Friday, July 14, 2006

French toast

Today is Bastille Day, or simply "14 juillet" in France, the way Independance Day is just "4th of July" in the U.S.

On the American holiday people seem to like to fire up the grill but in France, I can't recall any particular food associated with this day. Maybe it's not surprising since it marks an event in 1789 when most French were starving from famine.

Marie Antoinette's advice to the people was to "eat brioche." By all accounts it's doubtful she actually uttered these words but even so, it sounds like a good idea.

Here is what I would propose for a Bastille Day brunch -- "French toast" with tricolor topping of strawberries, blueberries and vanilla icecream. The best recipe for pain perdu I've come across is Alain Ducasse's version where slices of brioche loaf are crisply caramelized on the exterior, its sweetness offset by a mixture of seasonal fruit.

(Adapted from Alain Ducasse's Flavors of France)

2 large eggs
1/2 cup of sugar
1cup of milk
4 slices of brioche loaf
4 tablespoons of unsalted butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar

1. Beat together eggs with sugar and stir in the milk.
2. Soak the brioche slices in the mixture for a couple of minutes then remove with a spatula and place on a platter.
3. Sprinkle over half of the powdered sugar.
4. Heat the butter in a skillet over medium heat.
5. Add the brioche slices, sugared side down and cook until golden.
6. Sprinkle over the rest of the powdered sugar, turn and cook the other side.

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