I have a very "unique" family, and I state unique in quotation marks because they know we are all nuts. We are a family of creatives, writers, musicians, and artists. My Grandmother was a jazz singer, my grandfather was a musician (match made in heaven), all of my uncles inherited the musical talent from them (DJs, drummers, rappers, and musicians alike). My uncle Jeff frequently blows my mind with his art in addition to his music. My aunt is the baker in the family, always carrying towers of cupcakes or sculpting a cake design. And my mom can create the most delicate, stunning knitted pieces, crotchet like the wind, and master any craft project known to mankind. My brother is actually a talented little artist, as he can draw some pretty amazing things as well, and we both have dabbled in music (he plays guitar, I play piano).
My cousin Veronica and I would spend hours writing elaborate stories, or creating dramatic reenactments of our masterpieces where Barbie was the star and Ken always died for some reason. The rest of my younger cousins are artists and musicians in their own right.
I myself, love to cook, photograph, and write, hence the blog. I tried to sew once when I was 12. I made the worst hat in history and ended up crying. I was aiming for Britney Spears, and ended up with train conductor for rats.
Coming from a creative family can be exhausting though.
Every family gathering you can find someone singing an odd song, making something, laughing, playing an instrument that is laying around, or just shout-laughing over one another.
My bet is on the shout-laughing.
One thing that goes with the creative family gene?
Being a complete crazy person (and book hoarder).
And by being a complete crazy person, I mean deciding you are going to recipe test french toast at 8:30 Saturday night...when you aren't even hungry. It was a thought that I couldn't let go. I had fresh basil, ricotta, bread...the idea kept swirling over and over.
It was like a smooth rock, that I just kept flipping over and over between my fingers. The entire walk with my boys, all I could think was in big bold letters:
FRENCH TOAST WITH WHIPPED BASIL RICOTTA.
When we walked, I told Jake what I was doing and he smiled, seemingly undisturbed that I asked him to taste test french toast at 9 pm. He was confused by the idea of basil and french toast.
But let me tell you, it is revolutionary.
In the best non-bragging type revolutionary. The toast itself is not very sweet, because as you may know, I still like to keep things around here pretty healthy. But I promise, not boring. The sweetness comes in subtle layers. Fresh strawberry slices, drizzle of honey here and there. The sprinkles of coconut sugar before sliding it into a hot pan, creates a nice caramelization on the bread itself. To top the toast, a large dollop of my whipped honey & basil ricotta, which is creamy, surprising, and brings a freshness to the otherwise heavier main attraction.
This bread is also, gluten-free (and dairy-free without the ricotta). I use my favorite soy-free bread, Canyon Bakehouse bread. It is Gluten-Free & Vegan. And when it is toasted, or turned into french toast, it is pretty good, for what Jake considers "fake bread". But you could use regular bread for this, I would just stick with a drier bread like a sourdough. As I am not sure it would be enough liquid to soak the traditional brioche or challah bread.
It also isn't as complicated as it sounds or looks.
To make the toast, start by making the soak. Mix the eggs, almond milk, tablespoon of sugar, pinch of salt, and cinnamon until well combined.
Pour the soak into a shallow pan, large enough to accommodate 8 slices of (thinner) bread. Lay the bread down, push it down to immerse in liquid, then flip over to repeat. Let soak for about 15 minutes (turning in between every few times). While you are waiting for the bread to soak, whip (literally) up the ricotta cream! In a food processor, add the ricotta and 2 teaspoons of honey and processes until creamy and no lumps appear. I had to scrape the sides twice and blend for under a minute to achieve this.
Scoop out the whipped ricotta and place in small bowl. Rinse and pat dry 4 large basil leaves, and chiffonade the basil! To do this you will stack the basil up on top of each other, roll tightly, and cut into small strips. Fold the basil into the ricotta, and place in refrigerator until serving. Slice up strawberries! I would do about a half of a cup per serving. So 2 cups, or if you like a berry freak like me, you can slice up more.
Go crazy with it.
Now it is time to make those toasties! Heat up a pan on medium low heat (I used my cast iron, duh per usual, broken record), with enough coconut oil to coat the pan. I did about a teaspoon. But we aren't frying, so don't go nuts. You only go nuts for berries in this situation. You can also use butter or olive oil, or spray whatever you prefer, I just like coconut because it is milder than olive oil.
Lift one of the toasts up and let excess run off, and sprinkle a pinch of coconut sugar on one side, lay that side down on the pan, sprinkle a little more onto the "naked" side. Repeat another time, if your pan can accommodate more, add more than two. Since I haven't bit the bullet on a larger pan, I had to stick with two pieces at once.
Cook for about 3-4 minutes until brown, flip, and cook for addition 3-4 minutes. Repeat until all done!
Best toppings in addition to the strawberries and cream:
- Nuts (crushed macadamia, pecan, almond slices)
- Real maple syrup
Gluten-Free French Toast with Basil Whipped Ricotta
Say it with me, YAHHHHHHHS. Gluten-Free French Toast. Whipped ricotta. Basil. Juicy strawberries. I mean. This breakfast tastes indulgent, but is actually subtle in its sweetness, the whipped ricotta with basil strands throughout adds a pop of freshness. The perfect spring breakfast!
Prep time: 20 minutes
Total time: 1 hour or less
Yield: 4 servings (2 toast each)
- 4 whole eggs
- 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
- 1 tablespoon plus extra coconut sugar (or light brown sugar)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Pinch of salt
- 8 slices Canyon Bakehouse Mountain White bread*
- 1/2 cup part skim ricotta
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 4 large leaves of basil (1 tablespoon chopped)
- 4 cups of sliced strawberries
- Extra honey, syrup, or nuts for topping
- To start the French toast, you are going to first whip the egg mixture. Mix the eggs, almond milk, vanilla, 1 tablespoon of coconut sugar (or brown sugar), cinnamon and a pinch of salt. Whip well until all is combined.
- Dip each slice of bread into the bowl, submerging each one on either side. Lay each slice into a deep casserole dish, and pour the mixture over it. You want this to soak for about 10-15 minutes, turning them over on each side to ensure that they are evenly soaked.
- While you are waiting for the bread to soak, whip up the basil ricotta!
- In a food processor, add the ricotta and 2 teaspoons of honey and process until creamy and no lumps appear. I had to scrape the sides twice and blend for under a minute to achieve this.
- Scoop out the whipped ricotta and place in small bowl. Rinse and pat dry 4 large basil leaves, and chiffonade the basil! To do this you will stack the basil up on top of each other, roll tightly (cigar shape), and cut into small strips across. Fold the basil into the ricotta, and place in refrigerator until serving.
- Slice up strawberries! I would do about a half of a cup per serving. So 2 cups, or if you like a berry freak like me, you can slice up more.
- Heat up a pan on medium low heat (I used my cast iron, duh per usual, broken record), with enough coconut oil to coat the pan. I did about a teaspoon. But we aren't frying, so don't go nuts (or do, YOLO). You can use other oil, or butter, but I like the flavor of coconut oil the best.
- Lift one of the toasts up and let excess run off, and sprinkle a pinch of coconut sugar on one side, lay that side down on the pan, sprinkle a little more onto the "naked" side. Repeat another time, if your pan can accommodate more, add more than two.
- Cook for about 3-4 minutes until brown, flip, and cook for addition 3-4 minutes. Repeat until all done!
- Top with ricotta, strawberries, and any type of extras, honey, syrup, almond slices whatever you would like!