28 October 2011

Game Changers French Toast with Berry Butter

French Toast with Berry Butter
(photo from Pioneer Woman Cooks soon to be replaced by my own)

I don't need to tell you how times flies. One moment we will be starting a new work week and then all of a sudden here it is Friday again. Our group has now reached #21 on the list of Gourmet Live's 50 Women Game Changers. The past few months have flown by as we experiment with dishes from each of the 50 influential women on "the list" so far. Whether you agree or disagree with the authors chosen fifty and their order it has been an enjoyable and creative outlet to cook from the masters and those we admire. There are even a few bloggers on the list. We have checked out books from the library, borrowed cookbooks from friends, surfed the Internet and browsed our own cookbook collections seeking that one recipe that will highlight that weeks outstanding woman.

I finally had a weekend off and decided I needed some R and R and crossed the border for a shopping spree into the state of Washington. Just saying "cross the border" makes it seem like there are exciting adventures to tell. What is more therapeutic than being in the kitchen? Well...shopping of course!

 If you drive directly south through the valley and into the United States the landscape changes inch by inch to desert. While parts of the desert have been reclaimed through irrigation and are lush with vineyards and orchards, the tiny rural towns are surrounded by cactus, rolling dunes and tumbleweeds. The Sonoran desert chain, whose roots start down in Mexico, take over in these furthest Northern reaches. This desert landscape has you thinking that the Lone Ranger and his sidekick Tonto will come riding over the sunburnt hills chased by a band of black clad desperadoes in an old black and white western. "Hi-ho Silver!!!"  Is that a cowboy sporting pistols on both hips ready to challenge me to a duel, twirling his moustache and intimidating me with his sinister glare. He lifts his brow seductively. "Is that a gun in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?,"  I say in my best Mae West sexy voice. 

Enough with the fantasies, but it is true enough that as soon as you cross the border street signs and store fronts are now in English and Spanish (and sometimes only Spanish) as opposed to English and French here in Canada. It really does make you feel like you could be in Mexico and not the State of Washington. This language influence and the "desert feel" will truly have you believing you could ride the range with the best of them. Through the apple orchards of Northern Washington state? Of course! The Mexican influence is due to the influx of Mexican migrants who moved up here to work in the orchards many years ago. I often drive across the border just for an authentic meal at one of the Mexican restaurants or to have the opportunity to buy Mexican ingredients for cooking not available at home.

In the Okanagan Valley (spelt Okanogan) in northern Washington the spaces are open, the hills barren and covered with sage brush and not only do I have shopping on my mind but a few foodie adventures brewing that I will tell you all about later. What better introduction to our next game changer, the Pioneer Woman herself, Ree Drummond, who has become extremely successful with her tales of ranch living in her home in Oklahoma.  Ree grew up on the grounds of a country club in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. She left Oklahoma to attend college at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, where she majored in journalism and then gerontology.  Ree planned to attend law school in Chicago and live in the big city, but her plans changed when she met and married her husband, Ladd Drummond, a fourth-generation member of a prominent Osage County cattle ranching family, whom she refers to as "the Marlboro Man."  She moved to his ranch north of Pawhuska, and they had four "punks."  Her photos are intimate, color-saturated images of her family, the ranch animals, and the comfort food she cooks which portray a life so lush and pastoral that you want to climb right in. Millions of unique visitors to her blog a month agree!!!I am a huge fan of her self-taught photography since it gives me hope that I can someday become a good self-taught photographer, if I ever develop a routine where I can take the time for this hobby.

Ree's first cookbook, The Pioneer Woman Cooks, was published in October 2009. Sprinkled throughout her recipes in this cookbook are photos showcasing life on the ranch, including her kids helping with the cattle, her infamous basset hound Charlie, and even the mountain of dirty dishes in the kitchen during the making of the cookbook. A motion picture based on Drummond's book From Black Heels to Tractor Wheels was reportedly in development at Columbia Pictures for Reese Witherspoon to star as Ree. Now she also has a Food Network show that aired back in August where the award-winning blogger and bestselling author shares her special brand of home cooking, from throw-together suppers to elegant celebrations. I haven't seen the show but I would like to see her Christmas special. Is that a hint Canadian Food Network. You bet it is. Consider it a demand, said with a smile in my voice, and a pistol in my jeans:D Looks like I brought back a bit of "an attitude."


One of my favourite well-travelled bloggers Mary of One Perfect Bite invited bloggers to travel along on a culinary journey throughout the year. Gourmet Live brought out a list of the 50 most influential women in food...Fifty women game changers. Some are chefs, some are food writers, and some are women who are passionate about the creative process. You could certainly add or detract women from this list, but no matter what these women have all influenced us in one way or another. Being a woman and passionate about food myself I wanted to explore and join Mary on this journey and not only learn from the masters but recreate some of their dishes to better understand what has shaped and molded them into who they are today. In doing so I have learned more about myself, and have learned more than a few new recipes and techniques. My cohorts for this adventure can be found below.If you would like to join in  please contact Mary. This is an informal event and you have the flexibility to follow along when you can. We post every Friday.

We have reached #21 on the list of 50. What have we been up to with this weeks Women Game Changer......

Val of More Than Burnt Toast - French Toast with Berry Butter
Joanne of Eats Well With Others 
Claudia of A Seasonal Cook in Turkey 
Susan of The Spice Garden  - Beef Noodles Salad
Taryn of Have Kitchen, Will Feed  - Chicken Scallopine
Heather of Girlichef  - Tuna Melts
Miranda of Mangoes and Chutney - Fig and Prosciutto Pizza with Arugula
Jeanette at Jeanette's Healthy Living  - Pollo Asado and a Chicken Taco Recipe
Kathleen Van Bruinisse at Bake Away with Me - Cinnamon Toast
 Sue of View from The Great Island - Frito Chili Pie
Linda of There and Back Again - Citrus Butter Cookies
Barbara of Moveable Feasts - Ree’s Fresh Peach Crisp with Maple Cream
Nancy of Picadillo - My Favourite Meatloaf
Mireya of My Healthy Eating Habits - Quesadillas de Camarones
Veronica of My Catholic Kitchen - Lemon and Garlic Shrimp

Now on to the recipe "pardners"..........

**French Toast with Berry Butter**
  • 1 pound unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup raspberries
  • 1/2 cup blackberries
  • 1 loaf crusty bread: baguette, French loaf, etc.
  • 4 whole egg yolks
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • zest of one lemon
  • maple syrup for serving
  • sifted powder sugar, for serving (optional)
1. Make the berry butters: in separate batches, whip 2 sticks of butter at a time on high using the whisk attachment. Switch to paddle attachment. Add either raspberries or blackberries. Turn mixer on low for only about five seconds, just long enough for the berries to begin to mix in/break up, but not so long that it turns into a mess. Clean mixer bowl and attachments and repeat with other kind of berry.

2. With each batch, turn mixture out onto a long sheet of plastic wrap set over a long sheet of foil. Use the wrap/foil to roll the butter into a cylinder: first seal the plastic wrap around the cylinder, then secure the foil around it. Twist the ends, gradually applying more pressure as you twist in order to make the cylinder taut.

3. Once it's a nice, neat cylinder of foil, place into the freezer for 30 minutes in order to quickly solidify it, then transfer it to the fridge until you're ready to use it. Butter should be nice and firm.

NOTE: You can add a little sifted powdered sugar to the butter to make more of a sweet spread for bread and muffins! For French toast, though, the maple syrup makes things sweet enough.

4. To make the french toast, cut bread into slices 1/2 inch thick. In a dish, mix together egg yolks, half-and-half, sugar, lemon zest and vanilla. Whisk to combine. Dip bread slices in mixture, coating both sides, then remove from dish and set aside. Repeat until all bread is coated.

5. Heat iron skillet or griddle over medium heat. Sizzle butter in the pan when hot. Cook French toast on both sides until golden brown, being careful not to burn.

6. Remove berry butters from fridge. Unwrap one end and cut slices. Lay one slice each onto each serving of French toast. Sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired, then drizzle with warm maple syrup.

Serves 8

You are reading this post on More Than Burnt Toast at http://morethanburnttoast.blogspot.com. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and or owner of More Than Burnt Toast. All rights reserved by Valerie Harrison. Best Blogger Tips


  1. Great profile on Ree, and I'm in love with the idea of making berry butter. It looks beautiful, I can imagine it with muffins and scones, too.

  2. What an interesting post; a couple of years ago while in Victoria, we went across the boarder to Seattle. I will never forget that experience.
    French toast is one my favourite comfort food; always with maple syrup. Next time I will try it with your berry butter.

  3. So tempting! I love the addition of berry butter.



  4. ha ha ha...cute post =) I love berry butters, I made a few at the "suggestion" of Tessa Kiros a while back, but I never thought to pair them with French Toast. Sounds and looks like it would make for a great breakie or brunch!

  5. Wouldn't that berry butter be super on popovers??!

  6. I think I need some berry butter to have on hand for all of my family guests Thanksgiving week. It would add a lot to the copious amounts of pancakes, waffles, french toast and muffins that are usually consumed for breakfasts! :)

  7. Interesting observations on the changing of landscapes. I haven't spent much time in the American west. I never went west of Tennesse and Pennsylvania until I was in college. Since I met my husband I have been to Wyoming and Arizona, but air travel does tend to make you miss out on the way the landscape changes as you drive north or south or west or east. There is certainly stunning scenery out west.

    My favorite breads for French toast have always been the sweet ones. I remember the time I made homemade brioche and the results were amazing. I used to go to a little Polish coffee shop in Queens for breakfast when SPP and I were dating and they made one from babka - divine!

  8. OMG dear Valli thius look absolutely delicious and tempting!! xxgloria

  9. Berry butter sounds GOOD!

  10. Awesome idea with the berry butter. That would be wonderful way to start the day... :)

  11. This sounds delicious. French toast with berry butter is really hard to beat and this recipe looks wonderful. I loved the background information you provided as a lead-in to your post today. I hope you have a great and restful weekend. Blessings...Mary

  12. Val,
    You're a wonderfully descriptive travel writer. I was in that desert with you and I saw the Lone Rager with Tonto at the top of the hill. And then it was cozy to arrive to a cozy breakfast of French Toast with Berry Butter. How yummy!

  13. This sounds like the quintessential decadent breakfast! So droolworthy.

  14. Can't wait to hear more of your food adventures!

  15. Val, I miss shopping in the state of Washington. We loved the scenery and smelling the fresh air.

    I bought the Pioneer Woman cookbook. Have not cook anything yet but that will come.

  16. Its always good to get R & R. You are a very discriptive writer. This I have yet to master. The berry butter and the french toast look wonderful. Thanks for sharing with us.

  17. Lovely writeup on Ree Drummond, and a nice rich decadent breakfast, definitely big breakfast food on the ranch.

  18. Always enjoy your profiles of Gourmets ladies. You are so detailed. And that French Toast looks so rich and delicious! Great post!

  19. Shopping and cooking? Yes, we can definitely be friends.

  20. I love these posts! And must visit Ree's blog. I do savory butters but have never done a berry butter - so suited to the French Toast. My crossings into Canada have always been via the East Coast - so love the description of crossing into Washington - very different. But the signs do change languages in either case. Loved my excursions into Canada as a youth.

  21. It's nice to see Ree featured today. She was the catalyst for starting my own blog. I love the way that she writes, because she's very witty. Berry butter is such a treat. I make it with Swedish pancakes. So glad you got away for a scenic trip. You've been working very hard, I know. By the way, you are well on your way to becoming a great self-taught photographer. I can tell.

  22. These look great, but it was your description of E. Washington that really caught me. I went to school there and lived right on the Cascades divide for years, so your note made me homesick!

  23. Berry butter? Lovely! Looks like a calorie-packed meal of pure yumminess! :) Glad you enjoyed your little trip 'over the border.'

  24. Having never been to Washington, I would not have thought about sage brush and desert in the state nor Spanish being spoken there either. How very interesting that you can cross the border and experience such an change in topography and good Mexican food too.

    Right, now I'm thinking Ree's French toast with that berry butter would be great for Sunday brunch! It sounds delicious.

  25. That berry butter is such a great idea. I can use it on muffins, which I make often.

    I love French Toast.

  26. excellent choice for an homage to ree, val!

  27. Beautiful french toast, you make the Pioneer Woman proud! Love the butter. I've been looking into compound butter ideas that I could use to make the croissant puff pastry (so i can make cool flavoured croissants).
    *kisses* HH

  28. Lovely french toast and the berry butter just sounds divine!

  29. Berry butter! I would never have thought of that. What an absolutely inspired idea!


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