Gilles and I celebrated our first year of marriage today! We had planned on celebrating by going to a nice little restaurant on the beach for brunch, but if you know us, you’ll suspect that didn’t happen.
We are the people who vacation at friends’ houses and end up cooking for them the whole week. Not always to their approval, either (an under-ripe persimmon incident comes to mind).
I am the person (Gilles is not to blame for this one) who made friends help me make ravioli from scratch for our dinner when they were starving and exhausted.
We are the people who cooked duck with fig confit to celebrate our engagement instead of going to a nice restaurant like normal people.
Though eating out is one of my favorite things – a big part of my birthday every year is going to my favorite local restaurant, and we planned part of our honeymoon around when we could get a table at Le Chateaubriand in Paris – since we don’t eat out often, we (at least I) become easily saturated with restaurant food. Fast, people. I’m talking two meals out, tops, before I start craving salad. Before I start eating cucumber peels out of someone else’s garbage disposal. Gilles is slightly stronger, but he maxes out on restaurant food, too. Likely because he’s the one ordering the 32 oz steak, or the 2/3 pound burger, or finishing everyone else’s meal.
The thing we hadn’t thought about when we came up with our great brunch plan is that we spent the first part of the weekend in LA visiting friends, and of course when you travel and see friends, you eat out. This is great! You might even come home to friends who treat you to foie gras they’ve just brought back from France. Fantastique! You might wake up on a holiday Monday and think: there is no way I am eating a five-egg omelette cooked in a stick of butter. That is just not happening. But we still wanted a nice breakfast, and we still wanted to eat by the beach.
So what did happen? We cooked up some French Toast, some caramel and fruit, and we took it to the beach. That’s a good celebration.
Caramel and Fruit
1-2 tbs butter, cubed
1/4 cup sugar (I used Muscovado, you can use white refined, as well. Supposedly white, refined sugar is best for making caramel)
sliced fruit, such as bananas, pears, or apples (use thin slices of harder fruits)
Our friends made caramel and fruit for us last night, and of course I had to replicated it this morning. Melt the sugar in a heavy pan over medium heat, being sure to shake the pan and/or stir the sugar as it melts to prevent it from burning. Once it has liquefied, add the butter and stir until incorporated. Add the fruit to the pan and stir, letting the fruit cook as long as you can without letting the caramel burn. In my case, I could only cook the fruit a minute or two before I had to remove everything to a bowl, but it was long enough to make the fruit softened and warmed. If you want the sauce to stay thick, eat the dessert right away. In our case, we made french toast and took the whole mess to the beach, so juices oozed out of the fruit in this amount of time. As it turns out, fruit juice mixed with caramel sauce makes a great alternative to syrup, so this is a great way to go if serving with pancakes or frech toast (or maybe ice cream?).
Tips on caramel making from David Lebovitz:
I am not going to give a big french toast recipe here, because I don’t think you need it. Crack a few eggs in a bowl, add a little milk, mix to make a nice little custard. Add your slices of bread to the bowl. If the bread is fresh, let it soak for just a few minutes. If it is old, let it soak for as long as you have the patience – 15-30 minutes is great. Heat a skillet, add a little oil, remove slices form the bowl and cook over medium heat about 3-5 minutes/side, until golden brown. Store in a warmed oven until serving. If you’re taking this on a picnic (yes, it’s possible!), wrap in foil, and transport in an insulated container with some other warmed items; in our case, this was two plates from the oven and one of those little rice-filled neck warmers they use at the spa. You know what I’m talking about? Not only are they great for relaxing during facials, but they will also help keep your french toast warm so you can bring it to the beach!
Pour caramel syrup and fruit over toast to serve.