Hello! Before I get all distracted talking about Easter and stuffed French toast, let me introduce myself. I’m Renée Kohlman - a chef and food blogger over at Sweetsugarbean. My blog is about whatever I happen to be cooking in my little green kitchen - with a focus on local, whole foods, but butter, bacon and chocolate will happily make an appearance now and then. Just over two years old, the blog has been an excellent creative outlet for me, gathering national attention as well when the National Post named me one of Canada’s Best Food Bloggers. It was quite the honour! When I’m not cooking in my kitchen I can be found out in my garden (when it’s not covered with snow, of course), admiring my tomatoes and smelling the sweetpeas. Growing my own food has been a passion of mine and I cannot wait for the snow to melt so I can get out there and start digging in the dirt. I believe strongly in knowing where your food comes from, and supporting local, independent food producers. I was quite pleased when Ken asked me to write a few words for the March newsletter. Saskmade Marketplace is a great store showcasing so many of this province’s talented food producers. I mean, where else can you find Black Pansy Syrup, frozen sour cherries and dried morel mushrooms?
Easter is my favourite holiday. Being a chef - the Christmas season is too stressful and chaotic to really enjoy. Easter is more my style - the snow is melting, the birds are singing and the earth is letting out a long sigh, preparing to begin again. Easter is fresh starts and new beginnings and splashing around in rubber boots. It’s about looking forward and being hopeful of the future. And let’s be honest - having a little hope is not a bad thing. That smell of damp earth and sunshine and wet grass - it gets me every time and I’m glad for it.
Easter is also about the food - honey glazed hams and scalloped potatoes and devilled eggs as far as the eye can see. Loaves of Easter bread are sliced and enjoyed with big sweeps of butter.
Brunch always holds a special place in my heart (and belly) so that’s how we celebrate the Easter feast. It can be savoury - a ham and brie tart with tomatoes and thyme or breakfast tacos with avocado salsa or sweet - strawberry, rhubarb and mascarpone crepes or my new favourite brunch item: honey-roasted apple and brie stuffed French toast. I used a lovely loaf from Earthbound Bakery and some cinnamon honey from Tu-Bees. The whole thing was slathered in Saskatchewan Birch Syrup by Prairie Infusions and it was glorious. Sharon, from Herschel Hills makes a fine Camembert, so if you want to use that instead of brie, it would be an excellent substitution. However you feast, I hope it’s a fine one.
I’ll be having some other tasty brunch items for sampling on March 23rd at Saskmade, so do come in and say hello - I’d love to meet you!
Honey-Roasted Apple and Brie Stuffed French Toast
2 Gala apples, cored and sliced
1 heaping tbsp butter
1 heaping tbsp TU-BEES cinnamon honey
pinch of salt
4 slices good French bread
¼ cup milk or cream
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp butter
6 slices of Brie (or Camembert)
¼ cup toasted walnuts or pecans
Birch Syrup, to serve (but Maple will do, too)
Combine the apples, butter, honey and salt in small roasting dish. Roast in a preheated 400*F oven for about 30 minutes until golden and soft - stirring every 10 minutes. You want the juices reduced. When done, set aside.
Whisk the eggs, cream, sugar and vanilla in large bowl. Dip the bread, making sure thoroughly soaked. Over medium high heat melt 1 tbsp butter in skillet and fry two pieces of bread at a time. When one side is golden, flip over continue cooking until that side is golden as well. Place 3 pieces of brie, half the apples and walnuts on one slice. Top with the other piece of bread - it’s like you are making a French toast sandwich! Reduce heat and flip over once more. Cook until the brie is melted. Slide off to a baking dish and keep warm in low oven while you repeat with the rest of the ingredients. Serve warm with Birch syrup and more butter, if you like. Serves 2.