I just got back from a week-long trip in the North- stopping in Buffalo, NY, Toronto, Ontario, and New York City. It was a trip for the senses- so many new sights, smells, sounds, flavors- it was so overwhelming to take it all in. While I prepared for this trip, I scoured the internet using key words akin to “How to experience blank like a local”. What I have learned is that you can’t get any more local than buying ingredients sourced from the area and preparing a meal with those ingredients. Of course, it does help if you have lodging with a kitchen, but there can be ways around it.
In Toronto, I visited St. Lawrence Market and purchased fresh produce, pate, bread, and cheese, and had a picnic at the beach on the shores of Lake Ontario. While in New York City, I got groceries from a local market and made homemade gnocchi with a beef ragu, complete with garlic bread made with a baguette from Balthazar bakery, cheese, and fresh garlic. Dessert was peaches cooked in rose, served over vanilla and honey ice cream.
One of the more hardcore things that I’ve made on this trip was a stuffed French toast. I had never planned on visiting Buffalo, but a good friend of mine was graduating with his masters in Occupational Therapy (Congratulations Jimmy!), and so I went to cheer him on. Buffalo is a quaint, lovely town, and full of treasures and adventures. We stopped by the Elmwood Village Farmer’s market one morning where we purchased some eggs, a delicious sourdough loaf from Breadhive bakery, and goat cheese. I stopped by a local co-op market to buy strawberries, chocolate, pistachios, and heavy cream. Naturally I had to find a way to use up all of these ingredients, and one of the things that came to my mind was French toast. Initially I thought to just put a tablespoon of goat cheese on top of the French toast, but then I thought, “Why not stuff it with goat cheese and chocolate?”
The goat cheese was creamy, slightly salty, and tangy. The chocolate would be sweet, dark, and rich. Strawberries would had a fruity sweetness, and the pistachios would add a lovely nutty flavor and crunch. The sourdough would just soak all the flavors in, and would be the perfect vessel for all the ingredients. When cooking the French toast, I sprinkled a little bit of sugar on each side before cooking to get a caramelized sugar crust.
On any big milestone, like a graduation, we often don’t have time to eat a good meal, much less prepare it. There is a flurry of events to prepare for, friends and family to see, and last minute details to see to. A delicious French toast like this one was the perfect way to kick start a day full of graduation festivities.
1 large loaf of sourdough
1 cupof heavy cream
1 tablespoonof cinnamon
1 teaspoonof nutmeg
1 tablespoonof vanilla extract
1/2 cupof chocolate chips
8oz of goat cheese
1/2 cupof pistachios
1lb of strawberries, quartered
1/2 cupof sugar
1/4 cupof sugar (for french toast)
1 To make the strawberry syrup, combine the strawberries and sugar in a saucepan and cook on high, stirring occasionally. Let the strawberry syrup boil for a few minutes before reducing the heat to a simmer. After about 10 min, turn off the stove and let the syrup cool.
2 Combine the eggs, heavy cream, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla in a baking dish.
3 Slice the sourdough into 1 1/2 inch thick slices. Carefully cut a slit on the flat side of the loaf to make a little pocket.
4 Stuff the slices of sourdough with 2 tablespoons of goat cheese, and some chocolate chips. Place the stuffed sourdough slices in the shallow baking dish with the cream and egg mixture. Let the bread soak in the mixture for a few seconds, then flip sides.
5 Cook the french toast, one slice at a time, on a frying pan on medium high. Once one side is golden brown, flip the french toast over and cook the other side. To create a more sugary crust, sprinkle sugar on each side of the bread before frying.
6 Plate the french toast and top with the strawberry jam, more chocolate chips, and chopped pistachios