Sunday, September 14, 2014

Brunch Time! Easy Vanilla-Almond Baked French Toast

It's been a struggle to sit still recently and just enjoy the moment. Most doctors tell me, "Enjoy medical school, you'll never get the time off that you do then!" but then I everywhere I turn, friends are publishing papers and going to conferences, getting involved with all kinds of research, and I'm...petting my new puppy. Not to say that petting my new puppy isn't amazing, but it does leave one wondering, "Should I be doing all that?"

Those who know me know that I tend to obsess. It's a double edge sword really: if I need to sit down and study, I will sit down and study for 14 hours straight; if I lose something, I'll spend a hour and a half searching for it, and if I get concerned about whether or not I need to be doing something with my career/academics, I'll sit there and mentally chew on it for days until I'm out of my mind with nervousness and I internally implode and finally calm down.

Healthy, no?

Well, I'm a lot better than I used to be with the latter two. I don't really have an hour and a half to search for stuff now, and really what good does it do me to sit there and  constantly stress about whether or not I'm doing the "right thing" for my career?

So I just try not to. I'm not super successful, but when I catch myself careening over the edge of "what about research? Ahh! What if I don't get a residency? AHH! should I be going in after hours and shadowing?? AHH!" I just stop myself, take a deep breath, and eat a damn cookie. It's all gonna be okay, and I'm pretty happy. That, my friend, is a lot right there.

Speaking of happy, this french toast makes me happy because it's so unbelievably easy.  I found this recipe on one of my favorite blogs under the "Pretty. Easy." heading, and it definitely looked anything BUT easy.

It wasn't a lie though, it's crazy easy, and people come over and are all, "You made that?!" and you're all, "Yeah" in a bashful yet subtly cocky way. That's right, subtle cockiness will get you far. Fair warning, it's an overnight recipe, which can throw people off for the easiness factor, but trust me, it's easy. I've said easy about 8 times here, EASY.

Try it, you won't be disappointed.
Easy Vanilla-Almond Baked French Toast
Adapted from Pairs Well With Food

1 Loaf Challah Bread, sliced into 1 inch thick slices and laid out to dry for 30 min to an hour (honestly, I skip this step most of the time)
4 large eggs
2 egg whites
1.75 unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or regular)
1 tsp almond extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
0.5 tsp kosher salt
5 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1.5 cups sliced almonds
Maple syrup for serving

The night before
Put your bread in a pan for the overnight soak. Mix together the eggs, egg whites, vanilla almond milk, vanilla extract, almond extract and 3 tbsp sugar. Pour it on the bread, make sure it coats the bread evenly. Cover it, and stick it in the fridge overnight. If you're pushing it, you can soak for as short as 30 minutes and it's still delicious.

The day of
Preheat oven to 400F. Pull out your soaked bread. Line another baking dish (the one you'll bake the bread in) with parchment paper/butter the dish (<--what the butter in the recipe was for)/whatever you do to get things not to stick. On a plate, pour out your sliced almonds. Take one slice of the soaked bread, let the liquid drip off of it, and then coat one side of it with sliced almonds, and place it on your baking dish. Do this with all your bread.

Tip: I usually put the pieces of bread down into the baking dish first, then I put the sliced almonds on by hand, gently pressing them down to get them to stick.

Take the 2 leftover tbsp. of sugar and sprinkle them over the top of french toast. Bake for ~20 minutes. Serve hot with maple syrup!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Brown Butter Frosted Rosemary Corn Cake

I always get turned off by desserts with more than 4 words in their name. It gets complicated with so much stuff going on. Salted Caramel Brownies. DONE. I can make that. Oreo cheesecake? Yes please. Cherry-Vanilla-Almond Cupcakes. Thank god cupcake is one word, because I can make that. 
But bear with me (I just looked up whether it was bare or's bear), this is legit. And delicious. And amazing. 

I don't like frosting, but brown butter frosting has got me hooked here. 
Fair warning, the corn bread cake is a olive oil cake and a bit "rustic" if you use not super fine cornmeal like I didn't. I like it, but if you like your corn bread smooth, get a smooth corn meal. 
It's not too hard to make and you'll wow people because you made something with more than 4 words in the name. 

Brown Butter Frosted Rosemary Corn Cake
From adventures in cooking
3 cups flour
0.75 cup cornmeal
2 tsp baking powder
1.5 tsp baking soda
1.5 tsp salt
2.25 cup sugar
6 eggs
1 cup olive oil
0.33 cup apple cider
1 tbsp vanilla extract
0.25 cup fresh rosemary, chopped (don't use dry) 

1.33 cup butter
3 cups powdered sugar
3 tbsp honey
Make the frosting first by browning the butter. Basically put the butter in a saute pan over medium heat and let it melt down. In about 5-7 minutes it will caramelize/turn brown. It will start to smell nutty, and caramel-y and delicious. That's when you know it's done. Be careful though, it can burn pretty fast, so you want a caramel color, not a black color. 

Here's a useful video for how to brown butter in the microwave, which is a lot less likely to burn. 

After it's done browning, put it in a heatproof container in the fridge and let it cool and harden. While it's hardening, make the cake! 

Preheat the oven to 350, and line/butter/flour 2 9-inch round cake pans. Mix the dry ingredients together in one bowl. In a cake stand mixer, or by hand, mix together the eggs and sugar until well-blended. Then add olive oil, apple cider vinegar, and vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture in thirds, mixing well after each addition. Add in the fresh rosemary and mix by hand to prevent over mixing. Evenly distribute the cake mixture between the 2 cake pans and bake it for 35-40 minutes. When they are done, pull them out to cool. When they're cool, cut off the top of each cake so that you have an even base on both cakes (it makes it easier to frost).

While the cakes are baking, you can make the frosting. Pull out the cooled and hardened browned butter. Put it into your cake stand mixer (including the brown bits...they'll add color and be pretty), add in the powdered sugar and honey and mix together in your stand mixer until they are frosting-like. 

When the cake is definitely cool (or else the frosting will melt and be a tasty puddle), frost it.