Oh the weather outside is frightful
But the fire is so delightful
And since we've no place to go
Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!
It may be a blizzard outside, but it's warm and toasty inside my house and the winter storm is only more incentive to stay home and keep ourselves amused in the kitchen. With me being back home, and my brother coming home for the holidays as well in a few days, my mom has been cooking up a storm in the kitchen, so our stove and oven has been working overtime for the past few days. Thus, I thought I would help alleviate the holiday kitchen stress for my mom by making a few meals for the family.
There is nothing quite like the tradition of Sunday Brunch. It used to be my favourite meal of the week. I'd get up and help my dad make pancakes, and there would delicious, fatty bacon sizzling on the stovetop. However, my dad made pancakes some time last week (as evidenced by the leftovers still lying around in the fridge), so I thought I would make my parents French Toast instead, especially since I made a loaf of bread the other day.
I grated some orange zest and added some Grand Marnier to the egg and cream/milk mixture. I also made a Sour Cherry Sauce to accompany the french toasts, using some of the many frozen ones we have sitting in our deep-freezer. Topped it off with some toasted flaked almonds and a sprinkling of confectioners' sugar and it was a delightful Sunday brunch treat! The toasts came out nice and fluffy, and the slight sourness of the cherries countered the sweetness of the sauce itself, and went really well with the orange-scented toasts. Accompanied with some sliced polish sausage my parents picked up last weekend and it was a delicious but simple meal!
I also made dinner yesterday evening, in my adventure of cooking Chinese food. Made Lemon Chicken, with my mom walking me through it on the sidelines. Our version is a healthier version, since we merely pan-fry our chicken pieces rather than deep-fry them, as you would often get in restaurants. Granted, you won't get the same crispiness, but I think I'd rather forego crispy chicken than clog my arteries. Our lemon sauce is also more natural, since all it consists of is lemon juice, sugar, a bit of salt, water and cornstarch solution. No custard powder (a common ingredient in lemon sauce) or colouring is added. Thus, our sauce is definitely not as sweet as the ones you'll find in restaurants, but I like the residual acidity of the lemon that remains in our sauce, giving it the perfect sweet and sour note to the chicken dish.
It was surprisingly very easy to make, which is great for a student like me who doesn't always have the time to slave away in the kitchen (although if I really could, I would!). I also stir-fried some baby Shanghai bok choy with some garlic. I CAN cook Chinese!!! :P
Orange-Scented French Toast with Sour Cherry Sauce
- 5 eggs
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/2 cup heavy cream or half-and-half
- 1 1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- A bit of freshly grated nutmeg
- Zest of 1 orange
- 2 tbsp Grand Marnier, or other orange liqueur
- A pinch of salt
- 6 slices of stale bread (white, country, challah, etc. work really well), about 1/2-inch thick
- 1/4 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted
- Confectioners' sugar, to serve
- In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients except for the bread. Whisk together until well combined and smooth.
- Place the bread slices in a large, shallow dish. Pour the egg and cream mixture over the bread slices and allow to soak for 10 minutes. Turn the bread slices over and let sit for another 10 minutes.
- Place a wire rack on a baking sheet and keep in a preheated oven at 250°F.
- Heat a little vegetable oil or butter in a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat. Cook bread slices one or two at a time (depending on the size of your pan), cooking for about 2-3 minutes on each side, or until golden brown and cooked through. Placed the cooked slices of toast on the wire rack in the oven to keep warm and proceed to cook the other slices.
- If bread slices are large, you can cut them in half. Plate with the sour cherry sauce (recipe follows) and sliced almonds. Dust with confectioners' sugar and serve.
Sour Cherry Sauce
- 2 cups jarred or frozen sour cherries, drained
- 1/3 cup reserved cherry juice **
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 2-3 tbsp cornstarch (depending on your desired thickness)
- A sprinkle of lemon juice
- Pinch of salt
- 1 tbsp Kirsch
- 1/2 tsp almond extract
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- In a medium saucepan, combine the cherry juice, sugar and cornstarch and heat over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium-low.
- Add lemon juice, almond extract, cinnamon and Kirsch and stir through. Add the cherries and cook until heated through. (If the sauce is too thin at this point, dissolve some cornstarch in some cold water and add to the cherry sace a little at a time until it reaches desired thickness. If too thick, add a bit of water until it has reached desired consistency.)
- Turn off heat and serve with pancakes, waffles, french toast, ice cream, crepes, meat, or just about anything you'd like!
**Note** If you do not have enough juice to measure out 1/3 cup, just add water.