Trees are notably sparser and footpaths are littered with fallen gold, and it is very much autumn (my favourite season, I think. Have I shared this before?). However, Rémi and I are still going to make a final attempt at escaping the deepening cold by heading to Algarve, Portugal, the country's southernmost region, for a week. It's mostly in celebration of our upcoming PACS (this Wednesday) and, aside from wanting to visit Portugal (which neither of us have yet to do), that things are cooling down was undeniably a significant aspect of our holiday decision making.
But we are present in our lives in Paris, too, and there have been little shifts in the way we go about things. One: we seem much more at ease, much less regretful, about staying in and bingeing on Netflix and wine. Two: Coats and sweaters have emerged, and I have commenced my cold season routine of walking around home in pyjama pants and fat, shapeless sweaters, looking unappetisingly lumpy (and dumpy). This morning Rémi said, "At least I can still see your eyes", and, even better, "your heart is still beautiful". Bless him.
Three: the way we eat is evolving. More warm things to balance out all the cold things outside. And so french toast, (also known as pain perdu - "lost bread") makes its return to our table.
- stale baguette, or stale bread in general. I find that one-day old bread works best, but two or three day bread can still work, but you just have to soak it in the batter for much longer. You can use fresh bread, too, if you're really that keen!
- 1 egg*
- 1/2 cup (125ml) milk*
- 2 tbsp sugar
- seeds of half a vanilla bean, or one teaspoon of vanilla essence
- 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter and a generous pinch of salt, OR, 2 tbsp of salted butter
*If you're planning to make a large quantity of french toast, you might need to increase the quantity of your batter so that the bread has enough liquid to soak up (otherwise your bread, especially if it's stale, will remain somewhat hard and dry). Consider doubling your batch.
- maple syrup
- blackberries, blueberries, rasperries, cranberries, strawberries!
- icing sugar
- ice cream
- whipped cream
- flaked chocolate
- lemon juice and sugar
- flaked or grated coconut
- hazelnuts, walnuts, pecan nuts, macadamia nuts
Method: Part 1
- Combine egg, milk, sugar, salt, vanilla and cinnamon in a bowl, and gently beat together until blended well enough.
- Slice the baguette into slices that are about 2cm thick. Obviously if you're using sliced bread, skip this step!
- Pour the mixture into a shallow dish, and one by one place the bread pieces into the mix so that the mixture gets into contact with as much bread surface as possible.
- Let the bread soak for a while. A day old baguette may only take 5-10 minutes to soften, and older bread much longer. Use the back of a spoon or your fingers to lightly press down on the bread to determine how soft it has become.
- It is likely that not all of the bread pieces have been completely immersed in the batter. You might therefore need to flip your bread pieces so that all surfaces get a chance to soak.
Method: Part 2
- When you're sure that your bread is ready, grab a frying pan, throw in the butter, and preheat to medium-high.
- Once the butter has melted and has begun to bubble, add the bread, sliced side face down. You should hear a slight sizzling noise!
- Cook until the surface has become golden and even a bit browned in some areas, and then flip.
- If your bread is bulky enough to sit in place, you might also want to fry the remaining sides.
- Remove from heat, plate, add desired toppings, and serve.