I woke up today feeling kind of nutty. I had no idea why. I was craving something new, something novel for breakfast. I often wake up with these whims and usually they lead to something I have never made before.
Some days I will search our cookbook library (and yes, we have more than enough to classify it as such) for just the right thing. Others, I will just pursues the fridge to see what’s on hand and start adding things like a mad man. A pinch of this, a handful of that, until, all willy-nilly, it somehow manages to come together. Some would say I am a mad scientist of sorts.
Nevertheless, we had some bananas on hand and I have been pondering how to utilize the remaining ricotta from a recipe earlier in the week. Low and behold, I gave birth to a lovely, fat stuffed French toast that was just the thing to kick off our day. Come to find out shortly after breakfast that it was, in fact, national pecan day- unbeknownst to me!
The history of pecans can be traced back to the 16th century. The only major tree nut that grows naturally in North America, the pecan is considered one of the most valuable North American nut species. The name “pecan” is a Native American word of Algonquin origin that was used to describe “all nuts requiring a stone to crack.”
Originating in central and eastern North America and the river valleys of Mexico, pecans were widely used by pre-colonial residents. Pecans were favored because they were accessible to waterways, easier to shell than other North American nut species and of course, for their great taste.
Because wild pecans were readily available, many Native American tribes in the U.S. and Mexico used the wild pecan as a major food source during autumn. It is speculated that pecans were used to produce a fermented intoxicating drink called “Powcohicora” (where the word “hickory” comes from). It also is said that Native Americans first cultivated the pecan tree.
So, now that you know a bit of the history, here is the sweet concoction, in honor of National Pecan Day.
Banana Ricotta Stuffed French Toast with Maple Candied Pecans
3 Farm Fresh Eggs 1 Whole Banana, Mashed 1/3 cup whole milk ricotta cheese ½ cup Pecans, chopped ¼ cup heavy cream 1 tablespoon Dohner Maple Camp syrup 1 tablespoon butter 1 teaspoon raw sugar ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract ¼ teaspoon cinnamon 1/8 teaspoon ginger 2-4 slices rustic Tuscan bread
In a medium bowl, hand mix ricotta and banana just until blended. Do not over blend. Add ½ teaspoon vanilla and ¼ teaspoon cinnamon and mix until combined.
Cut a slit down the side of each slice of bread and form a pocket. Be sure to leave the ends closed. Stuff each pocket with about 2 tablespoons full of banana ricotta mixture. Set aside.
In another mixing bowl, add 3 eggs, heavy cream and remaining ¼ teaspoon vanilla. Whisk until well blended.
Add 1 tablespoon butter to a medium skillet and melt over medium heat. Add pecans and toss until coated with butter. Add teaspoon of raw sugar and maple syrup. Continue to toss until sugar starts to caramelize. Set aside.
Heat medium skillet and grease with a small pat of butter. Dip each stuffed slice of bread into egg custard then place into skillet, and brown each side.
Plate and top each with candied pecans and natural maple syrup. You can also garnish French toast with Cinnamon Ginger whipped cream.
Cinnamon Ginger Whipped Cream
½ cup heavy cream 1 tablespoon raw sugar ¼ teaspoon vanilla 1/8 teaspoon ginger powder
In a chilled metal mixing bowl, add heavy cream, sugar, cinnamon, ginger and vanilla. With a mixer, whip the mixture on high until heavy peaks form. Chill for at least 10 minutes and serve.
*Dohner Maple Camp
West Milton, Ohio
Locally tapped maple syrup, maple sugar, and candy.
Visit www.bearsmill.com to purchase your own.