Cinnamony French Toast

French Toast (8080)

I don’t know about you but I find that weekend mornings are great for a more relaxed breakfast. One of my very favourite breakfast treats is pancakes, absolutely winning hands down. That said, sometimes I dread doing the prep, even though there’s nothing complicated about it. So when I wake up with a pancake crave but don’t want the extra work I make French toast. There’s still some whisking involved but it’s much easier on the nerves I think! Nothing is more peaceful than waking up a little early and pottering around in the kitchen doing minimal work while everyone is still fast asleep.

French Toast (8086)

In general, I don’t do leisurely breakfasts. My mind goes into overdrive in the morning and I don’t have the patience to sit down except for coffee. Having said that, when the opportunity arises for a good meal I take it all in my stride. Even if it means taking some extra time to faff around. When there is actually time to do so, that is! But for me there’s something so attractive and simple about this recipe that makes the easy prep all worth while. And I love the way the sugar caramelizes around the bread and almost makes it crispy. Thinking about it makes me want it now.

I don’t have this every weekend, far from it! So please spare me the usual this-is-not-good-for-you speeches that I’m getting these days. All the recipes you see here are rarely repeated – it’s not because they’re not good, it’s because food blogging is what I do and it’s almost impossible for me to cook the same things over and over again after I’ve written about them. I would drown in my books if I did so. I do make this over and over again though, not every weekend, but close enough!

French Toast (8089)

The quantities given in this basic recipe are for 2 to 3 people, and you will have no problems in scaling it up. Having said that, I would advise you not to cook this when you have a large group of people coming over. You will be by the stove all morning if you do and instead of enjoying your friends as you should, you will only feel frustrated by the time they leave!

Don’t let this sway you away. A bit of solitary indulgence is good for you once in a while and in my book this also makes a perfect romantic breakfast for two.

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon soft brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons milk*
  • 6 slices white bread (day-old bread is even better)
  • knob unsalted butter
  • maple syrup, to serve**

Place a flat non-stick griddle or pan on the hob and wait for it to heat up. In the meantime, whisk the cinnamon, sugar, eggs, vanilla extract and milk in a shallow bowl.

Drop the butter in the pan, let it melt and dip the bread into the eggy mixture and coat it on both sides. Leave the bread in the liquid a few moments. Eyeball it depending on the type of bread you’re using.

Place the bread on the griddle and cook until the bread turns a golden brown.

If you start running out of liquid, add some milk to the egg mixture.*
Repeat the process until all the bread is cooked.

I like to eat mine with maple or golden syrup, but you can serve them with honey, fruit and/or yoghurt.**

What a wonderful thing to wake up to! Enjoy!

One year ago: Blueberry Muffins

Two years ago: Stir-fry

Three years ago: Penne with Chorizo

Rob x

Greek Salad Revisited

Greek Salad Revisited (7367)

There are many versions of this out in the blogosphere, which of course includes the one found here on C&T. I’m a big fan of feta; its creaminess and texture is great for any salad. When I don’t have it I use halloumi, but for me, that just doesn’t make the cut. It’s too chewy and tough, though mind you, it still has it’s uses. It grills well, for example.

The following recipe will not be much different than the one I posted before. However I love it and it makes such a good main meal during the summer months, and it is something special when sharing during a BBQ with friends and family. Here is what you need for 2 hungry people. Scale up the quantities for bigger crowds.

  • 1 large cucumber, washed, partly peeled and cut into slices
  • 1 large red onion, sliced
  • 150g feta cheese, cut into cubes
  • 250g baby plum or cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 50g kalamata olives
  • juice of 1 large lemon
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 5 tablespoons good extra virgin olive oil
  • around ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • a handful of fresh parsley, washed and chopped

Mix all the ingredients in a large salad bowl and you’re good to go. Eat in good company as a main, or eat as part of a meze and/or a BBQ with a crisp glass of white. Enjoy!

One year ago: Sweet and Sour Leeks with Ricotta and Chilli

Two years ago: Chicken Marinade

Three years ago: Easy Cupcakes

Rob x

London: until we meet again

London Eye (9443)

I’m flying back to Malta this afternoon. You might be reading this while I am on my way to the airport. One thing’s for sure: I will be sad to leave. J and I lived in Surrey for these past seven years, but London was, is and always will be one of my favourite places to visit. J doesn’t totally get it I think; London is expensive, dirty, and brimming with people. I love the brimming-with-people part. Surrey is beautiful and J thrived there, especially while taking walks in the countryside. One one hand I loved it too, while on the other hand many times it just got too quiet. Thank goodness for Guildford town centre. Now that’s lovely, and it’s another place I will greatly miss.

Parliament Square (9466)

The shots you see here were taken on a beautiful sunny day in the capital. We were with one of J’s friends and his wife, who were great company. I love meeting new people. We had a great day with them. We had lunch at Borough Market and then walked along the South Bank. After that we met up with bro-in-law a.k.a. J2.

Bridge on Bridge (9437)

I still have a few sets of photos from other places outside London; in the meantime I’m leaving you with these memories. London, I will miss you. Until we see each other again….

Hope to meet up with my lovely readers in Malta. I’ll be in the land of sundried tomatoes and lemons.

1 year ago: Banana Milkshake 

2 years ago: KitchenAid prices in Malta

3 years ago: Moving Day

Rob x

*A little reminder: I will be posting on here until the end of July, with a month-long hiatus during August.*

Photo: Fresh Herbs

Fresh Herbs (8182)

This is a simple photo taken while I was sadly parting with my Greek basil plant. It was the picture of health for months and months. Then suddenly parts of it started to dry up on me. I didn’t want it to go to waste, and instead of trying to save it and knowing that I would fail miserably, I decided that the best thing here was for me to keep the majority of it by cutting it, washing it, using some up and freezing what was left. I took the photo as a sort of souvenir. Those tiny baby leaves are too cute! And I couldn’t get over the basil-y smell on my hands. Ahh.

One year ago: Smitten Kitchen’s Strawberry Fools

Two years ago: A little Nostalgia and Fun…

Three year ago: Tea Time Cakes Continued: Banana Bread

Rob x

Polenta Muffins with Cream Cheese Frosting

Corn Muffins with a Cheese Frosting (9668)

I am coming to you with another recipe. About time, I hear you say, and you’re absolutely right. I love posting pictures of places we’ve been to, but there’s no doubt that food gives me more enjoyment – and I don’t necessarily mean just the eating bit. I love the process, the gathering of ingredients from the pantry, the assembling, the mixing, the looking-in-the-oven-to-watch-the-baking, and how lovely the kitchen smells during the baking, unless it’s the smell of burning. It’s the washing up that gets to me, but that will be solved very soon with the help of a dishwasher, or so I hope. I digress, as usual.

Corn Muffins with a Cheese Frosting (9664)

Back to the recipe. So as of now I cannot bake anymore, till I settle down again during the summer. I have stopped shopping for baking stuff, of course. I just can’t believe I’m moving again next week. It is bittersweet but I won’t be sorry to leave this kitchen behind. I am looking forward to better things in that department. That being said I do have a few baking things lined up for this blog – I just couldn’t resist. I came across these beautiful little cakes on one of James Tanner’s books. They just jumped out at me. Lately I have been having a breakfast food itch, the one where I want to eat pancakes all day, every day. We know that’s not good so I spent my time trying out different options, which are not necessarily healthy, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t have any salad with this. (That could be an excellent brunch option.)

Corn Muffins with a Cheese Frosting (9667)

Muffins in general are easy enough to make. The only problem for me is that I have rarely succeeded in turning out with a really fluffly batch. I do tend to overmix generally, most probably because for me, stirring and whisking is such good therapy! That is one thing I always try to watch out for. These polenta muffins, as every muffin recipe, will turn out as hard as a rock if you do that. So fold in your ingredients slowly and remember that a lumpy batter is what you want to end up with. One of my favourite things about them is the perfect combination of sweet and savoury. And you can always omit the frosting and have them with some ketchup or homemade salsa. Amazing taste, right there.

Corn Muffins with a Cheese Frosting (9670)

Send me your feedback if and when you make them. I love to hear what you think. I ended up with 14 muffins but it will definitely give you a good batch of 12.

For the muffins:

  • 300g polenta
  • 80g plain flour
  • 198g can sweetcorn, drained
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of pepper
  • 1 large egg
  • 150ml milk
  • 100g cheddar, grated
  • ¼ teaspoon dried chilli flakes*
  • ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 400ml buttermilk**

For the frosting:

  • 30g icing sugar
  • 100g cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 50g soft unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon golden syrup
  • poppy seeds, for sprinkling on the top

Preheat the oven to 200ºC, and line a 12-hole muffin or cupcake tray with muffin cases. I wouldn’t recommend using a silicone one here.

Take one of the largest bowls you have and mix the polenta, flour, sweetcorn, baking powder, salt and pepper together.

In another large bowl or jug, whisk in the egg, milk, cheese, chilli, smoked paprika and buttermilk.

Fold in the wet ingredients in the jug with the dry ones and gently mix them together until just combined. As always, do not overmix, because the more you mix, the denser the batter will become. We want the exact opposite.

Pour the mixture into the muffin cases, trying to distribute this as equally as possible. (This mixture gave me a yield of 14, but it’s always an approximation.) Bake the muffins for around 20 to 22 minutes. If you’re not sure, insert a thin skewer to check. If it comes out clean, you’re done. Take the muffins out of the tray and let them cool.

To make the frosting, tip all the ingredients in a small bowl and combine. When the muffins are cool enough, spread a little frosting on each one and sprinkle with some poppy seeds for extra decoration. I left a couple without frosting and had them with a little bit of ketchup! Trust me, they were good!

*I am in the process of emptying my food cupboard so I used some dried spices. You can always use fresh chilli, which will definitely be and taste better.

**With regards to the buttermilk, you can substitute this with natural yoghurt. If you don’t have any, then take the same amount of milk and squeeze in a few drops of lemon juice.

Enjoy and have a great week!

Rob x

(Recipe adapted from Old Favourites, New Twists, by James Tanner, Kyle Books, 2013.)

Beautiful Rye, East Sussex.

Mummy (9655)

This is a photo of my beautiful Mum. I call her my lovely Mummy. Or simply Ma. On one of her few visits here J drove us down to Rye and on to Rye Harbour, a charming little town in East Sussex. The weather was on our side, and we took a short two-mile walk along part of the coast and around some of the nature reserve. The first order of business though when we arrived was a fish and chip lunch – it was just what we needed. J has a photo of it somewhere, which he promised to give me, if and when he remembers. Apparently we both forgot about it!

Harbour (9647)

I wasn’t really in the mood for photos, to be totally honest, and this was even clearer when I uploaded the ones I took to be edited. The ones I have of the red-roofed hut are a disaster. The only decent ones are in this post. A real shame because the place was just stunning. The boat in the harbour was going too fast to be able to apply the Rule of Thirds, but J thinks it’s a good photo anyway. I tried to crop it but somehow the best way was to keep everything as is. On the other hand, I did have to crop Mum’s one. She will be amused by her photo, if she gets to see it that is. She doesn’t use the computer at all. I’ll make sure to show it to her when I get back to Malta. After all it’s the only one I have of her. Like me, she hates having her picture taken. Good thing she didn’t notice me pointing my camera at her. Bless!

Rob x

Bicerin at Carluccio’s

Bicerin at Carluccios (9537)

I have to say, this moving thing is really throwing me off. Was about to put an exclamation mark there but I kinda stopped. Reason: there are too many of those scattered around this blog. Way too much for my liking. It would help explain my surprise though so I think you would have forgiven me if I inserted one anyway. Yes, all this tiredness from organising this move is taking its toll, and I’m not even contributing to half of the work! (And there it is. I couldn’t resist.) J is the boss when it comes to huge moves a.k.a. headaches or pains in the a** so I left the big decisions up to him. I’m trying to do the small stuff, like making sure everything’s tidy, all of our clothes are properly washed, packed and sealed, ready to be shipped and other little miscellaneous things.

Unfortunately there is no recipe today. Well, I have some waiting in the wings, but today is just not my day, and I just can’t go through writing quantities and ingredient lists. That is not a chore, believe me, but the heat is sucking up every ounce of any leftover energy I have. The following sentence will convince you: J is doing the cooking our dinner for tonight.

In around two weeks’ time I will be heading to our new home, and thus the countdown has begun. Yesterday we went up to London for the day, for the last time. *Sad face.* I love London. It’s one of my favourite places to be. It was bittersweet to say the least, but J and bro-in-law J2 got me through it and we always enjoy each other’s company so it was a happy day nonetheless. So what I want to do in the coming few posts is to share with you some photos of the capital, during our recent few visits. Primarily for myself. I know this could sound somewhat selfish but being here has been a joy and to me sharing one’s joys is a big part of life. I hope you won’t mind.

The photo I have here is no masterpiece, let’s be honest. But I took it at Carluccio’s in South Kensington, during my birthday weekend last May. We spent a lovely three days doing all the touristy stuff, one of which was the Science Museum. Yes, I like that sort of thing. We weren’t hungry so all we wanted was a coffee, before facing the crowds. We forgot all about our coffee when we saw they had Bicerin on the menu. I’ve heard about il bicerin before, and I was expecting something huge, like a child tasting chocolate for the first time. (As in the SG Atlantis episode Childhood’s End.) J and I both ordered that and what we got was a creamer with what I think was thick double cream, a shot of espresso in a small cup, and half a large cup of hot chocolate, which was also very thick. We had to be baristas for the next few seconds and assemble the drink ourselves. No problem there, though I did have some issues.

Now for me, the appearance of this concoction had nothing to do with the real deal you can get in Italy, so it was disappointing. It was good, but that’s where it stops. It was cold – because they didn’t even heat the milk/cream up or frothed it up a bit – but it was drinkable. More like a thick mocha, than a Bicerin, but I was in a good mood, the Sun was out, it was my birthday and I was with my best friend. So I let it slide. The camera was out so I took the picture anyway. And I wouldn’t let any of that ruin the day. I mean, who would want that?

The place is very pretty and airy, with minimal clutter. The light in the shop was bright and sharp, though soft at the same time. All that was missing was some good coffee, and it would have been perfect. Perhaps, another time when I’m in London…?

Excuse the lengthy post. It happens sometimes!

Rob x

(Reminder: *Not* a sponsored post.)


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