Saturday, February 13, 2010

Jeffrey's French Toast

A gorgeous but chilly morning in Fallbrook - just right for Jeffrey Saad's French Toast. We prepare a FT batter as usual - couple of eggs mixed with cream or milk (whatever you have), a tablespoon of sugar, pinch of salt and about 1/2 teaspoon of Chinese 5 spice seasoning;finish with a dredge in Panko crumbs for extra crispness. The resulting toast is crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside; delicious with maple syrup.

Jeffrey likes to use Chinese 5 spice seasoning, in fact, he's a little stuck on it. 5 spice seasoning is usually a combination of star anise, cloves, cinnamon, szechwan pepper and fennel seeds.  Some include ginger. The story goes that it was planned to contain all the basic tastes of sweet, sour, bitter, salty and pungent. I can pick up the sweet, sour and bitter and pungent - salty escapes me. Following is a "make-it-yourself" recipe from the Asian Foods website.

Ingredients for Chinese 5 Spice
Grind together all the ingredients, using a mortar and pestle or grinder. Store in an airtight container.
2 Tbsp Cinnamon
1 Tbsp Cloves
2 Tbsp Szechuan Peppercorns
4 Tbsp Fennel Seeds
2 Tbsp Star Anise
We tried it the first time because it seems so utterly unlikely to be successful with the eggs, milk and bread but the combination is striking and very pleasing. Maple syrup helps to blend everything together. It's become a regular in our weekend breakfast repertoire.

A recent interesting find at Big Lots was a grinder shaker of five spice seasoning; this one does contain salt. The grinder doesn't do a good enough job of grinding fine for something like the French Toast application but it's great for marinades, seasoning meats and anywhere that you'd want a little chunkiness to the spice. Five spice blend can be used to season meats, especially fatty meats like duck and some pork and it is traditionally used in some vegetarian cuisine. It works well as a rub and can be used like other Chinese aromatics - in the frying pan in a little oil at the start of cooking. As it heats up it will add fragrance to whatever is placed in the pan to cook: fish, chicken, beef.

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