I hate French toast, so I made some …
I like the IDEA of French toast okay, but I really do not like sweet custard much, and absolutely hated it when I was a kid. Savory custard, yum yum; sweet, yuck p'tooey. And of course Mom loved it and served it to us now and then as a special treat … but I was a polite kid.
On Saturday I was at a brunch party talking with someone while she ate an orange French toast casserole thing that was part of our hostess's buffet, and she was going on about how she wasn't supposed to eat this but adored it so much. And as I ate some other casserole-ish items it occurred to me that there's no good reason French toast HAS to be sweet, except from habit, and some savory version might actually be nice. And then I forgot about it until that night, when I was bagging up the uneaten garlic bread (made with mini-baguettes) from my dinner. H'mmmm …
So in the morning I took two halves of those baguettes and cut them into sticks, then put them in to soak with 1 jumbo egg, a quarter-cup of Egg Product (Nu-Laid Reddi-Egg is what we use) and a half-cup of milk, beaten up with a good pinch of salt, fresh pepper and a splash or two of Tabasco. I thought of baking this, but the oven was cold and I was hungry, so I melted butter in the copper skillet and laid those babies in. I was trying hard to cook them enough without browning them too much - I normally hate browned egg - and when I figured a balance had been reached I put them onto a plate and tucked in.
First impression: delicious! The bread had been spread with a mixture of butter, olive oil and pressed fresh garlic, and the richness of the egg mixture and the contrast between slightly tough crust and custardy interior complimented the good bread flavor and the garlic very well. Second impression: maybe too rich, if that's even a valid category; baking would probably be a more satisfactory way to cook this. It would also be a very good basis for one of those lovely breakfast casseroles, an idea I think I'll explore one of these days.
Here's an unusual French toast tuna melt recipe from a 1972 newspaper (which I have paraphrased).
French-Toasted Tuna Sandwiches
2 cans (6 or 7 oz ea) tuna in oil
2/3 cup finely chopped celery
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
2/3 cup grated (medium fine) cheddar cheese
4 slices bacon, cooked until crisp and crumbled
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
12 slices bread
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter
In a medium mixing bowl, mix together the undrained tuna, celery, onion, cheese and bacon.
In a small mixing bowl whisk together the mayonnaise, salt, pepper and mustard; add to tuna mixture and mix lightly.
Spread the filling on 6 slices of bread; top with remaining slices of bread.
In a shallow dish or pie plate whisk eggs lightly; add the milk and beat until combined.
Dip both sides of the sandwiches in the egg mixture.
Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a skillet; add the egg dipped sandwiches and brown over
moderate heat, turning once to brown both sides.
Fry remaining sandwiches in remaining butter .
Can be served garnished with gherkins and cherry tomatoes.
Makes 6 servings.
This is something you might like:
Onion Bread Pudding from Lee Bailey's "Good Parties"
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 cups coarsely chopped onion
4 cups milk
5 eggs lightly beaten
2 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Several dashes Tabasco sauce
4 slices white bread
Cook the onion in half the butter--don't brown it, just cook 'til soft, wilted (about 10 minutes very low heat, covered.) Melt remaining butter, mix with milk, eggs, 2 sauces, salt & pepper.
Put cooked onions in a greased 2 quart casserole dish, pour in milk mixture, cover with bread slices (cut bread to fit.) Bake at 325F for 45 minutes to an hour -- a knife slipped into the center should come out clean.
re: blue room
I keep forgetting about Lee Bailey until I get into one of his books. He always has good stuff. I guess his writing, although certainly competent, is just not particularly witty or opinionated or expressive of a strong personality; his settings are always gorgeous and upscale but it's like, Don't mind me, I'm just the cook. Have another biscuit.
Well, this looks awfully good, though. I think that needs some stout bread, like a dense-crumbed Italian loaf, and I'll sneak in some cheese.
I was raised on French Toast prepared with a sugary custard that included vanilla and cinnamon, and topped with maple syrup. I thought that was how it was supposed to be. I married a sweet little lady who turned her nose up at my recipe and prepared it with a savory custard which replaced the sugary stuff in my recipe with salt and pepper. I still make the sweet variety from time to time but, as you pointed out, the savory version seems to have more appeal. I do, however, enjoy a stuffed french toast with crème fraiche and fruit or other filling from time to time.
I've made crocque monsieur and baked croques monsieur variations along those lines and prefer it to the sweet french toast. I dip the bread in the egg mixture before pan frying the sandwich or I'll pour the egg mixture over a few sandwiches in the bowl. I do like a touch of maple syrup on both versions of crocque monsieur. I think of them as variations of stratas (or strate, I guess if you want to be italian-correct).