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Classic comfort: Toast (with a French twist)

Did You Know That…..

French toast, topped with berries by getty images

In Shakespearean times, a cube of hot buttered toast was traditionally tossed into warm drinks, thus leading to the use of the use of the word “toast” as a way to celebrate life’s big moments.

In 1897, the well-renowned Parisian chef Auguste Escoffier of the Ritz Hotel created a thin-sliced piece of toast for the equally-renowned Australian opera singer Nellie Melba (she wouldn’t eat her pate on the usual thick bread slice). Melba toast is a dry, crisp version that’s toasted on both sides under a grill; it can be eaten “as is” or topped with either melted cheese or pate (the dessert Peach Melba is also named in the singer’s honor, also created by Escoffier).

According to Marion Cunningham, author of “The Breakfast Book”, using the broiler instead of the toaster is preferable to attaining the perfect flavor and texture of toast.

Many say that the smell of toast is often better than the actual eating of it!

A French Twist

French toast is known as pain perdu (“lost bread”); it was a way to prepare stale bread on the baker’s day off.

“The Breakfast Book” author Marion Cunningham maintains that your French toast recipe will taste better if the bread’s a little old or at least sliced and dried out overnight. And the denser the bread, the better.

Here’s a recipe that was developed in the Chicago Tribune test kitchen:

Basic French Toast

6 large eggs
1 cup whipped cream
1 Tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons cinnamon
12 slices French, white or a favorite bread
Syrup, jelly, jam, marmalade or confectioners’ sugar
4 Tablespoons butter or margarine (or more if needed)-Can also use a light cooking spray or light oil, if preferred
Optional: Fresh fruit for garnish

Please Note: The amount of ingredients can be adjusted according to the number of people that's eating!

1. Whisk (or mix) together eggs and whipped cream.
Add sugar, vanilla and cinnamon; whisk (or mix) until well combined.
Pour the mixture into a pie plate or shallow bowl.

2. Dip each bread slice into the egg mixture, turning once.
Melt 2 Tablespoons of the butter or margarine in a heavy skillet over medium heat or lightly spray or cover with cooking oil.
Add enough bread slices to cover bottom of skillet without overlapping.
Fry until golden brown, about 3 minutes.
Turn; cook until second side is golden.
Remove slices to a warm plate.
Repeat with remaining bread slices, adding butter, margarine or light cooking oil as needed.

3. Top French toast slices with syrup, jam, jelly, marmalade or confectioners’ sugar; garnish with fresh fruit.

A Few Variations

Orange-Reduce the vanilla and cinnamon to 1 teaspoon each. Add 2 teaspoons fresh orange juice and 1 teaspoon minced orange zest.
Rum-Replace the vanilla with 1 to 2 teaspoons rum; reduce the cinnamon to 1 teaspoon.

For more recipes and info, go to and .

Sources: “Bread gets the toast of town” by Bob Condor-Chicago Tribune via The Vindicator and “Give dish a French twist”-Chicago Tribune via The Vindicator, April 16, 1997 (!)

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