Tag Archives: artbites

Cinnamon Babka French Toast with Berry Compote

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Cinnamon Babka French Toast with Berry Compote

If breakfast in bed is in order on Valentine’s Day — or any day — this decadent french toast recipe is full of proven aphrodisiacs…

Cinnamon was known for its sensual appeal in the ancient world and at one time was more valuable than gold because of its curative properties. It is among the spices considered useful for producing heat within the body and is known to increase appetite — both physical and sexual. As for berries, blueberries promote blood flow and help keep you young and energetic, raspberries and strawberries are full of antioxidants and are plump, pretty, and seductive. For more info about these and other aphrodisiacs check out Eat Something Sexy.

Click here for a blog I wrote on ancient aphrodisiacs and watch this great video collaboration with Carin Krasner with a step by step demo on how to make this sultry, comforting and delicious meal. Recipe below.

For the French Toast:
6 slices slightly dry day old cinnamon babka, sliced 1″ thick (Dean & Deluca makes the best babka on the planet)
5 large eggs
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon sugar
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoons butter, for frying

For the Berry Compote:
1 pound mixed fresh berries
¼ cup sugar
2 tablespoons water

Make the compote. In a medium saucepan, combine the berries with the sugar and the water and bring to a simmer. Cook over medium heat until the berries are softened and the sugar is dissolved, about 8 minutes.

Whisk together eggs and milk in a bowl. Add vanilla, sugar, and salt, whisk to combine.

Put the babka slices in a pie plate and pour the egg mixture over them. Let soak for 1 to 2 minutes on each side.

Heat a large heavy skillet on medium heat.

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in skillet, add the babka and cook until golden brown 2 to 4 minutes. Flip and cook on the other side for 2 to 3 minutes, until golden brown.

Dust with powdered sugar and serve with berry compote or with maple syrup.

Serves 2

Champurrado

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Champurrado

Champurrado is a warm, thick Mexican drink made of chocolate and corn masa often served around the holidays. Though popular today, the drink has Mayan origins. It combines the major crops of maize and cacao, which were viewed as cosmic opposites. Maize, which needs full sun to grow and was the life source of Mesoamerica, represented life; cacao, which requires shade and was consumed only by the elite in their society, represented death. One was a basic necessity the other was synonymous with luxury and status. On a practical level, the caffeine in the cacao served as a stimulant and the maize provided calories and nutrition.

Think of this when you froth your champurrado or hot chocolate with a molinillo, a wooden whisk for the sole purpose of creating froth in hot chocolate (and my favorite kitchen gadget.) Click here for more fun facts on chocolate watch this fun video collaboration by Carin Krasner showing how to make it.

Happy Holidays!

1 ½ cups hot water
2 cinnamon sticks
1 teaspoon whole cloves
¼ cup masa flour, masa harina brand is a good and easy to find option
3 cups milk
2 tablets chocolate, chopped
ground cinnamon for garnish (optional)

Bring the water and spices to a boil and simmer for about 10 minutes. Remove the spices.

Slowly whisk in the masa flour, whisking continuously until smooth and thickened.

Add the milk and chocolate to the mixture. Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, until boiling. Reduce heat to low and continue to stir constantly, until thickened. Sprinkle with ground cinnamon and serve with a delicious concha or the pan dulce.

Serves 4

Sweet Potato, Corn and Quinoa Salad

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Sweet Potato, Corn and Quinoa Salad

Native to the Andes, the Incas considered quinoa sacred and referred to it as the “mother of all grains.” The Spanish colonists suppressed its cultivation due to its status within indigenous religious ceremonies and forced them to grow wheat instead. Sweet potatoes have consumed in Peru since the 9th century BC.

The life force of the Americas, there is evidence that maize (corn) has been domesticated in Mexico for over 10,000 years. Green beans are also native to Mexico.

2 ½ cups cooked quinoa
2 sweet potatoes, about 1 pound
2 ears corn, husked
½ pound green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces
salt and pepper
¼ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
5 scallions, minced
¼ cup minced parsley and cilantro

Cook 1 cup dry quinoa according to package directions. Set aside.

Peel the sweet potato and dice it into ½-inch pieces. Cook it in boiling salted water to cover until tender, about 15 minutes. (Make sure you salt the water generously!) Drain and set aside.

While the potatoes are cooking, bring a separate pan of salted water to a boil and blanche the corn and green beans for about 3 minutes. Drain and add to the potatoes. Mix in the quinoa.

Whisk the oil, vinegar and herbs together in a small bowl. Add to the potato mixture and toss. Taste, adjust the seasoning, and serve

Serves 4 to 6

Green Olive Tapenade

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Green Olive Tapenade

A table laden with appetizers is typical of Provence, and olive tapenade was a favorite of Paul Cezanne’s.

2 cups green olives, pitted
1 1/3 cup almonds
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons lemon juice
½ cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves
½ cup olive oil
salt

Put the pitted olives, almonds, garlic, and lemon juice, in the bowl of a food processor.

Coarsely chop the basil leaves, add them to the processor, and pulse the machine a few times to start breaking them down.

Add the olive oil and a pinch of salt. Pulse until the mixture forms a coarse paste. Serve with sliced, toasted baguette. (The tapenade will keep for up to 1 week in the refrigerator.)

Serves 6 to 8

photo by Carin Krasner