9.10.2009

RATHER SWEET

When we are at our country house in the Texas Hill Country, we make a point to take a drive over to Fredericksburg and have breakfast or lunch at Rather Sweet Bakery & Cafe.
Last weekend, we were at the pied á terre in Houston and I had a craving for some of Rebecca's brunch fare, so I tried my hand at the Créme Brulée French Toast and the Individual Baked Omelets.
Rebecca's cookbook "The Pastry Queen" is full of recipes that I want to try. The next one will have to be The "Texas Big Hairs Lemon-Lime Meringue Tarts" featured on the cover.
If you are ever in Fredericksburg, Texas - make sure and stop in to sample some of the delectable goodies. Rather Sweet is tucked back into a beautiful little courtyard and has both indoor and outdoor dining.
Central Market had just roasted up a batch of Hatch New Mexico Green Chile. There are those that would say you haven't lived until you've tasted a Hatch Green Chile, still warm from being roasted over an open fire. I don't know if I'd go that far - but they are delicious. I chopped them up and put them in the individual omelets, along with tomatoes, chives, potatoes and apple smoked bacon.

I added blueberries and a blackberry reduction to the French Toast. You can either make the it in a baking pan or do like I did and make elegant individual ones in 4-inch ramekins.
The individual omelets are baked in muffin tins, but I think next time I would try them in a 3 inch ramekin. Sort of like a mini soufflé.
I often have a group over for brunch and these will be on the menu next time. Both can be made a few hours ahead. The ingredients in the omelets can be varied as can the toppings for the French Toast. A carafe of coffee along with Champagne and everyone is happy.
The French Toast recipe calls for 3/4 cup sugar. As a rule - I always cut the sugar in half - so I reduced the sugar to 2 tablespoons and did not add the sugar topping. The blueberries and the blackberry reduction added plenty of sweetness. Next time - I will skip the sugar altogether. Crunchy on the outside and creamy in the middle - this may be the best French Toast I've ever had.

The Recipes:

INDIVIDUAL BAKED OMELETS

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium russet or red-skinned potato, peeled and cut in 1/2 inch dice
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
4 slices bacon, cooked and chopped into small pieces
a fresh tomato, seeded and finely chopped
6 large eggs
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream or half-and-half
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Dash of hot pepper sauce, such as Tabasco (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Generously butter 6 Texas-size (3 1/2 inches in diameter and 2 inches deep) muffin cups or line them with muffin wrappers. Melt the butter in a medium skillet set over medium heat. Add the potato, onion, and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt; sauté for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the red pepper and sauté for 15 minutes longer, continuing to stir occasionally. Taste to make sure the potato is cooked through; if not, cook for a few minutes longer, until the potato is fully cooked but not mushy. Remove the vegetable mixture from the heat and stir in the bacon and tomato.

Whisk the eggs, cream, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, the pepper, and hot sauce together in a large bowl. Stir in the vegetable mixture. Pour the egg mixture evenly into the muffin cups. (The egg mixture may almost reach to top, which is okay.) bake for 20 to 30 minutes. Lightly shake the pan; if the omelets look or feel runny in the middle, bake for 5 minutes longer, until firm. Serve warm. Yield - 6 omelets

Créme Brulée French Toast

1 large loaf of challah bread
8 large egg yolks
4 cups heavy whipping cream or half-and-half
3/4 cup plus 3 to 4 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup vanilla extract
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Grease a 2 1/2 - quart oven-safe casserole or soufflé dish. Slice the challah into 1/2-inch slices, then into cubes. In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, cream, 3/4 cup sugar, salt, vanilla, and butter. Put a quarter of the bread cubes in the casserole dish. Pour in enough of the cream mixture to cover the bread. Using a spoon, press the cream mixture into the bread so that it is thoroughly soaked. Continue layering in the same way until all the bread is soaked with the cream mixture. Cover the casserole tightly with aluminum foil and refrigerate at least 1 hour, or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Put the casserole in a larger baking pan and set it in the oven. Pour enough boiling water into the larger pan to reach halfway up the sides of the casserole. Bake for 1 1/2 hours, until the top is light brown and set.

Remove the casserole from the oven and sprinkle the 3 to 4 tablespoons sugar over the top in an even layer. Use a broiler set on high or a kitchen torch to cook the topping until the sugar becomes brown and liquefies. (It will harden as it cools) Serve warm or at room temperature.
Yield - 8 to 10 servings

Photography By: Ryannan Bryer de Hickman
Sotto Il Monte Vineyards

11 comments:

  1. Ry thank you so much for sharing the recipes..what elegant presentations for both!!You even look pretty n a carafe..
    The table setting and the resto's location look perfect.I even love the parchment!

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  2. OH my....all I can say is yum and yum again!
    Gorgeous!

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  3. Would love to have brunch with you.

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  4. Cara Ry,

    You spoil us with your recipies - and pics. So generous of you! I will definitely try the omelets. My deserts always come out dull, however. No talent whatsoever. As a consequence... Frutta or formaggio is our finale. Buon week-end e bacione, Ingrid in Umbria

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  5. What a lovely brunch! Looking at you photos, I can actually smell wonderful omelet and French Toast as well as the coffee wafting across the room! Thank you for sharing!

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  6. Wanted to come by and welcome you to my blog. You have a great blog, it is like a magazine...so well done. I look forward to getting to know you, so don't be a stranger.

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  7. Yum this looks so good Ry! And your table looks so warm & relaxing. I'm definitely going to try the French Toast next weekend.
    Millie ^_^
    P.S. I'm absolutely sure you'd do a superb job of The Hedge's Thai Red Duck Curry, you sell yourself way too short!

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  8. What a great idea. Mini baked omelettes. Another breakfast my husband will love. Thanks Ry.

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  9. Hello Ry

    You are my first American follower!
    Great!

    Greetings from Europe (Holland).

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  10. Just lovely...and so appetizing...I like the self portrait ;-)

    I just bought some small tart pans with the intention of making Citrus Tarts...I think I need that cook book!

    Thanks....Diane

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  11. oh la la..i'm not fully back in the kitchen yet but let me tell you, this recipe of individual omelettes is staying printed in my brain !
    it is so lovely and exquisite for the perfect brunch...

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