We are leaving on Thursday to go to London where our daughter is getting married next week so my head is full of wedding plans, but before I go I promised a guest here at the Carolina Bed & Breakfast that I would share with her my recipe for Asheville’s best savory French Toast: Parmesan and Thyme Encrusted French Toast with Hollandaise and Tomato Basil Butter.
Like so many of my recipes, this one started with an idea and a little bit of serendipity made it that much better! The idea was that it would be good to have a savory dish that was not as eggy as quiche for those who are not huge egg fans. So I took a look at “savory French toast” on Pinterest and Google. There were a number of options with lots of different toppings ranging from the delicious to the maybe-not. Cheese was a big factor in many of these so I threw it into my recipe along with thyme which grows readily in our garden and is always a nice touch in a savory dish. Hollandaise was a natural topping. But I’m not a huge fan of Hollandaise sauce myself so I went looking for something with a bit more bite to it. Since I love the idea of compound butters I thought of doing a tomato-basil butter. But then you run into the problem of less than excellent tomatoes (because if it isn’t warm with the sun and fresh off the vine, a tomato may not be worth the work). My solution was to use sun-dried tomatoes which pack a more concentrated flavor.
After fooling around a bit, it was time for the testing. Did you know that one of the perks of working at our Asheville Bed & Breakfast is tasting my food before it goes on the menu? I decided to try both the Hollandaise and the butter to see which people like more. Which is where serendipity comes in. We each had two piece of French toast: one topped with tomato basil butter and one with Hollandaise. The French toast was warm and the butter melted and mixed with the Hollandaise and it was delicious! Each was good by themselves but the two together was awesome! Serving a compound butter with Hollandaise Sauce may sound like overkill but really Hollandaise is mostly butter so we use a little less of the Hollandaise and top it with a thin slice of compound butter.
The best part: the plates are practically licked clean when they come back!
PARMESAN CRUSTED SAVORY FRENCH TOAST WITH TOMATO BASIL BUTTER AND HOLLANDAISE SAUCE
Carolina Bed & Breakfast
Serves four to six
4 large eggs
½ cup half & half
½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
¼ tsp dried mustard
½ tsp chopped fresh thyme
Pinch of salt
8 thickly cut slices of country style French or Italian Bread
5 tbsp room temperature butter
¼ cup finely chopped sundried tomatoes
¼ cup finely chopped basil
Hollandaise sauce (I use Trader Joe’s Hollandaise sauce for this but any good blender hollandaise sauce recipe will work)
Mix together the butter, tomatoes and basil in a bowl. Carefully form the butter into a log, roll in parchment paper and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes until it is firm. Using a sharp knife cut the butter into thin slices and refrigerate until needed. This can be done the night before.
In a blender or using an immersion blender, mix together the first six ingredients.
Dip the bread in the batter, spooning over and pressing on any Parmesan that does not adhere.
Heat one tablespoon each butter and olive oil in a frying pan. Cook the bread about two-three minutes on a side until cooked through and golden brown on both sides.
Serve with warm hollandaise sauce and tomato-basil butter.
Tip: Be sure to use a sturdy bread as the cheese causes the toast to brown more quickly than normal and you don’t want bread that will soak up too much of the batter which takes a longer time to cook through.