Thursday, July 28, 2011

Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese Corncakes



Do you believe I've been blogging for half of a year already?  I sure don't!!!  Time is a flyin' by.  I must say I love my blog more than I thought I ever would. Every little part of the process to get a post printed on this page thrills me -  from the brain waves of new recipe ideas while I'm doing dishes or standing in line at the market or talking to my Mom (she already thinks I don't listen to her while she talks!) to making the food to taking and editing the photos and finally the writing of the whole thing.  I love it all. Add to that the super warm reception from the food blogging world, and the awfully kind comments from friends and strangers alike, and well, I really am over the moon.




These corncakes, you could say, started this whole thing.  About a year ago, I made these for dinner one night, innocently posted a photo on my facebook page and a whole hullabaloo ensued!  Comments from friends urging me to start writing a food blog were noted, and appreciated, but I claimed I was too busy or too technologically challenged to start one.  But the friends did not rest.  They repetitively kept vocalizing their wishes to see me write about all of the cool stuff I was doing in my little green kitchen, and finally I gave in. I brushed up on a little computer lingo, and told myself to get a grip - it's only the Internet for god's sake and well, the rest is history. To those friends, and you know who you are, thank you for being so bossy.  You knew I had this in me before I did.




Corncakes are kind of like fritters.  A simple batter of cornmeal and flour and buttermilk, with some glorious add-ins of roasted corn and smoked salmon and (ahem!) cream cheese.  Pan fried in a little olive oil and they really are noteworthy.  I made these for a light lunch with a fresh green salad from my garden, but they would be lovely for brunch or even dinner.  The corncakes have crispy edges with a light cakey middle, and when you get a bite of the cream cheese and smoked salmon, well, that's a little bit of heaven.  And the dill.  Please don't forget the dill!




You don't have to roast the corn.  You can just cut it off the cobs and add it in like that, or simply toss the  corn in a little olive oil  and roast it in the oven until it get a little darker and crispier.  It just enhances the flavour a little more is all.  Heck you could even make these in winter with the frozen stuff, but if you've been reading me long enough you know I think fresh is best; in season and local even better. If you've grilled corn on the BBQ and have leftovers, well, this would be a perfect use for it.  With a dollop of sour cream and squeeze of lemon, this is perfect summer noshing.




So, thank you corncakes, for in all of your crispy photogenic beauty, you inspired something pretty great.  I can't wait to see where the next 6 months will take me.




Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese Corncakes

1/2 cup plus 4 tbsp cornmeal
6 tbsp all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs lightly beaten
1/2 cup plus 4 tbsp buttermilk
6 tbsp cream cheese, softened
1 cup fresh corn (cut from 2 cobs) and roasted in a bit of oil, or added in as is, or use frozen corn
6 tbsp fresh chives, or green onions, chopped
1 tsp sambal oelek or any chili garlic sauce
4 ounces smoked salmon, finely chopped, about 2/3 cup
4 tbsp olive or canola oil
sour cream, lemon wedges for accompaniments

In a small bowl, whisk together dry ingredients.In a larger bowl whisk the eggs, buttermilk, cream cheese.  Add half of the corn to this.  Stir well.  Add remaining corn, chives, chili garlic sauce and smoked salmon.  Stir just until combined.
In a large cast iron pan, or non-stick pan, add 1 tbsp of oil over moderately high heat, but not smoking hot.  Working in batches, drop batter by 1/4 cup measures into skillet.  Spread batter evenly to form 3-4 inch cakes.  Cook about 2-3 minutes per side, or until golden brown.  Transfer cooked corncakes to a cookie sheet and keep warm in a low 200 degree oven while you cook the rest.  Serve with sour cream and a squeeze of lemon.  De-lish!!! Makes about 12 corncakes.  Adapted from Bon Appetit.


Friday, July 22, 2011

Pan Fried Gnocchi With Bacon and Cambozola



It's been searing hot here.  And humid.  Don't even get me started on what the humidity has done to my hair.  I like a dry heat, given the opportunity to choose my weather.





The heat and a decent amount of rain have made my garden totally kick-ass.  I check/admire the lushness every day and it seems to grow a foot overnight.  It's almost like someone gave it steroid injections when I wasn't looking!  Must be all that manure I lovingly spread on it that day in late May.  My curses then are my rewards now.




You should see my chard.  It's gorgeous.  The showpiece of the garden until the tomatoes start ripening.  Squash blossoms are a close second.  Just you wait and see what I'm going to whip up with those!




With the extreme heat comes extreme laziness and my kitchen efforts have to be quick, with as little heat as possible being exported from the stove.  That's kinda why this recipe rocks.  You can still have a little pasta and it doesn't heat up the whole house.  By now you are aware of my affinity/addiction to bacon, and seeing as I hadn't posted about bacon and pasta since this Mac 'n Cheese  it was about time.  Digging around in my pantry unearthed some gnocchi.  I pan fried these babies in bacon fat, which gave them a little crispy edge, with incredible amounts of flavour.  I added the chard because at this point I need all the vehicles for chard I can get.  The cambozola cream wraps it all up nicely in a velvety smooth and yet light sauce.  Seriously done making this in 15 minutes.  Leaving the rest of the summer night to go out and play.




Pan Fried Gnocchi with Bacon and Cambozola

10 pieces of bacon, chopped
2 500 g pkg potato gnocchi
3/4 cup 18% or whipping cream
150 g cambozola or borgonzola cheese, with the rind, about 1 cup diced
1/8 tsp chili flakes
4 cups packed Swiss chard or arugula
fresh herbs such as parsley or dill for garnish

Heat a large non stick frying pan over medium heat.  Add the bacon and cook until crisp. Remove bacon and set aside.  (If not using bacon, just add 2 tsp canola oil to frying pan and proceed.) Add one package of gnocchi and cook often until golden brown, about 5 minutes.  You may need to add a bit more oil to the pan and cook the second package of gnocchi.  Meanwhile, pour cream into a large sauce pan and set over medium heat.  Add the cream and cheese and chilies, stirring often until cheese is melted and smooth, about 4 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in the chard until it's wilted, then add the browned gnocchi and reserved crisp bacon.  Stir to combine and dish into bowls.  Sprinkle with something green and herby.  Give a grind of black pepper and salt, if you like.  Serves 4.  Adapted from Chatelaine.


Monday, July 18, 2011

The Sweetest Thing: Cherry Clafoutis



Did you ever have those moments in your life, like little signs, that you were on the right track to something good?  I've had a few, and not to get all Oprah on y'all, but I'm lucky I paid attention.  Because if you don't pay attention to the sign, then what's the point?




Flashback: 1997.  A young, rosy cheeked Renee, fresh out of University with her shiny new Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree.  Confused beyond confused as to what to do with this expensive and impractical degree.  Why, go get more education!  Why not?  It's only money, and for god's sake study something PRACTICAL this time.  The only catch had to be that it was something I was passionate about, creative, and something I loved to do.  Cooking had always been in my blood, so enrolling in Culinary School at NAIT in Edmonton was really a no brainer.  The first few classes were okay...lots of training on how to make soups and sauces, braise meat, make potato salad, and crèmè Anglaisè.   I was a little underwhelmed, but then I met Mr. Butler in second semester, and my eyes were opened to having a culinary career that did not have to be about line cooking and deep frying.  Cooking could be creative and intuitive and artistic. Imagine that!




John Butler taught a class called "International".  His class went something like this: one day we would  research and discuss food from a particular country, and the next day we would whip up the recipes we wanted to make.  There were no guidelines other than the recipes had to be from that country and we had to style and plate the items so they looked beautiful.  You can imagine how I loved this class.  Free reign to make whatever I wanted, and make it look pretty!  Yes!  This was my absolute FAVOURITE class, and Mr. Butler saw something in my keen eye for design (and my food didn't taste half bad either.)  He encouraged me to think more about food styling and design, and his words never left me.




His encouragement kept me going, and because I finally had confidence in being good at something, I knew that cooking was the right thing for me.  My love of the "International" class was one important hint that I was on the right track to something good.  Thankfully I stuck with the rest of the culinary program, and landed some pretty great jobs throughout my career.  (Some jobs were better than others, but that's another story for another time.)  Though John Butler has passed on now, I think he would love what appears on these pages.




When we were researching France, I came across a recipe for Clafoutis.  I had never tried this dessert  before, but the photo probably looked amazing and I was curious, so I made it. What a revelation!  Such a simple dessert, but with so much flavour and versatility.  All it entails is whipping up a light egg batter, pouring this into a  buttered baking dish, and then arranging fruit on top. (I love baking it in my cast iron, just because it looks so pretty.) Clafoutis originated in the Limousin region of France, to showcase their spectacular cherries. Some recipes even say to leave the pits inside the cherries, but I value my dental work too much, so I pitted them (if you do not have a cherry pitter you can do what I do and use a large piping tip (star tip or round) just twist and out they come like magic. 




No cherries? No problem!  You can use any fruit you like except strawberries (too juicy!).  Raspberries and apricots, peaches and blueberries, cranberries and pears, plums and blackberries.  Whatever you fancy!  Clafoutis only takes about 40 minutes to bake and voila!!!  The eggs make the batter puff up into golden gorgeousness.  Almost breathtaking really. There's a buttery crust and the fruit almost melts into the velvety, flan-like centre.  Let it cool a bit before you dust it with icing sugar and cut into wedges.  Most excellent for breakfast noshing too.  This recipe has been with me since the last millennium, and it never gets boring.




Cherry Clafoutis

2 tbsp butter
3 eggs
1 cup milk
2 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 cups pitted cherries, or any fruit you like

Preheat oven o 375 degrees.  Melt butter in an 8 or 10 inch oven proof baking dish, with deep sides.  In a large bowl, beat the eggs with milk and vanilla.  Add the flour and salt and sugar.  Mix well.  Take the baking dish out of the oven and swoosh the melted butter all around, being careful to get the butter on the sides too.  Just don't get any on yourself!  Pour the eggy batter into the dish.  Arrange your selected fruit on top.  Sprinkle with coarse sugar, or granulated, and place back in oven.  Bake for 40 minutes, until it's golden and gorgeous.  Serves 4-6.


Thursday, July 14, 2011

Maple Almond Granola and Saying Goodbye



One of my dearest friends moved away on Monday, and I daresay I miss her much.  Having to say goodbye is one of life's toughest tasks, and it never, ever gets easier.  Promises to stay in touch and invitations to visit are exchanged.  Words full of meaning and emotion to be sure.  But in your heart of hearts you know things will never be quite the same. The saddest goodbyes are those said when you know separation is indefinite. Could be 12 months or 12 years until a reunion takes place.  But those reunions are the best reunions.  




Shannon and I met at my brother's wedding almost 2 years ago.  We both rocked really cute pixie cuts (funny, we grew our hair out at the same time too), were relatively the same age, had a background in art and a quirky sense of humour, no kids and not married.  She was one of my tribe!  Travis and Jackie had a karaoke machine at their wedding dance (!!!) and I was super impressed by Shan's stirring rendition of Patsy Cline's "Crazy" (not to mention her bravery at singing to an almost full house.  I waited until the place had mostly cleared out to give an ear-bleeding version of U2's "Beautiful Day".)  Her skill and speed at finishing off bottles of Pelee Island Merlot was also impressive - like I said, one of my tribe!!!






Afterwards, we Facebook friended, like you do nowadays.  We'd meet up regularly for food and drink and bemoan our aging uteri and the fact that there weren't any good guys to be found in this city. (I'm still holding out hope!) With her excellent design skills and keen eye, Shannon played a huge part in getting my blog up and running, and has been a cheerleader of Sweetsugarbean ever since.  That banner you see at the top of this page was created by us on a freezing cold Saturday in January, amidst computer crashes and a raging snowstorm.  A true friend indeed.  So why the big move?  Shan met a really great guy, but he lives in another city not too far away, but far enough where we won't see each other for our biweekly catchups. 'Tis sad for me, but I'm over the moon for her, and really, what better reason to move than for love?  I know we'll stay in touch - that's a given.  And no, we won't be able to meet up as often, but Shannon and I are kindred spirits and when you're lucky enough to find one, you're pretty much stuck with each other.  Like I told her - "it's just kilometers, babe."
 



To mark the occasion, I wanted to send a little treat along with them for the ride in the fully packed U-Haul.  I'd thought about sending a stash of these super delicious granola bars, then just opted for some really healthy and super good-for-you granola.  Chock full of almonds, large flake oats, sesame seeds, dried fruit and flax, and yes, that is coconut you see - I was convinced by Sweet Amandine that I wouldn't taste it and I don't really notice the coconut all.  What do you know? I'm a coconut convert!  The granola is sweetened with a bit of maple syrup and has a small quantity of salt and oil.  That's the cool thing about making your own granola, you can control what you want in it and how sweet/salty/fatty it can be.  With a quick toss and toast in the oven, it's a wonder I don't make this stuff more often!  Just be sure to set the timer and stir it around every 12-15 minutes to ensure even toasting.  After it comes out of the oven, add the dried cranberries or your favourite dried fruit, and done.  You've made granola!  I whipped up the most excellent parfait with layers of granola, organic vanilla yogurt and raspberries still warm from the sun.  Sheer deliciousness.




Maple Almond Granola 

3 cups large flake oats
1 cup whole almonds
2 tbsp each sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds (or various combinations of seeds you like)
3 tbsp ground flax
3/4 cup coconut (I know!  Usually I'm a hater!)
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1-2 pinches of coarse salt
5 tbsp pure maple syrup
4 tbsp canola oil
1 1/2 cups dried cranberries, or dried fruit of your choice

Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Stir in the maple syrup, oil.  If you want it sweeter, add more syrup.  Feel it needs more oil, then add more.  Line a bake sheet with parchment paper, and spread the granola evenly.  In a preheated 350 degree oven, bake for 15 minutes, then stir around, and bake another 12-15 minutes longer.  Remove from oven and let cool for a bit before adding the dried cranberries.  Cool completely and store in an airtight container.  Makes a great snack or gift too!  Adapted from Jamie Oliver via Sweet Amandine.




"That was a memorable day to me, for it made great changes in me.  But it is the same with any life.  Imagine one selected day struck out of it and think how different its course would have been.  Pause, you who read this, and think for a long moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation of the first link on that memorable day."

 Charles Dickens, Great Expectations



Monday, July 11, 2011

Strawberry Shortcake and Foxy Ladies



I had the grandest of intentions:  a lovely garden party in my backyard on a sunny Sunday afternoon.  My Mom had celebrated a birthday recently, so I wanted to throw her a little bash, complete with tea sandwiches and strawberry shortcake.  The flower beds were weeded, grass was mowed down (I even mowed the boulevard!), bathroom was cleaned, wine glasses were polished, plus I pretty much cleaned out Canadian Tire's inventory of citronella candles...It was party prep-palooza!




Truth is I love entertaining and right now my backyard is so lush with blossoms bursting everywhere you look, it would have been the perfect backdrop for a fun afternoon with friends and family. My nieces and nephew could run wild and chase the cats, while us adults sipped some sparkling wine and fought off mosquito's.  It was supposed to be this way, but alas, and you've probably guessed the unfortunate part: the sky opened up and decided to rain down on my partay.  A few choice words were said, but really, we were at Mother Nature's whim.




If you've been paying attention to this blog, you know my house is small.  Like probably the size of your living room small.  At just over 550 square feet the house really could not accommodate 12 people, and with 3 little persons under the age of 3, the house isn't exactly baby proof....So Mom offered up her house, and we relocated the party there. And like my sis said, "Ren, there's still going to be food and booze, so what does it matter?"  My sister, always thinking on the bright side!




The party was great....I made these tiny cucumber and dill cream cheese sandwiches; garlic crostini with mushroom pate; lots of fresh sliced local vegetables; and Mom provided a little bit of candy for the kids, though I did sneak a few M&Ms too.  We sat and snacked all afternoon, and I whipped up a batch of "Foxy Ladies" - sparkling wine with homemade rhubarb syrup.  Delicious drink if ever there was one.  The night before, I cooked down some rhubarb with sugar and water.  Strained it till there was lots of lovely juicy syrup (keep the pulp to add to yogurt, etc).  Come party time, I just poured about 1/8- 1/4 cup of syrup in the bottom of wine glasses, topped with chilled Prosecco,  and it was divine.  We all loved how there was a lovely rhubarb finish at the end...Yum.  This is a perfect patio sipper to be sure.




Have you had strawberry shortcake this summer?  Yesterday was my first taste - perfect timing too because the local strawberries are ready to be picked!  There is no comparison between the strawberries I get at the Strawberry Ranch and those in the grocery store.  It's like they were grown on different planets.  The real local berries are so juicy and red all the way through.  And sweet!  God they are sweet!  And grocery store berries.  Well you know how they are. Saturday was jam packed with stuff to do so I just drove out and picked up 5 pounds of already picked berries for lazy people like me.  I have every intention of driving out again and picking them myself, just because the smell is so intoxicating and I love sneaking bites when the supervisor's not looking.




Orangette posted a recipe for shortcake a little while back (it made my list of favourite things!) and I've been envisioning it ever since.  I've always loved making shortcake with a biscuit base and lots of sweetened cream and super juicy fruit. Instead of sugar, I used honey to sweeten the cream and it was lovely. The biscuits are perfection, really.  Lots of butter and cream, so you can imagine the flaky layers as the perfect envelope for the cream and berries.  Handle the dough gently, simply using a fork, then your hands.  It makes a big batch, and I'm sure you could either cut the recipe in half or freeze any leftover biscuits.  There were a few remaining biscuits that didn't make it over to my mom's, and as a matter of fact not all of the strawberries and cream did either....so I made myself a little strawberry shortcake for breakfast the next day.  A little bit of summer in every bite.  





Strawberry Shortcake with Honey Whipped Cream

4 cups all purpose flour
2 tbsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
6 tbsp granulated sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into very small pieces
1 1/2 cups cold heavy cream

2 pounds of strawberries, hulled and sliced
1/3 cup sugar

3 cups heavy whipping cream
liquid honey, to taste

To make the biscuits: preheat oven to 425 degrees.  In a large bowl, add the dry ingredients.  Using your fingers, mix in the butter.  You want some butter still the size of peas, overall an oatmeal type consistency.  Pour the heavy cream over, and using a fork gently stir up into a dough.  You may have to use your hands to gently bring up the flour from the bottom, but again, don't over mix.  Dough will be soft and sticky.  Cut into 10-12 equal portions, and place on 2 baking sheets, baking one sheet at a time.  I sprinkled the tops with coarse sugar.  Bake for about 15-18 minutes, rotating pan halfway through.  Let cool.

Combine berries with sugar and let stand for about 15 minutes until juicy.  In a mixer, whip the cream until thick, squeezing in some honey at the end, to taste.  Using a serrated knife, gently cut the biscuit in half, layer berries and cream, top with other biscuit half.  Perfection!

Foxy Ladies

4 cups sliced rhubarb
1 cup water
1 cup (or a little less) granulated sugar

Prosecco and Voila!  Rhubarb is delicious in a wine glass too.  Thanks to Julie for another great rhubarb idea!


Friday, July 8, 2011

Just a Few Favourite Things...



It's smokin' hot here in Saskatoon (finally!) and if I'm not working or gardening, I've been out playing...So this post is a random round-up of stuff that I'm kind of loving right now...crazy gorgeous lilies, no?

Out In My Garden




Shasta Daisies make me happy!


Alliums, especially gorgeous this year.



Icelandic Poppies, so pretty! 


Food and Drink Around Saskatoon


If you find yourself downtown Saskatoon, head over to Flint, and grab something cool and frothy alongside their tapas....Shan and I ducked in there before we saw the Tegan and Sara show, and my oh my we loved their selection of cheeses (the smoked applewood cheddar is super awesome!), meats and sides.  All served with your very own loaf of fresh crusty bread.    




When the urge hits for fantastic dim sum, look no further than Yip Hong.  Amazing shrimp cakes and pork dumplings.  We were especially fond of the steamed coconut buns.  Get there early or be prepared to stand and wait.  It's that good.  




For days when you are too hot and lazy to make your own Sangria, crack open a bottle of this stuff:  Aromas de Turis, Spain.   Pretty decent at an excellent price - $12/bottle.  





 I'm Dying to Make...

Always a fan of strawberry shortcake, I can't seem to get this one from Orangette out of my head.

And this pizza, has all of my favourite things on top.  Grilled peaches?  Hells yeah. 

Julie made bacon jam.  Not sure what I'll do with it, but I know I need it in my life.  Pronto!

Shelley is always baking up extraordinary things, but this cobbler caught my eye and won't let go.  

As soon as BC peaches come to town, I know I'll be making this upside down cake from Zoe. 

Now that the thermometer is going through the roof, this iced coffee is the only way to get caffeine!


Summer Anthems and the Best Book Ever

My gorgeous friend Stacy Lee is always keeping me up to date on the best music.  She passed this song on to me and it's kind of become the anthem to my summer.  Cute boys to boot!

Lucinda Williams.  Love her, and this song.  Oh Buttercup. 

REM put out a really great album in the spring, and this song says it all.  Sounds a lot like their earlier stuff from the mid '80s and '90s.  Love!

So the best book I ever read.  Big words, but this book lives up to them.  "One Day" by David Nicholls.  Get your bad selves to the book store and read it this summer.  Soon, before the movie comes out and ruins it for you.  Anne Hathaway is in it so maybe it won't suck 100%, but DO read the book.  I've been finished reading it for a few days now and I'm STILL thinking about it.  I almost need a support group to talk about the ending.  Seriously.  If you've read it, let me know your thoughts!!!

And Finally...



Sunny with the right idea of finding shade wherever you can!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Crazy About It: Croissant French Toast



It's been ages since I've done something sweet for you dear readers to enjoy at breakfast.  Not since these waffles and these pancakes in fact.  So today you are in for a real treat - you can thank me later, if you like.  Let's talk about French Toast.  I thought I loved it before, but now that I've made it with croissants, well there's no going back.  It first caught my eye over at Food 52, saying "hey Renee!  Check this out!"  and I thought about all last week....thinking when I could make it, and for whom.




I'm not going to lead you astray with any sort of notion that this is in any way, shape or form health food.  God no.  Croissants are the epitome of indulgence;  dip them in egg and fry them in butter and drizzle them  with orange-infused maple syrup and it could be the best breakfast you'll ever eat. I figure I'm a Kashi cereal and almond milk girl 6/7 days a week, and a little Sunday indulgence is good. for. me.




My favourite part of this crazy good breakfast was how crispy the French Toast got, and how the syrup found its way into the buttery nooks and crannies of the croissant.  Sometimes, with regular French Toast, the middle can be a wee bit, um, underdone, and it leaves a little bit of a bad taste in your mouth.  But because the croissants are sliced in half, and briefly dipped, they get crispy outsides and fully cooked tender insides.  I loved the crispy outside bits.  Loved them.  Loved them.  Loved them.  Be sure to warm the maple syrup, and do add the orange zest.  If I had Grand Marnier in the house, I would have for sure added some (note to self:  get Grand Marnier!) to the syrup.  But it was totally fine without.  And if you use day old croissants, even better.




This is a breakfast best shared with those you love.  It's indulgent and impressive, but not too fussy or finicky.  Like Merrill said, this French toast would be excellent for seducing lovers old, and new.  I know it's in the back of my mind for when the time comes and I have to wield my super seduction powers.  Just hope the dude is not on a diet.




My Auntie Kay gave me this fantastic old cast iron skillet recently, and I had so much fun frying in it.  I'd seasoned it up the night before, and it did the French Toast justice.  If you have one, use it, and if you don't, go find yourself one.  I've seen lots at vintage stores, and they are worth purchasing.  To season it, I was instructed to rub the skillet with lard (not vegetable shortening) and heat in a low 200 degree oven for 4 hours or so.  Done.  When I finished cooking in it, I let it cool then wiped it out with a damp cloth.  Never ever use soap and water to clean your cast iron.  Thanks Auntie Kay!




Croissant French Toast

4 croissants, day old preferably
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 orange, juice and zest
1 cup whole milk ( I used 2 % and it was fine)
1/2 tsp pure vanilla
1/2 tsp ground Cinnamon
4 tbsp butter
3/4 cup maple syrup
1 tbsp Grand Marnier or Cointreau

With a serrated knife, slice the croissants in half.  In a shallow bowl, whip the eggs with the juice of one orange, a little zest (save some zest for the syrup), the milk, vanilla and cinnamon.  Heat a skillet over medium heat and add one tbsp of butter.  Dip croissant halves in egg mixture, careful not to leave them in too long or they'll get too soggy.  Fry one croissant (two halves) at a time.  Flip once, when you can see the edges getting crispy.  Have your oven turned on low - like 200 degrees- to keep them warm while you fry the rest. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, heat the maple syrup on low, add the orange zest, and the Grand Marnier.  Keep warm while you fry the toast.  This recipe serves 4, easily cut in half, or doubled, as need be.  Serve warm, with fruit or whipped cream, or if going all out to impress, how about a little mascarpone cheese?  Yum and yum.



If you are curious as to the little white flowers accompanying the strawberries and marigolds, they are in fact the flowers off my cilantro plant, which has quickly gone to seed.  Pretty though, no?
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