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When I was a child, we had a lady from Camden, New Jersey who watched after my grandmother as a companion, and who could cook like ‘nobody’s business’ when she wanted to. The trouble was, since she was my grandmother’s companion, she was generally occupied with her, and my grandmother had what was called “hardening of the arteries” at that time, and required a fairly large amount of attention.
The lady’s first name was Estelle, and much like the lady in Dickens’ Great Expectations, you didn’t always know what to make of her. But I really liked her, and I always wanted her to make me French Toast for me, even though he had an unusual recipe.
So here goes:
Good timing is of value in making French Toast, and you will want to have things come together: the making of the ‘batter,’ getting the bread from the bag, and having the frying pan ready. Try to have these things all happen about the same time.
Take a large cast-iron skillet (the other kind are just not the same), and put sufficient butter (not margarine or oil) in it so that when you introduce the bread for cooking, the butter will be in sufficient quantity to cause bubbling at the base of the bread. You know what I mean. Enough to have it sizzle.
- White Bread (a good quality that can soak up as much liquid as the paper towel ad claims – make your own in the best bread machine)
- Milk (4% is nice. 2% will do.)
- Salt (experiment, but a 1/8 teaspoon per egg is a good starter) (Check out our recommended salt and pepper grinder sets!)
- Pepper (a few sprinkles)
- Vanilla (1/2 tsp per egg)
- Butter (use generously for cooking in skillet)
- Cinnamon (only if you must)
- Confectioner’s Sugar (NONE!)
The ‘batter’ will consist of 50-50 of milk and egg. Don’t dilute the egg down too much. No more milk than 50-50. The quantity you will use will depend on the number of slices. I would start with at least two eggs. Combine the eggs and the vanilla, salt, and pepper, and hand-whip them until it is uniform. Add the milk, and rapidly mix with a hand mixer some more to avoid small bits of yolk in the liquid.
Now here is the art part. Take the bread, and soak it in the liquid until it is almost impossible to pick the bread back up without breaking it. Really get it soaked good! Place the soaked bread in the skillet, and if you can, gently move it around just slightly in the skillet so it won’t have a tendency to stick. Now cook one side of the toast until it is brown, without flipping it. When you feel certain it is golden brown, flip and cook the other side.
When it is done, put it on the plate, put on a bit of softened butter, and nearly cover it with 100% maple syrup, being careful, but eating it just as quickly as you can, and not letting it cool much. Although you don’t want to get burned, there is nothing that ruins French Toast so much as letting it get cool. For those of you who must have cinnamon, you can very lightly sprinkle the completed toast with some. A quick review: Did you use all the ingredients mentioned, or did you fail to add either the salt or the pepper? If you left those out, don’t blame me for the result! They were Estelle’s secret ingredients. The vanilla was mine.
I hope you will enjoy this delightful breakfast, and for added the final touch, serve it with some sizzling bacon, a small glass of high-pulp orange juice, and a mug of coffee from your best coffee urn.
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