Archive | September, 2010

Savory French Toast with Sliced Tomatoes

30 Sep

What do you make for dinner when all you have in the house is one gigantic tomato, half a loaf of nearly-stale bread, some onions, garlic, and half a bell pepper?  Baked pasta with a yummy bread crumb topping is one option, but I wasn’t in the mood for pasta.  I had heard about the concept of savory French toast and it had piqued my interest, especially since I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, so I decided to attempt to whip up my own version and, boy, am I glad I did.

Despite its humble beginnings, this dish was absolutely delicious.  I mean, yum!  Despite the bread, milk, eggs, and cheese, it was pleasantly light.  The flavors really packed a punch.  Don’t skimp on a grocery store tomato with this, though … home grown or farmer’s market only or it just won’t do this home run dish justice.  This dish is perfect for a crowd because it can be prepared ahead of time and just thrown in the oven.  The next time (first time?) I host a brunch, this, or a variation of it, is definitely going to be on the menu.  YUM.

Savory French Toast with Sliced Tomatoes

1/2 loaf thinly sliced challah bread

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 small Vidalia onion, sliced

1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced

1 tbs. olive oil

4 large eggs

1/2 cup milk

3 tsp. Dijon mustard

2 tsp. dried parsley

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

1 cup shredded gouda cheese

1 tbs. butter, softened

Non-stick cooking spray

1 large beefsteak tomato, sliced into 1/2″ slices

2 tsp. balsamic vinegar

In a medium sauté pan, heat 1 tbs. of olive oil over medium high heat.  Add garlic and onions and sauté until onions are translucent, roughly 3-5 minutes.  Add diced pepper and sauté another 5 minutes until onions are a light golden brown.  Transfer contents of sauté pan to a small bowl and let cool.

In another small bowl, beat eggs, milk, dijon, dried parsley, a pinch of salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste.

Spray a small casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray.  Place one layer of bread on the bottom of the pan (roughly 3-4 slices).  Pour roughly 1/4 of the egg mixture over the bread slices, then daub a little bit of the butter over it.  Layer 1/2 shredded cheese over bread slices.  Place cooled vegetable mixture over top of cheese and add remainder of cheese on top of that.  Place remaining bread slices over top.  Pour remainder of the egg mixture over the bread.  Allow the bread to sit for a minimum of half an hour but up to 48 hours in the refrigerator to allow time for the egg mixture to be absorbed by the bread.

Preheat oven to 400°.  Place casserole dish, uncovered, in oven and bake for 30-40 minutes until puffed up and golden brown.  Remove from oven and allow to sit for ten minutes to set.  It should look like picture  following the break.

Serve alongside sliced tomatoes with a tsp. or so of balsamic vinegar drizzled over top and seasoned with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper.

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Panko-Crusted Brussels Sprouts Over Jasmine Rice

29 Sep

I knew I wanted something with some crunch for dinner last night, so when we decided to make Brussels sprouts, I devised this recipe as a way to incorporate that.  I found it to be not only incredibly tasty, but also really fast and easy with minimal prep work – just what the doctor ordered for a cold, rainy, Tuesday.  I think the lemon juice was what really made this dish shine, so don’t do without it.

Panko-Crusted Brussels Sprouts Over Jasmine Rice

1 lb. Brussels sprouts, trimmed with outer leaves removed and an 1/8″ or so “X” cut into the stem end

2 cloves marinated whole garlic, minced

1/4 cup sliced baby bellas

1 tbs. olive oil

1 tbs. Brummel &  Brown

Juice from 1/2 lemon

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

1/4 cup grated Parmesan (remove for vegetarian, otherwise this is lacto-ovo vegetarian)

1/2 cup Japanese-style panko bread crumbs

1/2 tsp. dried sweet basil

Non-stick cooking spray

1 cup jasmine rice, cooked according to package instructions

Boil a pot of lightly salted water large enough to submerge all Brussels sprouts.  Boil Brussels sprouts six minutes until tender.

Meanwhile, heat tablespoon of olive oil and Brummel & Brown until melted.  Add garlic and mushrooms and sauté six minutes until garlic is golden brown and mushrooms are tender.

Preheat broiler.

Drain Brussels sprouts and place in 5 cup casserole dish sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.  Combine well with garlic, mushrooms, and residual olive oil and Brummel & Brown.  If not completely coated, add an extra few teaspoons of olive oil.  Season well with salt and freshly cracked black pepper.  Toss with juice from lemon.  Cover with Parmesan.  Combine dried sweet basil and panko bread crumbs and sprinkle over top of Brussels sprouts and cheese.  Spray liberally with non-stick cooking spray.

Place uncovered casserole in broiler and broil 3-5 minutes until bread crumbs are golden brown.  Serve over cooked jasmine rice.

Healthy Tomato Soup

28 Sep

I really love tomato soup.  I am not, however, a fan of heavy cream or loads of butter, so I devised this much healthier and just-as-tasty version.  It turned out to be wonderfully flavorful and quite filling.  For a more filling option, pair this with some homemade croûtons or a grilled cheese.

Healthy Tomato Soup

4 medium tomatoes, blanched¹, peeled, seeded and diced

2 tbs. olive oil

1 tbs. Brummel & Brown

3 large cloves garlic, minced

1 small onion, diced

1 medium carrot, sliced

1 stalk celery, sliced

1 small baking potato, cut into 1/4″ dice

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

1 1/2 cups homemade pork/beef stock

1 tsp. garlic flavored hot sauce

1 tsp. dried parsley

Sour cream, for garnish

Shredded cheddar cheese, for garnish

In a large saucepan, heat olive oil and Brummel & Brown over medium heat Brummel & Brown is melted.  Add garlic and onion and sauté until onion is translucent, roughly 3 minutes.  Add carrot and celery and sauté until carrots are tender, roughly 3 more minutes.  Add baking potato and season with salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste.  Sauté another 2-3 minutes.  Add tomatoes and sauté until heated through, roughly 3-4 minutes.  Add pork/beef stock and reduce heat to maintain a simmer for 15 minutes or so.  Season with garlic flavored hot sauce and dried parsley.  Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.

Transfer to a food processor and blend until desired consistency.  I prefer a consistency that has a little bit of a chunky texture but is mostly smooth, which I accomplished by running the food processor for about 30 seconds, scraping down the sides, and then pulsing in 1 second bursts another 10-15 times.  It may be necessary to do this in batches, so be aware of your “liquid maximum” line.

Return to pan to reheat if necessary.  Serve garnished with sour cream and shredded cheddar cheese to taste.

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Scalloped Tomatoes with Catfish

26 Sep

I had one huge, absolutely ginormous, amazingly beautiful beefsteak tomato my dad had given me a few days ago that was just on the latter end of perfectly ripe.  I went out of town to South Bend this weekend with my dad to watch the Notre Dame-Stanford game, so I wanted to make use of such a delicious-looking tomato rather than let it go to waste.  I was looking through my bookmarked recipes labelled “tomato” and found the wonderful Ina Garten recipe linked below and decided to give it a whirl.  This dish turned out great.  I wouldn’t waste my time with it unless you have farmer’s market or homegrown tomatoes, though – I have a feeling it wouldn’t be nearly as good with a sub par tomato.

Scalloped Tomatoes with Catfish

Scalloped Tomatoes:

Serves 2

Adapted from Ina Garten

4-5 tbs. olive oil, divided

3 cups scallion bread (recipe follows), diced into 1/2″ to 1″ cubes

6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1/2 small Vidalia onion, cut into half moon slices

1 very large beefsteak tomato, 1/2″ diced (roughly 5 cups diced)

2-3 tsp. salt

1 tbs. sugar

1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, julienned

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Non-stick cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350°.

Coat a 5-6 cup baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.

In a large sauté pan, heat 2-3 tbs. of olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add cubed scallion bread and sauté 8-10 minutes, tossing frequently, until bread is deep golden brown on all sides.  If necessary, add more olive oil 1 tbs. at a time.  Remove croûtons from heat and place in the baking dish.

Add the remainder of the olive oil to the sauté pan and turn heat to medium-low.  Add garlic and onions and sauté until onions are translucent, roughly 5 minutes.  Add the tomatoes, salt and sugar and sauté, stirring frequently, until heated through.  Remove from heat and add basil leaves.  Add tomato, garlic and onion mixture to the baking dish with croûtons.  Mix thoroughly.  Top with Parmesan cheese.  Bake, uncovered, 30-40 minutes until cheese is golden brown and bubbly and tomato mix is heated through.  Serve topped with catfish.


2 frozen catfish fillets, defrosted

1-2 tbs. freshly cracked black pepper

2 tsp. garlic powder

2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

1 tbs. olive oil

1 tsp. Brummel & Brown

Season fish liberally with black pepper, garlic powder, and crushed red pepper flakes on both sides and let rest until room temperature.

In a medium sauté pan, heat olive oil and butter over medium heat until butter is melted.  Add fish and sauté roughly 4 minutes per side until cooked through.  Serve atop scalloped tomatoes.

Scallion bread:

1/2 cup water

2 tsp. Brummel & Brown

1/2 cup chopped scallion

1 egg

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. sugar

1/4 tsp. garlic powder

1/4 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper

1 3/4 cups bread flour

1 tsp. instant yeast

Non-stick cooking spray

Combine all ingredients in a bread machine.  Set the machine on the “Dough” cycle and allow to run.  When cycle is almost complete, turn your oven to “warm” and spray a bread pan with non-stick cooking spray.  Remove the dough from the bread machine and place in a bread pan.  Turn oven off and set bread in oven for one hour and allow to rise.  Remove bread from oven and heat oven to 350º.  Bake the bread for 30 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool before removing from pan.

Butter and Balsamic Braised Radishes with Green Beans

21 Sep

Zak really loved this recipe, although I personally thought it fell a little bit flat.  It was tasty enough, but I thought it could have used a little extra “zing” of some sort – next time I make it, I’m going to add something else (maybe pine nuts, lemon zest, a little white wine or another vegetable to the medley – I welcome any suggestions in the comments!).  However, he raved enough about it that I thought it was worth a post.  I will be sure to come back and update this post when I make it another time in the future.  I served this alongside the Fried Green Tomatoes from yesterday, so maybe I was just so enamored with those I didn’t get a good read on the quality of this dish.

Butter and Balsamic Braised Radishes with Green Beans

Adapted (loosely) from

Serves 2

2-3 tbs. salted butter

1 tbs. olive oil

1 tbs. Brummel & Brown butter substitute

1 tbs. balsamic vinegar

3 cloves garlic, sliced thinly

6-7 small radishes, trimmed and quartered

5 cups green beans, trimmed and halved

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

1 cup jasmine rice, cooked according to package directions

Melt butter in large sauté pan over medium-low heat.  Add olive oil and Brummel & Brown.  Add garlic and sauté until light golden brown.  Add balsamic vinegar.  Add radishes and green beans and season with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper.  Cook 10-12 minutes, stirring frequently so vegetables are well-coated with butter mixture.  When complete, the radishes and green beans should be al dente.

Serve over jasmine rice.

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