Artichoke & Caramelised Onion French Toast


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Even though I was just away for two weeks, this last trip to Canada seemed much longer. During that time I'm afraid that exercise fell to the wayside, to be gleefully replaced by large grabs of fitful slumber. I did feel that clothes were starting to get a bit tight by the time I came back (I'm not sure why, dare I pick which one of the 20 meals a day that I was eating? ;)). And so I returned to my trainer Nina, complexion blotchy and congested and clothes tighter. Lycra can be unforgiving (tip: buy compression gear, it kind of squishes it all in and keeps it from jiggling ;)).

I actually missed our chats talking about everything and anything. And Nina had a pressing question for me.

"So if you were asked to pack a thumb drive, what would you do?" Nina asked, recalling a request from her new fiancé Garth.

"A thumb drive? I'd maybe pack a mini hard drive and a USB stick," I said, a little unsure because although I work with technology, Mr NQN is one hardcore nerd (said in the most affectionate way) and he takes care of all of that.

"Oh damn!!" she said balling her fists and kicking the ground lightly. It turned out that Nina packed Garth's Nintendo joystick controller because she made the link between him using his thumbs and a driving game = thumb drive!

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By that stage we were both crying with laughter and I managed to avoid at least 60 seconds worth of exercise. A win as far as I was concerned.

Nina is always seeking vegetarian recipes from me. This French toast isn't for Nina though, although it is vegetarian and absolutely delicious. She doesn't eat bread but she is a big fan of going out to brunch on the weekends. And if your brunch style needs a little shaking up, take a peek at this recipe.

I was directly inspired by a breakfast I ate in Dawson City, Yukon. I wasn't sure what to expect when I ordered a savoury French toast but I was delighted to be on the receiving end of a crazy, piled high and delicious breakfast. There were two slabs of thick toast with bechamel sauce, artichokes and melted cheese. I decided to add caramelised onions because I love them and you can also add whatever else you like to this - I'm thinking sun dried tomatoes, corn and avocado would be great on this savoury French toast! And there's no need to even change or queue for a seat at your favourite cafe this weekend.

So tell me Dear Reader, did you know what a thumb drive was? And if you had to choose out of exercise or sleep or food which would it be? And do you go out for brunch on weekends or do you mostly eat it at home?

DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE? Share your creations by tagging @notquitenigella on Instagram with the hashtag #notquitenigella

Artichoke & Caramelised Onion French Toast

An Original Recipe by Lorraine Elliott/Not Quite Nigella

Makes 2 French toast sandwiches

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 15 minutes

  • 150g/5ozs. ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 4 slices thick toast
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • Oil for frying
  • 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup caramelised onions* see caramelised onion recipe here
  • 150g/5ozs. marinated artichokes
  • Balsamic glaze

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Step 1 - Process the ricotta and milk together until you get a fluffy paste. Set aside. Heat a frypan on medium to high heat and preheat the grill.

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Step 2 - Beat the eggs in a bowl and dip the bread into the egg mixture. Add some oil to pan and then fry the pieces of bread. Split the onion mixture and the ricotta and milk mixture among two pieces of the French toast and then top with the cheddar cheese. Place under the grill until cheese is bubbly and melted.

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Step 3 - Top the other two slices of French toast with the mozzarella cheese and grill until melted. Place the artichokes on top of the two ricotta topped slices and season with salt and pepper. Then place second cheese grilled piece on top. Drizzle with balsamic glaze.