Pete Marczyk and Barbara Macfarlane do not leave their work behind when they leave Marczyk Fine Foods and head for their great old Denver house with a spacious kitchen. They often bring some of their market's best ingredients home with them and cook up a feast, and when they're not cooking at home, they're working with the staff at Marczyk to create recipes for the rest of us to enjoy, usually turning to Whitney Ariss, a home cook and the market's marketing project manager and events coordinator, for inspiration.
"All of us at Marczyk's are devoting the entire month of May to everybody's favorite in-between meal: brunch," says Ariss. "Between National Cook Brunch for Mom Day, aka Mother's Day, and the spring weather putting us all in the mood to do some day drinking, we thought it seemed appropriate."
And while brunch can be as simple as a plate of fresh eggs and fat slabs of bacon, the crew at Marczyk's is obsessed with challah, and when there's challah, there's French toast. "You can make French toast out of just about any bread you like, but you'll never quite reach French toast euphoria until you try making it with challah," insists Ariss. "We bake our big, fluffy, beautiful loaves at Marczyk's using local, organic flour and fresh eggs, and when it's sliced nice and thick, our challah has the perfect texture for absorbing batter, and the slices cook up light, spongy and toothsome," she adds.
Her recipe, which appeals to adults and kids, also leaves plenty of room for creativity. "You can add other flavor elements to the batter, like cinnamon, grated lemon zest or whiskey if you're feeling sassy," says Ariss. And if your idea of brunch really is bacon and eggs, feel free to crown your toast with both. "I top mine off with a generous drizzle of really good maple syrup, like Slopeside syrup from Vermont, and a little pat of butter, and the result is brunch perfection," she promises. Just add mimosas.
See also: Recipe Wednesday: Chocolate crackles
Challah French Toast Serves 4
2 eggs 1/3 cup whole milk 1/4 cup half & half (or cream, if you're feeling fancy) 1 tsp vanilla extract 1 T maple syrup Pinch of salt 4 thick (about 1-inch) slices of challah loaf 2 T butter (or so), for frying Maple syrup, to serve
1. Whisk together eggs, milk, half & half (or cream), vanilla, maple syrup and salt in a shallow dish. 2. Place a large pan over medium heat and melt 1 tablespoon butter. Dip each bread slice in the batter, coating both sides (don't allow bread to soak or it'll absorb too much liquid and get soggy). After the fourth slice, all the liquid should have been absorbed. 3. Fry each slice in hot pan (adding more butter as necessary) until the toast is nicely browned and just a little bit crispy around the edges, about 3 minutes per side. 4. Drizzle with maple syrup and serve immediately.
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