Milk Bar’s French Toast Muffins

All the wonderfulness of French toast -- in a convenient muffin form.
All the wonderfulness of French toast — in a convenient muffin form.

I love this delectable Christina Tosi recipe for “French Toast Muffins” for so many reasons:

  1. It lets you make a load of “French toast” in one fell swoop.
  2. It is a genius use of all those odds and ends of various bread loaves on the verge of freezer-burn at home.
  3. It’s easy enough for kiddos to do, making it an ideal way to spoil mom with breakfast in bed on Mother’s Day. In fact, it’s featured in the “Milk Bar: Kids Only” cookbook (Clarkson Potter, 2020), of which I received a review copy.

You probably know Pastry Chef Tosi as the founder and owner of the phenomenon known as Milk Bar bakery, as well as for her judging prowess on TV’s “MasterChef.”

Her creations at Milk Bar are beloved for their nostalgic effervescence and joyous kid-like appeal. So, a cookbook like this is a natural. It’s sure to entice kids into the kitchen with recipes such as “Coco Cabana Cereal Squares,” “Compost Pancakes,” “Donut Shakes,” and “Corn Dog Waffles.”

She even instructs how to judge if baked goods are done, by employing cocktail umbrella toothpicks to demonstrate, as well as trouble-shoots problems such as cupcakes or muffins sinking in the middle (You’re opening and closing the oven too much.).

For “French Toast Muffins,” you rip up bread slices into small pieces “as if you were feeding ducks in the park.” (One of the best recipe directions I’ve ever read, by the way.)

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Meyer Lemon Tea Cakes with Pomegranate Glaze

Meyer lemon juice and zest flavors these cute little cakes.

When a good friend gifts you a few late-harvest Meyer lemons from her backyard tree that have ballooned into the size of oranges, you know you need to do something special with them.

Not just halved and squirted over fish on the grill. Not just sliced to garnish glasses of iced tea. And not merely juiced to make mundane lemonade.

Nope, these babies were made for “Meyer Lemon Tea Cakes with Pomegranate Glaze.”

This easy-breezy recipe for individual cakes is from “Sweet” (Artisan, 2013) by Pastry Chef Valerie Gordon.

A monster-sized Meyer lemon.
A monster-sized Meyer lemon.

She owns one of my favorite bakeries in Los Angeles, Valerie’s Confections, which I always make a point of visiting whenever I’m in town just so I can snag a slice of her impeccable rendition of the iconic Blum’s coffee crunch cake.

For this recipe, Meyer lemon juice and zest are incorporated into this cake batter, along with creme fraiche (I actually used plain yogurt instead) for tang and moistness. The batter gets distributed amongst large muffin cups that are buttered but not lined.

Once they are baked and cooled, turn the cakes upside down to dunk the flat sides into a glaze flavored with Meyer lemon juice and pomegranate juice. You are left with precious little cakes simply too cute to resist.

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Blow Off Some Steam With Extra-Anchovy Pasta With Kale

A pasta dish that crushes it.
A pasta dish that crushes it.

This past year has been nothing short of cataclysmic. So, you’d be forgiven if there have been moments when all you wanted to do was cry, curse, curl up in a ball or crush something into smithereens.

At a time when we could all welcome some relief comes the new cookbook, “Steamed: A Catharsis Cookbook for Getting Dinner and Your Feelings On the Table’ (Running Press), of which I received a review copy. It encourages you to pound, pulverize, and rip apart your pent-up pandemic aggression — in a tongue-and-cheek way, of course — while cooking up some tasty dishes along the way.

This wonderfully irreverent cookbook was written by Rachel Levin, a freelance food writer who was Eater’s first restaurant critic; and Tara Duggan, a veteran food writer for the San Francisco Chronicle, who now covers climate and environmental issues.

This recipe lets you blow off some steam by smashing croutons to smithereens.
This recipe lets you blow off some steam by smashing croutons to smithereens.

With humorous illustrations by Los Angeles designer Stephanie DeAngelis, the book includes 50 recipes sure to brighten any mood. Get your frustration out with “Whacked Lemongrass Chicken Coconut Curry,” “Pummeled Pork Tonkatsu,” “Cry-It-Out Alsatian Tart,” and “DIY Cannabutter” (which is exactly what you think it is).

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Where I’ve Been Getting Takeout of Late, Part 29

The Crispy Chicken Sandwich from Winner Winner Chicken.
The Crispy Chicken Sandwich from Winner Winner Chicken.

Winner Winner Chicken, San Mateo

Chefs Jeremy Cheng and Chef Randy Magpantay couldn’t have been more excited to finally open their Winner Winner Chicken after conceiving of the Nashville-style hot chicken establishment in 2018.

Only, they opened it in March 2020 in San Mateo’s Hillsdale Shopping Center. Five days later, the pandemic put the kibash on it.

Fortunately, with the Bay Area seemingly turning the corner now in this health crisis, Winner Winner Chicken has been able to sling its specialties for the past couple of months. I was invited in by the fast-casual eatery a week ago to try some menu items gratis, which I ferried home as takeout.

It’s a family operation, with Cheng and Magpantay, and their wives, behind the counter overseeing the ordering and cooking. Cheng and Magpantay are veterans of the South Bay’s Avenir Restaurant Group, which includes Nola in Palo Alto, Milagros in Redwood City, and Town in San Carlos.

At Winner Winner Chicken, you can choose how incendiary you like it, from Classic (no heat) to Medium (starting to heat up) and Spicy (That’s hot) to Extra Spicy (Hot as cluck).

Crispy barbecue chicken spring rolls with a center of gooey cheese.
Crispy barbecue chicken spring rolls with a center of gooey cheese.

I went with medium, though I think Magpantay dialed it down a bit and gave me medium-light (which you can request, by the way) that offered up a modest amount of heat on the palate.

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A Mother’s Day Treat with Delysia Chocolatier

A truffle box that's part of the special Mother's Day virtual chocolate tasting from Delysia Chocolatier.
A truffle box that’s part of the special Mother’s Day virtual chocolate tasting from Delysia Chocolatier.

Pamper mom this “Mother’s Day” with a virtual chocolate and tea pairing from Delysia Chocolatier.

Having taken another virtual class recently by this Austin, TX chocolate company, I can attest that it makes for a fun and enlightening time, particularly when you learn that founder Nicole Patel is actually allergic to chocolate. Patel, who began making chocolates professionally after creating some for fun for her husband’s colleagues one Christmas, relies on a keen sense of smell to get her truffle flavors just right.

When the pandemic hit, she began offering virtual tasting events. On May 8, she’ll host “Tea Time with Mom,” starting at 4 p.m. CST, in which she’ll instruct how to pair her chocolates with various teas.

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