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Blood Orange Curd | Dehydrated Citrus Peels

Who doesn't love a cooking project?

Especially the kind that takes up a whole afternoon on a snowy day in February. That's why last week, when I found out that Denver was going to get buried in snow, I started hunting for recipes. Blood orange recipes. Because let's just admit that the awesomest thing about winter is citrus season. 

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because brunch. and challah.

there's something totally irresistible about brunch. 

It might be that the warmer weather stirs something up inside us all, this time of year. We get the uncontrollable urge to bust out of the house when it's finally the weekend and find a patio somewhere with lots of sunshine, eggs and bottomless mimosas. Amiright?  

 oh, hello, french toast.

oh, hello, french toast.

I also love that somehow we get to eat whatever we want when it comes to brunch. Whether it's a whipped-cream and maple syrup covered stack of chocolate chip pancakes or just a bowl of wholesome oatmeal, basically you can eat anything from straight up dessert to well, just breakfast. 

And did I mention the day drinking? Anyway, I could go on and on about my love for brunch but the point is, you should have some. Immediately, if possible. How, you ask? I say let's start with challah.

 holla.

holla.

Everybody needs a use for leftover bread. That is, if you eat bread, which you should because it's delicious. But look to different cultures around the world and if they eat bread, they are sure to have developed some delicious dishes that make good use of the stale stuff. Bread pudding, panzanella, fattoush, and croutons are all clever and tasty examples. French toast just happens to be my favorite.

 it's a french toast party and everyone's invited.

it's a french toast party and everyone's invited.

The formula is really simple: you need eggs and milk or cream or both. I almost always use a combination of whole milk and half and half because that's what I usually have on hand. From there, the possibilities are many. You can go the savory route and add salt and pepper, you can go the sweet route, as this recipe does, and add vanilla and some kind of sugar like maple syrup. You can even get crazy and add a little whiskey, grated lemon zest, cinnamon or even hot sauce, if you're extra sassy.  I won't judge.

As far as bread goes, French toast can be made with just about any kind you like, but to achieve true Brunch Bliss I insist you try challah. The result is light and fluffy in texture with a toothsome, almost cakey bite. Challah absorbs liquids with great enthusiasm, so just a light dip in the batter pool is all you need for each slice. In fact, this recipe makes exactly enough batter to be absorbed by four big, thick slices so if you let the bread linger in there too long you won't have enough liquid for your last slice. You're better off airing on the side of less batter versus more, anyway, because too much batter is impossible to undo and results in a soggy, eggy, sorry pile of mush, hardly worthy of the name toast. 

The only other thing you need is a trusty pan and plenty of butter. A shallow frying pan or cast iron skillet are excellent choices, although I'm also quite fond of dusting off the ol' grilling pan for this purpose, too. Not that it makes any difference taste-wise, but grilled French toast is just pretty. Once you've cooked up your toast, the rest is up to you. I am a big fan of serving it up simply with a (very generous) drizzle of maple syrup and maybe a pat of butter. Some folks (and most restaurants) love topping their sweet toast with more sweet stuff, like berries, whipped cream, chocolate sauce and more. Savory French toast works with any number of things, especially just a perfectly poached egg and a few slices of bacon. So what are you waiting for? Go get your brunch on!

Challah French Toast
Serves 4

Ingredients

2 eggs
1/3 cup whole milk
1/4 cup half & half (or cream, if you're feeling fancy)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 T maple syrup
Pinch of salt
4 thick (about 1-inch) slices of challah loaf
2 T butter (or so), for frying
Maple syrup, to serve

Directions

1. Whisk together eggs, milk, half & half (or cream), vanilla, maple syrup and salt in a shallow dish. 
2. Place a large pan over medium heat and melt 1 tablespoon butter. Dip each bread slice in the batter, coating both sides (don't allow bread to soak or it'll absorb too much liquid and get soggy). After the fourth slice, all the liquid should have been absorbed. 
3. Fry each slice in hot pan (adding more butter as necessary) until the toast is nicely browned and just a little bit crispy around the edges, about 3-5 minutes per side. 
4. Drizzle with maple syrup and serve immediately.

 

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