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rabanadas: pain perdu: french toast

For people who work from home, a toasted sandwich maker can be your best friend.

Working from home (or working on home, in my case), you are subjected to temptations to stop work almost constantly. Whether it’s the pets or the kids who want your attention, housework, or friends and neighbours who treat you like you’re on holidays, discipline and avoiding excess distraction become paramount.

french toast

Lunchtime is a period particularly vulnerable to focus destruction. You have to try and keep lunch easy and quick and this is where the electric sandwich maker comes into its own. It bridges the divide between a hot lunch and cold one, providing a healthy quantity of food that is still a satisfying boredom breaker.

I have several nifty little tricks I do with the sandwich maker, which was always known by its brand name ‘the breville’ when I was growing up, and when it was a just new fad.

The breville stalwart, as everyone knows, is the toasted cheese sandwich. My variation is to grill some onion on one side while toasting the sanga on the other, and stuffing the onions in at the end. Similarly, the pizza sandwich has your preferred selected ingredient grilled straight on one hotplate while you toast the tomato paste, cheese and sliced tomato sandwich on the other half. You can fry up a bit of bacon or garlic, capsicum, salami, or onion to add later, elevating your sandy from an ordinarily simple tosta mista (the Portuguese love a ham and cheese toasty and it is a mandatory item in every café in the land) to something mais especial.

It can also happen that the home worker is so dedicated that meals can be easily forgotten. With the unfortunate development of the webcam the home worker can be sometimes spotted at desk still in jarmies and bed hair at 11am. Again this is where the breville comes into the fray. By midday, the clock might be saying lunch but the stomach is still saying breakfast and the breville is saying French toast.

Far from being second rate, I consider yesterday’s bread a special occasion. Here’s why:

French Toast in the Toasted Sandwich Maker

an egg
splash of milk
maybe a pinch of salt and a pinch of sugar, a squeeze of lemon or orange juice,
or a drop of vanilla essence.
Yesterday’s bread – preferably a sourdough or, if you’re in Portugal, a mistura. Small bread rolls are ideal. White sliced bread tends to fall to pieces once dunked in the batter.

Mix the batter in a cup and pour out onto something that the bread will fit into – a pasta plate is perfect, or a small bowl. Dip the bread briefly so it’s coated all over, but not too soggy.

Wipe some butter around your hot sandwich maker (that’s why you keep the bit of paper or foil that the butter container comes with) and then chuck in the wet bread and drop the lid. Ssssss!

You can eat them with anything you want but the most traditional thing is honey. You could grill a rasher of bacon on one side of the TSM and have a Canadian-style honey/maple syrup-bacon thing, you can go all northern European and have cheeses and deli meats, or be English and have a plop of marmalade. I have been known to have a big dollop of my latest jam with a slosh of cream! Cinnamon and sugar is also good, especially if the toast is still a bit buttery.

If you are Portuguese, you may wish to hum a little Christmas carol as you are scoffing them down (as rabanadas or fatias  douradas are a Christmas dessert thing in Portugal, you see. Mmm wonder if my fav cafe will do them).

Some people don’t like these kitchen gadgets because of the idea of cleaning them. But it’s easy. As soon as you’ve taken out your toast, and it the grill is still hot and a bit greasy, get a piece of kitchen paper and give it a wipe over. It’s clean enough in 3 seconds.

Now get back to work!

french toastfly on french toast

“the one that got away” from Flychelangelo


  1. Isabel November 14, 2009 6:24 am Reply

    Ahah! Just like rice pudding or even scrambled eggs that everybody does but not quite as well as the Portuguese, your description is probably good enough for French toast and fattiga riddare but it is light-years away from a rabanada. I’ll explain you how my grandmother did it and you will understand why we do it once a year and not for any old breakfast:

    1) Buy a cacete (the most similar thing to a baguette that you will find in Portugal). Hopefully, it will be a properly baked one, not one of those newfangled things made of thin air.

    2) Leave it lying around wherever you want, as long as it is NOT in a plastic bag (it will get all soggy)

    3) Get a soup dish (I suppose that is what you call a pasta dish), beat some eggs in it; get another dish (or a travessa if you have one), that should be bigger and, preferably have some flat borders (you’ll see why) and put there quite a lot of tepid milk with just a little sugar (you should barely taste the sweetness); get a third soup dish and mix there sugar and cinnamon (the mixture should be the right shade of brown, too much it will be bitter, too little it will be boring).

    4) Get a deep fryer or deep pan with lots of oil and heat it to the right temperature (that you will check with a little piece of bread, of course).

    I am going to have diner and come back later.

    [Reply to comment]

  2. sophie November 14, 2009 8:37 am Reply

    pah to your cumbersome yet fiddly electrical gadgets! forget the breville and get a diablo!

    english eggy-bread: disgusting / portuguese rabanadas: mmmmm 🙂

    [Reply to comment]


  3. Isabel November 14, 2009 8:38 am Reply

    OK, after my frozen bacalhau à Brás (very good, I must say), here goes:

    4) Cut the cacete in slices not thicker than 1 cm (they will swell a lot)

    5) Put them in the plate with milk, maybe 3 or 4 at a time (I forgot to say, LEAVE THE CACETE LYING AROUND FOR SOME 2-3 days); soak them as much as you can before they start breaking in pieces when you pick them up (you might lose a few in the beginning); drain them a little on the edge (hence the importance of the edge); pass them in the egg, drain a little; throw them in the deep fryer, fry until golden, put them on a mesh with absorbing paper (forgot that one in the beginning!), etc, etc, etc.

    One cacete will feed an enormous family and will require liters of milk and dozens of eggs, so you’d better start with half of a cacete. On the other hand, once you will pass the still warm rabanadas in the sugar and cinnamon coating and try one to check if they are OK, you will probably eat most of them. They should be soft and humid in the middle and crispy on the outside.

    If you think you are keeping some for the next days, it’s better not to coat them with sugar and cinnamon but, instead, cover them with a light syrup (don’t forget to add a couple of cinnamon sticks and orange peels to the boiling sugar, and to cool it before pouring on the rabanadas).

    Et voilà!

    [Reply to comment]

    Emma   Reply: November 15th, 2009 at 6:37 am

    awesome. i cant compete with grandma…

    [Reply to comment]

    Isabel   Reply: November 15th, 2009 at 3:10 pm

    @Emma, @Emma, I forgot a pinch of salt in the eggs. They’re very, very good. Not difficult, really, just a bit messy (the main point is to soak them in milk as much as physically possible). Of course, on Christmas eve there is this tension between wanting to make them as late as possible because they’re soooooo gooooood still warm and not wanting to join the festivities smelling as if you had a bath in cooking oil.

    [Reply to comment]

  4. Isabel November 14, 2009 8:55 am Reply

    Oh, those diablos make delicious tostas mistas! I was trying to find a picture of your basic Portuguese kind that you stick in the fire, but don’t even know what it’s called.

    [Reply to comment]

  5. sophie November 14, 2009 8:59 am Reply

    the diablo is fab … can use it on the gas, on top of the woodstove, on a barbecue, in a campfire … and just exactly the right size for a papo seco – kids love ’em!

    [Reply to comment]

    Emma   Reply: November 15th, 2009 at 6:33 am

    Yeah I want one!

    [Reply to comment]

    Isabel   Reply: November 15th, 2009 at 3:01 pm

    @Emma, you can find the cheap version in any general purpose store, alongside fogareiros, grelhadores de sardinhas, etc. I’ll send you a picture of mine. Not as pretty as Sophie’s diabolo, but it works fine.

    [Reply to comment]


  6. Cristina November 19, 2009 1:53 pm Reply

    Emma, I love your blog! Your joie de vivre & good humour shine through these paragraphs.
    I never thought to make rabanadas this way and I am now staring at my electric grill with its series of plates (& not just because it needs to be cleaned) & I’m thinking about trying it out on the griddle! Cristina

    [Reply to comment]

    Emma   Reply: November 21st, 2009 at 6:42 am

    oh no! now I’m off to the kitchen to make more… x

    [Reply to comment]


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