- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Since I wrote “Moosewood Cookbook” 30 years ago, I have been celebrating the virtues of what I believe to be the healthiest and most visually beautiful dining experience: a garden- and orchard-based cuisine.

Seven cookbooks later, I still firmly believe that meatless meals are the most interesting way to dine. In my style of cooking, fresh and dried fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, herbs, spices and high-quality dairy products are the stars of the table.

No, I’m not a vegetarian. I eat this way because, like many of you, I love exploring the wide variety of foods that the earth offers us.

I also love traveling through world cuisines that don’t rely on meat, fish and fowl for protein enhancement. I hope you’ll enjoy these continued explorations through my new column, Garden Gourmet.

Cooking can easily be fun for everyone. In the dish that follows, gingerbread spices (cinnamon, ginger and allspice) make a very effective infusion for French toast batter. It’s like having dessert for breakfast.

This child-friendly recipe allows grade-school-age children (with supervision, of course) to do much of the work. Give them plenty of time, respect and elbow room, and the young chefs can rise to the occasion of helping mom with a real meal.

Get everything set up ahead of time to make the work accessible and easy — and have extra ingredients on hand, since additional batches will likely be needed.

If you’re making multiple batches and want to keep them warm until you’re done cooking, keep the finished batches warm by placing the cooked French toast directly on a wire cooling rack placed in a preheated 300-degree oven. Serve gingerbread French toast with your favorite toppings and a platter of fresh fruit. Please join me at the table.

Gingerbread French toast

2 large eggs

cup milk

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon powdered ginger

1/4 teaspoon allspice

Pinch of salt

3 or 4 slices Italian or sourdough bread or challah

Butter for the pan

TOPPINGS:

Real maple syrup

Yogurt

Minced crystallized ginger

Confectioners’ sugar

Preheat a large skillet over low heat. Break the eggs into a 10-inch pie pan. Beat the eggs with a fork or a whisk while you drizzle in the milk and sprinkle in the cinnamon, ginger, allspice and salt. Beat slowly until smooth.

Use a fork or your hands to dip a slice of bread on both sides until it is soaked clear through. Put the soaked bread on a plate, then do the same with the remaining slices.

Add butter to the hot pan and swirl to coat, then turn the heat up to medium-high.

Cook the soaked bread slices on both sides until nicely browned and crisp all over. Serve hot with toppings of your choice. Makes 2 to 3 servings but is easily multiplied.

TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES

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