Vanilla Smoked Porter French Toast with Warm Chocolate Stout sauce

June 30th was Chris’s birthday. Now you’re probably thinking that because Chris was lucky enough to land a hot, awesome, sexy, smart, funny women who loves to cook, there would all kinds of wonderful dishes made in honor of his big day. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case. We returned from our vacation on the 23rd of June to a packed social calendar which included concert tickets on his actual birthday so there’s was no time for home cooked meals. Still I wanted to do something, so I promised Chris that the first opportunity I had I would make him a super special breakfast. That opportunity didn’t present itself until July 12th, but I think I made up for it.

I often surprise Chris with something a little special for breakfast on Saturday mornings like breakfast burritos, shakshouka or bacon egg and cheese sandwiches so I really wanted to make this breakfast extra special. I turned to one of my favorite blogs, The Beeroness, and found a recipe for Vanilla Bean Smoked Porter French Toast. I was intrigued. I’m not the biggest french toast fan, but this breakfast was supposed to be all about Chris and this recipe sounded like something he’d enjoy.

The original recipe called for Stone Smoked Porter with Vanilla, (which sounds delicious btw) but I think it’s seasonal or was a limited edition and I couldn’t find it anywhere. No worries, I just picked up a bottle of Evil Twin Ashtray Heart smoked porter and figured I could add some vanilla extract. I also decided to pick up some challah rather than the crusty Italian bread the original recipe called for.

Then I was presented with another dilemma; the recipe calls for 2/3 cup of beer, which leaves me with just over half a bottle of beer. Now my normal reaction to leftover beer from cooking is drink it! But drinking a 8.9% abv beer first thing in the morning seemed ill advised so I grabbed some semi-sweet chocolate chips and decided to whip up a chocolate beer sauce too.

I didn’t really pay attention to the proportions when I made the sauce so I can’t give you much of a recipe, but if you possess the most basic cooking knowledge you should be able to handle it. I reduced the beer in a small saucepan until it had thickened and become more syrup-y. Then I took it off the heat and whisked in a whole lot of chocolate chips and a pinch of salt until it looked thick and tasted good. Then I whisked in some cubes of butter (probably about a tablespoon) and that was it.

The dish was hit and Chris was a happy belated birthday boy!

Vanilla Smoked Porter French Toast
(Adapted ever so slightly from The Beeroness)

  • 1 cup milk
  • 2/3 cup smoked porter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 Tablespoons buttes (plus additional as needed for cooking)
  • Challah bread cut in thick slices
  • Warm Chocolate Porter sauce (see above)

In a mixing bowl whisk together milk, beer, sugar, eggs and vanilla until well combines.

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium high heat.

Dip each slice of bread in the wet mixture until coated but not soggy.

Working in batches, add challah slices to the pan and cook until browned e, about 2-3 minutes per side.

Transfer slices to plate and pour chocolate sauce over them. I also added sliced strawberries for good measure.


Y is for… Yemen; Scrambling to the finish line


Flag of Yemen

Yemen is the only country in the world that starts with the letter Y, so I didn’t have much choice in what country I’d make a dish from. I was, however, faced with the same problems I always have when making Middle Eastern food. First, they use a ton of things I’m allergic to and second that the dishes are more regional and less country specific. With that in mind I dug in and began my research.

Shakshouka is kind of a big deal in the Middle East. It’s a dish I’ve heard about for years from friends and family who’d enjoyed it in Israel. It involves tomatoes and spice, two things I love. Unfortunately, they told me, it also involved poached eggs. I do not do runny or soft eggs. I repeat, I do not do runny or soft eggs. I eat my eggs hard boiled or scrambled, period!

A shame, I thought, because I love a spicy tomato dish. Imagine how delighted I was then to find out that in Yemen Shakshouka is made with scrambled eggs! When I stumbled on to that fact there was no doubt what I was going to make. I got some fresh eggs at the farmer’s market and even managed to snag one of the last tomatoes of the season and I was in business.

PicMonkey Collage

Yemeni Shakshouka

  • Olive oil
  • 1/2 small white onion; roughly diced
  • 1 medium tomatoes; roughly diced
  • 1 large pinch cumin or to taste
  • 1 large pinch ground coriander or to taste
  • pinch of saffron
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 a hot green chili, such as a jalapeno or to taste; roughly chopped
  • 2 eggs; lightly beaten

Heat olive oil in medium skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook until they begin to soften; about 3 minutes.

Add tomatoes and all spices and stir, then add water. Cook over medium heat until tomatoes break down and sauce thickens; about 8 minutes.


Starting to thicken up

Stir in green chili and cook for one minute more

Turn heat down to medium low. Pour beaten eggs over tomato mixture and let stand for 1 minute, then, using a spatula or wooden spoon, start scraping the sides of the eggs in to the center as you would when making an omelette until eggs have cooked through; about 1-2 minutes.

Using my Jamie Olive omelette technique

Using my Jamie Oliver omelette technique


Yields 1-2 servings


Yum! What a great way to get back on the map. I at this for lunch yesterday. I’d taken a sick day because I’d hurt my back so this was a perfect nourishing and comforting dish and the saffron made this so visually appealing. I would eat this every day for breakfast (or lunch… or dinner…).

This dish will definitely be added to my repertoire. It would be so easy to double for more people plus you could easily use canned tomatoes when fresh are not in season.

I ate this with warm flat bread, but it would be just as good with toast.

I ate this with warm flat bread, but it would be just as good with toast.

Q is for… Qatar; Here We Go Again

Flag of Qatar

Remember when I got to the letter O and the only country was Oman? Well here we are again at Q and the only country that starts with Q is Qatar. So we’re back in the Middle East and the same problems present themselves. To review those problems are that most Middle Eastern dishes uses ingredients that I’m allergic too and that the food, while delicious, tends to not be very country specific. Still, Qatar is what I had to work with so Qatari food it is.

As much as I love lamb and rice and Middle Eastern spices I just couldn’t bear making yet another dish in that vein so I was excited when I stumbled on some recipes for Balaleet, a Middle Eastern breakfast treat. Throughout this project I’ve done main courses, desserts and sides so doing a breakfast dish seemed like great fun.

Balaleet is a mix of sweet and savory and is often served for special occasions in Qatar. Had I planned better (and by planned better I mean cleaned my apartment) I would’ve invited a friend or two over for brunch. Unfortunately, my apartment looked like the seventh circle of hell I wasn’t prepared so I scaled this recipe back to serve one, but it would be extremely easy to multiply it for a bigger brunch.

I took two liberty’s with this recipe. Instead of buying vermicelli or angel hair I used Barilla cut spaghetti, but that was really because I had forgotten to buy angel hair at the supermarket so I ran to the bodega on my corner and grabbed the cut spaghetti. This recipe can also be made with rice vermicelli for those who are gluten free.

The other change I made was to use orange juice rather than orange flower water or rose water which all traditional recipes call for. While I try to keep these recipes authentic, it would’ve been a waste to buy orange or rose water that I’d likely never use again.


  • 1/2 cup Vermicelli; broken in to about 1 inch pieces (or use cut spaghetti)
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • Large pinch of salt
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1 egg omelette

Boil Vermicelli about 2 minutes less than package directs. Drain then toss in to a mixing boil.

Immediately toss in sugar, cinnamon, ginger and mix well. The heat of the pasta will dissolve the sugar.

In a small non stick frying pan melt butter over medium high heat. Stir in orange juice.

Pour in noodle mixture and spread to flatten. Cover and turn heat down to medium low. Cook for 10-15 minutes until the liquid has absorbed and the bottom has crisped.

Set aside noodle cake and wipe out the frying pan. Make a one egg omelette. Cut the omelette into a few large pieces and serve on top of the noodle cake.



This dish was definitely interesting and I don’t mean that in a, “Well he’s err got a great personality” kind of way. I mean it in more of a, “Ya know we had a nice time; good conversation; I’m just not sure there was spark,” kind of way.

I went light on the sugar, though most recipes call for far more, because I thought the sugar in the orange juice would add a ton of sweetness, but surprisingly it didn’t. It was actually not very sweet at all definitely should’ve added another Tablespoon of sugar.

I did like the play of textures with the crispy noodles and fluffy egg though. I would definitely try this recipe again, especially for a brunch with other people!

So you would go on a second date with me? Sweet!