Four Clan Kitchen

What we eat everyday

Archive for April, 2010

Oven Baked French Toast

Posted by fourclankitchen on April 25, 2010

This is really a bread pudding/dessert that masquerades as french toast.  It is requested by the junior set in my clan on every vacation. In accordance with the established protocol, I resist, and then cave in and make it, because it is easy to make. The keys here are a high quality challah (or a brioche) and real maple syrup.  Also, it is best to start the night before, although I have assembled it and stuck it in the oven with few complaints.

The basic idea is to soak the challah in a custard (eggs, sugar, half and half) in the evening and bake it the next morning.  But what puts it over the top is a maple syrup-nut layer that you layer beneath the custard.  You bake it and flip it over, so the nuts and maple syrup form a nice topping for your French toast. So here goes:

Baked French Toast (from Bon Appetit)


1 lb. challah bread, sliced into 1″ thick slices

8 eggs

1/2 cup butter (1 stick)

1 1/2 cup half and half.

1 cup maple syrup + extra for serving

1/2 cup tightly packed brown sugar

1 cup pecans or  coarsely chopped walnuts

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla

2 generous pinches of salt, divided  (or use salted butter)

Combine butter, brown sugar,  maple syrup and a pinch of salt in a pan over low heat till the butter and sugar melt and a smooth syrup is formed.  Pour the maple syrup mix into a 13x9x2 non-metallic rectangular  pan and spread the chopped nuts evenly over the syrup.  Beat eggs, sugar, cinnamon, cream, the second pinch of salt and vanilla in a large bowl until all the ingredient are thoroughly blended.  Soak each slice of break in the custard and arrange on top of the maply syrup-nut layer.  Do not pack the bread tightly  since it will swell as it bakes. Pour the remaining custard over the bread, wrap tightly and place in refrigerator until the next morning. You can proceed immediately if needed, but make sure that the bread is thoroughly soaked in the batter/custard.

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Bake french toast in the oven until it becomes puffy and golden brown and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean, about 35-45 min. Cut into 6 pieces and serve. The original recipe suggests serving this with warm maple syrup, but it is plenty sweet and does not really need the added richness.

Posted in baked, Breads, Breakfast, Brunch, Vegetarian | Leave a Comment »

Apple Balzano Cake

Posted by fourclankitchen on April 19, 2010

As I age, I no longer want dessert dripping with a gooey fudgy sauce or slathered with a cream cheese frosting. Instead I want dessert that is barely a dessert, something that could be eaten for breakfast, tea or after dinner. Now you give me an apple Balzano cake and my taste receptors are willing to dance and juice up the pleasure centers of my brain with happy juices.

This cake is barely a cake and not quite a custard, it’s something in between: almost like a crepe batter poured over sliced apples and baked. Try it, your taste receptors will also dance.

Apple Balzano Cake adapted from the New York Times via Alexandra Cooks.

1 stick butter (8 tbs), plus more for greasing pan
parchment paper
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract 
(you could use a vanilla bean)
2 Braeburn apples and 1 Golden delicious apple (the original recipe calls for 4 braeburns, I used what I had)
½ cup all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup milk

Heat the oven to 350ºF. Butter a nine-inch-springform pan (or any round pan). Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper and grease both the paper and the sides of the pan. Then melt butter in a microwave oven. In the food processor, beat together the eggs and the sugar until the mixture is thick and forms ribbons when lifted with a spoon and dropped. Add the vanilla.
Cut apples into quarters and core (no need to peel, although the original recipe calls for it). Slice the apples in the food processor using the slicer attachment. Alternatively, slice thinly by hand, but this would be a royal pain. Put the sliced apple in a large mixing bowl.
Add the butter into the sugar-egg mixture (still in the food processor). Add the milk and give the processor a whir. Combine flour, salt and baking powder, then add to the batter, giving it another whir in the food processor. Pour/scoop out the batter into the bowl that has the apples, making sure that all apples pieces are coated with the batter. Now scoop out the whole batter-apple mix into the springform pan. Level the surface of your apple-batter mix with a spatula. Bake for 50-55 min. on the center rack of the oven, rotating the pan once at about 30 min. The cake/custard will brown nicely on top, but will just barely set, so don’t expect it to have a cake like consistency. Cool for 30 minutes, before serving.

Posted in baked, Breakfast, Brunch, Dessert | Leave a Comment »

Fresh Tomato Salsa

Posted by fourclankitchen on April 9, 2010

I previously posted quesadilla and taco recipes on this blog. To kick these up a notch or two and also to get your salt hit, you need salsa or guacamole and chips on the side. A fresh salsa is a thing of beauty and dreadfully easy to make. But it needs the highest quality tomatoes and cilantro (coriander leaves) that you can lay your hands on. At this time of the year, your best options are vine-ripened tomatoes or a good variety of cherry tomatoes such as Nature’s Sweet (these are widely available). Down here, cilantro planted in October last year, is ready for harvest. I used my first harvest for this season’s first fresh salsa.

2 ½ cups tomatoes crushed by pulsing in a food processor, or finely chopped by hand, (do not puree). To give it body you can substitute ½ cup of tomatoes with tomatillos.
½ cup red onions, minced finely in a food processor.
¼ cup cilantro, chopped
1 ¼ tsp salt (Start with 1 tsp and work your way up)
1 tsp. cumin powder
1 tsp. paprika
1 very juicy lime (adjust amount to taste)
1 thai bird pepper (optional)

Mix the vegetables, add the spices, squeeze in the lime juice. Taste and adjust the salt, heat and lime to your satisfaction. Do not skimp on the salt. Refrigerate for an hour or so to blend the flavors. Serve with chips with any Mexican meal. Fresh salsa does not last very long, so use within 24 hours after making.

Posted in condiments, Mexican, vegan, Vegetarian | Leave a Comment »

Hummus with cilantro and thai bird peppers

Posted by fourclankitchen on April 2, 2010

I have tried making hummus in many different ways, but this partially Indianized version is my favorite. In addition to the traditional hummus ingredients, this contains ginger, thai bird peppers and cilantro. This adds both a kick and a freshness to the hummus which is missing from the store bought, olive oil laden, bland stuff. For this batch, I cooked the chick peas from scratch and used cilantro from my yard- delicious.

So here is how I do it:

1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas ( and about 2-3 tbs of the cooking water). I salt the chick peas when cooking them in the slow cooker on low for about 10 hours). You can used canned chickpeas if you like.

1 thai bird pepper (optional)
3 medium sized garlic cloves (use less if you don’t like garlic)
½ “ piece of ginger

1 tbs. sesame or olive oil.
2 tbs. tahini (sesame paste)
½ to 1 tsp salt (or to taste)

¼ cup cilantro
1 lime (~3 tbs. juice or to taste)

Mince ginger garlic and the pepper in the food processor. Then add the chick peas, tahini and oil and process until smooth. Add the lime and cilantro and whiz the processor till the cilantro is chopped into little bits, but not fully pureed. Then add the lime and the salt (start with 1/2 tsp and work your way up) and briefly pulse the processor, just enough to mix all ingredients evenly. Serve with heated naan, pita chips or any bread product you like.

Posted in condiments, middle eastern, Side Dishes, Uncategorized, vegan, Vegetarian | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

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