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    LEAH CUCINA BLOG

    The Best Croissant French Toast Casserole

    The Best Croissant French Toast Casserole

    Prepped the night before, this is a wonderful dish for brunch at home.

    Light, airy, and moist... my family said this is the best french toast they've ever had. 

    Ingredients:

    • 6 large croissants 
    • 8 eggs
    • 1.5 cups half & half
    • 1.5 cups 2% milk
    • Maple Syrup
    • Cinnamon
    • Vanilla Extract
    • 2/3- 3/4 cup Fresh or frozen blueberries
    • 2-3 handfuls pecans


    Step 1: Spray/ oil your baking dish

    I used a 9" x 13" x 2" baking pan. As long as your baking dish can fit all 6 croissants, you should be good!

    Step 2: Cut croissants in length-wise slices, add blueberries and pecans 

    Slice the croissants in long slices. Arrange the slices together in your baking dish so that it looks like the croissants are fully back together. With your last croissant, fill up any empty spaces in the pan. (Scroll to bottom of recipe to see photo).

    Layer in a few handfuls of blueberries and a few handfuls of crushed pecans on top of the croissants.

    Step 3: Make Custard Mixture

    In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, half & half, a big dash of cinnamon, a swig of maple syrup and a dash of vanilla extract. Whisk until smooth, creamy, and fully combined.

    Step 4: Pour custard mixture over croissants

    Evenly pour custard mixtures over croissants. Using a rubber spatula, "smoosh" down the croissants to make sure that they are wet with the custard mixture. 

    Step 5: Cover with tin foil and refrigerate overnight. 

    Step 5: In the morning, preheat oven to 350F.

    Bake the casserole (covered with tin foil) for 40 minutes. After 40 min, remove tin foil to finish baking for 10-15 more minutes. You should see no more "wet" custard mixture when it's finished cooking. 

    Let the casserole cool for 5 or so minutes before serving. 

    Serve with warm, pure maple syrup and more fruit if you would like. 

    Enjoy! XO! Leah

    Cut the croissants length wise, and arrange in pan so that there are no empty spaces.

    Add blueberries and nuts on top of croissants before pouring the custard mixture into the dish.

    When making the custard mixture, you can approximate the measurements for the cinnamon, vanilla, and maple syrup. A dash or a swig... don't go crazy but you really cant mess this up.

    "Smoosh" down the croissants in the custard mixture to help make sure that the liquid is being soaked up by the bread.


    Cherry Tomatoes Confit

    Cherry Tomatoes Confit

    A delicious topping for almost anything...

    Add it to bruschetta, chicken, steak, eggs, quiche, pizza, or pasta... The options are endless for this versatile topping. 

    Don't be alarmed by the amount of olive oil. You'll be amazed by how it helps make the most plump, tender and delicious tomatoes. 

    See below for the quick and easy recipe!

    Ingredients:

    • 2 pint size containers of cherry tomatoes 
    • 2+ cups of olive oil
    • 4 smashed garlic cloves
    • Sprinkle of fresh or dried herbs of your choice: basil, thyme, herbs de provence, etc...
    • Sea Salt
    • To finish after baking : optional to add lemon zest and/ or crushed red pepper 

    Instructions:

    • Preheat oven to 350F. 
    • Line a small/ medium size baking or pie dish with parchment paper (for easy cleanup).
    • Place the tomatoes in the baking dish and cover to submerge in olive oil.
    • Add the smashed garlic cloves, spices, and sprinkle with sea salt.
    • Bake for 30 minutes at 350F. 
    • Let cool and store in an airtight container or glass jar for easy keeping.

    __________________________________________________________________________________

    Notes:

    • This topping will store well in the refrigerator for about 2 weeks to add to all your favorite dishes. Reuse the olive oil for dressings and sauces.
    • The olive oil will get cold and condense in the refrigerator. No worries!  Just let it warm up a bit and serve it again. Easy.




    Sourdough Focaccia Bread

    sourdough focaccia bread

    Homemade focaccia never tasted so good!

    Warm, crumbly, and rich with olive oil... what's not to love? I for one always get frustrated baking bread, but this focaccia recipe is easy and stress free.

    Step 1: Make a "sponge"

    Using sourdough starter that you've fed within the last 12 hours, combine the following ingredients to form a sponge base in a large bowl:

    • 1-1/2 cups active sourdough starter (should be bubbling and pass the "float" test)
    • 1 cup warm water
    • 1/4 cup olive oil 
    • 1 tablespoon honey (important)
    • 1 cup flour

    Cover the sponge mixture with saran wrap or a moist towel, and leave it alone for 1-2 hours in a warm kitchen until bubbles of different sizes start to form. 





    Step 2: Combine rest of ingredients and knead 

    Once the sponge is ready, add to the sponge bowl: 

    • 1/2 cup olive oil 
    • 4 cups of flour (one cup at a time)
    • 2 teaspoons fine ground sea salt 

    Mix ingredients together with a wood spoon (one cup of flour at a time) and once roughly mixed, turn mixture out onto a flour dusted counter.  

    Knead to combine for about 5 minutes. I use the fold over technique, where you just keep gently stretching folding the dough over onto itself.

    The dough should be mostly smooth and slightly sticky when it's done. 

    (Depending on the moisture of your starter, you may need to add a bit more flour during this process, up to 1/4 cup). 

    Once dough is roughly mixed, roll out onto counter to continue mixing & kneading. If it's too hard to add the last cup of flour while you're mixing in the bowl, place the last cup of flour on the counter and mix in with your hands while kneading.

    After 5-7 minutes of kneading, the dough is mostly smooth but still a bit sticky.

    (I doubled this batch) but I like using a clear oiled tupperware or glass bowl so that I can check on the dough rising easily!

    Cover and rise until double in size at least.



    Step 3: Let the dough rest and double in size

    Once you're finished kneading, form dough into a ball and place it in an oiled bowl. 

    Cover with saran wrap or a damp cloth. I like covering it with one damp cloth, and one dry cloth on top of that to keep it moist. 

    Place dough in a warm part of your kitchen and wait 2+ hours until the dough has doubled in size. 

    I have left this mixture to double overnight, and it turned out great in the morning. If you do this, spray the top of your dough with some oil to keep it moist.

    Step 4: Switch to baking pan and start "second rise"

    Now that the dough is doubled in size, punch it down. 

    Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and add 1/2 cup of olive oil to the bottom. (Looks like a lot but you need it!) 

    Move your dough to the baking sheet and using your fingers, stretch the dough to fill the pan towards the corners. 

    Re-cover with your kitchen towels and allow it to rise again until its about double in size (about 1 hour in a warm part of your kitchen).


    Punch the dough down, then transfer it to a heavily oiled, rimmed baking sheet. I like parchment paper because it keeps my pans clean and makes transferring easier later on.

    Stretching the dough into the corners of the pan, getting ready for the second rise. 



    Step 5: Ready to bake!

    Preheat oven to 450F.

    Once it's puffed up again, lightly dimple the dough with your fingers all over, leaving the classic little nooks.

    This is the time you can add any toppings you would like. Be sure to drizzle with more olive oil and plenty of coarse sea salt! 

    Topping ideas (use anything you like)

    • Roasted cherry tomatoes, herbs de provence, roasted garlic cloves
    • Sesame seeds, course sea salt, herbs de provence

    Once ready, place in hot 450F oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown. 

    Remove from oven and transfer to the counter with the parchment paper to cool. 

    Making the dimples with my fingers.

    Adding toppings! Make sure to add more olive oil and coarse sea salt.

    Serve on your favorite wood board!

    Leah Cucina has beautiful wood boards ready for you to serve your beautiful focaccia...


    California Snack Board

    California Snack Board

    The perfect board for when you're wanting fresh colors and produce with your happy hour snack.

    Keep these photos and tips for inspiration the next time you're entertaining guests! Everyone wins with this board, because there's something for everyone (even the health nuts! )

    I made this board TWICE while I was on my California trip and both times it was a great hit. 

    Here's the general layout: 

    Fruits: blueberries, blackberries, kumquats/ manquats/ clementines/ cherries (or whatever fruits look great and in-season)

    Cheese: Cream cheese, feta, white aged cheddar, havarti

    Dips: Half Cream Cheese/ Half Blackberry Jam spread, Hummus

    Chips: Pita Chips, Baguette slices, walnuts would be nice

    Garnish: Micro greens! Get ones that taste good to you. 

    And if you see any pretty flowers, add those as a non -edible garnish!


    This is my favorite part: 

    It's a simple ramekin bowl filled with 1/2 cream cheese and 1/2 blackberry preserve jam. 

    I added a few berries on top for garnish with a little mint too. 

    This is so tasty on the board!

    Sizzling Hot Steak and Pepper Appetizer

    Steak and Roasted Peppers Appetizer

    This one's great for when you want a substantial appetizer.

    Nobody will go hungry & it totally replaces the whole formal dinner for friends.

    General ingredients you'll need: 

    • Your preferred steak of choice- I recommend flank steak 
    • Sea Salt 
    • Olive Oil
    • 2 bags small sweet mini peppers
    • Olive Bar: stuffed peppidew peppers and pitted castelvetrano olives or green olives of your choice
    • Herbed Boursin Cheese
    • Storebought flatbread (warm it up!)
    • For the Chimichurri: 1 Bunch of Cilantro, 1 Bunch of Parsley, Olive Oil, Sea Salt, Red Pepper Flakes, Plus lime or white vinegar, 1 ripe avocado (optional)

    STEP 1: SEASON YOUR STEAK WITH SALT

    I used flank steak here and GENEROUSLY seasoned it with sea salt before doing anything else. Leave it covered on the counter so that it comes to room temperature before cooking in it. (This is key!)

    YUM!

    Sizzling hot flank steak, served in a hot cast iron pan with sweet roasted peppers, chimichurri, Boursin cheese, olives, peppidew peppers, and served with a side of warm crusty flatbread. 

    So good!

    STEP 2: Make the Chimichurri sauce

    In a food processor, mix together: 

    • 1 bunch of cilantro (stems cut off)
    • 1 bunch parsley (stems cut off)
    • 7-8 garlic cloves, peeled
    • 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper
    • 1 tablespoon sea salt
    • 1/2 to 2/3 cup olive oil
    • 1 avocado
    • Splash of white vinegar (maybe 1.5 tablespoons)

    And if you don't have a food processor... just use store bought fresh pesto! That'll be great too.

    Step 3: Chop and Roast your peppers, add in the olives and peppidew peppers to warm.

    Cut off the mini pepper tops, cut the peppers in half, and cook with sea salt and olive oil over medium heat until they are soft and a beautifully roasted color. To warm them, add in the olives and peppidew peppers. 

    Want to see a quick video tutorial for this recipe? 

    Step 4: Cook the steak!

    Get your pan hot hot hot! I have a very hot stove so I heated up the pan to high and then turned it down to medium high. Once it was hot, I added a couple tablespoons of oil to the pan and then BAM! Added the steak and cooked until it was medium-rare. Then shut off the heat and let it rest. 



    Step 5: Combine everything in the pan to serve

    Once the steak is finished, you're going to arrange the peppers, steak, Boursin cheese, olives, and peppidew peppers in the pan you're serving it in. 

    Add a little ramekin of the chimichurri to the pan along with the Boursin cheese, and serve with the crusty flatbread! 

    Voila! I hope you enjoy this recipe!