly – like a simmer pad.   I proudly made Nan’s daughters a vintage morning tea using her favourite pikelet recipe. (see earlier post for the recipe).

Nan’s Pikelets topped with Gooseberry Marmalade  and a mix of yoghurt and mascarpone  cheese with a touch of honey from The Naked Honey Pot (gorgeous liquid Hawkes Bay honey)