Thursday, November 03, 2005

Egg Toast

One thing I have noticed about L.E. Modesitt's books is that reading them will, over time, make you hungry.

The reason is simple: in every novel of his, particular attention is paid to food. He is very concerned about what people eat. In the fantasy novels, travel food is emphasized, with army food pointed out from time to time. His Recluce books lead to cravings for olives and cheese. It's also evident that he has, at some point, had a bad experience with cactus or something like it; in two of his series, he has a food substance that is good for you and really, not very tasty. Both "quilla" and "prickle" tend to be strongly disliked by his protagonists.

But he's also fond of the good meals and the unique meals, and of slipping in some regional specialty seemingly made of fire in the role of spice. And his science fiction novels also feature food, both the good and the bad.

In the Corean Chronicles, a recent series, one of the common breakfast choices is "egg toast." That rang a bell, but I couldn't quite figure out what it was. (I've been tired.) When it hit me, it was a supreme moment of "Well... duh."

Egg toast is what a non-American might call French Toast. Because French Toast is an inaccurate term for one of the most delectable breakfast concoctions ever created.

Aaaaaand... it's one I've never managed to get right. I either end up with heavy, eggy bread that tastes like... well... eggs, or I end up with this weird soggy mess, or something that is basically bread with a light coating of egg. But I've mastered the omelette (after much trial), so I decided to surf online recipes and find out just exactly where I'm going wrong.

And, hmm, that doesn't seem to help, as they disagree. One says to soak the bread "for just a few seconds" while another states that you dip the bread until it is well saturated. They say nothing about the bread, which is of supreme importance. And not a one of them mentions a prime ingredient of diner French Toast, which is the scattering of powdered sugar across the surface. So I will present to you the basic French Toast recipe, which should work for you... because it works for everybody but me.

Maybe you can come and cook it for me someday.

You will need:
Day-old or older bread (stale is what it was originally used for!), preferably thick
Nutmeg (optional)
Butter, maple syrup, powdered sugar, or other toppings of your choice including preserves or fresh fruit
Griddle, nonstick, or seasoned iron pan

Crack some eggs into a shallow bowl. Add a little milk and a droozle* of vanilla, as well as cinnamon and nutmeg to taste. Whisk them together until they are blended but don't keep going after that! Soak the bread according to your own design, making sure that both sides are coated.

Cook the bread over medium-low heat until the first side is firm, then flip and do the other side. Serve with whipped butter and a dusting of powdered sugar, warmed maple syrup on the side.

Or serve with fresh fruit. Or use raisin bread (Costco has a WONDERFUL raisin bread that tastes as raisin bread should, not like Sunmaid's lifeless variety.) Or use your egg toast to make a jam sandwich.

This is particularly good with a side of hash browns. The salty potato crunch is a perfect counter. And don't forget the orange juice.

So— tell me, just what am I doing wrong? Answer in the comments, and anyone who has worked at a diner will earn a virtual cookie by telling me what temperature they run the griddle at. Medium? Hot?

Also consider these recipes, variations on the theme:
Almond French Toast
Applesauce French Toast
Prepare-it-the-night-before Baked French Toast

*Liquid measurements go up in size like this: mist, spritz, squirt, drizzle, droozle, glug, shot (actual measurement). That is not a family phrasing and I have no idea why I came up with it, but it works for me.

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