Thursday, August 16, 2012

French Toast with Brillat-Savarin Truffle D’ete Cheese

Do you like having a savoury or sweet breakfast?

I generally like my breakfast savoury – either Western style with bacon, eggs, toast and the lot; or Asian style like congee or some noodle dish. But I will make an exception sometimes for French toast or waffles even though it feels like I’m having dessert for breakfast, and having sweets early in the day seems a bit wrong, kind of like having a glass of wine before noon. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day after all, so it’s important to choose the right food to start your day. Some argue for the importance of protein in the morning to give you the energy that you need to start the day, and it also helps to control your hunger so you are not starving by lunchtime. I have a friend who has dinner for breakfast and then smaller meals throughout the day, and he has reported that he works better this way, following the ancient proverb to eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, dine like a pauper. This reverse diet is also used by people to loose weight, where by reversing your meal sizes and times, you can better distribute your calories throughout the day. Earlier this year a study revealed that having some dessert for breakfast can help to prevent weight gain and food cravings.

Savoury vs sweet, dinner for breakfast, dessert for breakfast, reverse diet…there are so many options. How do you do breakfast?

French toast is stale bread that has been softened by covering it in a mixture of milk, eggs, cinnamon and sugar, and then fried in butter. It’s called pain perdu in French, which literally means "lost bread" and was created as a way to use up leftover stale bread. French toast is usually dusted with icing sugar and served with maple syrup, cream and/or fruits.
Did you know that French toast was not actually invented in France?

The idea of French toast (ie: soaking and frying bread) has been around long before France even existed as a country and the process of cooking stale bread in eggs and milk dates back to medieval times, it was even once called pain à la romaine aka Roman bread. The exact origins of French toast are unknown but some believe that the name was derived in a similar fashion to French fries and was a result of it being popularised in America by French immigrants and thus, Americans started calling it “French toast” and so did the rest of the world...

You can use any kind of stale bread to make French toast but I like using brioche because of its rich and buttery flavour. I also like my slice of bread to be quite thick, fried until it has a crisp, caramelized outer layer and a soft, fluffy interior. It almost feels like you are eating cake.

I have seen recipes for French toast sandwiched with fillings such as chocolate or fruit like bananas. I bought some Brillat-Savarin Truffle D’ete (soft cheese stuffed with summer truffles) at the Mundaring Truffle Festival

For breakfast last weekend, I thought I would try stuffing French toast with Truffle D’efe and the result was oozing cheese in between layers of sweetly coated, butter fried bread. It’s kind of like a grilled cheese sandwich but better. The cheese added savouriness which balanced out the sweetness of the fried brioche. It’s a winning combination.

I definitely recommend you try making French toast one day stuffed with cheese. I think that any soft cheese like brie or camembert works well. 

French Toast with Brillat-Savarin Truffle D’ete (or any other soft cheese)

(adapted from the Cook’s Companion, serves 2)


•    4 thick slices of stale brioche (two day old)
•    2 eggs
•    ½ cup of milk
•    pinch salt and nutmeg
•    1-2 teaspoons caster sugar
•    ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
•    ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
•    a few tablespoons of butter for frying
•    a few slices of soft cheese


In a bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, salt, nutmeg, sugar, vanilla extract and cinnamon together (adjust seasonings to your taste). Pour the eggy mixture into a shallow bowl.
Soak 2 slices of brioche in the eggy mixture, carefully turn to coat each side for 30-60 seconds (the amount of time will depend on how stale your brioche is. Stale bread will soak up more mixture without falling apart). Shake off the excess.

Heat some butter (1-2 tablespoons) in a frying pan over medium heat until it foams, add the pieces of brioche and fry until golden brown on both sides and cooked through (2-3 minutes each side). Remove the fried brioche onto a plate lined with paper towels. Add slices of cheese on top of one piece of brioche, place the other piece of brioche on top to sandwich.

Then put the broche sandwich back into the frying pan and cook on a low-medium heat for a few minutes, flipping on both sides until the cheese melts or preheat oven to 180C and place the brioche sandwich on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper and bake until warmed through (about 5-6 minutes).

Repeat with remaining slices of brioche.

Serve, dusted with icing sugar.

Here are some of my other truffle recipes:

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Truffle Breakfast with Slow-Poached Egg

Truffles are becoming more popular and commonly known among the general public as a highly prized and sought after edible mushroom. No longer are they just a mysterious fungi that people get confused with the ones of the chocolate variety.

Well this appears to be the case in Perth, with Perth diners tucking into more truffles than diners in Melbourne and Sydney combined and a record number of people attended the recent Mundaring Truffle Festival.

Not everyone is a fan though. I’ve noticed a love-hate relationship with truffles. Some people love it and have an euphoria for them, while others don’t see it as anything special, and don’t understand why people would spend several thousand dollars per kilo on it. Don’t people have better things to spend their money on? Are truffles overrated? How can something that basically looks like a turd and is described by some as smelling like dirt, old socks and sex, also be considered one of the most amazing foods in the world with chefs gushing over it like it’s a baby? You will often hear the expression “you can never have too much truffle” get thrown around. Listening to people who love eating truffles talk about them can be like listening to someone who is in a drug induced state sometimes. Truffles are strangely alluring and can also be addictive. Similar to the drug market, truffles are scarce and attract high prices. A CBS News 60 Minutes report earlier this year exposed a black market for truffles, where they are being trafficked like drugs, stolen by thugs, and threatened by inferior imports from China (watch here).

What do you think of truffles? Are you a fan of them?

Put me unashamelessly in the truffle lover camp. I’m one of those people that finds the aroma of truffles intoxicating and I love how the addition of truffles can enhance and intensify the flavour of a dish.

My first taste of truffles this year was at Cantina in June where I ordered their special truffle breakfast which had cheesey toast, mushroom puree, slow cooked egg, walnuts and parsley. The dish was around $20 without truffles and $30 with a generous shaving of truffles on top. The addition of truffles to the dish brought it to another level and I couldn’t imagine having it without the truffles. 

(Photo of the Cantina breakfast that I took on my phone)

I bought a truffle at the Mundaring Truffles Festival and one of things I wanted to do with it was recreate the breakfast that I had at Cantina.

So here is my truffle breakfast, it’s not the same as Cantina’s but it has similar elements - Slice of bread with truffle butter that I got from the July Urban Locavore box, sautéed mushrooms, rocket, a slow poached egg and truffles shaved over the top.

This was the first time that I have cooked a slow-poached egg. I used a method that I read about in the Momofuku cookbook where eggs are cooked using a Japanese technique – onsen style. Onsen in Japanese means hotsprings which the public bathe in. Using this method, the eggs are slowly cooked in their shells in hot water at 62-64C for about 45 minutes, so they are essentially just soaking in a hot bath. The result is an egg which has a just set texture, almost jelly like.

It’s probably the simplest way to poach an egg to guarantee an outcome that will be soft, creamy and ooze over whatever you put it on top of, however, it’s a little time consuming and you have to watch the temperature carefully. The good thing is that you can slow-poach a few eggs at a time and keep some in the fridge for up to 24 hours and reheat in a bowl of hot water for a few minutes before consuming. 

I have a thermometer but not one that you can clip onto the side of your pot. So I had to come up with a way to prop up the thermometer so that I wouldn’t be stuck holding it for 45-50 minutes while the eggs cooked. First I tried a fork but it wasn’t very stable, then I found a bottle opener in my draw which I balanced on the handle of the pot and it was quite secure. So I have discovered a new kitchen innovation while making this dish and I think that my bottle opener will come in handy for other things in the future besides opening bottles.

When my friend saw what I had done, he told me that I was just like my mother. I was a bit confused by this statement at first but then realized that he must be referring to this.

Sometimes when I walk into the kitchen of my parents house I find my mum doing some random things like using a chilli sauce bottle to keep chicken simmering in master stock submerged. It’s genius right?

Slow-Poached Eggs

(Recipe adapted from Momofuku – I used large eggs instead of medium eggs so cooked them at a slightly higher temperature and for a longer time than specified in the recipe from the book)
  • Remove eggs from fridge 30-60 minutes before cooking so that they are at room temperature.
  • Fill a large pot with water and put it on the lowest setting on your stove so that you can maintain the lowest possible heat.
  • Use something (a cake rack or steamer rack) to keep the eggs from sitting on the bottom of the pot where it will be directly on the heat source and be exposed to the highest temperatures.
  • Use a thermometer to monitor the temperature in the pot, heat the water to between 62C - 64C degrees, add the eggs into the pot. Let them slowly cook for 45-50 minutes, checking the temperature regularly on the thermometer. If it’s too hot you can add cold water, ice cubes or turn off the heat for a bit and then back on again until the heat is reduced to the right temperature range.
  • To serve, gently crack open the egg and slowly slide out onto a small saucer or plate. Tip the dish to pour off and discard the loosest part of the white, then slide the egg onto whatever dish you want.
  • When you first put the eggs in, you may need to increase the heat a bit as the addition of the eggs may drop the water’s temperature.
  • You can test the eggs by taking one out after 45 minutes of cooking and cracking it open to see how cooked it is, if it looks like it needs a bit more time, cook it for a few more minutes.
  • If planning on storing slow-poached eggs in the refrigerator, chill them in an ice-water bath first.
Here are some of my other truffle recipes: