I walked into her town home, still in my pjs, and was greeted with smiles and giggles from Amber and our other friend Kelly. See, we had just been with each other 8 hours earlier for a girls' night, full of all that you'd expect: pillow fights, braiding each others' hair, nail painting, boy talk, etc. Seriously, girls don't do all of that when we get together. Well, we do talk about boys...
Let me explain the pjs. The plan after all our girl time last night (sushi, wine, brie, The Holiday...how great is all of that?) was to channel our high school days and stay the night at Amber's house. Kelly did stay over, but I just couldn't. Earlier in the week I had spent the night at another friend's house to help her with her kiddos for Halloween. Guess when I finally fell asleep? 3:00 a.m. Why? Who knows. The culprit could be the sour patch kids I consumed at 10:30 p.m. Regardless, it was an unfortunate bedtime, especially as I had to work the next day. Needless to say, I was a bit scarred from that and didn't want to risk another night without decent sleep. So right before Amber and Kelly turned in for the night, I drove the 10 minute drive home, changed the time on my iHome, and crawled into bed.
Goodness, that was a bit more info than you actually needed. Forgive the digression. Back to this morning and the brunch, the real reason you're reading this post.
I saw this recipe for a non-conventional french toast while perusing the Food Network site, one of my favorite time-waster activities. A Tyler Florence recipe, I was eager to test it out for a number of reasons: the opportunity to use my cast iron skillet, the combo of apples, cranberries and pecans (so very Fall-ish), the ease of throwing it all in the oven (no continuous french toast flipping required), and high ranking (over 70 times with 5 stars). There's a bit to do to get this puppy in the oven, but with three chefs in the kitchen, all steps took next to no time. The one hiccup was the caramelization of the brown sugar and butter. My first attempt, though following the directions verbatim, yielded re-crystallized brown sugar that did not smell great. With notable frustration, I tossed that gunk into the garbage can and tried again, and thankfully attempt #2 was successful. My advice to you is to preheat the skillet a bit, toss the butter in the pan, sprinkle the brown sugar over the butter, wait about a minute and then commence stirring, stirring, stirring. I actually didn't stir the whole 8 minutes either; I took the pan off the burner around 7 minutes, and after whisking in the cream, we had caramel victory. While the prep was not the simplest, the end result was absolutely fantastic, though a bit messy (it does not come out of the pan easily, but it really doesn't matter...just pry it out and dig in). Served alongside salty, tasty, center-cut bacon (thank you Amber) and refreshing mimosas, Sunday brunch was served.
This brunch would not be possible without The Summit's 4:15 service, Amber's kitchen, Trader Joe's challah bread, a Lodge cast-iron skillet, and three fabulous foodie females.