French Toast Board

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!

Today as we celebrate Mother’s Day, many special memories come to mind. My mother passed away in 1978 but even after 44 years, time has changed nothing. I still miss the sound of her voice, the wisdom in her advice, the stories of her life and just being in her presence. I miss her today as much as the day she left us. At the time of her passing a friend said to me, ‘your mother is always with you’. At the time, I didn’t quite understand what she had meant but as the years have passed it has become clear to me.

We are fortunate to still have Brion’s mother, Dolores, in reasonable health. It is with loving thoughts we celebrate her today for her loving and kind ways.

On this Mother’s Day, I would also like to acknowledge my sisters Marilyn & Rita, who give so much of themselves to be the great mom’s they are.

French toast breakfast board for Mother’s Day is the perfect way to celebrate mom this year. Brunch boards make a beautiful display of food while inviting guests to casually graze at their leisure.

Breakfast boards are a lot like charcuterie boards: they include a variety of different tastes, textures, and flavors from a simple brunch menu. The variety and options are endless and there’s something for everyone to enjoy from it.

French toast is so simple to make and must be one of the most comforting breakfast carbs with its crispy, golden exterior and creamy, fluffy interior. Overnight French toast is a recipe that is simple and indulgent. When you make it the day before, the morning meal is tasty and effortless! Just bake it in the oven on Mother’s Day morning to complete your French toast board. Thanks to a long overnight soak in a heavy cream-infused custard, which transforms the sliced challah into a pudding-y delight. A French toast board usually consists of:

*French toast- thick slice bread such as challah, brioche or French

*French toast toppings – such as candied pecans, powdered sugar, maple syrup, chocolate chips and cinnamon/sugar mixture.
*Fruit – 
strawberries, blueberries, caramelized or natural bananas, kiwi, blood oranges for extra color or any personal choices you have.
*Butter –
always a staple.
*Something savory –
bacon, sausage, hashbrowns and/or scrambled eggs.

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Overnight French Toast
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Course Brunch
Cuisine American
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Instructions
Night Before
  1. Slice bread into 1" thick slices & let dry on the counter for a couple of hours (or place in a 300°F oven for 10 minutes using caution not to brown the bread).
  2. Place melted butter, brown sugar, & cinnamon on a large rimmed baking sheet about 17" x 12". Mix well and spread on the bottom of the pan.
  3. Arrange bread in the pan over the brown sugar mixture.
  4. Combine eggs, milk, vanilla & maple/rum extract.
  5. Gently pour half of the egg mixture over the bread ensuring all of the bread is soaked. Flip the bread & pour the remaining egg mixture over top.
  6. Sprinkle with chopped nuts (if using) & 1 teaspoon of cinnamon. Cover the pan with plastic wrap & refrigerate overnight.
In the Morning
  1. Remove the pan from the refrigerator and let it sit on the counter for 20 minutes
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  3. Bake for 30 minutes until a GOLDEN brown.
  4. Serve with butter & other items on your French Toast Board.

Hoisin Beef & Rice Roulade

Hoisin is not a sauce I use regularly but in this case I found it puts a nice Asian twist on a traditional meatloaf. Impressive enough to serve to guests but easy enough to prepare on a weeknight.

The history of hoisin sauce is as rich and complex as its flavor. The name ‘hoisin’ comes from the Chinese phrase meaning ‘seafood sauce’ due to its seafood-like flavor but ironically, the sauce doesn’t contain any seafood. It’s believed to have originated in southern China, and its use has evolved over centuries. Once a luxury only the wealthy could afford, it has become a staple in Chinese households and restaurants worldwide. An intriguing tale associated with hoisin sauce is its role during the mid-Autumn festival in China, where it’s used in preparing traditional mooncakes, symbolizing unity and completeness.

Traditionally, hoisin sauce was made from fermented soybeans, rice wine, sugar, spices, and other ingredients. Today, hoisin sauce is widely used in many Chinese dishes including Peking duck, dim sum, barbecued pork, and spring rolls. It has also become a popular ingredient in other Asian cuisines such as Japanese and Vietnamese.

Hoisin sauce is a culinary chameleon, seamlessly blending into a wide array of dishes. Some of the many roles of hoisin sauce are as a

  • Dipping sauce for spring rolls, dumplings, and other appetizers. Its sweet and savory notes perfectly balance the flavors of these bite-sized delights.
  • As marinade and glaze hoisin sauce works wonders with meats like chicken, pork, and beef. The sugars in the sauce caramelize beautifully when grilled, creating a rich and flavorful exterior.
  • Adding hoisin sauce to stir-fried vegetables and proteins introduces a delectable dimension to your dishes. Its thick consistency helps create a glossy coating that clings to the ingredients, delivering an irresistible taste in every bite.
  • From noodle stir-fries to fried rice, hoisin sauce can elevate these dishes with its unique blend of flavors. Just a drizzle can transform a simple plate of noodles into a gourmet delight.
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Hoisin Beef & Rice Roulade
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Course Main Dish
Cuisine Asia
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Instructions
  1. Prepare rice according to package directions. Cool slightly. Stir cooked rice with carrot, red pepper, green onion & cilantro. Reserve.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F. In a medium sized bowl, stir breadcrumbs with milk, eggs, ginger, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, salt & pepper. Let stand for 5 minutes.
  3. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Grease foil well; top with a second sheet of foil (to use as a guide when rolling the beef). Crumble beef into bread crumb mixture; mix gently until combined. Press the beef into a 1/3-inch thick, rectangular layer on the prepared baking sheet.
  4. Spread rice mixture evenly over the beef, leaving a 1-inch border around the edge. Roll beef, jellyroll-style, using the top layer of foil to guide & shape the beef into a compact log. Discard extra foil. Smooth the surface using fingers to fill in any gaps. Pinch ends closed. Bake for 45 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, stir hoisin sauce with lime juice, ketchup, honey & sesame oil; brush evenly over roulade. Bake roulade for an additional 15 minutes.

Bacon & Corn Griddle Cakes

A griddle cake is another word for a pancake, but it seems to be used more often to indicate something more rustic and less breakfast-y than the word ‘pancake’. This makes it the perfect description for these bacon and corn cakes.

People began using the word ‘pancake’ during the 15th century, and the word became standard in 19th century North America. Previously, people referred to them as Indian cakes, hoe cakes, johnnycakes, journey cakes, buckwheat cakes, griddle cakes, and flapjacks. Early North American pancakes were made with buckwheat or cornmeal.

Pancakes have really stood the test of time with their extensive history. Each culture seems to have a unique take on them. People eat them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner all over the globe. Some examples of this transcultural food include crepes, potato latkes, Irish boxty, Russian blini, Welsh crampog, Indian poori, Hungarian palacsinta, and Dutch pannenkoeken.

Today I’m making some savory ‘griddle cakes’ stuffed with corn, crumbled bacon, onions, chives and Monterey Jack cheese. What’s not to love about that!!

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Bacon & Corn Griddle Cakes
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Course Brunch
Cuisine American
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GRIDDLE CAKES
Course Brunch
Cuisine American
Servings
GRIDDLE CAKES
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Instructions
  1. In a medium skillet, cook the bacon pieces until they begin to brown. Add the onion and continue to cook until the bacon is crisp and the onion is softened. Scoop out a heaping tablespoon of the bacon mixture for topping the griddle cakes upon serving- and set it aside.
  2. While the bacon is cooking, combine the flour, chives, baking powder, salt and paprika in a medium bowl. Stir in the milk, egg and oil, just until moistened. Stir in the bacon mixture, corn and cheese. The mixture will be thick, if you wish, add a little more milk to thin out the batter.
  3. Heat and grease a griddle or large skillet. Pour a heaping ¼-cup of the batter onto the griddle and cook until it is golden brown- 3 to 4 minutes per side. Repeat with the remaining batter.
  4. Serve stacks of griddle cakes topped with a sprinkle of the reserved bacon/onion and warm maple syrup.

Benedictine Liqueur Christmas Braid

Christmas bread has a lot of different interpretations. The most traditional iterations involve sugar and spice, and often—but not always—yeast, and ultimately have strong cultural associations and country ties. One thing we can all agree on is that Christmas bread is celebratory, whether or not we observe the holiday. From the unleavened matzo of Passover to the German stollen of Christmas, from the British hot cross buns baked on Good Friday to the Russian kolach baked for any special occasion, bread in its many forms brings people together, linking traditions and generations.

The scent of Christmas spices, bread baking, and fresh-cut pine define holiday memories. Generations ago, the rich dough itself – lush with butter, eggs, dried fruit, sugar – relayed a cook’s generosity, her willingness to share the most precious ingredients in her pantry. The time and effort it took to make and bake the Christmas loaves expressed the cook’s devotion and love.

Last year, I was introduced to the liqueur known as Dom Benedictine. After doing much research into this interesting liqueur, I incorporated it in some savory and sweet recipes. We really enjoyed them so this year I was interested in doing a bit of recipe development to create a Christmas bread with it.

The story of Benedictine dates back to 1510 when a Venetian monk of the Abbey of Fécamp, Dom Bernardo Vincelli, created an elixir intended to support good health. It includes a combination of 27 herbs and spices derived from plants from around the globe, including juniper, myrrh, saffron, vanilla, thyme, coriander and more. The liqueur tastes primarily of honey and baking spices, with citrus peel, herb, and stone fruit notes.

So here you have it, my newly created Christmas bread tradition. Hope you can try it and enjoy it as much as Brion & I have.

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Benedictine Liqueur Christmas Braid
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Servings
SERVINGS
Ingredients
Bread Dough
Lemon Glaze
Servings
SERVINGS
Ingredients
Bread Dough
Lemon Glaze
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Instructions
  1. Marinate raisins, candied fruit & cranberries in Benedictine liqueur overnight, Stir occasionally.
  2. Dissolve yeast in 1/4 cup lukewarm water with 1 tsp sugar. Set aside for 5 minutes.
  3. In a large bowl, sift 2 cups of the flour. Stir in yeast mixture & lukewarm milk. Cover with plastic & let stand in a draft free place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour. Punch down firmly & work in beaten eggs, 1/2 cup sugar, lemon zest, vanilla & pieces of softened butter.
  4. Sift remaining 3 cups of flour with salt, cinnamon & cardamom & work 2 cups in to form a soft dough. Turn dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead in remaining cup of flour & fruit mixture. This becomes a very soft & buttery dough but is not sticky.
  5. Invert the dough onto a lightly floured work surface & dust with flour. Cut the dough into four equal pieces & then stretch & roll each piece into a rope about 20 inches long. Lay the ropes parallel to one another (vertically). Pinch them tightly at the top, then fan them out.
  6. Begin by taking the strand farthest to the right & weave it toward the left through the other strands using this pattern: over, under, over. Take the strand furthest to the right & repeat the weaving pattern again: over, under, over. Repeat this pattern, always starting with the strand farthest to the right, until the whole loaf is braided, Tuck the ends under to give the loaf a finished look.
  7. Carefully transfer the braided loaf to a parchment-lined 13x18-inch baking sheet, brush with egg wash. Cover the loaf loosely with plastic wrap & allow to rise in a warm, draft-free spot until about 1 1/2 times the size, about 1-2 hours. Toward the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350 F. & set an oven rack in the middle position.
  8. Gently brush risen dough again with egg wash. Place in an air-bake pan to prevent the bottom crust from browning too much.
  9. Bake 40-45 minutes or until a nice golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. Combine powdered sugar & lemon juice/zest to make glaze. When braid is completely cool, brush loaf with lemon glaze & decorate to your liking.
Recipe Notes
  • To see a more in-depth article on Dom Benedictine Liqueur, check out my blog from December 21/2022 - Benedictine Liqueur Cupcakes.

Breakfast Turkey Taquitos

Breakfast taquitos are like the smaller cousin to breakfast burritos. They use smaller corn tortillas and have a filling rolled into center of each tortilla. Taquitos are a great way to get some vegetables into your morning meal, and if you need, you can even take them on the go with you once they’re done. What’s more, they’re easily adaptable to your needs. So, if you prefer different veggies or have some leftover ones to use up, you love breakfast sausage or prefer them meatless, there’s a way to make breakfast taquitos work for you.

What’s more, these taquitos are baked, not fried, so they’re a little less guilt-inducing than you might think. Customize the recipe to your liking, swapping out what you dislike and putting in what you do. Serve breakfast taquitos with some fresh fruit, salsa verde, guacamole or sour cream and green onions.

These tasty taquitos are everything you want in a brunch item. They are hearty, savory, and easy to make. Another bonus is that you can prepare and bake the taquitos. Allow to cool completely and then place in a freezer Ziploc bag. When ready to eat, microwave them until warm. Could breakfast food get more convenient than that?!

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Breakfast Turkey Taquitos
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Course Brunch
Cuisine Mexican
Servings
Course Brunch
Cuisine Mexican
Servings
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Instructions
Filling
  1. Heat a large non-stick skillet on high. Add olive oil, onion, and garlic & cook until soft, approximately 2 to 3 minutes. Add tomato, cook until the tomato starts to break apart and dissolve into the mixture, approximately 3 minutes.
  2. Add the turkey, cumin, smoked paprika & chili powder; cook until the turkey is cooked through, using a wooden spoon to break the turkey into small pieces. This will take approximately 5 minutes.
  3. Add the cilantro & beaten eggs to the mixture & cook until the eggs are cooked through, approximately 3 minutes. Remove from heat.
  4. Heat tortillas for 10 to 15 seconds in the microwave before working with them. While the tortillas are warm, divide the filling between them topping with diced avocado & 100 grams of the shredded cheese. Roll the tortillas & place in the baking pan seam side down.
  5. Top taquitos with salsa & remaining 50 grams shredded cheese.
Assembly
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Spray a 13 x 9-inch baking pan with oil.
  2. Heat tortillas for 10 to 15 seconds in the microwave before working with them. While the tortillas are warm, divide the filling between them topping with diced avocado & 100 grams of the shredded cheese. Roll the tortillas & place in the baking pan seam side down. Top taquitos with salsa & remaining 50 grams shredded cheese.
  3. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the tortilla is crispy. Serve immediately.

Rhubarb Rugelach

Rugelach is an irresistible baked treat which is both delicious and versatile. So, is it a pastry or a cookie? Rugelach’s unique buttery, tender dough wrapped around any variety of tasty fillings seems to straddle the line.

Rugelach was invented around the same time as the croissant, in 1683 and has Jewish (Polish) origins. The word rugelach means ‘little twists’.

Traditionally, rugelach was made with yeast dough, but the pastry has evolved and is now made with cream cheese which is both quicker and easier to make. The cream cheese dough was first used by North American bakers in the 1940’s, and now forms the staple of the modern rugelach we know today.

Many folks don’t associate the crescent-shaped cookies with Christmas but rather consider rugelach a year-round treat. That being said, I see no reason not to make some summer rhubarb rugelach.

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Rhubarb Rugelach
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Course dessert
Cuisine Jewish
Servings
Ingredients
Rhubarb Filling
Rugelach
Nut Filling
Course dessert
Cuisine Jewish
Servings
Ingredients
Rhubarb Filling
Rugelach
Nut Filling
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Instructions
Rhubarb Compote
  1. In a medium saucepan, combine rhubarb, sugar, cinnamon & orange juice. Bring just to boiling; reduce heat. Cook, uncovered stirring occasionally about 10 minutes or until rhubarb is broken down; set aside to cool.
Rugelach
  1. In a cup combine water, sugar & yeast. Allow to sit until frothy.
  2. In a large bowl, combine butter & flour until resembles small peas. Add eggs & the yeast mixture to the bowl. Knead the dough until smooth & soft then divide into thirds.
  3. In a small bowl, combine nut filling ingredients. Spread 1/4 cup of the nut filling on a work surface & place 1/3 of the dough on top of it. Roll dough into a circle the size of a small pizza. Spread 1/4-1/2 cup of the rhubarb compote on top of the dough.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  5. Cut the dough into 12 pieces like you would cut a pizza & roll each piece from the outside in. Place each rugelach on a parchment lined baking sheet with the point face down. Repeat with remaining dough.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes or until slightly browned.
Recipe Notes
  • Due to a nut allergy problem, I had to omit the nut filling for our rugelach.

Stuffed Onion Rings

Onion rings first made their appearance in an ad for Crisco in a New York Times magazine that was published in 1933. The advertisement included a recipe for onions that are sliced, dipped in milk, dredged in flour, and then deep-fried.

With the expansion of fast-food restaurants in the 1950s and 1960s came the inclusion of the onion ring. As our society has evolved, and so has the onion ring.

Onion rings in their most basic form are cross-sectioned onions cut into ‘rings’ that are then coated in a batter, then fried. Simple, but within this, there are variations such as beer batter, tempura batter, pancake batter, onion strings, or even the ‘onion bloom’ where the whole onion is cut into ‘petals’ battered and fried whole. All of which are usually accompanied by a dipping sauce or rémoulade.

But the thing is, not all ‘alliums’ are created equal. Leeks may be delicious in a soup or braise, but good luck trying to turn them into onion rings. Shallots make a beautiful crunchy topping when fried, but their tiny frame and shape will make it nearly impossible to yield a ring suitable for dredging and battering. If you want onion rings, bigger tends to be better. White and yellow varieties are decent picks, but for optimal onion rings, go for sweet onions. These kinds don’t have as strong of a sulfuric taste and frying them brings out their caramelly aromas. If you’re short on sweet onions, you can tamp down the potency of other types by soaking the sliced rings in ice water. 

Onion rings aren’t just sides for hamburgers—they pair well with beef, chicken, and seafood. There are many takes on onion rings nowadays, including variations of ‘stuffed’ onion rings. Today I’m making a pork/shrimp filling to place inside the rings then frying them. Served with rice they make an interesting entrée for our supper.

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Stuffed Onion Rings
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Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Servings
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Servings
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Instructions
  1. Combine all stuffing ingredients & set aside for 15 minutes.
  2. Lightly dust onion rings with flour. Place the onion rings on a flat surface & divide filling evenly between them, filling the inside of the rings. Smooth out filling.
  3. Heat a non-stick skillet; add some oil for shallow frying the rings. Brush sides of the rings with beaten eggs. Carefully place rings in skillet & fry until filling is cooked & golden brown.
  4. Top with grated cheese of choice & serve on a bed of rice.

Hot Cross Bun French Toast/Buns

CELEBRATING GOOD FRIDAY!

I find the aroma of the hot cross buns baking, is so intoxicating. Brion & I have always loved these soft, spicy little buns. Each year, at Easter time, I really enjoy making some version of Easter bread or buns (of course, trying to make it just a bit better than the year past). While I was giving this some thought, I read a comment where someone was complaining that they had too many hot cross buns leftover from Easter. Is there really such a thing as having too many hot cross buns … seriously!

For me, brunch is never an afterthought, especially on a holiday. I think a decadent French toast made with light and fluffy hot cross bread, in an orange and vanilla scented milk bath, topped with raspberry compote and Greek yogurt is the perfect Easter brunch idea.

While hot cross buns are now sold and enjoyed throughout the year, they were once reserved for Good Friday alone. There is no one clear explanation … some theories rest in Christian symbolism while there are also more than a few stories that indicate hot cross buns were baked on Good Friday for superstitious reasons.

Since I have become a huge fan of Dom Benedictine Liqueur not only as a drink but in sweet & savory recipes, I’m using it in this hot cross bun bread to kick it up one notch higher. I think it will be the perfect choice for an amazing Easter brunch French toast.

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Hot Cross Bun French Toast/Buns
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Course Brunch
Cuisine American
Servings
Ingredients
Hot Cross Bun/Loaf Dough
Icing for Hot Cross Buns
Orange Scented Milk bath for French Toast
Raspberry Compote
Course Brunch
Cuisine American
Servings
Ingredients
Hot Cross Bun/Loaf Dough
Icing for Hot Cross Buns
Orange Scented Milk bath for French Toast
Raspberry Compote
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Instructions
Hot Cross Bun/Loaf Dough h
  1. Marinate raisins & candied fruit in Benedictine liqueur overnight. Stirring occasionally.
  2. Dissolve yeast in 1/4 cup lukewarm water with 1 tsp sugar. Set aside for 5 minutes.
  3. In a large bowl, sift 2 cups of the flour. Stir in yeast mixture & lukewarm milk. Cover with plastic & let stand in a draft free place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour. Punch down firmly & work in beaten eggs, 1/2 cup sugar, lemon zest, vanilla & pieces of softened butter.
  4. Sift remaining 3 1/3 cups of flour with salt, cinnamon & cardamom & work 2 cups in to form a soft dough. Turn dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead in remaining 1 1/3 cup of flour & fruit mixture. This becomes a very soft & buttery dough but is not sticky. Invert the dough onto a lightly floured work surface & dust with flour. Cut the dough into 2 equal portions.
  5. With the first portion, roll out the dough into a 9x12-inch rectangle. Roll dough up in jelly-roll fashion & place in a 12 x 5-inch cylinder baking pan. With the second piece of dough, cut into 12 pieces & form into balls to make hot cross buns. Place in a 9-inch round baking pan. Brush loaf & buns with egg wash.
  6. Cover both loosely with plastic wrap & allow to rise in a warm, draft-free place until 1 1/2 times the size, about 1-2 hours. Toward the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350 F. & set an oven rack in the middle position.
  7. Gently brush risen dough again with egg wash. Bake 30-35 minutes or until both loaf & buns are a nice golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.
Icing for Hot Cross Buns
  1. To pipe a cross on the top of the buns, wait until the buns have cooled. Whisk together the lemon juice & some of the powdered sugar. Keep adding powdered sugar until you get a thick consistency. Place in a plastic sandwich bag. Snip off a small piece from the corner of the bag and use the bag to pipe crosses on buns.
Orange Scented Milk Bath
  1. Heat pan or skillet over medium heat. Mix eggs, milk, vanilla and orange zest in a shallow flat bowl or dish until well combined. Dip the bread in the egg mixture allowing the bread to soak up some of the mixture. Turn the bread and repeat on the other side. Grease preheated pan with butter. Fry toast until golden brown on one side. Flip toast and fry until golden on remaining side. Serve immediately with raspberry syrup.
Raspberry Syrup
  1. In a small pot, combine the syrup ingredients. Place over a medium heat & cook for 5-7 minutes or until the sugar has dissolved & the raspberries have become syrupy. Press through a sieve. Serve with French toast along with yogurt if preferred.
Recipe Notes
  • The story of Benedictine dates back to 1510 when a Venetian monk of the Abbey of Fécamp, Dom Bernardo Vincelli, created an elixir intended to support good health. It includes a combination of 27 herbs and spices derived from plants from around the globe, including juniper, myrrh, saffron, vanilla, thyme, coriander and more. The liqueur tastes primarily of honey and baking spices, with citrus peel, herb, and stone fruit notes.

Glazed Limoncello Cakes

Limoncello, (pronounced lee-mon-CHAY-low) the Italian lemon liqueur, is known for its refreshing sweet and tangy flavor. It is made from lemon rinds, alcohol and sugar. Although, traditionally served as an after dinner drink, it is a wonderful ingredient to use in cooking and baking.

Families have passed down recipes for limoncello for generations, as every Italian family has their own recipe. In the winter of 2013, Brion and I spent some time travelling Italy. It was in Sorrento where we tasted limoncello for the first time and loved it. As we walked through the quaint artisan shops packed together onto a maze of medieval alleys, we came across one that sold liqueurs & confectionery. One of the treats that they made were limoncello sugar coated almonds … to die for!

Limoncello origins are disputed. Some say it was created by monks or nuns while others credit the wealthy Amalfi Coast families or even local townsfolk. In any case, its roots are in Southern Italy, primarily along Italy’s Amalfi Coast and the Sorrentine Peninsula known for their meticulous lemon cultivation. These lemons are considered the finest lemons for making limoncello. Prized for their yellow rinds, intense fragrance, juicy flesh and balanced acid.

Today, I’m using limoncello not only in the cake but the glaze as well. This is definitely a refreshing cake, great for a summer picnic or dinner.

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Glazed Limoncello Cakes
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Instructions
Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray an 8-inch square cake pan with cooking spray or baking pans of your choice.
  2. Whisk sour cream, white sugar, canola oil, eggs, 3 tablespoons limoncello, and lemon zest together in a large bowl.
  3. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in another bowl. Add flour mixture to sour cream mixture; stir with a wooden spoon until batter is just combined. Pour batter into prepared cake pan or pans.
  4. Bake for about 35 minutes OR until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool cake(s) in the pan for 5 minutes.
Glaze
  1. Whisk powdered sugar and 2 tablespoons limoncello liqueur together in a bowl until glaze is thin and smooth. Drizzle glaze over the top of the cake. Cool cake completely before serving. Top with a bit of whipped cream if desired.
Recipe Notes
  • You may need a bit more glaze if you have made individual cakes as I did here.

Chicken Katsu w/ Saskatoon Chutney

Chicken Katsu is simply a Japanese version of chicken cutlets. While it is great to enjoy a good dish, its worth knowing where the idea originated.

Katsu was first created in the late 1800’s by a restaurant in Tokyo that wanted to offer a European style meat cutlet. Now, katsu can be found everywhere from convenience store takeaway bento boxes to Western style Japanese food restaurants. The name ‘katsu’ comes from the English word ‘cutlet’. It is typically made from either chicken breasts or thighs coated in panko breadcrumbs.

Frying or baking chicken cutlets is simple, but its like cooking pasta, when you get it right, it changes everything. Breading helps to seal in moisture during the cooking time. Its a basic process that’s used for making everything from chicken to onion rings. Japanese panko crumbs are lighter and crispier, the secret to ultra-crunchiness which yields to the kind of crust that you can actually hear when you bite into it.

Since its ‘Saskatoon Berry‘ time here on the prairies, I wanted to make some saskatoon chutney to have with these crispy cutlets.

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Chicken Katsu w/ Saskatoon Chutney
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Instructions
Saskatoon Chutney
  1. Combine all chutney ingredients in a large saucepan.
  2. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently, cook until mixture is the consistency of runny jam, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat & cool completely.
Chicken Cutlets
  1. Place chicken breasts between plastic wrap & carefully pound to 1/4-inch thickness. Season with salt & pepper. Coat with flour then dip in beaten eggs & lastly coat with Panko crumbs. Cover with plastic wrap & place in fridge for 15 minutes to chill before cooking.
  2. In a large skillet, over medium heat, melt butter & add oil. Place cutlets in a single layer in skillet & fry on both sides. When no longer pink inside & golden on the outside remove from skillet & blot on paper towel.
  3. Serve immediately with Saskatoon Chutney.
Recipe Notes
  • The standard breading technique includes three steps: dredging in flour, moistening in egg wash, then coating in crispy panko crumbs. The flour helps the egg wash adhere & the egg helps the breadcrumbs adhere. 
  • Once you have all the food coated, you will want to place it in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes. This will ensure the breading actually sticks to the food instead of falling off in the hot oil.
  • If baking, put breaded food on a rack set over a baking sheet, drizzle with a little oil & place in the oven. Bake until golden brown & cooked through.