Whenever I watch Ina Garten work her culinary magic in her dreamy kitchen on Barefoot Contessa, I smile. It's that cheesy smile that I usually get when I'm dreaming up things that might not possibly be; the smile that keeps me wishing that she and I will someday become neighbors. (Again, a girl is allowed to dream). Since I probably won't be able to afford a home in the Hamptons any day soon, this daydream will have to suffice for the moment.
I love how Ina whips up the simplest, freshest meals with special attention paid to the little details (from wrapping her pastries with baker's twine or preparing lobster sandwiches for a picnic on the beach complete with the most adorable packaging) that keeps each of her guests feeling like they're stepping foot into a fine dining palace otherwise known as her home. It's the smallest things that will really brighten my day, so I have a soft spot for Ina Garten and her whimsical genius. And besides the fact that she always entertains me with her bubbly giggles whenever she's cooking, I think Ina and I could be really good friends (or neighbors :).
That day she was preparing bread pudding with Jewish challah bread and before she even mentioned what it was, it was clearly evident to me because these breads (which looks as if small dinner rolls have been glued together to make one loaf) are so moist and pillowy, they are ideal for making French Toast. Anyhow, I got to thinking that I really wanted some French toast of my own, except there was one problem: I didn't have challah! Eek! What's a girl to do?
Well, you improvise, that's what. I prepared this French Toast with English muffins that I had in my pantry. They were delish! Soft, moist and just the right portion size. I used two muffins and it takes less than 30 minutes to prepare. I also squeezed my own cup of citrus juice made from fresh blood oranges, tangelos and Texas ruby red grapefruit, and the result was tantalizing!
French Toast with an English Twist Recipe:
2 English muffins, split
4 tbsp of butter
1/4 cup of maple syrup
1 tsp of sifted powdered sugar (to remove any lumps)
1 cup of fresh fruit (any variety of colorful berries will do)
2 large eggs
1 cinnamon stick OR 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract (I used Madagascar Bourbon pure vanilla extract..the best in my opinion)
1/4 cup milk or half/half (I didn't have this and it still turned out great, but I usually use this)
2 tsp sugar (or less)
1. Whisk together the eggs, cinnamon, vanilla extract, milk and sugar until smooth
2. Dredge your muffins in the mixture for 2-3 minutes, making sure it's soaked through
3. Heat 2 tbsp of butter on a skillet under medium flame
4. Place your dredged muffins in the pan and cook for 1-2 minutes on each side or until golden
5. Stack muffins on top of each other, layering the remaining 2 tbsp of butter between each muffin
6. Drizzle with some good maple syrup, lightly sprinkle on powdered sugar and serve it up with a side of fresh strawberries, blueberries and you're golden!