“It is Spring again. The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart.” ~ Rilke
Good morning, Poetry Friends, and Happy Spring!
More than a few rabbits have invaded the Alphabet Soup kitchen but we don’t mind in the least. Thought we’d ease into Easter Weekend by serving up an iconic Mary Oliver poem and some delicious baked french toast.
In this season of renewal, growth, and fresh starts, it’s good to remind ourselves that something wonderful may be waiting for us just over the horizon. As someone once said, “you can’t turn back the clock, but you can wind it up again.”
So let’s toast this new morning, this new day, with all the positive energy we can muster up and nourish ourselves with food for the mind, heart, body, and spirit.
Remember: we can be the light.
WHY I WAKE EARLY
by Mary Oliver
Hello, sun in my face.
Hello, you who made the morning
and spread it over the fields
and into the faces of the tulips
and the nodding morning glories,
and into the windows of, even, the
miserable and the crotchety –
best preacher that ever was,
dear star, that just happens
to be where you are in the universe
to keep us from ever-darkness,
to ease us with warm touching,
to hold us in the great hands of light –
good morning, good morning, good morning.
Watch, now, how I start the day
in happiness, in kindness.
* * *
♥ GOOD MORNING GRUB ♥
The table is set, so put on your best bib and take a bite of this delicious Baked Apple French Toast with Hazelnut Crumb Topping:
While looking for a good Easter Brunch recipe, I found this “pain perdu for a crowd” in The Apple Lover’s Cookbook, fast becoming one of my favorite cookbooks of all time. Some have said this may be the only apple cookbook you’ll ever need and I agree. I’ve already made and loved the Sweet Potato-Apple Latkes and Apple Pumpkin Walnut Muffins and have dozens of other recipes I’m anxious to try.
About this recipe, author Amy Traverso says:
Here’s my go-to brunch dish for company. It’s like light bread pudding with apples, and the hazelnut crumb topping gives it a nutty flavor kick and welcome crunch. While it looks impressive, it’s so easy to put together that I’ve prepped it half-asleep after waking at midnight with the realization that guests were due the next morning.
As Amy says, it is easy but it does involve a little advance planning, since the bread custard part of the recipe is best chilled overnight. This actually makes it the ideal Easter breakfast or brunch dish; if prepared the night before, all you have to do is whiz the topping ingredients in your food processor and sprinkle it over the french toast in the morning before you bake it.
And it smells so, so good while it’s baking! Think butter, brown sugar, toasty hazelnuts, as well as vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and apples . . . mmmmmmmmm!
Amy recommends a tender sweet apple (Cox’s Orange Pippin, Fuji, Gala), “which will cook up soft and silky and melt nicely into the bread and custard.” I used Fuji apples and they were perfect.
Len and I liked this so much we even ate some for dinner . . . not only with maple syrup but a little whipped cream. “Why not?” he said, “think of this as something in the fancy waffle category.” I didn’t need any convincing. This is great breakfast grub unadorned, but you can dress it up and consider it dessert too, if you like. 🙂
BAKED APPLE FRENCH TOAST WITH HAZELNUT CRUMB TOPPING
(adapted from Amy Traverso’s The Apple Lover’s Cookbook)
For the French Toast:
Butter for greasing pan
6 large eggs
3 cups whole or 2% milk
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 pound loaf challah or brioche, cut in half lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 3/4-inch-thick slices
2 large tender-sweet apples (about 1 pound total), peeled, cored, and sliced 1/4-inch thick
For the Topping:
3/4 cup whole hazelnuts
1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) salted butter, cut into small cubes
Equipment: 9 x 13″ baking dish
1. The night before (or at least 2 hours ahead), generously grease the baking dish with butter. Whisk together the eggs, milk, brown sugar, vanilla, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Arrange the bread slices in the prepared dish so that they overlap. Stick apple slices in between the bread slices, then pour the egg mixture over all. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours and up to overnight.
2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a food processor, pulse the hazelnuts, brown sugar, flour, and butter to form a crumbly mixture. Sprinkle the topping over the bread.
3. Bake until the custard is set and the topping is golden brown, about 1 hour. Let cool on a rack for 15 minutes, then serve from the dish with maple syrup.
Makes 6 to 8 servings
Note: Don’t worry about removing the hazelnuts’ papery skin. The topping is so finely chopped in the food processor that the skins won’t be detectible.
* * *
So there you have it. The perfect Easter morning dish. Read Mary’s poem once before eating and once after, and you’ll be all set to face the world, happy and energized. 🙂
* * *
Our fearless PF leader Mary Lee Hahn is hosting today’s Roundup at A Year of Reading. Do take her a piece of baked french toast and have a Happy, Restorative, and Inspiring Easter. I predict a giant chocolate bunny in your future.
♥ If you’d like to be included in my Kidlit Poetry Month Roundup, please leave your link at this post. Thanks!
Copyright © 2013 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.