When our family was young, one treat we all enjoyed was brunch at Jasmine’s, a local restaurant in Orono. Dressed in our Sunday best, we’d all crowd around the table, ordering a variety of items and enjoying them family style. David Pickering, the chef, featured a signature dish, Stuffed French Toast, which was everyone’s favorite.
The preparation, similar to that of traditional French toast, went a step further by sandwiching a layer of jam and cream cheese between the egg-dipped slices of bread. Topped with melted butter and warm maple syrup, this rich and comforting dish would satisfy even the most hard-core sweet tooth.
Flash forward a couple of decades; we are still enjoying our decadent treats, but I’m recreating recipes that fit with a healthy, active lifestyle and use more seasonal and local ingredients. Commercially prepared cream cheese contains gums that add to the stability of the product and is relatively high in fat. Rather than using the lower-fat version (Neufchatel) recommended by many nutritionists, I’ve been experimenting with locally produced, artisan ricotta cheese.
Ricotta is an Italian whey cheese made from the milk whey leftover after the production of cheese. A local, artisan ricotta is handcrafted, and may be made from sheep, goat or cow’s milk. As the whey contains little protein, the cheese is more easily tolerated by those with a dairy dietary restriction. And the flavor? It varies with the milk; slightly sweet, delicate and mouthwatering. Like many local Maine foods, it should come with a warning label: delicious and highly addictive!
Stuffed French Toast
- 4 slices whole-grain bread
- 3 eggs
- 1/4 cup milk
- 4 tablespoons fresh Ricotta cheese *
- 4 tablespoons Strawberry Rhubarb Jam
- Maple syrup for serving
- Powdered sugar for serving
- In a medium bowl, beat together the eggs and milk. Lay the bread in a shallow pan, and cover with the egg mixture. Use a fork to poke holes in the bread so that the bread completely soaks up the egg and milk. Measure out your ricotta and Strawberry Rhubarb Jam and set aside. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees and heat a platter to serve the French toast. Heat a large griddle over medium-high heat and lightly brush is with butter. Grill the bread on one side, then turn over. Spread the ricotta on 2 slices of bread and the strawberry rhubarb jam on the other 2 slices. Brown the bottom, then carefully combine the two sides. Slice in quarters and arrange on the heated serving plate. Sprinkle some powdered sugar over the top and serve with maple syrup. Makes two servings.