Happy Tuesday from Qatar, hopefully everyones week is off to a good start. Mine has been pretty slow, but good. My goal for the week is to post some recipes from my Instagram account to here, just the ones that people have asked for recipes and the ones I particularly enjoyed making. Be warned, some of these pictures aren’t great but I’m a chef, not a photographer.
Okay, so this is my french toast recipe. It’s just regular old french toast, but I like to add a little orange zest and a splash of cognac. The cognac in combination with a little vanilla and cinnamon gives the french toast that warm, comforting flavor that we all love. Like the flavor of literally anything your grandma would make, but with a touch of sass from the cognac. When cooking with cognac, or any alcohol/wine, my best advice is don’t use anything you wouldn’t drink. Just because it cooks down doesn’t mean you lose that flavor.
I think it’s really easy to let french toast slip into this really sweet, heavy, syrupy dish, but the orange zest gives it a nice zing and lightens the while dish up. It adds this whole new layer of bright flavor.
I mentioned vanilla earlier, and yes, I have notes about vanilla. I think this is pretty common knowledge, but I’m going to mention it anyways. Watkins vanilla is the ONLY vanilla. It’s pricey, but necessary and a little goes a long way. I grew up in Winona, MN which is where Watkins started, so yeah maybe a little bit of it is just a hometown thing, but this stuff is the bees knees. If you’ve never used it then you should try it. Vanilla can make or break any dish you put it in. It’s just like the cognac, but hopefully no one reading this right now is drinking vanilla.
Now lets talk bread. Really, you can use any kind of bread you like as long as it’s thick enough to stay together after being soaked for 20 minutes. I, along with most of the general population, like brioche. If you live near a Hy-Vee grocery store you are blessed because they have an awesome and reasonably priced bakery that will slice the bread for you. I like to go with a 1 inch thick slice for this recipe. If you’re planning ahead, the bread is best if its day old. If you’re like me and you run to the grocery store that morning, most places sell day old bread and if you can’t get it, it’ll be just fine.
As for preparing and frying the toast, I’ve seen a lot of recipes that say to soak your bread overnight, if you’re one of those people, and that works for you, go for it. I personally soak my bread for about 20 minutes. I’m one of those people who’s really picky about the texture of food and I like my french toast a little more sturdy (?? can’t think a great word here but you know what I mean) so I think 20 minutes is great. I also see a lot of recipes that call for both butter and oil, as butter has a low smoke point and burns easily. I just use butter. If you keep the temperature of the pan regulated, butter is just fine. I sometimes like to use two pans so if one gets too hot you can always switch. If you’re not comfortable with regulating the heat and switching pans, use equal parts vegetable oil and butter.
Cognac French Toast
- 6 large eggs
- 1 1/2 C Milk
- 2 Tbsp Vanilla
- 1 Tbsp Sugar
- 1/2 tsp Cinnamon
- Pinch of Nutmeg
- Pinch of Salt
- 2 Tbsp Cognac (optional)
- Zest of 1 Orange
- Juice of one Orange
- 6 slices of Brioche
- Butter, as needed for frying
- Maple syrup for serving
- In a medium sized bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, vanilla, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, cognac, zest and juice. Set aside
- Place your bread in a shallow baking dish large enough for all of the bread to be in one layer. Pour the egg mixture over your bread and let it soak for 10 minutes. Flip it over and let it soak another 10 or longer until it’s completely soaked.
- In a skillet over medium heat, melt your butter down and fry off your french toast until crisp and golden brown on each side (2-3 minutes). Wipe the skillet down between pieces so your old butter doesn’t burn and ruin your toast.
- If you’re not ready to serve right away, preheat your oven to 200 degrees F and place the toast on a wire rack until you’re ready to serve.
- Serve with maple syrup.