CAFÉ LIFT, PHILADELPHIA, PA
Café Lift chef and owner Michael Pasquarello created this French toast as a nod to the South Philly of his youth. “It was Calabria number two,” said Pasquarello of the neighborhood where he grew up, and where his grandmother made her own cannoli—right down to the shells. He’s taken the best elements of the classic Italian treat—sweetened ricotta, toasty pistachios, a bit of chocolate—and turned them into a decadent, morning indulgence that also works as an after-dinner dessert.
- Make the filling: Line a medium strainer with cheesecloth and set over a bowl. Place the ricotta in the strainer and let drain in the refrigerator overnight; discard the liquid. In a large bowl, vigorously whisk the ricotta with the confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, and lemon zest.
- Make the French toast: Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, half-and-half, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the butter and 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil over high heat until the butter just turns golden. Reduce the heat to medium. Dip 2 pieces of the challah in the batter for 10 seconds, shake off the excess, and place in the pan. Cook until golden, shaking the pan after 1 minute to loosen the bread, 2 to 3 minutes total. Flip and cook until the second side is golden, 2 to 3 minutes more.
- Transfer to a baking sheet, then repeat with the remaining butter, oil, bread, and batter. Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake the French toast until deep golden, 10 minutes.
- Divide the French toast among 4 plates and top with 1⁄2 cup of the filling. Garnish each plate with the pistachios, chocolate, and bananas and dust with additional confectioners’ sugar.
Reprinted from America's Best Breakfasts. Copyright © 2016 by Lee Brian Schrager. Photographs copyright © 2016 by Evan Sung. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC.