“Cinnamon French Toast” from “The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt was a dark and stormy night Saturday morning, so I decided to cheer things up a bit by making Smitten Kitchen’s Cinnamon French Toast.

When I push the boat out for breakfast around here I tend to make either American pancakes (I can’t deny my roots) or waffles (using the waffle maker kindly given to me by my best friend when I was craving waffles when pregnant with Nicholas). My mother was a big fan of french toast, though, so this is a dish that I know and love well.

The good thing about this recipe is that it is a breakfast casserole, so it is designed to made ahead. So if you happen to be hosting a brunch, this might be something to try.

I reduced the recipe by half because it served eight, and there were only four of us on that Saturday morning. Consequently, the bread isn’t layered as much as it is in her own pictures. But given that we didn’t think there was enough custard in there anyway — compared to the breakfast casseroles we’ve enjoyed made by Tim’s mother– maybe it was a good thing there was only half the amount of bread in it.

What was the final verdict? It was good, but not good enough for us to give up our waffles or pancakes. If nothing else, though, it did cheer up what otherwise would have been a very dreary Saturday morning.

If you would like to give Cinnamon French Toast a go, click through on this sentence to find Smitten Kitchen’s post on it. (Hot tip: The recipe can be found at the very bottom on the long post.)

“Cinnamon French Toast” from “The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook”

“Baked Eggs with Ham and Parmesan” from “Easy”

Peter: I do like a baked egg.

Anna: So do I. I’m always drawn to recipes for baked eggs. I don’t actually make them that often though. Now I remember why.

Peter: You got a bit frustrated trying to get them cooked properly didn’t you?

Anna: Just a little. It seems to be a nirvana, the baked egg that has a wobbly yolk but properly cooked whites. Instead the yolk got over-cooked but we’ve still got yucky uncooked bits of white floating around.

Peter: How long were they supposed to be in the oven for?

Anna: The recipe says 10 minutes. But after that amount of time they were definitely not cooked. After 5 more minutes I think they would have been fine for you but mine needed at least another five, and still there they were, the globs of white.

Peter: I liked them a lot though.

Anna: Yes, they are delicious.

Peter: Do they have lemon in them?

Anna: It’s the creme fraiche. It gives a lovely contrast to the saltiness of the parma ham. Cream would have been too rich.

Peter: They do feel very indulgent. Is it wrong that I’ve had two?

Anna: It’s Sunday, you’re allowed to indulge yourself.

“Baked Eggs with Ham and Parmesan” from “Easy”

“Smoky Frittata” from “Plenty”

Anna: I’d had quite enough of Ottolenghi, after Friday’s cook-a-thon. So I wasn’t looking forward to choosing something for this week. But this looked quite easy. But then they all look quite easy!

Kirstin: And it needed scamorza affumicato, which is smoked mozzarella, and we weren’t sure where we would get it. But I went to Carluccio’s on Monday and phoned Anna and said “They have scamorza! How much do I need?”

Anna: So I ran home, checked the recipe and let her know.

Kirstin: I put it in a plastic bag while I took it around the V&A, because I didn’t want it to smell.

Anna: There are worse things you could smell of! There was paprika in it too, for added smokiness. Anyway, my theory was that this would be a bit like an eggy cauliflower cheese. I think Cristiana would like this.

Kirstin: She would, actually. I love cauliflower.

Anna: I thought you were being sarcastic when you said you liked it!

Kirstin: Nobody else in my family likes it. And we had some merguez sausages in the freezer.

Anna: Shhh! We’re supposed to be being vegetarian! Anyway, it smelled very smoky, and I like anything smoky. Well, I wouldn’t eat smoked tripe. But I’d be tempted, because it would be smoked.

Kirstin: Would you eat smoked brains?

Anna: I’ve had brains.

Kirstin: Were they smoked?

Anna: It was at El Bulli, and I had no choice. They were rabbit brains. I had only one hemisphere.

Kirstin: Rabbit! That’s like Percy! How could you do that?

Tom: We’ve eaten rabbit before.

Kirstin: But that was before we had Percy the rabbit!

Anna: Well, eggy cauliflower cheese. It was a heart attack in a pan.

Tom: It tasted like an omelette with cauliflower to me.

Anna: It was a smoky cauliflowery frittata. We should be drinking red wine to clear our arteries! We must not tell Peter how much fat there is in this!

Kirstin: We have some red wine, as it happens. (Opens bottle.)

Anna: Peter actually came second last week.

Kirstin: Well done Peter! (raises eyebrows) We had to serve it with a “peppery” salad. What does that mean?

Anna: Kirstin thought it meant a salad with green peppers; I thought it meant peppery leaves. We interpreted it as we wished. The recipe calls for you to cook the cauliflower in the frying pan until brown on one side. Do you then turn it over, so the brown side is exposed? It didn’t say. We had a debate about that. How would you know that it was brown on the other side if you didn’t turn it over?

Kirstin (drinking red wine): I’m going to get a hangover now. And I have to deal with small children tomorrow, and rabbits.

Miles: Mummy, if I throw my balloon, will it pop? What happens if I kick it with my shoe?

Kirstin: Try it!

Miles: It doesn’t pop! (Stomps out of room)

Anna: So what was our verdict? It was pretty easy to cook, but it’s quite hard to get hold of scamorza. We had it with sausages (shhh), so it was very much like breakfast for dinner. But it was good.

Tom: It was quite substantial. You could have that for lunch on its own. The smoky cheese was great.

Anna: And if you’re on Atkins, it’s great; there’s no carbs in it. But I liked having the salad to cut through the cholesterol.

Kirstin: Practically diet food! With a heart attack thrown in!

Anna: What do you think about aubergine croquettes for next week? I feel like a bit of a challenge. Now I’ve had my rest.

“Smoky Frittata” from “Plenty”