Baked blueberry French toast

I’m all for making things ahead and just popping them in the oven the next day.  It’s a part of my make-life-easier campaign, thanks to having two kids.

I made this baked blueberry French toast for my mom while she was here, and she loved it.  I made it for my dad while he was visiting, and he ate some out of curtesy despite his dislike for anything to do with milk.  I’d say that’s a pretty successful dish.  Ha!

The original recipe is from Epicurious, but I simplified it because I’m too lazy.  It is still very good.  Please try it.

Ingredients

  • a 24-inch baguette
  • 6 large eggs
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon unsalted butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups blueberries (about 12 ounces)

Direction

Butter a 13 x 9-inch baking dish. Cut twenty 1-inch slices from baguette and arrange in one layer in baking dish. In a large bowl whisk together eggs, milk, nutmeg, vanilla, and 3/4 cup brown sugar and pour evenly over bread. Chill mixture, covered, until all liquid is absorbed by bread, at least 8 hours, and up to 1 day.

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Sprinkle blueberries evenly over bread mixture. Cut 1/2 stick butter into pieces and in a small saucepan heat with remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar, stirring, until butter is melted. Drizzle butter mixture over bread and bake mixture 35 minutes, or until any liquid from blueberries is bubbling.

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Duck confit with spicy candied kumquat sauce and sauteed kale

Last weekend, I made duck confit for the first time.  By the time I finished cooking it, I read the last step of the instructions–wait a week before you eat it.  Doh!

So our guinea  pig friends, Ray and Sally, came over to test out the duck confit with us tonight.  I pan seared the confit and put the whole pan in the oven to heat through, sauteed some kale with garlic and grapeseed oil, and made a spicy candied kumquat sauce to go on top of the confit.

The much anticipated duck confit was, well, decent.  I wouldn’t say it was the best confit I’ve ever had.  In the process of pan searing it, the skin stuck to the pan and tore off, taking a piece of my heart with it.  That was supposed to be the best part!  The flavor was pretty good and salty, the way I like it.  I think next time I’ll cook the confit in a lower temperature for a longer period of time and see if the meat can get more tender.  The spicy kumquat sauce was quite good, and I thought the kale was a good pairing with the confit.

We had the Sterling cabernet sauvignon and an endive grapefruit salad to go with dinner, and a blueberry lemon crumble for dessert.  Oh, and Ray made tuna tartar with endives.

I felt very richly blessed to have people to test my food on and enjoy a meal with.

Next week, I’m going to attempt making soufflé!  That’s right, the cooking challenge continues!  Anyone want to come and be my guinea pig next week?

Duck

The past week has been quite rough.  After Christmas, Joshua came down with the flu, and then he generously shared it with me.  So we had to cancel a bunch of the plans we made with friends during the Christmas week, and stayed home for quite a few days in a row.  I missed almost 2 days of work because I was just sick like a dog and could barely breathe.  I couldn’t hear what my co-workers were saying to me because my ears were plugged.  Wah wah wah…ok, enough with the whining.

So, today I started to feel a bit more human.  I’m still recovering, but at least I can breathe through my nose again, and no longer feel like I’m submerged under water.  It also happens to be my day at home with Joshua.  We headed out to check out Windsor Meats and McGillicuddy’s at Mackenzie Heights.

I wanted to do something a little different today.  So I decided to try making duck for the first time ever.  I don’t recall my parents ever making duck when I was growing up, and Cliff has never made duck before.  It’s just not something we normally eat.  I’ve had it a number of times in restaurants and always enjoyed it, but for some reason never tried cooking it.  Anyway, the butcher at Windsor Meats was very friendly.  I ended up walking out with more than just duck meat.  I’m a total SUCKER for friendly service.

So for the duck breasts, I followed a simple pan sear method of preparing it.  Then prepared a separate sauce to go on the duck breast.  The pan searing worked really well (plus 7 minutes in the oven), and the meat was tender.  The sauce was supposed to be an orange chipotle sauce, but I screwed up and put way too much chipotle in it that it became unbearably spicy.  So I ended up doctoring the sauce with blueberries trying to mellow it out.  At the end the sauce was kind of ok.  I think it would have been quite good if I had some sugar or syrup to add in it.  Damn South Beach diet.

Ultimately, Cliff enjoyed the meal, and that was good enough for me.