Toad-in-a-Hole

Isn’t it amazing how food can evoke a memory? An emotion? One bite can bring you right back to the place that you first tasted the delectable delight. So, it is for me and the infamous ‘toad-in-a-hole’.   I had my first taste in Australia. The trip of a lifetime with each moment solidly etched in my brain. My dear friend Catherine made them for us one morning at her home in Adelaide.

toad-in-a-hole

We grew up with what we referred to as ‘dunkin’ eggs’. We loved my mom’s basted eggs and loved dunking our toast in the runny yolks even more. At the risk of showing my slightly weird side, I like to eat the surrounding egg white first and then dive into the yolk. When I was little, I would take my fork and push down gently until the yolk squirted out. It was a test in pressure and fun to watch it burst. (Sometimes I still do that!)

I recently introduced my children to the ‘toad-in-a-hole’ and they LOVE it. My daughter asked for ‘toad-in-a-hole’ four nights in a row, for dinner! When asked what her favorite food is…you guessed it!  Toad-in-a-hole.  It is so simple and easy, and healthy too.

 

Here are my very basic steps for Toad-in-a-Hole:

Choose your bread.  You can use any variety you prefer. We have enjoyed with our standard whole wheat but have also delighted in the flavor of sourdough. Generously melt butter in cast iron pan and turn heat to medium-low.  Cut a hole in a slice of your choice of bread with a biscuit cutter or upside down glass.  Lay the bread in the pan.  I put the circle part in the pan too.  Let it toast a bit in the butter and then crack an egg in the hole you created in the slice of bread.  Salt and pepper to your liking.  Give it a good minute or so and then carefully flip so that the other side of the egg has a turn.  You can cook to your liking for the yolk, runny or all the way through or anywhere in between.  I also flip the circle here too so it gets nicely toasted on the other side.  Remove from pan and serve.

Side Note:  I have switched entirely to cast iron but you can use whatever pan you normally use to make eggs.  I swear food TASTES better and I can’t believe I didn’t make the switch sooner.  Old school is the way to go.  😉

If you are looking for a new take on your egg and haven’t had the pleasure of this simple dish, I invite you to try it.

While names abound, I prefer to call it ‘toad-in-a-hole’ as it was first served to me by my kind and gracious Aussie friend.

Thanks Catherine – for bringing me back Down Under with a simple breakfast dish.  Cheers!

 

 

 

From Paris with Love

A few years ago I had the pleasure of visiting France and fell in love with everything about it.  My dearest friend Mo and I had such a spectacular time.  This photo, taken in Paris inside the Musée d’Orsay, looks out on the Sacré-Cœur Basilica (to the left) and the Musée du Louvre (to the right).  The Grande Roue de Paris is at the very center. 

I love (love!!!) this picture.  The view is spectacular.  The memories even more so.

I thought it was a few years ago but after checking my records – it has been eight years.  (Eight?!?)

Oh how time flies! What better symbol of time flying than the view from this gorgeous clock?

I will also shamefully admit that I drafted the beginning of this post in March, at which time I crowned this photo as the reigning background on my laptop.

I received a bit of a nudge when Mo gave me a heads up yesterday.  She informed me that it was on this day eight years ago that we had visited the Musée d’Orsay.  So, I thought it only fitting and right that I share this photo with you today.

Ahh..Paris!!

The City of Light.

The City of Love.

It is a breathtaking city and the proof lies in this one simple photo which only showcases a portion of its beauty. (By the way, that is ‘Pa-Ree!!’ in case you are struggling to hear my best French accent. If you say ‘Pare-ISS’ it just sounds like you are from northern Minnesota and are dreadfully boring. If you say ‘Pa-REE’ it sounds like you are actually in Paris which involves Chocolate Pastry Bliss, café au lait and all things French. You can decide what you are hearing. I hear only ‘Pa-Ree’.)

If you ever get the chance, I highly recommend a visit. 

If you have ever dreamed of visiting, I highly recommend you make it happen.

For our adventure, the year was 2005 and it was our third trip overseas. Our first was to Australia and our second was to Ireland, with both countries speaking a form of English that we could easily wrap our heads around.  In France, our language skills proved sketchy at best.  Sure, we utilized the proverbial learning language CD’s and practiced our speaking skills for months while driving to and fro (lots of one hour car trips at that time for me as I commuted from my love to my job).  It was extremely important to be alone during those times. To repeat the French language.  (While there are certain noises my mouth and throat are not made to repeat in any language, I can tell you that singing and poorly speaking French both sound better when you are alone in your car, isolated from any other human ears.)  It is a shame neither Mo or I had taken one lick of French in high school or college.  We tried to speak French.  Really, we did.  Each time we would sit at a café to be served, we would honorably encourage the other person to show off her skills.  Sadly, we had none.  None.  While I can’t speak for Mo (in French or English), I know what I was really doing in these dreadful moments.  I sat, as if mute, as long as I possibly could, hoping, praying, willing through intense telepathy, that Mo would speak first and be the one to flail about hopelessly in front of the waiter.

Paris was tough for that reason but worth it in every way, despite our too-English mouthpieces.  Sadly, Parisians are not known for their incredible warmth and keen sense of knowing the exact moment a struggling American needs help with their tongue.  I realize French kisses may be another matter entirely.  In our experience, helping foreign visitors speak French or using their own (presumably affluent) English is simply not their strong suit.  So, we did our very best and miraculously, we managed to dine on amazing cuisine, enjoy delicious wine, and drink in the city in spite of our lack of language skills.  Oh, what we would have given for the technology available today!  My iPhone would have been a welcome assistant in every situation from French-English translation to maps.  Alas, we made our way without Siri because well…she wasn’t born yet. 

The food, drink, and city were a joy to partake in.  Most of the time I felt as if I were walking around about a foot above the ground.  Floating.  Dreaming.  Drunk on the city.  High on the culture.  Alive.  Enamored.  All the while waiting for someone to pinch me and for me to wake up and be forced to dust off the intoxication. 

As I write this, I realize that my love for Paris is even greater than I ever really knew.  So, it is with great pride and deep, heartfelt admiration for Paris that I share with you this photo. 

Bon nui mon chere!

Chocolate Pastry Bliss

Lately, I have been reminiscing about France which gave me a serious craving for chocolate pastries.  I assure you there will be future posts of French memories.  For now, I must focus on the chocolate and the pastry.  The daydreaming begins…

A dark-haired woman sits at an outdoor cafe in Paris, sipping a cup of espresso.

A handsome French waiter approaches:  “Pain au chocolat, Mademoiselle?” 

Skinny, beautiful American woman replies:  “Oui, Monsieur!  Merci beaucoup!” in her best French accent (which is actually quite terrible in real life but in the fantasy it is perfect!)

(And yes, this is my daydream and I get to be beautiful and skinny in it!)

Woman experiences BLISS. True, unabashed BLISS.  She hears an orchestra playing music.  She considers running off with handsome French waiter.  But first, she must consume pastry. 

Where was I?  *wipes drool off chin* Oh yes!  Pain au chocolat is a pastry of delectable measure.  Similar to the croissant in its genetic makeup and filled with chocolate, there is nothing painful about it.  The ‘pain’ is simply French for bread.

In honor of the chocolate pastry and to satisfy my ever-growing desires, I made Nutella Turnovers this past weekend.  Which, mind you, are not exactly the same as what I enjoyed in Paris.  But they are certainly excellent imposters.  They were irresistible!  I cannot possibly tell you the number of pastries I consumed.  I cannot tell you because (a) I truly do not know how many and because (b) I don’t want you to think I am total loser with no self control.

I do know this.  It was more than one.  And less than eight.  (I know!!  Terrible.)  I had some help with the devouring process in the form of my husband and some dinner guests.  (Thank goodness!)

I might not be able to make these again.  They pulled me to them like a high powered magnet.  I cut one turnover in half, willing myself to be good.  It melted in my mouth.  Bliss.  Twenty minutes later, I had to go back for the other half.  And so the dance began with the Nutella Turnover leading the ENTIRE time.  Yes, my jeans are a little tight this week. I’m blaming it on PMS.

The creation of these turnovers was so simple.  They require six ingredients and I can guarantee you already have at least four in your kitchen.  You could easily substitute one tablespoon of a fruit pie filling in for the Nutella.  (Hmmm… Fruit or Chocolate?  Although the fruit would make it healthy…Right?)  I might do cherry or apple turnovers next time.  That is IF I let myself make them again.  There will have to be guests.  And self-control.

Like any good recipe, I stumbled upon this one purely by accident.  I happened to notice that The Pioneer Woman (I have mentioned her before and if you have not yet had a chance to check out her site, I highly encourage you to do so!) had a list of sites she likes and the first one was bell’alimento.  I’ll be going back to try more of Paula’s recipes.  Her photographs alone are divine.

bell’alimento’s Nutella Turnover Recipe with Divine Photographs

These turnovers would make a great addition to a brunch or breakfast event!   I hope you have a chance to try them and experience the bliss for yourself.  I’m going to get on my treadmill now.  Bon Appétit!

Printable Nutella Turnover Recipe