Saturday, June 17, 2017

A Berry Good Brunch Idea

Brunch brunch brunch. It's the new buzzword isn't it? Great idea too, for late risers like myself. That's not what we're going to talk about today though.We are going to talk about a couple things I really am excited about this year- Aldi and berries. You probably already know what Aldi is, chances are there is one in your neighborhood. I live about two blocks from Aldi and it's one of the best things about my neighborhood. My neighborhood is pretty awesome. It's not fancy. It's an older neighborhood of cute little houses on quiet streets. Most of the houses are cottage-like. Some of the yards are beautifully maintained, and a few haven't seen a lawnmower yet this season. The location is convenient. A quick drive up the road and I can access the bypass, or the freeway in the other direction. The fairgrounds is close enough to walk to if you're up to it. We can sit in the front yard on a summer evening and hear the concerts from the grandstand clear as day. The fireworks light up our big front window, and right around the corner and up a block is Aldi.

I'm sure I have talked about Aldi before. This is not the Aldi of my childhood. For one thing, they have really upped their game in regards to the quality of the products they sell. I cannot resist the German grocery items they sell. They remind me of the packages my Grandmother Else used to send us from Germany several times a year. I love the bags of dried spaetzle and always have to buy a couple. They are perfect with rich brown gravies and roasts. They carry an astonishing amount of organic products at incredibly reasonable prices, everything from fresh produce to meats and packaged items. Then there are the grains- I know I've already talked about that.

On this day I went into Aldi for a bag of onions. Fifty three dollars later I came out with onions, fillets of flounder, several different fresh vegetables, fresh chicken, great big gorgeous scallops, tuna, sparkling mineral water, kalamata olives, artichoke hearts, pasta, bread, and fresh berries. Those fresh berries are destined for my latest Sinful Foods creation, and I think you guys are going to like this. This is where we switch the convo back to brunch. The Chef and I have different schedules so the weekends for us are late nights and lazy mornings and we often don't feel like getting dressed and battling the brunch crowds, so I have been working on some ideas for things I can basically assemble the night before, and pop in the oven in the morning. Baked French toast fits the bill nicely and is ridiculously versatile. I have a savory French toast brewing in my mind, but today we are working on a more traditional version, with maple syrup and berries. It's so easy and delicious. I am using "day old" white sliced bread I grabbed at the bakery, but you can use whatever kind of bread you like. Let's make some!

This recipe features a very unusual product- but keep an open mind here. Basil is often paired with fruit and Sinful Food Basil Olive Oil is the perfect way to get that fresh basil flavor. Get yours by clicking HERE.

Berry Brunch French Toast

10 slices stale bread
8 large eggs
3/4 cup half and half or coconut milk
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup fresh or frozen berries (I used raspberries and blackberries)
2 teaspoons Sinful Food basil olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
cooking spray

Cut the bread into cubes and place in a mixing bowl. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs, and then whisk in the half and half, maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. 

Pour over the bread cubes, stirring to coat, and cover. Pop in the fridge and chill overnight.

The next morning, heat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 2 quart baking dish with cooking spray.

Place the berries in a small bowl, drizzle with the olive oil. 

Spoon about half of the bread cube mixture into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle half the berries over. Repeat layers using the rest of the bread and berries. Cut the butter into little cubes and top the bread mixture. 

Place dish in the oven and bake for 35 minutes. Check with a toothpick- the pick should come out clean, and the top will be golden brown. Let the dish rest for about 5 to 10 minutes before serving. Serve with additional berries and maple syrup.

This was so delicious, almost like bread pudding. The berries stay plump and juicy and the basil flavor adds this elegant touch to the berries. You could serve this for a dessert too, with a little cloud of whipped cream on top, or if you have a kitchen torch, a little cloud of meringue that's been kissed by the flames. You could even booze it up with a tablespoon or two of your favorite kirsch, Framboise or Chambord liqueur whisked in with the custard mixture. This recipe makes a generous six servings, so I had plenty left over to take to work for breakfast the next day, and a snack too.

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a "sponsored post." As a Brand Ambassador, the company who sponsored it compensated me via a cash payment, gift or something of value. Regardless,  I only recommend products or services I believe are of good quality and safe. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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