My favorite dinner to make when I’m cooking dinner for one is breakfast. Apolinaras isn’t a huge fan, so I always jump at the chance to whip up a broccoli cheddar omelet, turkey bacon, and whole wheat toast with jam when he’s out of town or at one of his late night networking events. I normally lean towards savory breakfast options over sweet ones, but I recently thought it would be fun to combine the best of both worlds in a savory French toast.
My idea was to make a cornbread packed with the goodness of caramelized shallots, pancetta, and sun-dried tomatoes, similar to this one, and then stuff slices of it with mascarpone cheese before frying it up as French toast. Now while I had a feeling the flavors would complement each other well, this was one of those experiments that I wasn’t completely confident would work. My main concern was about the syrup – I certainly wouldn’t consider the dish a true French toast if I didn’t enjoy syrup on top! So I hesitantly poured on some pure maple syrup and tentatively took a bite – then I promptly woofed down the entire slice standing in the kitchen without even sitting down at the table….oops. The French toast exceeded my expectations and reminded me of something that would be served in one of my favorite brunch spots, the Bongo Room in Chicago (oh how I miss you!). I will definitely be making this again!
Mascarpone Stuffed Cornbread French Toast
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped shallots
1/2 cup diced pancetta
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup milk
1 tablespoon butter
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
To make the cornbread, heat oven to 350˚F. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large nonstick skillet. Sauté shallots for 15 to 17 minutes, stirring frequently, or until caramelized; remove shallots from pan. Add pancetta to the pan and cook over medium high heat for 6 to 8 minutes or until browned; remove from pan and drain on paper towels.
Meanwhile, combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk together butter, eggs, and buttermilk in a large bowl. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until most of the lumps are dissolved. Stir in the caramelized shallots, pancetta, and sun-dried tomatoes. Pour the batter into a greased 9-inch bread pan. Bake at 350˚F for 40 to 45 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes in the pan and then use a knife to cut around the edges. Turn pan over and remove the loaf of bread. Let cool completely, about 2 hours. Cut into 8 slices.
To make the French toast, spread 2 tablespoons mascarpone cheese on 4 slices of cornbread and place the other 4 slices on top to form 4 sandwiches. Whisk milk and egg together in a shallow dish and dip sandwiches in egg mixture. Heat butter over medium high heat in a large nonstick skillet. Place sandwiches in the pan and fry until golden brown on both sides, about 5 minutes. Drizzle maple syrup over each piece of stuffed French toast. Makes 8 servings.
Nutrition: 438 calories, 24.8g fat, 2.0g fat, 11.0g protein per serving
Cost: $1.03 per serving