Almond Maple French Toast

Almond Maple French Toast
by Susie Heller
Simple Feast

1 hour total time
1 hour active time
Easy

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This French toast has become a favorite of my family so when my kids come to visit, I’ll get them ready the day before and serve them freshly made in the morning. It’s very easy but is a cut above other French toast recipes I’ve tried over the years. The secret is the surprise of a creamy filling.

Cooking note: When I can get it, I buy a Pullman loaf of bread and slice it myself.

Ingredients
Eighteen 3/8-inch slices white bread
6-ounces almond paste, at room temperature
6-ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 tablespoon maple syrup, plus additional for serving
8 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, or more as needed
2 tablespoons canola oil, or more as needed

Trim the crusts from the bread and put them in the bowl of a food processor with two of the slices of bread. Process to fine breadcrumbs. Remove from the bowl and reserve.

Put the almond paste, cream cheese and maple syrup in the processor bowl and mix until smooth. Remove and reserve.

Spread the cream cheese mixture over 8 slices of the bread and top with the remaining slices, forming 8 sandwiches. Slice each sandwich on the diagonal. You can continue to cook the French toast or wrap the sandwiches in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

To complete: Put a cooling rack over a baking sheet and place in the oven. Preheat the oven to 250˚F.  Line a second baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk the eggs, milk and vanilla together and pour it into a shallow bowl. Put the breadcrumbs in a second shallow bowl.

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Dip both sides of each sandwich into the egg mixture, allowing a minute for the mixture to absorb and letting the any excess drip back into the bowl. Dip the sandwiches into the breadcrumbs to coat all sides. Quickly dip in the egg mixture a second time. Place on the parchment-lined baking sheet and continue to coat all the pieces.

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Heat half the butter and oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add enough sandwiches to fit comfortably, without touching, to the pan. The butter and oil should come slightly up the sides of the French toast as it cooks. If not, add more butter and oil as needed. Cook for about 3 minutes per side, turning to brown the short sides as well.  Transfer to the baking sheet in the oven. Add the remaining butter and oil to the pan and cook the remaining pieces. Serve warm with additional maple syrup if you’d like.

Equipment
Food processor
Baking Sheet
Cooling Rack
Non-Stick Skillet

Susie Heller is part of Simple Feast, an app that hosts an amazing community of Chefs and their delicious recipes. To view more recipes go to Simple Feast.

Pasta with Pesto, Potatoes and Green Beans

Pasta with Pesto, Potatoes and Green Beans
by Susie Heller
Simple Feast

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Serves 4
45 minutes total time
35 minutes active time
Intermediate

It may seem unusual to combine potatoes with pasta, but this is a classic Ligurian dish.  The pesto can be made ahead and refrigerated (with a light film of olive oil poured over the top) for a day or two or frozen, but I like to add the cheese shortly before serving. If the pesto has been stored, just stir the cheese in by hand.

Ingredients
2 cups packed basil leaves
2 cloves peeled garlic
¼ cup toasted pine nuts
½ cup extra virgin olive oil, preferably Ligurian
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese plus a small chunk for garnishing
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 ounces haricot vert or green beans
8 ounces red skinned potatoes, peeled
8 ounces penne pasta
Lemon, optional

Directions
Bring a pot of water to a boil and make an ice water bath.

Add the basil leaves to the water and blanch for about 30 seconds. Remove the basil with a skimmer and plunge into the ice water to chill. After about 1 minute, remove the basil, squeeze dry and roughly chop.

Put the garlic, pine nuts, basil and olive oil in a blender. Blend to combine, but keep some texture to it to the mixture. Add the Parmesan and pulse to incorporate. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Bring a large pasta pot, preferably with a strainer insert, of salted water to a boil. Dice the potatoes into a ½-inch dice. Add the potatoes and cook until tender, about 8 minutes. Using a skimmer, remove the potatoes and set aside.

Cut the beans on the diagonal to the approximate size of the penne pasta. Add the green beans to the water and cook until tender. Remove and set aside.  Add the pasta to the water and cook until tender.

Remove and reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water. Drain the pasta.

Put the pasta in a large skillet.  Stir in enough pesto to coat (you may have extra pesto), adding small amounts of the pasta water as necessary,  to reach the right consistency to coat the pasta. Stir in the beans and potatoes. Season to taste with salt, pepper and lemon juice.

Spoon into the serving bowls. Using a vegetable peeler, garnish the pasta with shavings of Parmesan cheese.

Equipment
Skimmer
Blender
Rasp grater
Multi
Tongs
Vegetable peeler

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Ingredient Low-down | Watermelon

10 Health Benefits from Watermelon

Watermelon is one of those wild foods that are a fruit while also having vegetable properties. It’s a low-calorie food that acts as a hydration and an antioxidant, while fighting inflammation. Watermelon is also considered to be an alkaline food, meaning it helps to bring your body’s pH level back to its natural level and reducing inflammation. In an alkaline environment, diseases have a harder time developing and spreading compared to a more acidic one. Here are 10 health benefits to eating more watermelon,
according to Dr. Axe:

1. BOOSTS IMMUNITY – The high supply of Vitamin C found in watermelon has also been shown to help improve immune function, shorten the duration of sickness and to help the body defend against heart disease and cancer.
2. IMPROVE HEART HEALTH – Studies have indicated that potassium intake from fruits and vegetables can positively impact blood pressure reduction in adults, which is useful in lowering the risk of stroke and heart disease.
3. RELIVES MUSCLE SORENESS – Watermelon provides Vitamin C, which has been shown to protect cartilage and bones, to be used in repairing tendons and ligaments, and to help speed wound healing and scar tissue.
4. PREVENTS KIDNEY STONES – Watermelon is a natural diuretic, meaning it helps to remove waste through increased urine production. While caffeinated drinks and alcohol also act as diuretics, they put stress on the kidneys to do so, while watermelon does not.
5. DETOXIFIES THE BODY – The majority of watermelon is made up of water (about 91%). Eating fruits and vegetables with a high water content helps the body to detox and rid itself of excess water and fluids, reliving uncomfortable bloating and swelling.
6. CAN HELP FIGHT CANCER – Watermelon is also a great supplier of antioxidants vitamin C and vitamin A, both of which help fight free radial damage and stop DNA from harmfully mutating, leading to the formation of cancerous tumors.
7. PROTECTS SKIN HEALTH – Studies have shown that watermelon’s antioxidants vitamin C and vitamin A both play an important part in maintaining the health of skin, especially as someone ages.
8. BOOSTS EYE HEALTH – Watermelon is a great supplier of beta carotene, the form of vitamin A found in plants. It plays a role in preventing macular degeneration, the leading cause of age-related blindness.
9. CAN HELP WITH WEIGHT LOSS – Watermelon is very low in calories due to its high water content, yet offers important nutrients. At only 46 calories per cup, watermelon makes a great
healthy snack option or addition to a healthy smoothie.
10. RELIEVES ACID REFLUX – Watermelon helps to soothe the gastrointestinal tract and helps to regulate pH levels, while also lessening inflammation and acid production throughout the body.

5427691534_4c0420cdc9_bWe have one more month left of getting your watermelon fix! So start with this amazing recipe adapted from Rachel Farnsworth

Cilantro & Lime Grilled Watermelon
It’s still BBQ season and by now you should’ve attended a few of them, but
if Grilled Watermelon hasn’t been on any of their menus, step up and be everyone’s BBQ hero this year! This Cilantro-Lime recipe takes on a new taste to watermelon and changes your preconceived notion that watermelon is only good for making fruit salads or boozy drinks. Take it from me when I say that watermelon is super versatile and fits just as well in a fruit platter as it does in a summer salad. It’s an added bonus to be able to grill them! So break out your apron and fire up the grill, summer’s not over and neither should your appetite.

Ingredients:
 1 watermelon (sliced into 2-inch triangles)
 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
 2 limes, juiced
 ½ cup fresh chopped cilantro
 Salt, to taste

Directions:
1. Cut each watermelon round into 4 even triangle pieces. Brush each side of the pieces with olive oil and drizzle some of the lime juice, leaving at least half of the remaining juice for after. Season each side with a pinch of salt.
2. Heat an outdoor gas grill to high heat. Grill watermelon for 3-5 minutes on each side to give a nice seared look.
3. Remove from grill and season with the remaining lime juice. Top with chopped cilantro and add additional salt to taste.

*For added taste, dip the tips of each piece in a mixture of cajun pepper and salt for a flavor kick!