Although I would be hard pressed to claim that I love this time of year for a long list of reasons, two things help make it a time I look forward to. Is is snow and skiing? Nope. Neither is it a sport or other media event; no, my reason that makes winter bearable is much more food centric and those foods are two favorites; blood oranges and pomegranates. I remember when my daughter Lauren would help a woman she babysat for get ready for a holiday party by helping to clean a boatload of pomegranates and that job sounded like such a mess that I could not imagine anything being worth that hassle. Until I had my first fresh poms. Oh yeah I get it now! Add those lovely pomegranate arils to a pair of French toast slices stuffed with some sweetened cream cheese and it’s a breakfast worthy of serving on any special day; though the red and white might speak to many of Valentine’s Day and this would be a very worthy breakfast for those you love.
I’ve used this recipe for French toast for years but it was never really a recipe since I’ve never paid attention to measurements; I simply crack some eggs and start adding a bit of this and a touch of that and it’s always worked fine. Remembering to note ingredients and their amount was harder and makes it evident that their precision is not all that important; if you feel the urge to add more cinnamon or vanilla, I say go for it. I often include a touch of nutmeg or maybe put some maple syrup in the egg mixture too but today I kept it simpler since I was adding cheese and fruit to my French toast after it was finished.
While the egg mixture for this dish is basically my everyday recipe, using Challah bread for the toast and then adding some sweetened cream cheese and fruit elevated it to the realm of special. One highlight comes from using the pomegranate syrup I made a couple of weeks ago. I keep a supply on hand for cocktails; it’s my Grenadine! Did you know Grenade is French for pomegranate and the original making of a sweetened and thicker juice became Grenadine? Making your own results in a FAR superior product than what is sold today as Rose’s which is simply colored sugar water!
Cleaning them is the hardest part and I think many shy away from using them as a result. I do think I’ve got a method that makes it as easy as it can be. Water is the key…do the task under water and keep your hands and your cutting board and your counter and your dishes and your apron (you get my drift?) clean!!
How to Clean a Pomegranate
I’ve found this the easiest method for me. Pay very close attention; you know I NEVER do step by step photos! 🙂 Pomegranates are ripe when they start to look a little “beat-up” and you can begin to see concave indentations on the sides.
Remove the top; cutting about ½-inch down from the blossom.
Cut between each section where there is membrane and separate sections.
Put cold water in a large bowl and add the sections to the water. I just use my hands to separate the membrane and most of the seeds will just fall out; if not simply rub them a bit with your fingers to loosen them. I’ve seen folks recommend using a spoon but I think that’s just asking for a lot of broken seeds!
When all the seeds are removed from the pomegranate sections, drain the water. Any pieces of membrane should float to the surface and be easily poured off. If you see bits of membrane at the bottom of the bowl, it’s because that piece is still attached to a seed; pull apart and discard the membrane.
Line a container with a piece of paper towel and store the arils in the refrigerator. For how long? I have no idea…the arils from one pomegranate are lucky to be in the fridge three days in my home!
I LOVE them with some homemade granola and yogurt; it’s a breakfast I get excited about!
I don’t use fresh pomegranates for juicing…their beauty for me are the arils (seeds) and the juicy, crunchy goodness that comes from eating them by the handful. LOVE them!
If all else fails and this seems like too much, or you’re like me and can not resist the ease of having someone else do it occasionally? Most stores, including Costco carry packages of arils already removed from the shell and membrane. They are a bit pricey but sometimes that ease is worth it!
Though the pomegranate arils are beautiful, the basic recipe of French toast and cream cheese filling can be used with many fruits; so don’t limit yourself. Raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries…the list is endless! Served with any number of fruits and a bit of maple syrup is really good…but I have to say I think this is better! Yes, it’s a sweet treat but the bit of tart zing in pomegranate is a great foil for the sweet elements of the bread and cheese. This is my favorite…remember I wait all year for it!
For the French Toast
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- Butter for frying
- 4 slices of day old bread; for this I sliced a Challah loaf but I use French bread and in a pinch, my regular sandwich bread.
For the Cream Cheese Filling
- 8 oz of cream cheese, softened at room temperature
- 2-4 Tbsp of milk or half and half
- 3 Tbsp of powdered sugar
- 1/4 tsp vanilla
To assemble the French Toast
- Powdered sugar
- 1 pomegranate, arils removed
- Pomegranate (Grenadine) syrup
To Make the French Toast:
- Combine eggs, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon together and beat until combined (I use my immersion blender in a tall jar).
- Melt a dab of butter in a large skillet over medium heat; don't be stingy with the butter!
- Pour the French Toast mixture onto a large flat plate with a rim to contain it. Soak each slice on each side in the mixture and then place them in the sizzling butter.
- Cook on medium for a minute or two depending on your stove until nicely browned.
- Add some additional butter to your skillet and brown the other side.
- Continue until all of the slices are finished; keep warm in a 200 degree oven if necessary, covered with foil.
To make the cream cheese filling:
- Beat the cream cheese until smooth; add 2 Tbsp milk and sugar alternately until thoroughly combined.
- Add the vanilla and beat until smooth; add more milk if necessary to get a spreadable consistency.
To Assemble the stuffed French Toast:
- Spread a thick smear of cream cheese on one slice of toast.
- Top with second slice; sprinkle with powdered sugar
- Garnish generously with pomegranate arils and drizzle the outside edges with pomegranate syrup.