Showing posts with label blackberry sauce. Show all posts
Showing posts with label blackberry sauce. Show all posts

Monday, September 7, 2015

Mixed Berry French Toast

Happy Labor Day!

Aside from marking the unofficial end of the summer, do you know what we're celebrating? Us! Well, unless you're one of the fortunate few sitting in a four hundred room castle and being waited on by servants. It's the "working man's" holiday. In the late 1800's, people worked twelve-hour days, often seven-days a week. Yikes! The terrible working conditions led to protests, marches, and a major boycott of Pullman railway cars. Happily, over the years, working conditions improved significantly through the labor movement. On June 28th, 1894, Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September a legal holiday dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers.

So, for the last gasp of summer fun, I offer French toast with mixed berries. What's more summery than berries? Right? This has been such a fabulous year for blackberries. When I saw them at the store, I knew I had to use them for a wonderful French toast breakfast for guests. I added strawberries and kept the entire project very simple.

I used one package of blackberries in a simple syrup. The other two were mixed with halved strawberries. I added some sugar and let them macerate while the bread soaked.

As it happened, I had two types of bread on hand, regular wheat and multi-grain.  My guests were game, so I made four slices of each with interesting results. The multi-grain had more texture, probably because of some chunky grain pieces. We were all okay with that. But the bigger issue was that it didn't hold up as well. It's do-able, so if multi-grain is important to you, go ahead and use it, but expect it to fall apart a bit. That will probably vary with different brands of bread, but when selecting bread for French toast, be aware that it might not be the best choice.

The bread I used was sliced like sandwich bread, so it wasn't very thick. That worked well in that it absorbed the liquid very fast. However, it also was more fragile for transferring to the pan and flipping. That said, I would use it again. Especially on a morning when I didn't want to wait around for thick bread to absorb the milk.

The blackberry sauce is a little bit thin, but just the right note. Warning, some may lick their plates to get every last drop.

Mixed Berry French Toast

3 6-ounce packages blackberries
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
8-10 large strawberries, halved (or as many as you like)
2 cups milk
2 eggs
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon apple pie spice
8 slices bread
olive or canola oil

Mix one 6-ounce package of blackberries with the water and 1/2 cup sugar in a small pot. Bring to a boil, turn down heat and simmer, uncovered about five minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk together the milk, eggs, sugar, and apple pie spice. Pour into a large baking dish and soak the slices of bread in it for about 30 minutes.

Pour enough oil into a medium hot pan or griddle to cover it. Add slices of the bread (4 at a time if necessary) and cook, flipping once or twice, until golden on both sides.

To serve, top with a generous amount of macerated fruit and the blackberry sauce. Offer maple syrup for those who crave it.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Rosemary Pork Chops with Blackberry Champagne Gastrique

That sounds so fancy schmancy, doesn't it? Hah! That's what this recipe is, but don't be afraid -- it's the kind of easy, flavorful cooking I love. And should you happen to want to impress someone like a snooty mother-in-law, you can reel off that name and sound like a cooking genius!

Do you look in other people's grocery carts to see what they're buying? Be honest. It's pretty boring to stand in line at the grocery store. After all, there's not much to do once you've read all the tabloid headlines. Maybe it's the mystery lover in me that makes me study people at the grocery store. The three guys buying nothing but beer -- is that a party without food? A night watching a ball game? A fishing trip? The mom with kids who is buying six pizzas -- is there a slumber party at their house? Or are the pizzas for an after-the-game celebration?

Last week, I shopped for groceries with my mom. Each of us takes a cart, and we shop independently. But when I stopped to pick up a prescription, I turned around and discovered my mom looking through my cart! (Evidently, I inherited the snoopy gene.) I didn't mind and got a good chuckle out of it. When I returned to my cart, she said "Those pork chops look delicious. I want one of them when you cook them."

Today I'm sharing the pork chops with you, too. They're about an inch and a half thick, which I don't often find. Our blackberry bushes continue to bear wonderful lush berries, so I made a blackberry champagne reduction. More specifically, a gastrique. If you're like Sheila and me, and you watch cooking shows, you've probably heard the term. I didn't know what it meant.

Queenie helping herself to berries
According to yumsugar, a gastrique is a "thick sauce in classic French cuisine that consists of a reduction of vinegar, wine, sugar, and sometimes fruit that has been caramelized over heat.
A gastrique is employed to round out flavors in a dish, and is either served with meat or seafood, or used as a base for other sauces, such as one with tomatoes. It can also be used to add complexity to fruit-forward cocktails."

It's really just a reduction and they're so easy to make. If you're not a fan of vinegar, deduce the balsamic vingear to 1 tablespoon.

This would be great with a steak, or chicken breasts. You could even cook the meat on the grill. I chose not to because the pork chops are so thick, and I didn't want them to dry out. The 90 degree heat under a blazing sun also convinced me to cook inside.

Rosemary Pork Chops with Blackberry Champagne Gastrique
(serves 2)

Blackberry Champagne Gastrique

2 cups blackberries (save a few for garnish)
1/2 cup champagne (or white wine)
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Place all ingredients in a pot. Bring to a boil and mash the berries with the back of a spoon to release their juices. Simmer, uncovered, until the liquid reduces, about 20 minutes. Put through a sieve before serving over meat. Garnish with berries.
(Can be made ahead of time.)

Pork Chops
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
1/2 teaspoon salt
splash balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 pork chops
splash of champagne (optional)

Place 1 tablespoon olive oil, rosemary, salt and vinegar in a zip-type bag. Mash together and add the pork chops. Seal it closed and turn over a few times to coat them. Marinate up to an hour.

Place 2 tablespoons of oil in a pan on medium/low heat. When hot, add the pork chops. Brown about four minutes on each side. Add a splash of champagne if desired. Reduce heat a bit and cover. After 4-7 minutes, flip to other side, cover and cook. Check internal temperature with a thermometer. Pork is done at 145 degrees.

(Note: My 1 1/2 inch thick pork chops were perfect after 7 minutes on one side and 5 minutes on the other.)