True Confessions of a Mid-Life Cook

There's a definite correlation between my profound love of music and how and what I've taught myself to cook. My favorite music to listen to and to perform is soulful, sensual, sometimes funky and always bluesy in nature . . . and that's exactly how I cook. I like to get my hands in the food. I chop, I knead, I stir with my hands. Sometimes I wear my big rimmed cowboy hat, nightie and Old Gringo boots in kitchen, sometimes a coonskin cap when the mood strikes and sometimes just an apron and a smile. Using the freshest of ingredients, I love to bringing a new spirit to old favorites. I am so to drawn dishes seeping in both Texas and Southern tradition,with a special affinity for those authentic old jewels found in South Louisiana.
Because they, too, are so powerfully soulful?

I've discovered being a good cook is a journey and not a destination. (Yes, I stole an over-used corporate slogan and made it my own--but it's still the truth) Every time we screw up, we learn. And in part, that's what this blog is about. Cooking fearlessly. With heart, with soul -- and with some damn good music to inspire. (If your three layer chocolate cake ends up looking like a Jerry Springer rerun or you cut the tip of your thumb off while making New Year's Day gumbo, WHO CARES?Proclaim Francine Reed's "I'm a Handful" your theme song. She would like that.)
We cook because we find ourselves kinda empty if we don't.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Pain Perdu - The Queen of French Toast

Eating Pain Perdu (lost bread) on a lazy Sunday morning in South Louisiana is as close to a religious experience as this girl can get. No need for morning Mass when you're relishing bite after exquisite bite of this breakfast favorite, what we who dwell outside the border of LA call 'French toast.'

Pain Perdu takes French toast to the next level -- and I assure you after one taste, you'll never go back to what us West Texans have known French toast to be.

You begin with dried out, day (or two) old French bread. Cut an inch or an inch 1/2 thick. I use about 12 slices and let them dry out in my oven overnight.

5 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup half and half
1/4 cup FRESH SQUEEZED OJ (come on, it's worth the little effort)
2 pinches of nutmeg
2 pinches of ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 pinch salt
2 tablespoons Grand Marnier (optional -- but I use it every time)
2 tablespoons canola oil

Beat eggs and sugar well in large mixing bowl. Add remaining ingredients EXCEPT for oil, and mix well.

Heat oil in large skillet over med heat. Work with 3-4 slices of bread at a time, dip bread in egg mixture and submerge for a couple of seconds. Remove and put into hot skillet. Fry, turning once, until deep golden brown on each side.

Top with powdered sugar and zest of one orange and serve with warm maple syrup. Or fresh fruit in season, or your favorite preserves.

Ohhhhhh, and prepare yourself ---- you WILL be moved to say your Hail Mary's . . .Catholic or not.
Suggested listening: 'Church' by Lyle Lovett.

No comments: