I want to wish everyone a safe and healthy 2010! By the way, what is everyone calling 2010? Twenty-ten or two-thousand ten? I think I’m going with twenty-ten.
The holidays have come and gone. I always feel a little relief and a great deal of sadness when the holidays are over. I’ve had a busy few weeks, traveling and visiting with family and friends. We spent Christmas in Vermont, and New Years in the Berkshires of Massachusetts. I barely touched a stove. My mother made fantastic Christmas Eve & Day dinners consisting of pierogies, sirloin roast, green bean casserole, roasted root vegetables, and countless cookies. I received a plethora of cooking related gifts for Christmas. I received a wonderful assortment of spices from my sister.
My sister also gave me The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook, which I am so excited about!
I also received a springform cake pan, ramekins, silicone muffin pan, square cake pans, and Le Creuset casserole pans and stockpot. I am incredibly grateful for the gifts I received at Christmas. I am looking forward to cooking and baking!
For New Years Eve, our friends prepared a brined turkey using this Alton Brown recipe and a recipe from Eric Ripert for shrimp that was to-die-for! I decided to contribute to New Years Day brunch and made a great French Toast Casserole using a recipe from my new cookbook! The great thing about this recipe is that it is a make-ahead casserole and needs time to set, and allow the bread (I used ciabatta) to soak up the custard.
I assembled it before we drove up to the Berkshires, and it sat in the refrigerator until brunch on New Years Day. It was so easy! The casserole was velvety and creamy on the inside while the topping created an amazing crispy sugary crust. It was a hit & a wonderful way to wake up to the New Year!
The topping calls for pecans, due to a friend’s nut allergy, I had to omit the nuts. I simply used brown sugar and butter for the topping. It was delicious even without the pecans!Make-Ahead French Toast Casserole with Caramel-Pecan Topping from The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook Printable Recipe
Casserole: 1 (16-ounce) loaf supermarket French or Italian bread, sliced 1/2 inch thick 8 large eggs 2 cups whole milk 2 cups half-and-half 1 TBS sugar 2 tsp vanilla extract 1/2 tsp cinnamon 1/2 tsp nutmeg
Topping: 12 TBS (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened 1 1/3 cups packed light brown sugar 3 TBS corn syrup 5 ounces (1 1/2 cup) pecans, chopped
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Arrange the bread in a single layer on two baking sheets. Bake until dry and lightly golden, about 25 minutes, rotating the baking sheets halfway through the baking time. Allow the bread to cool.
Meanwhile, grease the bottom and sides of a 9 by 13-inch baking dish with butter. Layer the baked bread tightly in the prepared dish (you should have two layers). Whisk together the eggs, milk, half-and-half, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg and pour evenly over the bread. Press lightly on the bread to submerge. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 8 to 24 hours.
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix the butter, brown sugar, and corn syrup together until smooth, then stir in the pecans.
Remove the casserole from the refrigerator and unwrap. Spoon the topping over the casserole, then spread it in an even layer. Place the dish on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until puffed and golden, about 60 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.