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Uncle Bob’s Cookin: Old-fashioned French toast

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By Bob Fortunato

Long before instant cereals, frozen waffles, frozen French toast, and toaster pops. my mother would fix breakfast for me and my brother.

Sometimes it was just cereal with or without fruit. Many times it would be pancakes, waffles, French toast or eggs. Breakfast might be soft boiled eggs, scrambled eggs or an omelet. Often we had bacon, sausage, scrapple or pork roll with our eggs. A large breakfast would include one of those meats, hash browns or home fried potatoes with eggs.

When I was older and would spend a night dancing and night clubbing, on my way home I would stop at a diner and have eggs and homefries. It was a great finish to a night or a great start of a new day.

My favorite breakfast was my mother’s French toast. Usually it was the basic egg, milk, a little vanilla and white bread. Sometimes she would use cinnamon raisin bread or she might dip the bread in the egg mix then into breadcrumbs before browning on a griddle or pan. My brother and I would top it with real maple syrup, honey or powdered sugar. Of course everything was made from scratch in those days. The following recipes will kick up breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner.

Basic French Toast

3 eggs. 1/2 tsp. salt (optional). 3/4 cup milk, 1 tsp. sugar, 1 tsp. vanilla, 6 - 8 slices of bread.

In a flat or shallow dish beat eggs and mix remaining ingredients with eggs. Dip bread in the mixture, turning to moisten both sides. Butter a griddle or skillet well and brown the bread on both sides over moderate heat. Add butter as needed to keep from sticking. Serves three to four hot. Serve as is or with bacon, ham, fruit or your favorite topping.

Options to above recipe:

1. Skip sugar and vanilla, add few dashes of Worcestershire sauce, mix as above.

After dipping bread add sliced cheese between two bread slices and brown as above.It is a sandwich.

2. Spread ham salad between two dipped slices as above (without sugar and vanilla) and brown.

3. Italian style: skip sugar and vanilla in basic recipe.Add tsp. garlic powder. dip in egg mix and then into Italian breadcrumbs. Brown and serve hot sprinkled with grated parmesan cheese. Great with any pasta dish.

Baked French toast

Courtesy of my niece Alicia:

1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup unsalted butter, 1 tbsp. maple syrup, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, 1/4 tsp. nutmeg, 6 slices of bread, crust removed (challah or Hawaiian), 3 large eggs, 1 cup vanilla yogurt, 1 tsp. vanilla extract.

Lightly coat an 11x7 baking pan with vegetable spray. In a medium bowl mix the brown sugar, melted butter, maple syrup, cinnamon and nutmeg. Spread into the greased pan. Arrange bread slices on top, placing them close together, they may overlap. In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, yogurt and vanilla extract. Pour mixture over the bread. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. When you are ready to cook the French toast, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Remove the plastic wrap and bake until puffy and golden. about 20 -25 minutes.