I’m back with *another* French toast recipe. No surprises there but it’s a savoury one this time! The title is a mouthful but there’s no other way to describe what this is: you sandwich melty cheese between two slices of bread, dip in a Dijon-spiked egg mixture and cook over a low flame for the cheese to become molten within. So, essentially making this a glorified cheese sandwich that’s been French toast-ed. Use any cheese of your liking (I went with Gruyère but also equally love a Mozzarella + Parmesan combo here). Whatever type you choose, just make sure to at least pick one that melts well.
I could eat garlicky mushrooms and spinach on toast any day of the week, so I rolled with that idea. It’s simple enough to make but the key is to get those mushrooms really charred and coloured; that’s where the real flavour’s at.
A few tips to achieve this: start them off in a really hot pan with a knob of butter. AND DON’T TOUCH THEM. Don’t mean to caps lock you, but this is the very antithesis to browning mushrooms. Bring out the largest, widest pan you own so as to get maximum surface area for even browning. When you tip the mushrooms in, move them around just so there aren’t too many overlaps, and then leave them be to do their thing. Only when the undersides start to colour do you want to even think about tossing.
Most mushrooms have a very high moisture content and if you keep moving them about in the pan, they will start to leach out all that water and braise in their own liquid. Flabby shrooms? No fanks. They’ll shrivel up and cook, yes, but not char around the edges. We want that char. We always want that char. I’ve also found that it’s better to salt them after they’ve got some colour on them. Salt tends to draw out moisture from foods, which is not a good idea here since the intention is browning. (Will put down all the details in the recipe below.)
I added the tomato component for acidity and would highly recommend that you don’t leave it out. After you cook your mushrooms and spinach, use the same pan to soften some chopped tomatoes with a bit of salt. That’s literally it.
That tiny dollop of Dijon mustard in the egg mixture gives you another dimension of savouriness which works really well here. But I wouldn’t worry if I didn’t have any on hand. There’s enough flavour going around that it’s still going to taste good without it. Keep the egg mixture plain or add a dribble of Worcestershire sauce if you have some around.
Note: it’s completely fine if some of the cheese filling falls into the egg mixture whilst you’re flipping and dunking the sandwiches. The fallen cheese sticks to the outsides and makes the bread crispy when you fry them up. Gotta love these happy accidents where you’re rewarded for your lack of patience and dexterity.
CHEESY SAVOURY FRENCH TOAST + GARLICKY MUSHROOMS & SPINACH + CHUNKY TOMATOES
- 6 slices of bread
- 50 grams grated cheese (see notes)
- 20 grams butter, for frying
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup milk
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- Salt, to taste
Garlicky mushrooms & spinach:
- 300 grams mushrooms
- 150 grams spinach, chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 10 grams of butter
- Black pepper
- Salt, to taste
- 2 ripe tomatoes, chopped into big chunks
- Salt, to taste
- Retain the stems of mushrooms if they’re fresh. I used button mushrooms but use any kind you want or have. Quarter them lengthwise.
- Put a large wide pan over high heat. Swirl the butter in the pan. Once the butter starts to melt, tip in your mushrooms. Get them in as even a layer as possible. Slight overlaps are fine. Let them sit and colour for 4-5 mins. Don’t move them around until they do. Don't salt at this stage.
- Once the mushrooms have a nice char on the underside, toss them through for a few more mins to cook the other side. If there’s a lot of moisture in the pan just keep the heat on high and cook it out.
- Add the garlic and toss until lightly coloured. Tip in your chopped spinach and season with salt and pepper. Keeping the heat on high, toss them about until they start to wilt down - no more than 2-3 mins. Decant into a small bowl and set aside.
- Put the same pan back on the heat and add the tomatoes. Season with salt. Cover and cook for 5-7 mins until they soften. Set aside.
- Whisk together the eggs, milk, Dijon mustard and salt in a wide shallow bowl.
- Add a tiny knob of butter to a pan. Divide the cheese mixture between three sandwiches. Dip a sandwich gently in the egg mixture until the mixture is well absorbed but not so much that it falls apart in your hands. Two flips worked perfectly for me.
- Add the sandwich to the pan and cook over a low heat, pressing down a few times to make sure the filling doesn’t fall out. Flip and cook until golden on both sides and the cheese is melted through.
- Repeat with the rest of the sandwiches adding a knob of butter before each round.
- Serve immediately with the mushroom and spinach topping, and the chunky tomatoes.