Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Fried Banana French Toast

Our industrious neighbors usually start pottering around their kitchen at 6:30 in the morning. At nearly eight months pregnant, I spend most nights tossing my unevenly-shaped body around the bed, and the sight of my habitually shirtless neighbor preparing his coffee signals to me that I can begin to do the same. (Paris' close quarters turn even the most uninquisitive into curtain-twitchers.)

I am enjoying this newfound status of "early riser" - a rather unexpected bonus of my otherwise maddening sleep deprivation. I have also enthusiastically adopted the notion of family breakfast. The four of us sitting together à table for a morning meal greatly appeals to me - the two boys are currently reveling in the freedom of (another) French school holiday, and my heavy belly cries out for carbohydrates. Husband is not as easily roused from the sheets but can be summoned with the promise of coffee and butter-laden breakfast offerings.

This morning, I lurched into the kitchen and eyed the ingredients available to me: slightly browning bananas, a packet of organic supermarket brioche, and 2 half-full bottles of Vermont maple syrup, amongst other things. Despite my threats of date porridge (another day, children, another day,) I decided to embrace indulgence and rustle up some fried banana French toast.

There is a tendency to always think of The King when conjuring up fried bananas (bacon - always optional, often encouraged) - I, however, am usually transported back to my days as the pastry chef in a popular little Dublin eatery. We served a version of this dish, invented by the South African chef, and it sold out every day we offered it. It is no different at my morning breakfast table, although I wager the wait staff in Dublin had less maple syrup to mop up in its aftermath. 

This recipe lends itself well to fruit substitutions and additions - I often like to sprinkle pomegranate seeds over the top before serving. The tart seeds offer a cleansing pop through the richness of banana, egg, and butter - and the end result is visually rather lovely.

(serves 4)

4 eggs
3/4 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar

8 slices of slightly stale brioche
4 bananas, sliced lengthwise

1. Whisk together the eggs, milk, cinnamon, salt, and sugar in a shallow casserole dish.
2. Melt a bit of butter in a frying pan and fry both sides of banana. Set aside.
2. Dip the bread slices in the egg mixture, lightly coating both sides. (Don't let the bread soak up too much of the mixture or your french toast will be soggy.)
3. Fry the bread, turning when each side is golden brown.
4. Top with fried banana, maple syrup, and pomegranate seeds.

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