Thursday, 28 April 2011

Bread and cabbage soup

It's really hard when you have a baby and none of your friends do, to not be a massive arsehole about it. I mean doing that thing where when they say something like "I was in the shower the other day..." and you respond with "A SHOWER!!!!! I haven't washed since 1978!!! You can't when you've got a BABY YOU KNOW. WHEN YOU HAVE A BABY YOU'LL UNDERSTAND!!!!"

Or similar responses to tales of mini-breaks, lie-ins or trips to the cinema.

I'm mostly pretty sanguine about stuff like that. Whatevs. I chose to have a baby. And I'm pleased about it - mostly because I'm bored with mini-breaks and trips to the cinema. And Kitty sleeps now so I get to have my lie-in. I mean, until 7am.

But the other day someone suggested that they might come round for lunch. Not that they might bring round lunch for us all, but they might come round for lunch. That I would make for them to sit down and eat.

Lunch. Now lunch is something I haven't cooked and eaten in my own home for a long, long time. I've got other shit to do. Even on the weekend. And that's fine - I've always thought lunch was boring as hell. Now I eat cheese sandwiches at 12.45pm and very happy I am with it, too. But the suggestion that I am going to cook, on a weekend, lunch for other people? Are you. Fucking. Out. Of. Your. Mind?

I did not say this. I kept it to myself. They don't understand - and that's okay. One day they will understand and by then Kitty will be about 10 and making ME fucking lunch and mixing me gins and tonic and I'll laugh until I'm sick.

But, as I said, Kitty sleeps now and goes to bed at 7pm sharp. So dinner - now dinner is a thing that we're getting back on track. (I mean, not for other people - one step at a time, pal.) And the other night, in my ongoing obsession with cabbage, (I do not understand it, but it is a fact), I made Jamie Oliver's Italian cabbage soup and it was out of this world. Really, really amazing - I can't recommend it highly enough.

I did this for 2, so the quantities are quite small, but don't fret too much about exact amounts if you are doing this for more people, because it's only a soup for god's sake

Jamie's Italian cabbage soup, for 2

6 savoy cabbage leaves - not the horrid leathery outer ones, stalks removed and roughly chopped
2 handfuls of curley kale or cavolo nero
5 or 6 slices of 1in-thick sourdough - or you could use ciabatta. Is that sourdough? I'm never sure
1 large clove garlic
4 rashers bacon or pancetta, chopped
4 anchovies - please, picky eaters, do not leave these out. It won't taste like fish I PROMISE, it'll just taste savoury
2 pints chicken stock - you really need actual chicken stock here
2 handfuls parmesan
2 handfuls pecorino - Jamie's recipe specified fontina but Waitrose didn't have it so I used pecorino and it was very nice
1 stalk rosemary, leaves picked
3 sage leaves
some olive oil
salt and pepper

1 Bring the chicken stock to a simmer and cook the greens until soft - about 3 mins. Then remove to a bowl, leaving the chicken stock in the pan.

2 In a casserole dish heat about 3 tablespoons of olive oil and then fry the bacon and anchovies until the bacon is coloured, then add the rosemary leaves and the sage and cook for another 2 minutes

3 Then put back in the greens, toss them about and then put back in the bowl

4 Lightly toast your sourdough and then rub one side of each with the cut face of the garlic

5 To assemble your soup, put 1 or 2 slices of bread on the base of the casserole pan, then some cabbage, salt and pepper, some of each cheese and a drizzle of olive oil. Then repeat until all your bread, cabbage and cheese is gone - finishing off with bread sprinkled over with cheese.

6 To finish pour your stock in and shove in a 180C oven for 30 mins. I did 15 mins with lid on and then 15 mins with lid off because I didn't want the top to burn and it worked out really well.

Just don't expect me to make it for you for lunch.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Auntie Hannah's Courgette Thing

DON'T say anything, okay? We only had an iPhone to snap it with

It all started back in January when my husband was invited to the last dinner at El Bulli before it closes down forever.

"Do you want to go?" He said. "It's 52 courses."
"Thanks, I won't," I said, thinking about all the babyweight I was going to have to be losing once April rolled around. I told him to take X, my brother-in-law instead - a roaringly good eater of food, swiller of wine and maker of jokes. Just the fellow.

Some phone calls were made and plans were hatched. Then my phone rang.

"What the FUCK do you think you're doing?!" screamed my sister down the phone. "Why did you tell Giles to take X to Spain? Do you think it's FUN being alone with three children under 4? You fucking, fucking, fucking bitch. You'd better get your fat fucking useless arse down here and help me, as it's YOUR fault I'm on my own."

Okay, so she didn't say that. But I could tell it was what she wanted to say to me when she suggested that, as my husband and her husband were out of town, I might like to spend Sunday night with her in her house in Oxford. She can say a thousand words just with her tone of voice, my sister - all of them quite threatening. But unless you've lived with her for 18 years, to talk to her she's charming.

So I drove down on Sunday morning at 4,000 miles an hour in our brand new diesel family estate with Kitty illegally strapped into the front passenger seat (airbag) and arrived at about 9am.

I found the 4 year-old dressed as a spaceman standing in a patch of dead daffoils, the 2 year-old in the hallway chewing a battery and the 9 month-old sitting quietly in the kitchen, humming to himself.

"Don't want to," said the 2 year-old.
"Don't want to what?" I said.
"Don't... wannnn... tooo," he said and sidled away with his battery.

Anyway, the weekend continued like that for a while and then on Sunday night after we'd both stopped banging our heads against the kitchen table - having put 4 children under 4 to bed -and drunk 2 litres of Tio Pepe and tonic water apiece, my sister decided that she was going to make courgette pasta for supper.

I have heard positive things about courgette pasta but have never believed it could possibly be much good. But it is! The courgettes add a kind of subtle, crunchy freshness. At least, I think they do, we put so much cream and parmesan cheese all over it that the courgettes may have got a little bit lost.

I'm writing about this, despite believing strongly that no-one ever needs to be told what to do with pasta, just because the addition of mint made quite an interesting twist. This is, to my mind, a very chic thing to have with a salad as a spring lunch for a lot of people.

Courgette pasta
for 2

As much pasta - linguine or spaghetti I'd say - as you want
1 courgette
100mls cream - any sort
1 large handful of parmesan and a smaller handful for sprinkling
a small bunch of mint, chopped
salt and pepper
1/2 a lemon
some olive oil
30g butter

1 Grate the courgette on a big-holed grater.

2 Boil the pasta and dress with some olive oil

3 Add all the other ingredients and stir.

This is why I don't really suggest pasta recipes.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Stuffed cabbage or Golabki

I'm always most thrilled by recipes that transform dull things into exciting things. Culinary alchemy - that's what I'm on the hunt for. I don't need to know what to do with caviar, or salmon, or fillet steak, or really fresh egg pasta. You just eat it. I want to know what to do with 1 kg of slightly past-it tomatoes, or a really old bunch of coriander, or an entire celeriac.

Or, for example, a savoy cabbage that's seen better days and some beef mince that's going to go off TODAY!!! if we don't eat it.

The answer is stuffed cabbage. Or, as they say in Poland, golabki. I don't think it's pronounced "gol-ab-kee" because it is written with all manner of flourishes and flounces on the letters. It is probably, in fact, pronounced "dumplings". Anyway, I just love this; it presses all my buttons - it is incredibly cheap, tasty and resourceful. It's not very spring/summer, I admit, but as I've said before, that's all for massive losers. There's nothing more comforting on a chilly spring evening that's followed an unseasonably warm spring day, than a bowl of golabki. Sorry, I meant dumplings.

Fans of Mamgu's Sausage and Cabbage Hotpot will not be disappointed.

This was made for me by my husband the other day, by way of an apology for coming home drunk, falling asleep and snoring, then becoming irritated when I scuppered his crapulent quest to urinate in my wardrobe at 1am.

He sourced the recipe from a book, which enjoys something of a cult status among aged North London Trots, called Old Polish Traditions in the Kitchen and at the Table. As well as golabki, there is also a recipe in there for "Ox Tongue in Grey Sauce", which just between you and me, I won't be trying - but it's the kind of thing that dusty old Commies do so love.

Okay, so the principle of this is that you use the smaller, daintier cabbage leaves (as opposed to the giant leathery outer leaves) to wrap parcels of meat-and-rice mixture in like a kind of Soviet dim sum.

Really, one ought to use pork mince but we didn't have any, so this is with beef mince. If you're going shopping specially for this, probably get pork mince - why not? We also used brown rice for this, when the recipe specifies white. I mean personally I just can't get enough of camargue rice, but if you want to use white, do.

Golabki with rice and mushrooms
For 4

You will need:

1 Savoy cabbage
1 packet of beef or pork mince - the ones at Waitrose usually come in at about 500g
Some dried mushrooms - about three tablespoons dried measurement
100g rice
1 large or two small-ish onions or shallots or whatever you've got knocking about, chopped
some stock - about 1/2 pint... actual stock rather than something out of a cube is probably essential here, and you know how slapdash I am about things like that
salt and pepper

1 Cut out the cabbage stump and then simmer the whole thing for 15 mins. Set aside to cool.

2 Boil and drain the rice. The good thing about this recipe is that you can be the world's shittest cooker of rice (like me) and it doesn't matter.

3 Sautee the chopped onions for a while - a good 10 minutes I'd say. Also rehydrate the dried mushrooms in about 300ml of boiling water. When rehydrated sieve the mushrooms (reserve the rehydration water) and chop.

4 In a bowl combine the mince, onion, mushrooms, rice, salt and pepper. Here feel free to add other things if you're feeling racy. Some chorizo, maybe - or a few herbs. Chillies? A dash of Lea & Perrins?

5 Line a casserole dish with the scraggy outer leaves of the cabbage. Then use the smaller inner leaves like wrapping paper, putting a ping-pong ball sized amount of the stuffing in the centre of the cabbage and parcelling it up, then place in the casserole dish on top of the scraggy leaves. My husband is very good at stuff like this, so it's possibly fiddlier than he made it seem. Anyway, it looked fun from where I was standing.

6 Once you've used up all your stuffing mixture, pour in the mushroom water and top up with some stock. It's not an exact science, you just want there to be liquid coming up about a third or a half up the sides of the golabki.

7 Bake in a 170C oven for 2 hours. It's one of those things that's very nice when re-heated.

Family conference

Monday, 11 April 2011

Aunty Shura's Courgette Thing

It doesn't look much, but it's really very nice

You know how there are those people in your life who are good for only one thing? Like the friend who is excellent value only when you are at a party, or the one who is only good at deeply-felt heart-to-hearts, or the one who is only good for a massive bitch about a mutual acquaintance (you literally cannot find anything else in common to talk about). Or the one who is willing to be friends with you when you're single and depressed but once you're married and happy, forget it... and don't expect so much as a fucking CARD if you go and have a BABY!!!!!

I mean, for example.

The courgette is the one-trick-pony-friend of the the vegetable world. They are really only good for a couple of things and this recipe is one of them. It was brought into my life by a woman called Shura, who has been helping me out with the baby. And when I say helping me out, I mean she has been hammering Kitty into a routine that would be the envy of ghetto-born Russian ballerinas and Japanese piano-playing prodigies, while simultaneously preventing me from committing suicide.

Her gift is to acknowledge that both Kitty and I are only babies. "Chile," she'll say to me, "you've got yourself overtired. It's time to go to bed now."

And you know, she's always right.

She taught me how to cook this thing, which is really one of the only 1 or 2 interesting ways in the world to treat courgettes. It's very easy and is a really fantastic accompaniment to chicken or fish. It's also very nice on toast.

Aunty Shura's Courgette Thing

For 2 people (with some left over for spreading on toast)

4 courgettes
a LOT of olive oil
6 garlic cloves, crushed - do not, please, freak out at this mammoth quantity... yes it is quite garlicky, but it's all cooked so it's aromatic rather than scary.

1 Chop up the courgettes into pieces about the size of a 5p piece. However you want to do this is okay by me. I chop mine in half lengthways, then each half in half again and then chop along the lengths so you get little quarters

2 Dump into a saucepan and cover with olive oil. What you're looking for here is all the bits of courgette to be coated with oil and for there to be a small pool - or rather, actually, a thin layer - of oil along the bottom. The courgettes will give out a lot of water during cooking, so they don't need to be drenched, just robustly slathered.

3 Sprinkle over a very large pinch of salt and about 6 turns of the pepper grinder.

4 Throw in the crushed garlic and then cook this over a low heat for 1 hour with the lid on at a jaunty angle. That really is all there is to it.

Back in May. Ish.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Quick & Easy Dinner: Goat Cheese and Prosciutto-Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Here is yet another easy, quick, and relatively light weeknight dinner recipe: chicken breasts stuffed with goat cheese and prosciutto. As with other quick chicken recipes I make, these are with thinly sliced breasts folded over a filling, but you can adapt it to work with full-sized breast halves by slicing into the breast and creating a pocket, then adjusting the cooking time accordingly (and perhaps finishing it in the oven for 10-15 minutes at 350F after sauteing)

The packs of thinly sliced breasts that I buy have 5 breasts per package. Accordingly, I split my goat cheese (Chevrai brand, 4 oz) into 5 slices, and buy a prepackaged proscuitto that also has 5 slices per package. Don't ask me if the prosciutto is domestic or imported, I have no idea. I'm a gourmand, not a gourmet (where cooking is concerned, anyway). All I know is: it tastes good and it is easy.

I always bread the chicken when I make this recipe. Because the chicken gets folded, I only bread one side. To do this, dredge one side of the chicken successively in flour, beaten egg and seasoned bread crumbs.

Then, lay the breast down, with the coated side face down. Lay the full slice of prosciutto on top of the breast, and then the slice of goat cheese on top of the prosciutto, on the lower half of the breast.

Fold over and secure with toothpicks.

Saute over medium-high heat in a cooking spray-coated pan, for about 4 minutes per side. Make sure that the fold on the side of the chicken (opposite the open end) is also cooked. You might have to get a pair of tongs and hold the chicken on-end to accomplish this.

And then it should be done, and ready to eat! Simple, and yummy!

If you want to make more, scale everything up depending on how much chicken you intend to use!

Goat Cheese and Prosciutto-Stuffed Chicken Breasts
(Printable Recipe)


  • 1 package of thinly-sliced chicken breasts (each breast is approximately 4 oz)
  • 1 block of goat cheese, 4 oz, sliced to match breast number (can use more cheese if making more than 5 breasts)
  • 1 package of prosciutto (enough for 1 slice per breast)
  • Seasoned breadcrumbs
  • Beaten egg and flour for dredging


  1. Coat one side of the breasts in breadcrumbs: first, dredge one side in flour; then beaten egg; then seasoned crumbs.
  2. Place breast coated side down
  3. Layer on one piece of prosciuto
  4. Place one slice of goat cheese on lower half of breast, and fold breast over, securing with toothpicks
  5. Saute with cooking spray over medium-high heat for about 4 minutes per side, until done. Don't neglect the fold.

Quick & Easy Dinner: Olive and Pimento-Stuffed Chicken Breast

Here is another quick and light weeknight chicken meal: chicken breasts stuffed with pimentos/olives, cheese and bacon.

The original recipe, which I modified a bit, calls for just pimentos. However, I had never bought "just pimentos" before, and didn't have a clue where the supermarket by my house was hiding them. I looked by the olives, which seemed logical, and also by the jars of roasted red peppers, garlic, sundried tomatoes, etc etc and no dice. So I bought a jar of sliced Spanish olives with pimentos (I think this is called "olive salad" sometimes), and this is why there are olives in my pictures. I have since discovered that jars of just pimentos were hiding in the Spanish food aisle, which was probably the only aisle I didn't go down for some reason. I think the recipe was very yummy with the olive/pimento mix, although the taste of olives was strong...and salty. If you don't particularly like green olives, I'd recommend using pimentos only.

Oh, and it goes without saying that my recipe list has all light ingredients, but you can certainly substitute full-fat counterparts as you see fit!

Combine the bacon, onion, pimentos and/or olives, mayo, lemon juice, hot sauce, and the shredded cheese (if you are using shredded), and set aside. 

A few points about this step:

  • I always cook my turkey bacon in the microwave to save time. Directions are usually on the package, but I always cook them on high for about 3 minutes on paper towels. Give them a minute or two to cool, and they will get crisp and easy to crumble!
  • Instead of using shredded cheese and mixing it into the filling, I used what I had on hand, which was presliced fat-free cheddar (Borden). This worked fine as well, so if you already have sliced cheese, don't think you need to run out and grab shredded too. You'll just add the cheese at a later step.

Then, decide whether you want your breasts coated with bread crumbs, which is totally up to you. If you decide yes, you can use preseasoned breadcrumbs, or season your own with some Italian seasoning, garlic powder and onion powder. This step is optional. If you are stuffing the breast, dredge the whole thing in flour, egg and then bread crumbs. If you are folding thin breasts over the filling, like what I did, you can just dredge one side, and have that be the outside that touches the pan.

Now it is time for assembly. If you are using a full-sized breast half, slice into it, creating a pocket, and stuff the filling in (stuff sliced cheese in there too if you are using it).  Secure with a toothpick.

If you are using the really thin breasts, lay the cheese slice (if you are using it) on what will be the interior side, then place the filling on top of the cheese, and fold the breast over, securing with one or a few toothpicks.

Now, saute over medium-high heat, about 4 minutes per side, adding additional spray as needed. If you have the thin breasts folded over, they should be fully cooked at this point. The thick breast will have to be finished in the oven for about 12 minutes.

Olive and Pimento-Stuffed Chicken Breasts
(Printable Recipe)


  • 2  slices turkey bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 3/4  cup  shredded part-skim or fat-free cheddar cheese (or 1-2 slices per breast)
  • 2  tablespoons  minced green onions
  • 1 1/2  tablespoons  diced pimientos
  • 1  tablespoon  canola mayonnaise or light mayo
  • 2  teaspoons  fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2  teaspoon  hot sauce ** or to taste
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt, divided
  • 4  (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (or the thinly sliced chicken breasts that I used)
  • 1/2  teaspoon  black pepper
  • Cooking spray (olive oil)
  • Seasoned bread crumbs (optional)
  • Flour and egg for dredging breasts (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Cook bacon, either in a large ovenproof skillet, or in microwave until crisp. Crumble. 
  3. Combine bacon, next 6 ingredients, and 1/4 teaspoon salt.
  4.  Cut a 1-inch-wide slit into the thick end of each breast half; carefully cut down to the center of chicken to form a deep pocket. Divide filling mixture evenly among pockets. Secure with wooden picks. Sprinkle chicken with 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. OR follow directions for thin breasts, and fold breast over the filling
  5. Heat pan over medium-high heat. Spray pan. Add chicken to pan; saute 4 minutes. Turn chicken over and repeat.
  6. If using thin breasts, they are probably cooked through at this point. If you have thick breasts, bake at 350° for 12 minutes; let stand for 5 minutes.

Quick & Easy Dinner: Hawaiian Chicken (Light)

I've been trying to cook lighter lately, in a concerted effort to lose weight. Because of my working hours, I've been trying to concentrate on entrees that are not only light, but also quick and easy. Many nights, this means some variation on chicken, because it cooks quickly (especially if you pound it out thin, or buy the breasts that are sliced extra thin).

The great thing about chicken is that it is so versatile -- you can completely change the meal just by changing the sauce and or accompaniments.

This meal, Hawaiian chicken, I modified off of the Cooking Light site. It is a recipe for chicken breasts which have been marinated and basted in a soy sauce-pineapple glaze, and quite easy to put together.  If you are interested in some lighter versions of meals, I suggest giving this site a try. Just make sure to check out the serving size of any recipe you intend to try, because I've noticed that some of the "light" recipes have less fat and calories because the portion size is a lot smaller, not because of adjustments to the recipe. But in most cases, Cooking Light is a great resource, and most of the recipes seem fairly simple and fairly adjustable to your individual tastes.

This recipe requires a little forethought, because it involves marinating overnight (although, you can get away with marinating for 2 hours if you really need too, but you might want to make more sauce, so you can baste more as you cook).

The marinade contains low sodium soy sauce, pineapple juice, low sugar ketchup, ginger, and garlic. Combine everything first, and reserve about 1/4 C of the marinade, covering and refrigerating it.

 Add the rest to a ziplock bag filled with the chicken. This will get refrigerated, ideally overnight, but at least for a few hours if you can. Prep-wise, it is much more efficient to set up the marinading the night before.

The next day, you simply discard the marinade, salt and pepper your chicken to taste, and saute the chicken in some olive oil cooking spray.  How long will depend on the thickness of the chicken you are using and the amount of heat you are using. I normally buy thin-sliced breasts to save me time, which are about 1/2" thick. These take about 4 minutes per side on medium-high heat, and you can use the reserved marinade from the day before (the one that wasn't sitting with raw chicken) to baste occasionally. If you intend on serving the chicken with some additional sauce on the side, make sure that you put some on the side before you start basting, as you don't want to be dipping your basting brush that has contacted raw chicken into the same sauce you intend to serve with the meal.

 If you aren't sure whether your chicken is done, slice open a piece through its thickest part, and check. Keep in mind that the marinade itself is reddish, so it might tinge the meat pink.

And that is it, a quick, easy, flavorful and light way to dress up some chicken breasts for a weeknight dinner!

Hawaiian Chicken
(Printable Recipe)


  • 1/4  cup  pineapple juice
  • 2  tablespoons  ketchup
  • 2  tablespoons  lower-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 1/2  teaspoons  minced peeled ginger
  • 2  garlic cloves, minced
  • 4  (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • Cooking spray
  • 3/4  teaspoon  salt, divided
  • 1/4  teaspoon  black pepper
  • 2  cups  hot cooked long-grain white rice
  • 1/4  cup  chopped fresh cilantro

  1. Combine first 5 ingredients. Reserve 1/4 cup marinade; place remaining marinade in a zip-top plastic bag. Add chicken to bag; seal. Chill overnight (or at least a couple of hours)
  2. 2. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Remove chicken from bag; discard marinade in bag. Sprinkle chicken with 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper. Add chicken to pan; baste with 2 tablespoons reserved marinade. Cook 4-6 minutes. Turn chicken over; baste with 2 tablespoons reserved marinade. Cook 4-6 minutes.

French Toast Casserole

My friend Allie, of Grover Cookie fame, recently hosted a brunch get-together so that we could all spend some time with her new little man. So I decided that now would be a great time to try one of those overnight breakfast casseroles I keep reading about -- you know, the kind that you assemble the night before, pop in the fridge overnight, and then just pop in the oven the next morning? I read about people who make such casseroles for Christmas morning, because all you do in the morning is bake it, which leaves you free to enjoy Christmas morning with the fam while breakfast takes care of itself. So with visions of being a domestic goddess on Christmas morning dancing in my head, I decided to take one of these breakfast casseroles for a test drive.

There are two main categories of breakfast casseroles that I have encountered: sweet, meaning that it is more along the lines of waffles, pancakes, etc; or savory, meaning it is usually egg based, with meat, cheese and occasionally potatoes. Since eggs were already on the menu, I decided to save an egg-based casserole for another time, and concentrate on the sweet, in this case, a French Toast Casserole recipe modified from Paula Deen.

It has very simple ingredients: eggs, cream, milk, vanilla, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg, all assembled the night before, and the recipe also calls for a wonderful pecan praline topping that you sprinkle on right before baking. It is, essentially, a French Toast bread pudding.

First the bread: Paula calls for French bread, a 13oz-16oz loaf. Well, when I went to the store, all I could find was baguette, and a 12oz loaf at that. So I bought it. Better than nothing, amiright? However, this meant that I had already deviated from Paula's instructions without even meaning to. She calls for you to slice the bread into 20-1" slices, and arrange upright in two layers in a 9"x13" pan. I sliced my baguette into many more slices, since it was longer, but because the loaf and slices were so small, I had to: 1) downgrade to an 11"x7" pan; and 2) lay the slices flat, making 2 layers that way instead. And it worked fine, so don't fret if you can't find full-sized French bread.

Next, you combine the eggs, half and half, milk, vanilla, sugar, and spices. This recipe doesn't call for a lot of sugar in the custard, because you are going to be topping the casserole with praline and, presumably, syrup. If you don't want the praline topping, you could compensate by bumping up the sugar to 1/2C to 1C, depending on whether you still plan to use syrup. Or, you can put syrup or maple extract directly into the custard.

And then, evenly pour the custard over the bread.

Once you pour the custard on the bread, cover and refrigerate this overnight, let that bread soak up the liquid. The next morning, it will look like this:

Now, you can make the praline. Combine pecans, butter, brown sugar, maple syrup (the real stuff, if you have it), light corn syrup, and the spices.

Spread it over the surface of the casserole, and bake in a preheated oven. Because I made this in an 11"x7", mine was a little thicker, and I baked it for about 47 minutes. If you make it in a 9"x13", it will take closer to 40 minutes.


Sorry for the quality of the final pics, I was trying to take pics as I was serving the casserole. Just slice it up, and serve it, letting people put maple syrup over it just like regular French toast.

And it was yummy. Oh my, was it yummy.

The praline topping contrasted beautifully with the bread custard, and the maple syrup tied everything together. Although, as I said before, this dish can exist without the praline, but I'd bump the sugar in the filling up to at least a half cup if you decide to lay off the pecans. But I wouldn't. Lay off the pecans, that is, because the topping is just divinely rich and satisfying.

There are some other recipes out there that call for you to saute the bread/egg mixture before putting it in the casserole pan, and I am sure that is tasty too...but, this recipe is already super-yummy as is, and it is easy. Now, this casserole is rich, so it is definitely not meant to be an every day breakfast treat, but it really is a perfect casserole to make, especially for mornings when you want to spend the time with your family, and not over a stove.

French Toast Casserole
(Printable Recipe)



  • 1- 13 to 16oz loaf of French bread
  • 8 eggs
  • 2 C half-and-half
  • 1 C milk
  • 2 tbls granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

Praline Topping

  • 2 sticks butter, melted
  • 1 C pecans
  • 1 C brown sugar
  • 2 tbls light corn syrup
  • 1.2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg


  1. Slice bread into 1" thick slices (20 slices for a regular French loaf, more for a baguette). 
  2. Arrange in a sprayed 9x13" pan in 2 layers (or in an 11x7" pan in 2 layers for a baguette)
  3. Combine eggs, half-and-half, milk sugar, vanilla and spices together
  4. Pour over the bread slices in the pan, covering evenly
  5. Cover pan and refrigerate overnight
  6. The next morning: preheat oven to 350F
  7. Make praline topping: combine pecans, butter, brown sugar, corn syrup and spices together, tossing to coat nuts
  8. Take casserole out of fridge, and spread topping over casserole
  9. Bake for 40 minutes (45-50 in an 11x7" pan) until puffed and lightly golden
  10. Serve with maple syrup