Do you ever have those nights where you attempt to go out and do something fun, and every step of the way the universe seemingly tells you to go back home?
Last night, I had high hopes of getting out of my normal homebody routine after receiving an invite for a foodie event a couple of towns over. There were promises of vegan chocolate, and so Aaron rushed home from his end-of-day meeting, we took the dogs on a quick walk around the block and distracted them with treats (Truth: I bribe them with treats every time I leave, even if it’s for 5 minutes. They have separation anxiety and I have dog mom guilt.), and then we headed out for the evening.
A couple of wrong turns later, we made it there, only to see a line of at least eighty people deep just to get in the door. We didn’t even stop the car, just slowly drove by muttering “Hell no, we are not waiting in that line for free chocolate samples.” It helped that I had already eaten chocolate earlier in the day.
We decided all was not lost—we could do a dinner date instead! A search on Yelp reminded me that I can’t eat at most restaurants, at least not in a way I find worthy of a dinner out, and we headed over to a popular vegetarian and vegan-friendly place in the direction of home. Parking was a drag, but it usually is, and we quickly walked the ten minutes to get to the restaurant, all the while getting closer and closer to the hunger point of no return. This hunger-induced meltdown hit me about twenty-five minutes into waiting for our table, and Aaron about ten minutes into getting a table by the bathroom with no one coming by to even take a drink order. Understandably (maybe), the restaurant was slammed and seemed understaffed. It did not help that the music was loud and manic and we were having to yell over it. Did I mention we were by the bathroom? We were also by the bathroom.
Fast forward another twenty minutes when we had given the server our order and still had no drinks. We decided to take everything to go, hoping to expedite the process and go home to eat with non-manic-inducing music and very thankful dogs who act like they haven’t seen us in years (the best).
Another half an hour later, we were home. The food was mediocre and gave me a stomach ache, and Aaron woke up this morning feeling like he was hungover despite there being no alcohol consumed. There are a few restaurants I can think of where I’ve eaten there and thought “Yes. That was amazing and I could not have done it better myself.” But those are in NYC, and most of the time, I much prefer making our meals. This French Toast is a perfect example of that.
I’ll randomly be struck with recipe inspiration throughout the day, and last week when Aaron was talking about something not at all related to food, I interrupted in my usual, charming fashion to tell him that we should make Pistachio-Crusted Vegan French Toast with Bourbon Maple Cherries and Vanilla Bean Coconut Whipped Cream. He enthusiastically agreed, and then went back to talking about non-food-related things, while my mind started formulating this recipe (don’t tell him I wasn’t listening).
The coconut whipped cream melted a bit from the heat of the French toast over the course of taking the photos, but I promise you it is still amazing. Plus, you likely will not be spending an hour taking photos before you eat your breakfast.
What I’m saying is: this weekend, skip the restaurants and make Pistachio-Crusted French Toast at home. Your stomach and wallet will thank you.
- 1 pound fresh sweet cherries, sliced in half and pitted
- 2 tablespoons good bourbon
- 1½ tablespoons grade b maple syrup
- pinch fine sea salt
- 1 can full-fat coconut milk, refrigerated overnight
- 2 tablespoons vegan powdered sugar (a pinch or two of powdered stevia also works well)
- scant ½ teaspoon vanilla bean powder
- ¼ cup spelt flour (or flour of choice)
- 1 tablespoon arrowroot powder
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla bean powder
- ¾ cup non-dairy milk (I used homemade cashew & brazil nut milk)
- ½ tablespoon grade b maple syrup
- 1 scant cup lightly salted pistachios, very finely chopped
- 6 slices of your favorite bread (I used sourdough)
- coconut oil for greasing the pan
- To make the cherry sauce, add the cherries, maple syrup, bourbon, and sea salt to a medium saucepan. Heat over medium heat, stirring often, until the cherries begin to soften (about 5 minutes). Turn off the heat and leave the cherry mixture in the pan to stay warm while you prepare the coconut whipped cream and french toast.
- To make the whipped cream, open the can of coconut milk and scoop out the top layer of solid coconut cream into the bowl of a stand mixer (sidenote: save the remaining coconut liquid for smoothies!).
- Mix the coconut cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla bean powder on low speed until combined, then crank it up to high speed for 1-2 more minutes until light and fluffy. Set aside while you prepare the French toast.
- Preheat a large non-stick pan over medium heat.
- In a medium, wide bowl, whisk together the flour, arrowroot, and vanilla bean powder. Whisk in the non-dairy milk and maple syrup making sure to work out any lumps.
- Spread the pistachios on a dinner plate in an even layer. Dip each slice of bread into the wet mixture, giving it just enough time to absorb the liquid, but not enough time to become soggy (the length necessary will depend on your bread). Let the excess batter drain off, then press both sides of the bread into the chopped pistachios to coat it.
- Brush the heated pan with coconut oil, and cook each slice of bread for 3-4 minutes per side, or until toasted. You may need to add a bit more coconut oil before flipping the bread.
- Serve hot, with a spoonful of warm cherry topping and a generous dollop of coconut whipped cream.
I used Native Forest full-fat, canned organic coconut milk. You can use your favorite brand, but be sure to stay away from milks with stabilizers and gums (like Whole Foods' 365 brand) because the cream won't separate even when refrigerated.
Photography by Aaron Scott