Meatless Monday can be all bulgur, tofu, kale and wheatberries.
But today, it’s Grand Marnier, half-and-half, strawberries and powdered sugar. Because last weekend, my friends Christina and Maggie each brought healthy baby girls into the world. Because this week, Mama is retiring. (Hold me!) And because, with so much heartbreak coming from all of these tornadoes, it’s important to just appreciate how good it is to be alive.
I tend to appreciate things with food, like this big, beautiful, boozy Grand Marnier French Toast with Strawberries and Almonds.
First, you whisk together your eggs, half-and-half, sugar, Grand Marnier, vanilla, orange zest and a pinch of salt. Then you dip each slice of bread into the egg mixture, place it in a baking dish, and pour the rest of the liquid over the bread.
So that the bread can soak in all of that Grand Marnier goodness.
No booze left behind!
Let the bread soak for at least 30 minutes, or cover and refrigerate it tonight for tomorrow’s breakfast.
Just before you’re ready to start frying the bread, you’ll want to turn on the oven (to keep the first batch of toast warm) and prep the toppings. Now’s the time to toast the almonds, if you’re using them. (I like a little crunch between the pillowy bread and those boozy strawberries.) And combine your sliced strawberries with sugar and a little more Grand Marnier.
Now, to French the toast … Grab the biggest skillet you own, place it over medium heat, and add a few tablespoons of butter. When the butter melts, your pan is ready for the bread. Dip one side of each slice into the almonds, place them in the pan, and cook them for about 3 minutes on each side. (The bread is ready to flip when it’s golden brown and not wet or mushy- looking.)
You’ll probably have to cook the bread in two batches, so when the first batch is done, place the slices on a baking sheet and keep them warm in the oven. There’s nothing as sad as cold French toast. Then, add more butter to your skillet, and press on!
When your toast is thoroughly Frenched, serve it up hot with a sprinkle of powdered sugar and a liberal amount of those strawberries for a breakfast (or dessert or breakfast-for-dinner) that erupts with flavor, texture and color.
But, if you NEED syrup with your French toast, drizzle on.
And, if you’re really feeling decadent, maybe add some whipped cream and pretend that you’re staying in a secluded getaway where you can eat French toast naked and calories don’t exist.
Because life is good. But that would be really good.
*The Red Cross is providing food, shelter and support in the Midwest, as well as helping tornado and flood victims in the South. To lend a hand, donate to the Red Cross online here, or text REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10.
Grand Marnier French Toast with Strawberries and Almonds
Adapted from Ina Garten’s “Barefoot in Paris”
- 6 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups half-and-half
- 4 tablespoons sugar, divided
- 1/4 cup Grand Marnier, plus 1 tablespoon, divided
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 tablespoon grated orange zest
- Pinch of salt
- 1 large brioche loaf or challah, cut into 3/4-inch-wide slices
- 1/2 cup sliced blanched almonds (optional)
- 1/2 pint (6 ounces) fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
- Confectioners’ sugar, to serve
- Maple syrup (optional)
- In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, 3 tablespoons of sugar, 1/4 cup Grand Marnier, the vanilla, orange zest, and salt.
- Dip each bread slice into the egg mixture, and place them in a 9 x 13 baking dish. Pour the remaining mixture over the bread, and let the slices soak for at least 30 minutes. (Or, cover and refrigerate overnight for tomorrow’s breakfast.)
- To Toast the Almonds (if using): Place the almonds in a dry saute pan, and cook over low heat for 5 to 10 minutes, tossing frequently, until lightly browned. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, combine the strawberries, 1 tablespoon of sugar, and 1 tablespoon of Grand Marnier. Set aside.
- Place a baking sheet in the oven, and preheat to 300 degrees F.
- Heat 2 tablespoons butter in a very large saute pan over medium heat. Take each slice of bread from the egg mixture, dip one side in the toasted almonds (if using), and place in the saute pan, almond-side down. Cook for 3 minutes on each side, until nicely browned.
- Place the cooked bread on the baking sheet in the oven to keep it warm.
- Wipe out the pan with a dry paper towel, add more butter, and continue to fry the remaining bread slices until they’re all cooked. Serve hot with a sprinkle of confectioners’ sugar (or a drizzle of maple syrup) and the boozy strawberries.