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.

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.

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.


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

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.

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.


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.

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.






Parsley – a super food not simply a garnish

The humble parsley – who would guess it’s actually a super food rich in anti-oxidants, vitamins, minerals and fibre.    Yet how many times do you see it looking sadly discarded on a plate at a restaurant?

Curly Leaf parsley – not quite as strong a flavour as Italian flat leaf for cooking

To grow parsley at the start can be tricky but once its established you will always have it.   It doesnt like being transferred as it has a root system like a carrot, but I have had better luck if the seedlings are really little. One plant will usually last for two seasons.    I let parsley run to seed and in my garden wherever it lands it stays.   It seems to thrive in partial shade but it also grows in the sunny sites.


My son, Gus the chef, let me into this secret of creating a fresh bouquet for dishes that have been slowly cooked, especially casseroles.   It’s really easy and so effective.

Finely chop parsley, half a clove of garlic and zest from a lemon and add last minute to your dish so that the aroma is still there when you take it to the table.   Now that’s a garnish!

I was reminded again of  Gremolata last night when I  attended chef Alison Lambert’s 3 hour cooking class celebrating spring.   Alison introduced us to this topping as a final garnish/flavouring for her oven roasted carrots.   

Alison gave us a wonderful night’s entertainment talking about living and working in Europe for 10 years, giving us handy hints that I will pass onto you (promise) and a gorgeous two course meal featuring a Greek lamb dish with pasta…yum! (might make that for the next family gathering).   Alison is the Dunedin Farmers’ Market chef and like me she stands by herbs stating that they can change dishes from ordinary to something extraordinary.    

I am sure, like me, you will now have new respect for the humble herb parsley. 

Parsley is said to assist in treating PMT, menopause and easing cramps. Eating parsley everyday is claimed to reduce blood pressure.  It’s probably the richest herb source of Vitamin K and is loaded with vitamins A, C and B that strengthens the body’s immune system, stimulates digestion of protein and fat.   It is a diuretic that helps to rid the body of sodium and a good source of folic acid as well as iron. Chlorophyll found in parsley is a good cure to stop and avoid bad breath – that’s why it is recommended that you eat it after consuming garlic.