Kate's Cuisine

Jun 29 2015

How to Make Perfect French Toast

French Toast

French toast is something that seems pretty easy, doesn’t it? I mean, you take some bread, let it go for a swim in milk and eggs, and then fry it up in a boatload of butter. But, if you want to get French toast that you’ll be thinking about for the rest of the day, there are a few things you can do to make this breakfast basic truly fantastic.

  • Use the right bread. That thinly sliced Wonder bread might be fresh, soft and delicious, but it’s not the stuff you want to use for French toast. If you do, it will fall flat – if it doesn’t fall apart first. What you want to use is a thick bread that has a very dense crumb. Think cake, but in bread form. Oh yeah, it’s already gettin’ good! Thick-sliced country bread, Challah, and brioche are all great choices that will stand up to the soaking you’re about to put it through.
  • The drier the bread, the better. Bread is already pretty moist. Add more moisture to that and well, you can guess what’s going to happen. By using dry bread, the custard have plenty to soak into so either lay your bread out the night before or put it in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes before making your French toast.
  • Strain your custard. This is a must. Even if you’ve whipped up your custard using a mixer, there’s a chance that you’ll still have stringy bits of egg in there – and that does not a good custard make. Instead, strain it before you place your bread in and you’ll have smooth, rich custard with no stringy bits.
  • Use full fat. You are, after all, having French toast. Now is not the time to skimp. Unless you have some kind of food allergy or special dietary requirements, use full-fat cream or at the very least, full-fat milk. Again, this will help add to the creaminess of the custard and you’ll be happy you did.
  • Really saturate that bread. Just getting the surface of the bread wet will give you a creamy exterior, but you’ll find it also won’t penetrate the bread enough to give you that soft, creamy interior. To make sure that my bread is really saturated, I place my bread on the custard, flip it over, and then push the bread down into the custard, holding it completely submerged for a few seconds. If you’re using the right bread, it still won’t fall apart, but it will give you that creamy, yolky inside you’re looking for.
  • Get that pan hot! And you need to do it before you put any bread in. If you don’t, the egg is going to seep out from underneath it and form a pool for the French toast to cook in. It won’t only be difficult to cook, it will be difficult and unappetizing to eat. By making sure your pan is hot, hot, hot, the eggs will start to cook as soon as they hit it, and you’ll be on your way to perfect French toast.
  • After frying it, bake it. Okay, this isn’t a must for perfect French toast, but it’s a technique I’ve recently found and have fallen in love with. Baking French toast makes it act a bit like quiche in the way that it will puff up and become even more luscious. Just like quiche, it will start to fall quickly after you’ve removed it from the oven but if nothing else, it really fills the house with all those great baking aromas. It makes me happy, happy, and I bet it will for you, too.
  • Use the recipe below. It’s the one I use when I’m cooking French toast for my family, and I haven’t had any complaints yet.

1 1/3 cups full-fat milk or cream $0.50
3 eggs $0.60
1 tablespoon sugar $0.01
1 tablespoon vanilla extract $0.66
1 teaspoon cinnamon $0.15
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg $0.08
Pinch of salt $0.01
6 – 8 slices thick bread $0.09
4 tablespoons butter, for frying $0.24
Powdered sugar and/or maple syrup, for serving $1.00

Total cost $3.34
Cost per serving $0.84

1.) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

2.) Whisk the milk or cream, eggs, sugar, vanilla extract, cinnamon, nutmeg, and a pinch of salt in a bowl. Strain the custard into a shallow bowl or casserole dish.

3.) Soak the bread in the custard mixture. You can do this in batches, soaking some slices while frying the others, or if your dish is big enough, you can do it all at once.

4.) Melt the butter in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Once the butter has melted and is starting to foam, your pan is hot enough to add the bread. If your frying pan is big enough you can do all the slices at once, or fry them in batches and move them to a baking sheet as they’re finished. You want to fry the French toast for a couple of minutes on each side. This is building the crunchy exterior that’s one of the best parts of French toast.

5.) Once all of your French toast has been fried, place it all on the baking sheet and place the entire thing in the oven. Bake the French toast for 8 – 10 minutes until it’s entirely golden and puffed up.

6.) Sprinkle all French toast with powdered sugar and/or drizzle with maple syrup and serve and enjoy!

Jun 16 2015

Chicken and Dumplings

Chicken and Dumplings

I’ve always been big on Sunday night dinners. I still remember going to my grandparents’ house every Sunday, spending the day outside, and then coming in for dinner to something that smelled fantastic and that you knew would fill your belly and leave you incredibly satisfied. I think it’s because of this that Sunday dinners are still a big deal to me. Now, my Sundays are spent largely at work so when I’m home, these dinners are even more important to me. I try to make something that’s extra cozy and comforting. Just this past Sunday, I made Chicken and Dumplings which not only fills the bill, but is also super easy to make. I used chicken leg quarters for mine but of course, you can use any kind of pre-cooked chicken you like. And if you don’t need a Sunday meal but just a quick one for during the week, pick up a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store and just pull it apart.

  • 4 chicken leg quarters, cooked and shredded $6.85
  • 2 tablespoons butter $0.12
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil $0.02
  • 1 onion $0.47
  • 1 cup celery, chopped $0.52
  • 1 cup carrots, chopped $0.51
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped $0.33
  • Salt $0.01
  • Pepper $0.01
  • 3 cups chicken stock $1.50
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus 1/4 cup $0.31
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder $0.04
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt $0.01
  • 1 cup milk $0.28

Total cost $10.98
Cost per serving $2.74

1.) Heat butter and oil in a large pot over medium heat until it melts and begins to foam. Add the onion, carrot, celery, and thyme and season with salt and pepper. Stir and cook for about 5 minutes until the vegetables start to soften.

2.) Add 1/4 cup of flour to the pot, stir and cook for about 3 minutes to cook the flour out a bit.

3.) While whisking, add the chicken stock to the pot. Allow the mixture to come to a simmer and then add the shredded chicken.

4.) While the mixture continues to simmer, make the dumplings. Place 2 cups of all-purpose flour, baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt into a large bowl. Make a well in the centre and add 1 cup of milk. Mix just until the dry ingredients are moist, adding a teaspoon or so of more milk or water if necessary.

5.) Using a spoon an ice cream scoop (this is what I used and it was super easy,) drop the dumplings into the stew, making sure there is still plenty of liquid but that the dumplings do not sink.

6.) Cover the pot and let the dumplings steam through for about 15 minutes.

7.) Serve and enjoy!

Jun 12 2015

Corn and Black Bean Salad

Black Bean and Corn Salad

While preparing my menu for my daughter’s First Communion last month, I knew I wanted to put out a terrific bean salad of some sort, and that I wanted to keep it relatively simple – simple has been my thing lately. As I started rinsing beans, shucking corn, and whipping together the vinaigrette, I realized the salad I was making was very similar to the one we made for our Mother’s Day buffet at work. With tons of leftovers I ate bean salad for the rest of the week; and as the week went on the entire dish became even more more flavourful.

2 cans (15 oz) black beans, drained and rinsed $1.98
4 ears corn, shucked with the kernels cut off $0.64
2 red bell peppers, diced $1.44
2 cloves garlic, minced $0.02
1 shallot, minced $0.37
2 teaspoons salt $0.02
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper $0.12
2 tablespoons sugar $0.02
1/2 cup olive oil $0.23
Zest of 2 limes $0.33
Juice of 6 limes $0.99
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped $0.30

Total cost $6.46
Cost per serving $0.53

1.) Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Cover tightly and place in fridge for at least 3 hours to allow the flavours of the bean salad to marry.

2.) Serve at room temperature, and enjoy!

Jun 11 2015

French Potato Salad

French Potato Salad

Need a potato salad for a barbecue or potluck this summer? This might just be the one you’re looking for. With just a few ingredients this is one salad in which the potatoes really shine. It’s super tasty and you can make it the night before and have your side all ready to go for dinner the next day. One of the ways this salad beats other potato salads, especially in these hot, humid months, is that it doesn’t contain any dairy so it can sit out for a little while and you don’t have to mess around with keeping it on ice.

  • 2 1/2 pounds fingerling potatoes $3.50
  • 1/4 cup olive oil $0.12
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard $0.36
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar or white wine vinegar $0.20
  • 1 small shallot, minced $0.37
  • 3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped $0.09
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped $0.25
  • 1/4 red onion, sliced $0.16
  • Salt $0.01
  • Pepper $0.01

Total cost $5.07
Cost per serving $0.84

1.) Place potatoes in a large pot and cover with water; salt the water generously. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium and simmer until potatoes are cooked through and just fork-tender. Drain and rinse potatoes under cold running water to stop the cooking process. Drain again thoroughly.

2.) While potatoes are cooking prepare the dressing. In a large bowl whisk together the oil, mustard, vinegar, shallots, parsley, and thyme. Season with salt and pepper then taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

3.) Add potatoes and red onion to the bowl of dressing and toss to combine. Serve at room temperature or, place the potato salad in an airtight container and store in the fridge overnight, up to three days.

4.) Serve and enjoy!

Jun 10 2015

Grilled Vegetable Salad

Grilled Vegetable Salad

I love grilling almost as much as I dislike lettuce. So while at the barbecue making dinner one night, I got to thinking about the perfect side dish I could make. I knew I wanted veggies, maybe even in salad form, but I didn’t want to have to pick through any of that leafy green stuff. Skewers appeared to be the answer. Tomatoes went on one, zucchini on another, and eggplant on yet another. Once everything was cooked I just slipped all the veggies off and into a big bowl and poured this beautiful salad dressing over top. And I have to tell you, the dressing is what makes this salad – it’s sooo good! The skin on the eggplant however wasn’t so good, it tends to get really tough and chewy on the grill. Be smarter than me when you make this, and just peel that off prior to cooking.

For the salad:

  • 1 whole ear of corn $0.16
  • 1 onion, chopped into 1″ chunks $0.47
  • 1/2 eggplant, peeled and chopped into bite-size pieces $0.60
  • 1 zucchini, peeled and chopped into bite-size pieces $0.52
  • 10 – 12 cherry tomatoes $0.99
  • 6 – 8 mushrooms, whole $1.00
  • 1/4 cup goat cheese, crumbled $0.99
  • 2 – 3 tablespoons olive oil $0.09
  • Salt $0.01
  • Pepper $0.01

For the salad dressing:

  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped $0.35
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice $0.15
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise $0.06
  • 1 teaspoon honey $0.03
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt $0.01
  • 1/4 cup olive oil $0.12

Total cost $5.56
Cost per serving $1.39

1.) Thread the vegetables onto skewers, with just one of each type of veg per skewer. Brush the skewers, as well as the ear of corn, with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

2.) Heat a grill to medium heat and brush the grates with oil. When hot, add each skewer and the one cob of corn and cook for 10 – 15 minutes with the lid closed. Turn the skewers and corn throughout cooking time and remove veggies from the grill once they’re soft.

3.) Set vegetables aside and allow to cool, just to the point where you can handle them. While veggies are cooling, make the salad dressing. Place all ingredients into a blender and mix until all ingredients are fully incorporated. Taste, and adjust seasoning if necessary.

4.) Slide veggies off their skewers and into a bowl. Using a sharp knife, cut all kernels off the corn on the cob and place these kernels into the bowl with the salad. Drizzle the dressing over top and toss to mix. Garnish with crumbled goat cheese.

5.) Serve and enjoy!

Jun 08 2015

Roasted Salmon with Mushrooms and Potatoes

Salmon Potatoes Mushrooms

I remember a conversation we had at work once. Boss Lady was asked how she liked her salmon, to which she replied, “Swimming in the ocean.”

“Ocean?” I thought. “But don’t salmon live in streams, swimming against the current and all?” And didn’t everyone have that book as a little kid? The one that showed an eager bear standing at water’s edge just waiting for salmon to swim past? (Don’t ask me what the title of this book is, but I know I had it.)

Then again, I had never walked past a stream to see schools of salmon swimming by either. So where do salmon live?

Turns out for the most part, salmon live in the ocean, so Boss Lady was right. Although they do migrate upstream when it’s time to lay their eggs (fasting during the entire journey, to boot!) they return to the ocean to carry on their happy salmon days there. While in the streams, salmon leap out of the water and high into the air in order to make it up waterfalls and clear their path of obstacles in their way. And when they do, that’s when that old bear is standing on the bank, just waiting to catch their dinner.

So now we’ve both been schooled in salmon. And we know that when we eat it, we’re likely eating a fish that spent most of its life in the ocean. Unless it came from a salmon farm, of course….

1 salmon fillet, about 1 1/2 pounds (you can buy skinless or just cook with the skin on, removing it before serving) $8.49
1 pound fingerling potatoes $3.49
2 cups button or cremini mushrooms, cut in half $2.00
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons, divided $0.12
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar $0.06
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard $0.12
1 teaspoon honey $0.03
2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, chopped $0.24
Salt $0.01
Pepper $0.01

Total cost $14.57
Total cost $3.64

1.) Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and place potatoes and mushrooms on top. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, salt and black pepper and toss to coat.

2.) Place baking sheet in the preheated oven and roast for about 20 minutes, just until the potatoes begin to soften.

3.) Season salmon generously with salt and pepper and drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil.

4.) Remove baking sheet from the oven and push the vegetables along the side. Lay salmon down in the centre and place entire sheet back into the oven. Roast for another 12 minutes, just until the salmon is opaque on the outside and still just slightly pink in the centre.

5.) While the salmon is cooking, whisk together: red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, honey, parsley, and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, taste, and adjust seasoning if necessary.

6.) When salmon is finished cooking, remove from oven and drizzle sauce over the entire fillet.

7.) Serve and enjoy!

Jun 07 2015

Glazed Sausage Kabobs

Sausage Kabobs

My kids love food on a stick, and I love making it for them. These sausage kabobs are true perfection. They’re easy, they’ve got a ton of flavour and, put a platter down in front of any group and you’ll soon have tons of “oohs” and “ahs” headed your way. The only thing I would do differently next time is take the casing off of it. This time I left it on, not thinking about how that casing would shrink and force the meat out the ends like a tightly-rolled, well, sausage. Even though I’d take it off next time, it certainly didn’t wreck the dish in any way, and I am still dreaming about these sausage kabobs.

4 Italian sausages, cut into approximately 1 1/2″ pieces $5.49
About 20 cherry tomatoes $1.60
1 large handful of basil leaves $1.99
3 tablespoons peach preserves $0.75
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar $0.28
1 – 2 tablespoons olive oil $0.06
Skewers, soaked in water if wood to avoid burning $0.50

Total cost $10.67
Cost per serving $2.66

1.) Place basil leaves on a cutting board or other surface and drizzle olive oil over them. Gently rub the basil leaves together and turn them to thoroughly coat them in the oil. This will prevent them from burning on the grill.

2.) Assemble the skewers by threading the ingredients in this order: sausage, tomato, basil. Continue threading the ingredients in this order until all skewers have been made.

3.) Heat grill to medium heat. When hot, place kabobs onto the grill and cook for about 10 minutes, until sausages are completely cooked and brown.

4.) While kabobs are cooking, make the glaze. Place the peach preserves and balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan. Whisk to combine and heat over medium-low heat until the glaze has reached a nice consistency and is hot throughout.

5.) Remove kabobs from the grill and place on a serving platter or cutting board. Brush the glaze over top.

6.) Serve and enjoy!

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