Aug 19, 2009

Simple Things

I am simple. My cell phone doesn't have a camera. I also can't access the internet from it. I don't text (except during hurricanes when I can't get through by calling). No DVR, no Wii, no Playstation, no flat screen tv. This is where my dad would be singing "no phones, no lights, no motor car. Not a single luxury."

So I think this sufficiently sets the tone so ya'll don't think I've totally lost my mind when you see the "recipe" I have for you today. I'm going with simple and I'm going to call it French Bread Breakfast because what my family really calls it could be confusing. We refer to it as "French bread." But I'm not talking about actually baking a loaf of French bread. And this isn't just French bread. It's bakery French bread all toasted and buttery. It's tasting my childhood all over again. It's biting into a layer of crunchy buttery goodness, then moving on to the soft, chewy bread beneath. It's my favorite breakfast. It's perfect simplicity.

My great, great-grandma Madeliene used to make this for her daughter (my great-grandma Pauline). But I never knew her; she died young (mid-thirties). She was from the Pyrenees Mts (France side). Her family wanted to move to the United States and chose New Orleans because of the French speaking population. My great-grandmother Pauline lived in New Orleans all her life and ran a small grocery store in the old part of Algiers for many years. She cooked a lot too, making French dishes that her mother taught her or German dishes for her husband who I also didn't know. She lived along Endymion's parade route and the whole family would get together at her house before the parade. She'd make beignets for everybody and that was a real treat. Great-grandma made "French bread" for my mom when she was little. She never made it for me because by that time arthritis didn't let her bend down to use the broiler. She used a walker for as long as I remember. She was an opinionated, tough old bird, but she could throw her head back and laugh better than anybody. And she always wanted me to sit by her during bourre (boo-ray) and pitty-pat games with her friends...for good luck. Those old gals played for money and it was cut-throat.

My mom made/makes "French Bread" all the time though. Because it's easy and fast and a good way to use French bread leftover from yesterday's Po'Boys. Not long ago, we were staying with my parents. Once everyone was up, mom asked, "Whatchall want for breakfast? I can make eggs an' bacon an' cinnamon rolls." "Or," she said, "I could just make some French bread." Five votes for French bread. Unanimous. And it even beat out bacon. That's how much we love it. It's hard to beat bacon.

This may just be the most basic and simple thing I make. But there are a few rules (I'm not letting you off that easy).
This is best when:
* day-old bread is used...fresh bread doesn't work out
* the bread is sliced in half horizontally (lengthwise), then each half is cut into squares or rectangles...slicing the loaf using vertical cuts doesn't give the same textural results
* you aren't stingy with the butter
* served with coffee...some of my older family like to dunk the bread in their coffee

French Bread Breakfast
from Ms. enPlace

leftover French bread
melted butter

Turn on your broiler and let it heat up while you melt the butter and cut the French bread in half horizontally, then into rectangles.

Place one to as many pieces of bread you can fit on a broiler pan. Slide under the broiler and lightly toast. Keep an eye on it and don't go off anywhere or the bread will burn.

Remove from under the broiler and liberally brush melted butter on each piece of bread. Wait for the butter to soak in a few seconds and brush butter on each piece again.

Place back under the broiler and allow the butter to foam then slightly brown. Remove immediately. Serve with coffee.

The easiest mise en place to set up. All you need is bread and butter.

But I guess there is a catch. Cut the French bread in half lengthwise then cut into pieces as large as you want. Slices won't work. This is best when a crunchy surface develops but there's still some soft, chewy bread underneath. Slicing the bread into rounds doesn't produce that.

Melt some butter (I use the microwave) and start toasting the bread under the broiler. Watch 'em close and don't overdo it!
Just a light toast. These'll go back under the broiler to finish in a little while.
Brush with melted butter. Liberally. And don't go substituting olive oil. If you have guilt, grab a piece of fruit. Wait a few seconds for the bread to slurp up the butter, then brush on another round.

After brushing with butter, stick 'em back under the broiler. Broil until the butter foams and just starts to brown. Butter's foaming here, so not too much longer. This isn't something you can walk away from.

Butter's just starting to brown...time to shut it down and eat.

Possibly my favorite breakfast ever. French bread and coffee. Community, of course. As my great-grandma used to say, "I know what I know!"

1 comment:

  1. That is a great post! I love that bit about eating a piece of fruit if you feel bad about all the butter:)
    When I make breadsticks I always butter them once, then take them out and do it again. Then, before I serve them I put more butter on : ) That's the only way to eat bread as far as I'm concerned.


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