Waking up sticky and sweet: Spiced maple-banana French toast

Spiced Maple-Banana French Toast
Spiced Maple-Banana French Toast

I woke up this morning craving French toast. Actually, that’s not true—I woke up desperately thirsty and with a bit of a headache and as I slammed back a massive glass of water and waited for it to subside, I went onto instagram and saw a friend’s post of the challa french toast, apples, and tea he was about to have. Then I started craving it (if we’re going to do full disclosure, we might as well go all the way, no?). I also had the rest of a loaf of French bread I made on Monday, so I thought this would be the perfect way to use it up before making another loaf this afternoon. The thought of making this brunch is really the only thing that got me out of bed today (Hi lazy Sunday! I’ve missed you so much. Please don’t ever leave. Kthanksbai.)

This recipe had the added benefit of using up some of the quickly-ripening bananas that are sitting in my fruit bowl (some people call it “an apartment” but whatever). The unending snow and cold of February had me craving some warmth, and the spices, fruit, and sugar in this really did the trick.

One thing I love about experimenting with food is that I get to piece together different bits of information into an enormous mental quilt. Today’s recipe has me thinking about how French toast is part of the custard family, how it can be cooked slowly on fairly low heat, and how denser French bread that is a few days old makes an excellent sponge with which you can soak up the custard.

This recipe makes five pieces of toast, and should be fairly easy to scale up if you have more than two mouths to feed. It’s also a great one to make for the person/people you wake up beside (if you want to spend time with them in the morning).

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 teaspoon maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup banana (mashed)
  • pinch salt
  • up to 1/8 teaspoon each of cinnamon, nutmeg, mace
  • dark chocolate (shaved), optional garnish
  • maple/fruit syrup to taste
  • butter for frying and for topping

Directions:

Step 1: Make the custard

  • Mix the eggs, milk, salt, spices, and maple syrup in a bowl. I’d suggest using a whisk and whipping it up for a few minutes.
  • Mash the banana well and mix in with the custard.

Step 2: Soak the bread

  • The density and thickness of the bread you use will determine both soaking and cooking times, so a bit of this is careful observation of the bread. If I’m concerned that not enough liquid soaked through, I’ll sometimes pour a few tablespoons onto the piece once it’s into the pan, going slowly to make sure it gets absorbed before running off onto the pan. If the bread starts to break/fall apart when you pick it up, then it is fully and completely soaked through. Depending on how you like your French toast, you may want to either aim for/avoid this level of soaked-through-ness. I’m definitely an aim-for kind of guy.

Step 3: Prep the pan

  • While the bread is soaking, take a skillet/frying pan and turn onto medium-low heat (my stove goes up to 9/max and I put it between 2 and 3). Melt a good chunk of butter in the pan (1 tablespoon should be enough, but you could giv’er on this since it’s the weekend and butter = life).
  • Note: butter has a fairly low smoke point, so be careful to not use too high heat or leave it on for too long with nothing cooking. If it’s starting to smoke and your bread is still soaking, take the pan off the burner, turn the heat down, or add more butter.

Step 4: Cook the toast

  • Take the bread out of the custard and place it in the pan. Once the pan is full, I like to put a lid on it (literally…), but it isn’t necessary. Eggs don’t take a lot of heat to cook, and if you’re using thick bread, you’ll want to make sure that the centre cooks without the outside burning. You don’t want the inside to be soggy (unless you’re into that, in which case, you do you), so using low heat will keep things from cooking unevenly.
  • Cook for 3-5 minutes on the first side, then flip and cook for another 3-5 minutes. The outsides should be a nice golden brown and the centre firm.

Step 5: Garnish and eat

  • Add some butter to each piece, if desired (but really, do I need to remind you that butter = life? Didn’t think so), then top with syrup. I shaved some dark chocolate on top and used maple syrup, but you can easily sift some powdered sugar or add fruit butter, jam, or berries. I also like it served with fresh fruit (nectarines, in this case).

If you’re cooking for a bunch of people, you can heat the oven to 200F for a few minutes and then turn it off and leave a serving plate in it. Put each finished piece of French toast on the plate and cover with foil/an oven-safe lid until you’re ready to serve it.

Oh, and if you don’t have mace, then you should probably stop reading my blog immediately and delete it from your browsing history, because we’re through (or replace it with a bit more cinnamon and nutmeg… that works too and is maybe a little less dramatic).

Savour my tears: Recipe for Ethnic Rice

I don't often serve it with White Tears, though.
I loves me my Ethnic Rice, though I don’t often have enough White Tears.

Yesterday, a good friend of mine posted on facebook about how, in honour of Black History Month, the (private, for-profit) on-campus food provider was serving Jamaican rice. Now, as a Jamaican-Canadian, she was puzzled by what this actually meant. “What the fucking hell,” she mused wisely, “is goddamned Jamaican rice?!” (I may have made that quote up, but it works with my story, so deal with it). What ensued was a passionate debate (between two white people) about what could possibly be considered “Jamaican rice.”

The whole thing was enlightening for me and made me realize that there are lots of people who have no idea how to make Ethnic Rice. So, given that this is (supposed to be? will be? I have no idea what I’m doing…) a food blog, and rice has been an essential part of Ethnic diets in a major way for the last 400,000 years, I figured this would be as good a point as any to start.

Today’s recipe is brought to you by white guilt (not mine).

The most important part of any recipe is—you guessed it—the context (see what I did there? I’m being kind by suggesting that you guessed it. We both know that you aren’t wasting time on guessing shit. You just read right though like a badass honey badger). Second is the ingredients, because you can change that shit up when your guests have no fucking clue. Ethnic Rice is best served to white people, particularly those who are prone to culturally-motivated guilt and indignant outbursts of ignorance. Actually, those two things aren’t just recommended, they’re necessary. The recipe really won’t work otherwise.

The best part of this recipe is that it is so versatile. You can make any kind of Ethnic Rice, and feel free to play around with claims of origins. Just stick to internationally-recognized colonial borders (sorry, Algonquin—y’all don’t get your own rice). Oh, and only Ethnics can make this rice, obvs.

Ingredients:

2 cups rice

2.25 cups White Tears

2 tbsp. vegetable oil (your traditional oil has been named a Paleo super food and is therefore no longer affordable for the rest of us. But don’t worry, bougie white people now totally respect your traditional cuisine (even though they’re the same ones who made fun of you for eating “dirt on bread” as a kid at school. It’s za’atar, bitches. I swear I’m not bitter.)

2 teaspoons Ethnic Spice, ground (now, I prefer the “Not your Erotic” blend, but feel free to go with whatever you have in the cupboard. After all, your guests will be happy with the experience of eating “authentic” foods from your homeland and will only be able to compare it with what they’ve had at Mandarin Buffet.)

Salt, to taste (this is needed because the White Tears have no salt content, for they are crocodile tears.)

**N.B. some people falsely claim that this rice includes thyme, coconut milk, soy sauce, or lemongrass. Ignore these fools—they have learned to use Google, but not well enough to search for why they’re wrong. They are, however, an excellent source of White Tears.

Directions:

The real trick to this recipe is the order. If you mess it up, the whole thing will be thrown off and you’ll just end up with regular rice, and your guests will be disappointed.

Step 1: Activate the Ethnic Spice blend by placing the powder in a heavy-bottomed pot and turning up the heat. The more heat you add, the faster the blend will be activated. You’ll know it’s ready when your eyes start to sting and you feel the onset of rage giggles.

Step 2: Add the oil. You’ll really want to intensify the flavour by adding some fuel to the Spice. This step is really quick, because it will only be a matter of time before…

Step 3: This is the Point of Tears. Fill the pot with White Tears. It’s best if you can get these fresh from the source. If you’ve followed steps 1 and 2 correctly, you should be able to harvest these locally from your guests without much effort.

Step 4: Infuse the Tears. Allow them to simmer with the Ethnic Spices so that the tears can take on the authentic flavours of your culture. At this point, the Tears will appropriate the Spices as their own. This is an essential part of the process—just let it happen. Your guests will remark that they now feel “just like one of your people.” (Of course, they will remain fully employed and free from police harassment.)

Step 5: Add the rice. As the sustenance of this dish, the rice is where it begins and ends. It’s the central part of the Ethnic experience and is what your guests are yearning for. Simmer tensions for 20 minutes or until your house burns down/the white people move in (may be a simultaneous process).

Step 6: Salt to taste.

If you follow these steps correctly, your guests will have a fulfilling, self-satisfied meal and will have had a true experience of what they imagine your culture to be. Before long, they’ll be shouting at you to savour their tears. It has worked for me countless times and is a treasured favourite in my family.

As a note of caution, making this recipe may result in being displaced, enslaved, or indebted to your white guests. If this happens, your best bet is making the Emancipatory Revolution Bread as quickly as possible (recipe forthcoming).

Good luck with your attempts, and feel free to comment your experiences with it below! Also, I’ll have other (real) recipes and food thoughts here in the future.

Tonight’s post has been brought to you by toasted cheddar cheese bread and a glass of the leftover wine from my fridge. Oh, and misplaced white tears on an otherwise hilarious facebook post. That shit’s golden.