breakfast

challah french toast by Nate Everett

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You can probably tell that I'm a big fan of pan-fried batter and maple syrup. With fresh berries and butter, of course. It doesn't get much better than this. Waffles and pancakes are recurring posts on my Insta feed, and I would be remiss if I left out French toast. 

French toast originated in medieval Europe. While the clergy and nobles feasted on suckling pig and boar sausage, the less fortunate peasants were left to their own devices. Bread, of course, was a staple of the peasant class. Soaking stale bread in a mixture of milk and egg and frying the bread in a cast iron pan was a surefire way to salvage an ailing food. Hence the birth of pain perdu, or "lost bread" in French. It is one of the many famous dishes born out of hardship. 

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Many centuries later, French toast is a customer favorite on brunch menus across America, and it's incredibly easy to make at home with ingredients that you've probably got on hand. Pillowy challah bread is one of the best breads (I imagine brioche is great as well!) for French toast because it sops up more of the milk/egg/spice mixture than, say, a slice of Pepperidge Farm allows. 

Styling sidebar: For this photoshoot, I swapped out my dark wood surfaces for white and concrete. I did this for a couple of reasons. First, I wanted the apothecary jars to pop, as they would've been lost against a walnut surface. The second reason was that I wanted to convey a frosty, wintery aesthetic. This winter, I will definitely stick with my standard moody photos, but I like the idea of throwing in some soft white surfaces as well. It's different. What do you guys think? Would you like to see more of this monochromatic grey/white look? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments section!

recipe 

  • 6 large brown eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 tsp grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 dashes nutmeg
  • 2 dashes ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • 1 loaf challah bread
  • Unsalted butter
  • Vegetable oil
  1. Preheat the oven to 250°F.
  2. Beat the eggs in a large mixing bowl. Add the milk, lemon zest, cinnamon, brown sugar, salt, nutmeg, ground ginger, vanilla extract and maple syrup. Whisk together until homogenized.
  3. Slice the bread into one-inch thick slices. Soak each slice in the mixture for two minutes on each side. Try to fit in as many slices as you can without overcrowding the bowl.
  4. Put one tablespoon each of butter and vegetable oil in a large nonstick skillet and heat over medium-high. Stir quickly with a spatula to combine. Once the butter has melted, add the soaked bread. Cook each slice for 2 to 3 minutes on each side until golden brown on both sides. Transfer to a cookie sheet and keep warm in the oven. Repeat the frying process with the remaining slices, adding more butter and oil to the pan as needed.
  5. Serve warm and top with butter, powdered sugar, berries and maple syrup. Eat and repeat. Enjoy!

If you make this recipe, hashtag a pic to #spiceandhutch and post to Instagram, Facebook and/or Twitter. I'd love to see your culinary creations!

Adapted from Ina Garten

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banana bread by Nate Everett

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National Banana Bread day was on February 23rd. I'm a little late to the party but whatevs. Summer is the season in which I'm accustomed to eating it. In fact, you might say that I'm programmed to eat banana bread during this time of year.

I grew up in Colorado where thunderstorms ruled the sky in summertime afternoons. It was an ominous yet exciting spectacle. A horizon of towering dark clouds would blanket the peaks of the Rocky Mountains and with the clouds was a monsoon-like downpour and a powerful lightening show. This meant that I retreated inside with my siblings to watch the storm from behind glass windowpanes. Every afternoon, indoor activities - board games and reading and art projects - were an integral part of our summer routine, as was eating banana bread. My mom probably made it once a week in the summer when we were kids. And I'm pleased to share this recipe which is from my late grandmother Everett's pantry. I included a photocopy of her original recipe card -- with its faded blue ink and crinkled paper and food stains, you can see that it has gotten quite a bit of use over the years! 

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There is something curious about banana bread. I wonder who's idea it was to look at a handful of squishy black bananas and think, "Hm, I'm going to be the first person to mash these into a pulp and bake 'em into a cake-like bread loaf." A novel idea indeed. Some believe that banana bread was a product of the Great Depression; homemakers wanted to salvage food any way they could, even if their food was on the brink of decomposition. Which brings me to the central word of advice in this post: your bananas are ready for baking when their color has changed completely. And I'm not talking about brown speckles. You'll be tempted to use them once they soften and get speckley, but don't. Wait until the bananas have blackened and lost their yellow hue. It is at this stage that you will capitalize on the bananas' strongest flavor which in turn produces the most flavorful bread.   

recipe

  • 4 oz unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup banana pulp (see note above)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped walnuts, lightly toasted
  1. Place the oven rack in the middle part of the oven and preheat to 350°. Butter and flour one large loaf pan (or two pans if yours are on the smaller side). Have all ingredients measured out and ready to go.
  2. Cream the butter. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium-low speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. 
  3. Add the egg and continue beating on medium-low speed until the mixture becomes well-combined and fluffy. 
  4. Mash the banana pulp thoroughly in a small bowl or liquid measuring cup. Mash it really well. Add the banana pulp to the mixing bowl and continue beating until it has fully incorporated into the creamed butter mixture.
  5. Measure out the 3 tbsp whole milk in a small bowl and then add the baking soda to the milk and stir to dissolve. A bit of residue is okay. Add the milk to the mixing bowl.
  6. Sift the flour and baking powder into the mixing bowl and mix on medium-low speed to combine. Turn off the machine to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Turn on the machine and add the walnuts to mix again. Your batter is ready!
  7. Pour the batter into your prepared loaf pan and bake for 45 minutes at 350° (make sure you are using an oven thermometer!) The bread is done when the top and sides have browned and the bread has passed the toothpick test - if the toothpick comes out wet, bake for another 5-10 minutes. If the toothpick comes out dry then the bread is done. 

If you make this recipe, hashtag a pic to #spiceandhutch and post to Instagram, Facebook and/or Twitter. I'd love to see your culinary creations!