Linda explores food facts, folklore, and fabulous recipes, one ingredient at a time.
I was sitting on a log, slowly eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, swatting the occasional mosquito. It was a bit past noon, and the sun was high overhead. A warm breeze moved the air, scented with the aroma of hotdogs sizzling over a crackling campfire.
Friends in the next campsite were talking and laughing, and their children were squealing and giggling, playing in the river.
A perfect setting in which one could relax, unwind, meditate, get lost in thought... and I was dreaming about cooking.
Allow me a moment to explain the surroundings. Once a year for the past 15 years, our church has reserved a U.S. Forest Service campground near a river just east of the Cascade Mountains. When we first began this tradition, most of us were "tenters," but as the years have passed (and our backs have aged), the majority now arrive in trailers, RV's, or 5th-wheels. In the morning, the first ones up prepare coffee and visit each campsite offering a hot cup of joe and a warm "good morning." In the afternoons we swim, hike, fish, and do "a whole lot of nuthin" together. There is usually a group campfire in the evening where memories are shared, and stories are told and re-told. The week culminates with a Saturday scavenger hunt, a potluck, and then Sunday morning worship service near the edge of the river.
Now, if you know anything about Forest Service campgrounds, you'll recognize that we were not exactly living the life of luxury this past week. No electricity, no showers, pit toilets, and (as we jokingly say) running water only if you can move that quickly with a full bucket. We ate well but not exactly gourmet. So, in between making PBJ's for lunch and grilling hot dogs or turkey burgers for dinner, I dreamed about food—amazing, decadent, imaginative food.
My daydreams started the way we should begin each day—with a good breakfast. I've never cared much for pancakes or waffles. Both tend to get rather boring after a few bites. But french toast is a different story—crisp on the outside, soft and almost custard-like on the inside. So, what could I do to make it even better? I've seen recipes for stuffed French toast, most of them involving cream cheese and/or mascarpone. In the words of Emeril, I'd like to kick it up a notch. What about brie? Is there anything more deliciously self-indulgent than melty, oozy, gooey brie cheese?
|Prep time||Cook time||Ready in||Yields|
4 to 6 servings
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- 1 baguette
- 3 oz. brie, chilled for easier slicing
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1 egg, large
- pinch of salt
- 1 tablespoon butter, divided
- fruit topping, see suggestions below
- Slice the bread on the diagonal (this gives you larger slices of bread), making the slices about 3/4-inch thick. Discard the ends or save for another use.
- Slice the chilled brie into thin slices. Cover one-half of the baguette slices with the brie and then top with the remaining slices (you just made a brie sandwich).
- In a shallow bowl, beat together the milk, egg, and salt with a wire whisk until well blended. Dip the baguette "sandwiches" into the milk/egg mixture, turning to coat both cut sides.
- Heat a large saute pan over medium heat. Add 1 tsp. of the butter; as it melts tilt the pan to coat the bottom. Add as many of the baguette slices as will fit in the pan without crowding. Cook until golden brown on one side (about 2 minutes). Turn over and cook the other side until brown. Remove from pan and keep warm. Repeat with the remaining butter and baguette slices.
Fruit Topping Ideas
There are so many things that could be done with this recipe, depending on what seasonal fruits are available.
In late Spring I would choose strawberries—slice, sprinkle on a bit of sugar and let sit for a few minutes until juices begin to form.
In summer one could do the same with fresh raspberries or blackberries.
However, my favorite fruit with brie is apples or pears, simmered with sugar and a generous amount of cinnamon. Place in a saute pan and simmer over medium-high heat, stirring constantly until apples or pears begin to soften and juices become syrupy.
My Apple Topping
- 1 large Delicious or Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and finely diced
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- pinch sea salt or lemon salt
- Place butter in large saute pan over medium heat. When melted, add the apples. Cook and stir for two minutes or until the apples begin to soften.
- Add brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Cook one minute more or until sugar is melted and apples are coated in sugar-cinnamon sauce.
- Serve warm.
© 2013 Linda Lum