Shakshouka 

Put on an eggstravganza for your Mumma…


There is no gift you can give to the one who gave you the gift of life. Yet the only gift she would ever want is your time and your smile. Tomorrow we celebrate Mother’s Day here in Australia. All you babies and Daddies get up and do something extravagant for that special woman in your life.

The day should begin with a sleep in, followed by breakfast in bed. Hope SammyK, Viktor and Jesse ji are reading this.


Ingredients: 10 Cooking time: 30 minutes

Serves: 2

  • Four eggs
  • 400 ml of tomato pureè 
  • One medium onion, thinly sliced
  • Half a teaspoon dried rosemary leaves
  • Half a teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Half a teaspoon of chilli flakes 
  • One teaspoon cumin powder
  • One teaspoon sugar
  • Salt to season 
  • Three tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Heat oil in a pan. Add onions and cook until lightly caramelised.

Now add tomato pureè and all the spices. Feel free to add more than suggested quantities to match your taste. Let the tomato sauce simmer on medium heat for 15 – 20minutes.

Crack the eggs one by one straight into the pan. Turn down the heat, cover the pan and cook the eggs until the egg white fully set.

Serve alongside toasted crusted sourdough bread. A lip smackingly delicious start to the day for that special lady in your life.

Coriander Zucchini and Corn Fritters

Stop fretting, just eat a fritter…

While we were in India among other things one of the big things to happen was, Samuel Kabir eating solids. Yes my little boy is growing up way too quickly but I couldn’t be more excited. I was so eager for him to start solids, so I could cook some real tasty treats for him.

I adopted the ‘baby led weaning’ approach for introducing SammyK to solids. I’m not going to bore you with the details of baby led weaning. In essence there are no purees, no ice-cube trays, no food processor, no potato masher, no baby rice, no weird fruit and veg combos. It’s just you and your child, eating food that you enjoy with you and your family.

So today I made my little prince zucchini and corn fritters for breakfast. There was a salt free baby version and a salted adult version with lemon chaat masala yogurt aioli. 

  

 
Ingredients: 10  Cooking time: 15 minutes

Serves : 2

  • One zucchini, grated
  • One small can of creamed corn
  • Half a bunch of coriander, finely chopped
  • One egg
  • One heaped tablespoon plain flour
  • One heaped tablespoon breadcrumbs
  • One teaspoon garam masala (optional)
  • Half a teaspoon chilli flakes
  • Salt to season
  • Olive oil to pan fry

Begin by squeezing out all the water from the zucchini and transfer it to another bowl. In the same bowl add all the other ingredients and mix well using your hands.

  
Heat olive oil in a non stick pan. Now pour one tablespoon per fritter in the pan. Let them cook on a medium heat. Flip over gently to the other side once the edges are browned.

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Cook on both sides until golden brown. The key to a good fritter is crispy on the outside and yet moist (sorry, for lack of a better word) on the inside.  

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To make the aioli to go with the adult version – In two tablespoons of Greek yogurt add quarter teaspoon on chaat masala, one teaspoon lemon juice and one teaspoon extra virgin olive oil. Voila done! 

Your lip smackingly delicious fritters are ready to be served. 

 

Upma (Savoury Semolina Porridge)

One of my Mums favourite…

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Baby SK made the impossible, possible! He managed to get his Nanimaa (maternal grandmother) on the plane to Australia. I couldn’t get her to come visit me, not once in the seven years I’ve been in this country. However knowing her first grandson was soon going to make an appearance, made it a simply irresistible offer.

My parents arrived a week before baby SK was due, of course little did we know the little man was going to be true to his half Indian heritage and arrive almost two weeks later. Anyway I made the most of the free time by doing things I love and as you know one of my top favourites is cooking for my family. 

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I introduced my parents to the concept of ‘brunch’.  Sleeping in till 11:00am meant my parents and I were going to be brunching a lot. After all I had to cash in on any sleep inns I could get before baby SK came because after that a good night’s sleep would only be a dream. 

Now my mum doesn’t eat eggs which makes serving up a delicious brunch a little bit of a challenge. A sign of a good cook though is the ability to adapt their culinary style to suit every, well almost every palette. So one morning I decided to make Upma and it went down a treat. Here’s the recipe. 

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Ingredients: 13  Cooking time: 30 minutes

Serves: 4

  • 250gms of raw semolina
  • 100gms of channa dal
  • 100gms of roasted peanuts
  • Four tablespoons of freshly grated or desiccated coconut
  • One medium onion, finely chopped 
  • One to two green chillies, finely chopped 
  • One tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
  • Eight to ten curry leaves
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • One teaspoon mustard seeds
  • One teaspoon cumin seeds
  • One heaped tablespoon ghee
  • Salt to season 

Begin by soaking the channa dal in warm water and keep aside.

Roast semolina on a low to medium heat lightly browned and aromatic. Keep aside.

In another pan, heat ghee. Add mustard seeds, cumin seeds and let them splutter. Now add curry leaves, let them splutter until aromatic.

Add onion and grated ginger, cook until onion is translucent. Now add the channa dal, peanuts and half the coconut. Mix the ingredients well. Cook this mixture on a medium heat for five to seven minutes.

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 Now add about 500ml of water and let it bubble. Then add the roasted semolina and stir continuously, ensuring no lumps are formed.

Add lemon juice, the remaining coconut and season with salt as required. Stir and cook the semolina on a low heat for 10 to 15 minutes. 

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 Your upma is ready to serve. I served it with a side of hot and crispy butter toast and a cup of masala chai. Just as my mum likes to eat it. 

Sabudana Khichdi (Savoury Sago Porridge)

Food that rekindles memories…

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One thing I miss most about my school days are summer holidays. Every year without fail once our final exams finished we would be excitedly packing our bags to go to Shimla, it’s where two of my most favourite women in the world live. My Massi (Aunty) and Beeji (Grandma). Not just that it’s where time and time again I devour the best food. Food that is cooked with boundless love. I will be featuring all these recipes on the blog but for now lets talk about this Sabudana Khichdi aka Savoury Sago Pudding, one word – AMAZING!

Sago is used around the world typically for puddings and porridge (both sweet and savoury). If you are using Sago for the first time, it can be a little tricky getting the consistency right. It depends on the type of Sago you are using – some require soaking for three to four hours and other requires soaking overnight. Here in Melbourne I use the brand called ‘India at Home’, which requires soaking overnight and is available at most Indian grocers.

In India Sago is popularly used when fasting on holy days. Yes, as a nation we believe one of the ways to appease our 365 million Gods and Goddesses is by fasting. There are some fasts where you can’t eat or drink all through the day and there are others which are slightly liberal, they allow you to relish fresh fruits and tasty delicacies like sabudana khichdi. Don’t worry you don’t have to fast to enjoy sabudana khichdi.

My first memory of enjoying this dish was in Shimla when Massi made it for breakfast once. We all loved it so much that it became a frequent affair for breakfast and other times as an afternoon tea snack. Even today one bite of this dish transports me back to the beautiful surrounds of Shimla with my most favourite women in the world. 

Moving on, sago in itself doesn’t have much flavour but when spiced up with green chillies, fresh coriander, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, tossed with potatoes and peanuts, it just reaches a whole new level.

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Ingredients: 10  Cooking time: 15 minutes

Serves: 4

  • 1.5 cups of Sago (pre-soaked)
  • Two medium boiled potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • Three to four green chillies, chopped
  • 0.5 bunch of coriander (leaves and stems), finely chopped
  • One cup of peanuts, roasted
  • One teaspoon of mustard seeds
  • One teaspoon of cumin seeds
  • One tablespoon of lemon juice
  • Two tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • Salt to season

In preparation for this dish wash the sago pearls under running cold water till the water runs clear. Soak the it in enough water for two to three hours or overnight, depending on the type of Sago. After it’s soaked, the pearls will swell up becoming almost triple in size. Drain any excess water using a strainer, this is very important step to avoid the pearls sticking together. To test that the sago has adequately soaked, press one soaked pearl between your finger and thumb, it should mash very easily without any effort.

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To cook – heat oil in a skillet. Add mustard seeds and cumin seeds. Once they splutter, add the green chillies and coriander stem.

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Add the boiled potatoes, toss the potatoes to coat them in the spices and cook for five minutes, until slightly crispy.

Now add the roasted peanuts, lemon juice and season with salt as required.

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Finally add the sago pearls and mix gently. Cook the sago pearls for five to seven minutes until transparent. Make sure to keep tossing the sago pearls so they don’t stick to the bottom of the pan.

Your Sabudana Khichdi aka Savoury Sago Porridge is now ready! Garnish with fresh coriander leaves and serve with a cup of masala chai (find the LSD masala chai recipe here).

Enjoy!

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Smashed Peas with Poached Eggs and Avocado

Smashed avocado is so yesterday…Smashed Peas are here to stay…

As a devout foodie I can tell you nothing, absolutely nothing is more important than breakfast. Particularly on a Saturday morning after a wonderful sleep in, what could be better than a delicious breakfast plate waiting for you. My husband and I love surprising each other with breakfast in bed every now and then, believe me it’s a great old trick among others to keep that spark alive.

The other day we were still laying in bed at 11:00am, after all it was a Saturday. I said to my husband you know what I had a dream, where you brought me this delicious plate of green goodness for breakfast. He indulged me and asked what was on the plate, without any hesitation I began to describe – avocado, peas, fresh herbs, eggs and toast with lots of butter. Ha! yes I do recall my food dreams vividly, after all that’s how I get most of my cooking inspiration. Anyway so my husband just chuckled and continued to play on his phone and for some reason I fell back to sleep.

The next thing I know I was woken up by my dream, but this time it was a reality. My plate of green goodness was right in front of me and behind it all was my gorgeous husband. I know right – LUCKY ME!

Today’s breakfast/brunch is my dream on a plate. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Ingredients: 8   Cooking time: 20 minutes

Serves: 2

  • Four free range eggs
  • One avocado, sliced
  • Two cups of frozen peas
  • 10-12 fresh mint leaves
  • One tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
  • A nice loaf of sourdough bread
  • Half a lemon
  • Salt and pepper to season

Everywhere around Melbourne, smashed avocado seems to be a raging breakfast sensation. I say honey your days are over because smashed peas are here to stay! This recipe is built on a bed of smashed peas flavoured with mint, extra virgin olive oil and lemon – a combination that will simply knock your jocks off. LOL!

Steam the peas for about five to seven minutes, until soft. In a bowl add the steamed peas, fresh mint leaves, a tablespoon of extra virgin olive, juice of half a lemon and salt as per taste. Using a stick blender coarsely blend all the ingredients. Your smashed mint peas are ready!

For poached eggs – the first step for perfect poached eggs is to use the freshest eggs. The next step is to get yourself a wide casserole type pan and bring water to a boil. Add one teaspoon of vinegar and a pinch of salt. Once the water has boiled let it simmer. Crack each egg in a small bowl drop them in the pan one by one, you’ll see them begin to cook immediately. Depending on your pan, a really soft poached egg should take around 2 minutes and a soft to firm one will need 4 minutes (it depends on the size of the eggs and whether you’re using them straight from the fridge). To check whether they’re done, remove one carefully from the pan with a slotted spoon and give it a gentle shake. If it feels too soft (use your instincts), put it back and give the eggs a little longer in the water to firm up. Once the eggs are cooked remove them on to kitchen paper and dry off.

While the eggs are poaching get your toasts ready, it is essential to use really good bread with this recipe because life is too short to eat bad bread.

To plate up – make a bed of smashed peas, surround it with avocado slices, top it up with toast and poached eggs. I added some of the leftover smashed peas on the top too, because I just can’t get enough. Finally season with some cracked pepper, dig in and get ready to fall in a food coma.

Aloo Paratha (Indian Crispy Potato Flatbread)

You haven’t eaten it all till you have eaten an Aloo Paratha…

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Happy 2015 LSD readers!!!

While most of you are thinking of healthier options for breakfast after all the indulgence over Christmas and New Years, the party never seems to end in a Punjabi household. The definition of healthy is two aloo parathas instead of four.

It is safe to say aloo paratha is the king of all breakfasts and if you don’t agree it’s simply because you have not eaten it the right way. First you have to drench it in ghee while cooking it and then top it up with a dollop of butter and a side of pickle. Use your hands to devour this crispy, flavoursome and greasy flatbread.

Ingredients: 10  Cooking time: 30 minutes

Serves: 6

For the dough
  • 500 gms of plain flour (I used wholewheat flour)
  • 250 ml of water
For the stuffing
  • Four medium sized potatoes peeled and boiled
  • 1/2 an onion finely chopped
  • One tablespoon of finely chopped coriander
  • Three to four finely chopped green chillies (depending on how spicy you like it)
  • One teaspoon of toasted cumin seeds
  • One teaspoon of chaat masala
  • Salt to taste
  • Three tablespoons of ghee

In a bowl sieve the flour, as recommended in my previous flatbread post get the flour from your Indian grocer as the plain flour in the supermarkets does not yield soft parathas. Add water and knead the dough, let the dough rest for 15 – 20 minutes prior to making the parathas.

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While the dough it resting lets make the stuffing. Add the boiled potatoes and all the other ingredients in a bowl, season with salt as required and mash the potatoes. Your stuffing is now ready!

Break the dough in six equal parts and roll it into a round ball by moulding it between the palm of your hands. Do the same with the stuffing make it into a round ball.

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Now dust the dough ball with plain flour and roll it into a medium sized circle. Place the potato stuffing in the centre, take the edge of the dough and start pleating as well as bringing the pleats in the centre.

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Dust the stuffed dough ball with a bit of flour and roll it out to the size of a roti. Place the paratha on a hot tava or frying pan and cook the paratha on both sides until lightly browned. Brush the parath with a generous helping of ghee or olive oil and cook either side for one or two minutes until crispy.

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Your lip smackingly delicious aloo paratha is ready to be served. I would highly recommend serving them with a dollop of ghee and a side of pickle. I was a bit cheeky and added a side of mango lassi too to wash it all down. One word….DELICIOUS!

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Namkeen Parathas (Savoury Indian Flatbread)

East or west Parathas are the best…

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I miss a lot about India, but most of all I miss the food. Especially my mothers cooking. I don’t know what it is about mothers and their cooking, its like a slice of heaven in every bite. One of the things my mum makes are these perfectly square, really simply but utterly delicious namkeen parathas. These bad boys were a perfect accompaniment to delicious curries, dals and subzis (spiced vegetables) from Mumma’s kitchen.

Since moving to Australia I never really made Indian flatbreads at home, after all ordering a butter drenched naan from my favourite takeaway restaurant was easier. Then one day the craving for namkeen parathas struck and it was motivation enough to get my hands dirty.

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Now its time for you to get your hands dirty and enjoy the lip smackingly delicious namkeen parathas.

 

Ingredients: 5    Cooking time: 20 minutes
Serves : 6
  • 500 gms of plain wholemeal flour 
  • 250 ml of water
  • Plain flour (extra to dust the parathas)
  • Ghee or olive oil (to brush the parathas)
  • Salt to taste

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In a bowl sieve the flour, I recommend getting the flour from your Indian grocer as the plain flour in the supermarkets does not yield soft parathas. Add water and knead the dough (this is such a therapeutic process, particularly if you have had a rough day), let the dough rest for 15 – 20 minutes prior to making the parathas.

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Once the dough is rested break it up into six equal parts and roll the dough into a round ball. Then flatten the dough ball by placing it between your palms and dust it with plain flour.

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Roll out the dough into a medium sized circle, season with a pinch of salt.

Now its time to layer the parathas to get that perfect square paratha. Take one side of the circle, fold it to the centre and do the same for the other side. Now take the two ends of each side and fold them to the centre. Dust the square with some plain flour and roll it out.

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Time to cook our namkeen parathas. Heat a frying pan or tava. Dust the excess flour off the paratha by flipping it between your palms and place it in the pan. 

Cook one side for about one to two minutes and flip it to the other side. Once the paratha is light browned on both sides brush it with ghee or olive oil. Cook the paratha on each side for one minute. Your namkeen paratha is now ready!

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Place the paratha on a plate and cover with aluminium foil, repeat the same procedure with the remaining five dough balls. 

Namkeen parathas can be enjoyed for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I served mine  for breakfast with Indian style scrambled eggs that were cooked with onion, chilli and coriander and a side of pickle. You can find a similar scrambled eggs recipe with onion, parsley and cheese here, simply replace the parsley with coriander, add fresh green chillies and drop out the cheese for Indian style scrambled eggs…

Enjoy your namkeen parathas, you have earned them!

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Best Bagel and Coffee – Midtown West, New York

Bagel and Coffee is like living the New York dream…

Since arriving in New York all I wanted do was to sink my teeth into the best bagel. What better a place to go to than the self acclaimed Best Bagel and Coffee on 225 W, 35th street New York. This bagel shop is walking distance to the Empire State building, perfect spot for tourists like us to get a quick bite before the setting off on our sight seeing journey.

Usually I am highly suspicious of places that proclaim themselves as the best, but this bagel shop in my opinion can continue to call itself the ‘BEST’. 

We arrived at the Best Bagel and Coffee shop on a Monday afternoon and the place was packed with people from all walks of life. Tourists, office goers, mums with kids and the likes. Any place that can be packed in the middle of the afternoon on a work day is definitely doing something right. For the whole time we were there the crowd grew from strength to strength which is another sign of good food!

Assortment of Bagels to choose from
Assortment of Bagels to choose from

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Finally it was our turn to order, with all the available choice I was just so confused. As always my eyes were bigger than my stomach but thankfully my brain took over, preventing me from ordering everything. 

There is an assortment of bagels and spreads to choose from. The lox (brined salmon) and cream cheese with chives bagel is a classic combination. However my husband and I were in no mood of fish! 

I ordered the everything bagel which is a bagel baked with sesame seeds, garlic and herbs. The filling was a classic cream cheese filling and to make it slightly healthy I asked for some fresh lettuce too. My husband ordered the breakfast bagel, a plain sesame seed bagel with creamy scrambled eggs and lots of bacon as fillings. Watching him eat that, felt like I was watching the man vs food tv show.

Everything Bagel crusted with sesame seeds, poppy seeds, garlic and herbs
Everything Bagel crusted with sesame seeds, poppy seeds, garlic and herbs
Breakfast bagel with eggs and bacon
Breakfast bagel with eggs and bacon
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Everything Bagel with cream cheese and lettuce

Neither of us had any coffee, but if the bagels were anything to go by the coffee should be pretty good too. After our bagel craving was successfully satisfied we were off to see the beautiful views of New York city from the Empire State Building.

LSD recommends Best Bagel and Coffee if you are in New York or plan on visiting. 

Street view of the Empire State Building
Street view of the Empire State Building
Overall rating – 8/10
Price – $

Cinnamon Pancakes

Everybody doesn’t love Raymond, they love Pancakes…

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The whole point of a weekend is to take time to smell the roses, enjoy your coffee and indulge in a leisurely breakfast. Nothing says leisure and comfort like pancakes! This dish is so popular it even has a day commemorated in its honour as ‘Pancake Day’.

Enjoyed by everyone big and small, pancakes are a family friendly breakfast. Not to forget they are so easy to make. If you have young kids get them to sieve the flour, mix the batter or just simply watch you flip the pancakes. 

You can jazz up the humble pancake with exotic spices from your pantry. One such spice is cinnamon, which is found in almost every pantry.

Ingredients: 11         Cooking time: 5 minutes
Serves: 4
  • One cup self raising flour
  • One cup plain flour
  • Three cups of milk (I used skim milk)
  • One egg
  • One tablespoon melted butter
  • One teaspoon cinnamon powder
  • One teaspoon vanilla essence
  • One teaspoon sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • For topping chopped fresh fruits
  • Honey or Maple syrup for drizzle 

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In a bowl sieve both types of flour. Then add the milk, egg, melted butter, cinnamon powder, vanilla essence, sugar and a pinch of salt and whisk the batter.

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Spray the frying pan with some olive oil spray. Once the pan is hot, pour the pancake batter in the pan with a ladle. Once a few air bubbles pop and the pancake puffs up, flip it to the other side for a minute. The pancake should be golden brown in colour.

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Make enough pancakes so you can stack them. Drizzle the pancakes with maple syrup or honey, top them up with fresh fruit and serve with a smile!

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Pain Perdu a.k.a French Toast

Why French women don’t get fat – Flavours from France…

LSD is very excited to feature our first ” From around the world” food story. This comes from a French woman’s kitchen who is originally from Lyon in France, but now living in the food capital of Australia, Melbourne! Read on as she shares her passion for all things French!!

 

“Mangez bien, riez souvent, aimez beaucoup”
“Eat well, laugh often, love abundantly”

Melissa’s story

“I think secretly everyone in the world wants to be French. Don’t believe me? Well then why are so many things labelled as “French”. French fries, French kisses, French dressing, French stick, French door fridges.

The idea of French people inventing the amorous kissing style was ok, but what the hell is a French door fridge? Obviously, in France we don’t describe things as being French: a French kiss is just a kiss, French stick is a baguette, French fries (which, by the way, have been invented in Belgium!) are just “frites” which translates as “fried” or “fried potatoes”. As for French dressing, I’m guessing it refers to our “vinaigrette”.

Anyway, back to the recipe I am about to share.  What people around the world call “French toast” has a very different name in France. We call it “pain perdu” which literally translates to “lost bread”, but basically means stale bread. The recipe was invented back in the days where wasting food in general and a piece of bread in particular was not conceivable. People would soak their stale bread in milk and egg mixture then fry it to make it enjoyable. The earliest reference of this recipe dates from the 4th century in Rome! Another myth about French stuff that collapses!

But for the sake of this post, lets pretend that French toasts are really French and that I’m about to give you a very traditional recipe from my dear country that I got from my mum!”

Ingredients: 5          Cooking time: 10 minutes
Serves: 2
  • 1/2 baguette of stale bread
  • Two cups of milk
  • Two large eggs
  • butter and oil for frying
  • raw sugar for dusting
Pour the milk in a bowl or shallow plate and whisk the eggs in another one. Cut your baguette in half and then open it length wise, making 4 pieces altogether.Soak the bread in the milk first, making sure it’s getting soft and soggy. Press the bread to remove the extra milk. Now soak the milky bread in the egg mixture, and make sure the bread is well covered.

Warm a pan on medium heat with butter and oil (the oil will prevent the butter to burn too quickly) and place the pieces of bread on the crust side. Cook it for 2-3 minutes or until golden then flip them on the other side for 1-2 minutes or until golden.

If worried about calories, you can strain the bread on paper towel and then place on a plate with raw sugar on top (but if you’re worried about calories, you shouldn’t eat French stuff in the first place! Finally, its not traditional at all and you won’t be judged if you top your bread with maple syrup and pieces of crispy bacon!

Bon appétit!