Breakfast for dinner? You bet! Sometimes there's nothing better than French toast -- any time of the day.
Square One's take on French toast is thin slices of brioche dipped in a rich, homemade crème anglaise, then grilled to fluffy, golden perfection. You almost don't need butter and maple syrup.
Thinking stuffed French toast? I loved this take — small, mascarpone-stuffed rounds, lightly scented with cinnamon and fried, then topped with a bright orange compote. And it's perfect for company; make the compote and assemble the "sandwiches" ahead of time, then fry shortly before serving. It takes a little over an hour to make, but boy is it worth it.
Extra-crispy: The trick to this French toast is a combination of cornflakes and buttery palmiers, which add great crunch and rich flavor. With a topping of apples and a dusting of powdered sugar, it makes for a perfect start to the day. Now you can have a taste of the South right here in Southern California.
Or go the savory route. This take on the comfort food -- stuffed with bacon, Gruyère cheese and dandelion greens and pan-fried to ooey-gooey perfection -- works well any time of the day. And dinner is served in less than an hour.
We also include the classic for you purists.
And for more ideas, click through our easy dinner recipes gallery and check out our Dinner Tonight page, devoted to recipes that can be made in an hour or less. Looking for a particular type of recipe? Comment below or email me at email@example.com.
SQUARE ONE DINING'S FRENCH TOAST
Total time: 1 hour, 15 minutes, plus chilling time
Note: Adapted from a recipe from Square One Dining. Whole-loaf brioche is available at Trader Joe's and Breadbar (pain de mie); it also can be ordered at Whole Foods. Clarified butter is available at Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, well-stocked supermarkets and Indian grocery stores. You also can make it by heating a small amount of butter over low heat in a small saucepan; ladle out the clarified butter, straining out the floating solids, discarding the butterfat on the bottom of the pan.
1 1/2 cups heavy cream, divided
3/4 of a vanilla bean (split lengthwise)
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
Generous 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
10 egg yolks
1 tablespoon clarified butter
1 loaf brioche bread, sliced into 1/2 -inch thick slices
1. To make the crème anglaise, place 1 cup of the cream in a medium saucepan over low heat. Scrape the seeds of the vanilla bean pod into the cream, then drop in the pod too. Bring just to a simmer. Remove from the heat and allow to infuse for 30 minutes.
2. In a small bowl, combine the sugar and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk the yolks. Whisk half of the sugar-salt mixture into the cream, and whisk the other half into the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm cream into the bowl with the egg yolks, whisking constantly until incorporated. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and return the pan to low heat.
3. Cook the mixture, stirring constantly but not vigorously until the mixture thickens, making sure to prevent the mixture from curdling. When thickened, remove the mixture from the heat and strain through a fine mesh strainer into a medium bowl, discarding any solids and the vanilla pod. Whisk in the remaining one-half cup heavy cream, and whisk over an ice water bath to cool. Cool the crème anglaise in the refrigerator, preferably overnight for the flavors to develop.
4. To make the French toast, heat a sauté pan or griddle over medium heat until hot. Add enough of the clarified butter to thinly coat the surface of the pan. Dip the bread, one slice at a time, into the crème anglaise to coat on both sides, then remove, shaking off any excess batter.
5. Place the bread on the pan or griddle and grill 2 minutes per side, until golden brown on both sides. Remove and set aside in a warm place. To serve, place four slices on a warm plate and serve immediately with softened butter and maple syrup on the side.
Each serving: 928 calories; 15 grams protein; 66 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 68 grams fat; 39 grams saturated fat; 779 mg. cholesterol; 292 mg. sodium.
MASCARPONE-STUFFED FRENCH TOAST WITH ORANGE COMPOTE
Total time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
Servings: 6 to 9
Note: Adapted from the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix. This recipe requires a 2 1/2-inch round cookie cutter.
3 (10.5 ounce) cans mandarin oranges packed in juice
2 3/4 cups orange juice, divided, more as needed
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1. Drain the canned mandarin oranges, reserving the juice; you should have 1 1/2 cups reserved juice (if you are short, make up the difference with additional orange juice).
2. In a large, heavy-bottom saucepan, combine the canned oranges, reserved mandarin juice, 2 1/2 cups orange juice, ginger and sugar over high heat.
3. Bring the mixture to a strong simmer and cook, stirring frequently, until the compote is reduced to sauce consistency, about 40 minutes. As the compote reduces, the color will deepen to a rich apricot shade.
4. When the compote is almost reduced, in a small bowl combine the remaining one-fourth cup orange juice with the cornstarch, whisking to thoroughly combine and form a slurry.
5. Add the slurry into the reduced compote, stirring until the compote thickens, about 1 minute. Remove from heat. This makes about 1 1/2 cups compote. You might not use all of the compote for the remainder of the recipe; to store, cool the compote then cover and refrigerate until needed. The compote will keep for about a week, refrigerated. Gently warm in a saucepan before serving.
French toast and assembly
About 2 loaves white sandwich bread (you will need 36 slices, enough for 18 sandwiches)
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (about 10 ounces) mascarpone cheese
6 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
Canola oil for frying
Orange compote, warmed
1. Cut the bread: Use a 2 1/2-inch round cookie cutter to cut through the center of each slice to form a round. Spread 1 tablespoon mascarpone over each of half of the rounds, then cover with a remaining round of bread. Repeat, forming 18 sandwiches.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, cinnamon and sugar to form a batter.
3. Heat a large flat skillet over medium heat. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons canola oil to the pan (enough to form a thin film), heating until the oil is hot.
4. Dunk a sandwich quickly into the batter, coating on all sides. Place the sandwich in the skillet and fry until golden and crisp on both sides, about 1 minute per side.
5. Repeat with the remaining sandwiches until all are fried, holding the fried sandwiches in a warm place.
6. To serve, place 2 or 3 warm sandwiches on each plate, topping with a spoonful of compote. Serve immediately.
Each of 9 servings: 538 calories; 13 grams protein; 54 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams fiber; 31 grams fat; 15 grams saturated fat; 212 mg. cholesterol; 29 grams sugar; 425 mg. sodium.
1892 EAST'S CRISPY FRENCH TOAST
45 minutes. Serves 4
3 Granny Smith apples, peeled and sliced
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoons cold water
1 tablespoon cornstarch
In a medium saucepan, combine the apples, cinnamon, brown sugar and a pinch of salt over low heat. Cook, stirring until the apples are tender but not mushy, 8 to 10 minutes. While the apples are cooking, combine the water and cornstarch in a small bowl. Add the cornstarch mixture to the apples and increase the heat to high, stirring until the liquid bubbles and thickens. Remove from heat and hold in a warm place.
Crispy French toast
1 cup half and half
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 cups cornflakes
1 cup crumbled palmiers (you can substitute 1 extra cup cornflakes)
3 tablespoons powdered sugar, plus more for dusting
Oil for deep-frying
4 slices sourdough bread, cut into ¾-inch slices
1. In a medium bowl, beat together the eggs, half and half, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg to form the batter.
2. In a food processor, grind the cornflakes with the palmiers and powdered sugar to a coarse, sandy texture.
3. Heat the oil in a wide pot or deep fryer until it reaches 350 degrees.
4. While the oil is heating, start preparing the French toast: Dip the bread in the batter to soak, then press the soaked bread into the crust mixture on both sides to form a good coating. Place the bread in the fryer, careful not to crowd, and fry until the crust is golden-brown, about 2 minutes.
5. Drain the French toast on paper towels to remove any excess oil, then arrange on a plate and top with apples and a dusting of powdered sugar. Serve immediately.
Protein 21 grams
Carbohydrates 115 grams
Fiber 6 grams
Fat 32 grams
Saturated fat 10 grams
Sugar 52 grams
Sodium 713 mg
SAVORY STUFFED FRENCH TOAST
Total time: 50 minutes
Servings: 2 to 4
Note: The sandwiches are great served alongside a light, tart salad or a bowl of soup.
4 slices bacon, cut crosswise into large (about 1 inch) pieces
4 tablespoons butter, divided
1 onion, halved lengthwise (with the grain) and sliced into very thin lengthwise strips
1/3 cup dry white wine
3 cups chopped dandelion greens, cut crosswise into large (2- to 3-inch) pieces
2 teaspoons wine vinegar, preferably sherry or Banyul's, more to taste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
8 (1/2-inch thick) slices sourdough bread
4 teaspoons whole-grain Dijon mustard, or as desired
1/2 pound thinly sliced Gruyère cheese
1. In a large skillet, fry the bacon over medium-high heat until crisp, about 10 minutes. Drain the bacon (discard or save the fat for another use) and set aside.
2. In a large, heavy-bottom saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring frequently, until they soften and start to brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Add the white wine and continue to stir, scraping any flavoring from the bottom of the pan.
3. When the wine is almost completely absorbed, stir in the greens and cook just until they start to wilt, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the vinegar, then taste, and season with one-fourth teaspoon salt and several grinds of black pepper. Stir in the bacon bits, then taste again and adjust the seasoning or vinegar if necessary.
4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk, along with the Parmesan cheese. Whisk in a pinch of salt and several grinds of black pepper to season the eggwash. Place the eggwash in a large shallow baking dish or pie plate and set aside.
5. Soak the bread slices in the eggwash until just soaked on each side, about 2 minutes per side. Gently spread one-half teaspoon mustard over the one side of each of 4 slices. Onto the other 4 slices, divide the sliced Gruyère, then top with the onion and greens mixture. Then press the remaining slices of bread (mustard on the inside) onto layered cheese-onions-bacon to form a sandwich.
6. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat until melted and hot.
7. Reduce the heat to low and pan-fry the sandwiches, 2 at a time, until crisp and golden and the bread is cooked through, about 5 minutes per side. Cover the skillet while each piece is frying to allow the toast to fully cook and the filling to heat and melt. Adjust the heat as needed to keep each stuffed toast from burning.
8. Serve each piece of stuffed toast immediately or hold the finished toast in a warm oven until all of the pieces are fried.
Each of 4 servings: 711 calories; 36 grams protein; 46 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams fiber; 41 grams fat; 22 grams saturated fat; 270 mg cholesterol; 7 grams sugar; 1,275 mg sodium.
CLASSIC FRENCH TOAST
Total time: 25 minutes
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
6 (1-inch thick) slices bread, such as challah or brioche, somewhat stale
3 tablespoons butter or bacon fat, divided
Powdered sugar, as desired
Maple syrup, preferably grade B, as desired
1. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs. Whisk in the cream, then the vanilla, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Pour the batter into a wide, shallow baking dish.
2. Soak the bread slices on each side, about 2 minutes per side.
3. Heat a large, heavy-bottom skillet over medium heat until hot. Melt a tablespoon of butter in the hot pan, then add 2 slices of the bread. Reduce the heat and fry the slices gently on each side until the bread is crisp and golden-brown, and the inside of the bread is cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Cover the pan while cooking so the bread toasts evenly and thoroughly.
4. Remove the toast and hold on a baking sheet in a warm oven until all of the slices are toasted. Repeat with the remaining slices.
5. Slice each piece of toast in half and plate 3 half slices on each of 4 plates. Dust each with powdered sugar, if desired, and serve with warm maple syrup.
Each of 4 servings (analyzed without powdered sugar and maple syrup): 584 calories; 14 grams protein; 44 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams fiber; 40 grams fat; 22 grams saturated fat; 307 mg cholesterol; 3 grams sugar; 495 mg sodium.