Category Archives: maple syrup

Mother’s Day Best: Buttermilk Pancakes with Soft Cheese, Strawberries and Pistachios

What would I do without my mom? Where would I be? What would I become? How would I be? ‘Mothers are the vessels of life that build and grow societies all over the world. Moms are the thread that holds it all together and the tie that binds. They operate on passion and instinct and never let fear guide their way. Mothers are the strongest and most resilient people on this earth, and for that all reverence is justified…’ 

My mom left me some images and collages, took a break and asked me to take care about this post. She means the world to me and there can’t be any better time, no matter how busy I am. My grandma’s birthday falls on May 10th, so this day has double significance in my family being both, Mother’s day and my grandmother’s birthday.  Love is in the airon this day and celebration is big. A festive breakfast or brunch starring with these cakey and creamy pancakes which absorb maple syrup like a sponge makes a good start!  The strawberries add freshness and flavor, pistachios kick in a salty crunch and the delectable blanket of cheese completes the riff wondrously bringing the Glass Candy’s videoin my head to the Air France’s version. A very cool commercial indeed, if you haven’t seen it! 
The buttermilk pancakes family tradition takes years, although the recipe itself took many twists and turns to finally settle with this one, which we find to be our favorite.

The recipe is based on the formula from the master bread maker Peter Reinhart , who searched for the fool proof recipe himself for years to finally stumble upon Marion Cunningham’s buttermilk pancakes recipe, which he now calls the “best pancakes in the world.

Please follow these tips to achieve the best results:
a) This formula does not lend itself to multiplying, so the measures are given only as volume and not weight.
b) Most pancake batters are mixed ahead and then rested. This one is griddled immediately, so it must be handled tenderly to prevent the gluten from toughening.
c) The lumps disappear in the frying pan, so mix only till all the flour is wet and assimilated.
d) The larger the pancake the more unevenly it will cook, with the center being slow to finish. If you like your pancakes custardy, make the big ones, if you prefer them well-done, make two or three small ones in the same pan (or keep two pans going).
e) Unbleached flour is preferred but bleached flour will also do.
f) Feel free to alter the toppings with other fresh fruit or berry, nuts or soft cheese (i.e. My grandma loves it with cottage cheese, while my mom prefers fresh goat cheese and I always opt for whipped mascarpone with fruits like strawberries).
Enjoy!
Great for breakfast, lunch or a tea break:
P.s. Before I finish, there’s something else I wanted to share with you: the video about the video.  It’s about how much effort/cost it takes to make  45-seconds glam video ad.  You might find this comparison weird, but to me that is my mom and myself in a nutshell: an iceberg the tip of which is me. And so is my grandma to my mom. 
Happy Birthday dear granny Nelly! We love you!
Happy Mother’s Day to All the Great Moms!
Yours truly, T for Tat.
***
BEST BUTTERMILK PANCAKES
Yields: 4 to 8 pancakes
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
1 tablespoon butter or oil for the pan
Instructions:
Sift the flour, baking soda, and salt together into a mixing bowl.
Crack-open the egg and pour it whole into the center of the flour mixture. Pour the buttermilk over the egg.
Stir the ingredients together with fork or a large whisk just till a lumpy batter forms and all the flour is absorbed. Pour in the melted batter just till the butter is dispersed.
Heat a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. When it is hot, add a teaspoon of butter or oil and swirl it around to coat the pan.
Ladle or pour the batter into the pan to the desired size and tilt the pan to spread the batter (it is thick so it will not spread very much).
When bubbles begin to appear on the top of the pancakes, flip them and continue cooking for about 1 minute. They should be brown on both sides but tender in the middle.
Keep the pancakes warm in a 200F oven or on a plate under a clean towel, while making the rest.
Serve with maple syrup and/or your favorite fruits, nuts and cheese.
Adapted from: ‘Crust and Crumb’ by Peter Reinhart, Ten Speed Press, 2006.

Sour Cherry Babka with Quark Cheese & Maple Glaze Recipe


Keep the Metamucil close, because I’m coming at you with this totally irresistible, incredibly addictive Babka with sour cherries, quark/cream cheese and maple syrup glaze. This brioche-like Babka is an awesome culinary cross between Slavic and Jewish Easter recipes. It’s a great sweet bread to make few days in advance of Easter and keep it at the room temperature or in the fridge (while secretly cutting slices at night when no one can see you devouring it with melted chocolate drizzle and ice cream).

The maple syrup glaze made with one of those gorgeous maple products you procured the other day at the SS fair will have time to get absorbed and you can add a fresh layer of it just before serving.

The down side of this yeasted cake is that you have to find half a day to make it. Allow yourself exactly 4 hours and 40 minutes to have the Babka finally baked and cooling. We made it last night, finished at almost midnight, so there will be no detailed pictures of the steps of making the dough, but I don’t think you really need them. I know the leavening part is imputed to often baking flops. Many of home bakers lambaste themselves over it, but you’ll never know until you try, right? When armed with the proper ingredients, right proportions and yeast that IS actually ACTIVE, I see no reason anyone would fail this mission.

On the upside, this Babka is incredibly deliscious and versatile with some extra additions like honey, melted chocolate, butter, maple syrup, caramel, etc. It can be stored at the room temperature for up to three days or for few days longer in the fridge.

Sour cherries give a great fresh tang balanced delicately with the cheese mix (lightened with the quark cheese instead of pure cream cheese and maple syrup to replace sugar) and spongy, yeasty dough. Simple and attainable goodness and a stunning center piece (given you saved your night trips to the fridge for the better days).

Our midnight steps… followed by some blurry final shots…

The boring part is the waiting times for the dough to rise, which on the other hand, gives you time to do many other things in between. Otherwise it’s fun to whisk, rock and roll. But if you feel that you are not yet ready for the challenge and might find the experience still humiliating, just wait till I post something much simpler but equally adorable next week.

Happy Easter Baking!
***
PS: Here are some other good ideas for the Easter breads we’ve posted previously:  
 ***
MAPLE GLAZED SOUR CHERRY BABKA WITH CHEESE
Yields: 10 to 12 portions
Ingredients:
For the Babka Dough:
2 ¼ tsp active dry yeast
¼ cup, plus 2 tbsp plus a pinch of granulated sugar
¾ cup warm milk
1 egg, plus 1 egg yolk
3 cups all-purpose flour, extra for the surface
Kosher salt
1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature, extra for the bowl, pan and lining parchment paper
1 egg, beaten with 1 tbsp of cream for an egg wash
1 ½ cups pitted fresh, thawed or drained sour cherries
For the Filling:
6 ounces quark cheese
8 ounces softened cream cheese
1 egg yolk
¼ cup maple syrup plus 2 tbsp confectioner’s sugar
For the Glaze:
½ cup maple syrup
½ cup confectioner’s sugar
2 tbsp milk
Instructions:
Sprinkle yeast and a pinch of granulated sugar over warm milk in a medium bowl. Let stand for 5 minutes until foamy.
Whisk together remaining ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, the egg, and yolk. Whisk into the yeast mixture.
Combine flour and ½ teaspoon salt in the bowl of a mixer. Add egg mixture. Beat on low speed until almost fully combined, for about 30 seconds. Switch to the dough-hook attachment. Add butter. Beat until smooth, soft and slightly sticky, for about 10 minutes.
Butter a large bowl. Turn out the dough onto a floured surface; knead for a few minutes until smooth. Place in bowl, turn to coat, and cover with plastic wrap. Let stand in warm place until doubled in volume, 1 to 1 ½ hours.
Make the filling: stir together quark cheese, cream cheese, egg yolk, maple syrup and confectioner’s sugar.
Punch down dough. Transfer to a floured work surface. Let stand for 5 minutes. Roll out to an 18-inch square (about 1/8 inch thick). Brush edges with egg wash. Spread the filling over the dough. Top with cherries. Tightly roll dough like a jelly roll. Pinch seam to seal. Coil into a snail shape on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush top with egg wash.
Preheat the oven to 350F. Drape plastic wrap over dough. Let stand in a warm place until risen by half, 20 to 30 minutes.
Remove plastic wrap. Cut six ½-inch slits into top. Bake rotating halfway through, until golden, for about 55 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 325F. Bake until deeply golden, 15 to 20 minutes more (cover with foil if the top gets too dark). Transfer pan to a wire rack. Let cake cool.
Make the glaze: Mix together maple syrup, confectioner’s sugar and milk. Add more sugar or milk to reach the desired consistency. Drizzle over cake. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.
Adapted from: Martha Stewart’s Yeasted Cheese and Sour Cherry Coffee Cake

Match Point Carrot Cake for Thanksgiving


Don’t leave this cake unattended at your party because it will disappear in seconds and you won’t even notice that. Yep, that’s how good it is! Rather, keep it in the fridge until last minute to actually hear those OHHH and AHHH from your guests (it will still disappear, but at least you get to collect some kudos). Though the title for this recipe makes it sound as if we were going to re-watch Hitchcock’s ‘Strangers on a Train’, or Allen’s ‘Match Point’, or have some sort of tennis tournament in between, it’s really just to show how we came to the idea of this dessert and how it became such a winning recipe for our Thanksgiving table. With the Riesling wine jelly glaze and decadent salted maple caramel sauce, the take on a traditional Swiss cake has never been tastier.
This year we didn’t have to really cast for a Thanksgiving dessert. The idea landed on our kitchen counter along with the mountain of fresh carrot juice pulp leftovers during our Saturday breakfast. What to do with all this goodness? We didn’t want to send it to the compost and were determined to make some use of the fresh majestically orange fiber. 
Carrot cake came as a natural answer (you can use mince grated carrot in place of the pulp if you want). We recycled carrot juice pulp before just by mixing it with nuts, maple syrup, raisins and spice and pressing the mix into the bundt pan to have a no-bake healthy (gluten, dairy and eggs-free) dessert or snack upon refrigerating it overnight. But this time we wanted something special, after all, it’s Thanksgiving. Classic Swiss carrot cake romantically named Rublitortesounded like something approaching that healthy vegan cake (as much as any traditional dessert can be healthy): almonds, carrots, almost no flour or butter… and it gets better with time, so making it few days before Thanksgiving was a smart idea.

Applying the white wine jelly glaze over instead of the classic apricot jelly was a grown up step up in the finishing touch (microwave jelly in increments for 30 seconds and stir each time until almost pourable consistency). When it came to the traditional lemon-sugar glaze however, I wasn’t satisfied: it tasted too 70ies and lacked ‘personality’ in terms of a great cake’s buttery touch.  We expertly played with cream cheese (first), Mascarpone (second) and whipped cream (third) on a side – they were all good, yet they still didn’t taste like perfect match. And then, BOOM-BAM, the idea of the salty caramel sauce dressing has arrived and made a real hinge point of the recipe. 

I used the fellow-blogger recipe of Ree Drummond, which I made before and loved, except I added some maple syrup to it (feel free to use brown sugar only (1 full cup) as her recipe stipulates) for an extra flavor. And that was where the magic happened: the finger-licking salted caramel sauce has turned the traditional carrot cake into a gourmand-endorsed upscale modern confection we were exactly looking for. 
Our Thanksgiving Monday was workaholic-industrious, having approximately this kind of beat.
The long week-end is always extremely vital for the seasonal backyard works. Seven of us were crazy-busy cleaning-up the garden before frost.  Removing dead leaves, needles and rotten apples; cutting perennials, branches and bushes; mulching; planting spring bulbs and new perennials; transplanting; patching the grass; working out compost, making barn repairs… (I’m already tired just listing this). 
Finally, we also had to fell another tree with almost bare hands and it was tough and dangerous (the tree was close to power lines). Guess what, this morning they gave a killer app on the radio, that cutting or pruning trees that grow close to the voltage lines can be done for free by Hydro Quebec http://www.hydroquebec.com/trees/entretien.html– WHOA! You live, you learn (and you are welcome) – that gives a hope next time we will be less exhausted. Everyone was dog-tired, even the doggie…
Kicking back at Thanksgiving dinner was more than well-deserved. Naturally, the dinner would not be complete without the roast turkey, succulent braised beef with gnocchi and mixed greens salad. But the carrot cake was a show stopper.  

It was euphoria inducing delicious and everyone raved about salted caramel applied to it (match point it was). Later that night we crashed on the sofas determined to re-watch one of the above-mentioned movies, but fell asleep as soon as our heads touched the pillows…

***
One year ago: No Fuss Coq au Vin 
***
SWISS CARROT CAKE RUBLITORTE with SALTED MAPLE CARAMEL SAUCE
Yields: 10 portions
Carrot Cake:
2 cups (275 g) raw carrot pulp, or freshly grated and firmly packed
3 cups (300 g) almond (and/or hazelnut) meal
½ lemon zest
½ cup (60 g) flour (opt for gluten free flour if wish be)
1 heaping tsp dry yeast
1 tsp cinnamon (optional)
1 ½ tsp sea salt
5 eggs, yolks and whites separated
1 ½ cup powdered sugar (187 g)
1 tbsp butter to grease the pan
2 tbsp apricot or Riesling jelly, liquefied for the glaze
1/2 cup slivered almonds for garnish, toasted
Lemon Sugar Icing: (optional)
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 cup icing sugar, sifted
1 tbsp water
Preheat the oven to 425F.
Combine carrots, nuts and zest in a bowl. Add cinnamon, flour, yeast and salt and mix.
Beat egg yolks with sugar until thick. Stir into the carrot mixture. Beat egg whites until the stiff peaks form. Gently fold the whites into carrot mixture. Do not over-mix.
Grease the 9 inch diameter spring form pan and sprinkle with flour. Shake to coat evenly. Pour batter into the pan. Bake for 50 minutes or until the knife tester comes out clean. Let cool.
Remove sides from the pan and place the cake over the wire rack that has been set over wax paper to catch the drips. Spoon the glaze over the top of the cake letting it to drip to the sides. Even out the glaze with spatula. Garnish with toasted almonds.
Refrigerate from overnight for up to 3 days in a tightly covered cake box from overnight to 3-5 days. Serve with salted maple caramel sauce.
Salted Maple Caramel Sauce:
½ cup maple syrup
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup half & half cream
4 tbsp butter
Pinch of salt
1 tbsp vanilla extract
Instructions:
Mix the maple syrup, brown sugar, cream, butter and salt in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook while whisking gently for 5-7 minutes, until it thickens. Add vanilla and cook for another minute to thicken further. Set aside. Use at the room temperature.
Adapted from: Easy Caramel Sauce by Ree Drummond, Food Network, Ranching in the Mist, 2011.

Waste Not Cranberry Banana Bread Pudding


The most remarkable thing about my mother is that for thirty years she served the family nothing but leftovers. The original meal has never been found.’ This quote from witty Calvin Trillin is very ‘dear’ to me because leftovers of the unknown origin were what my Mom served the family as well. Which partly explains why I am so keen on food and cooking today… 
This reminiscence however, has nothing to do with the delicious sweet-and-savory Cranberry Banana bread pudding I made last weekend.  Except for the word leftover and the fact that almost half of the food we buy goes wasted. Let’s improve this statistics a little with a worthy and no-waste recipe.  This one is full of flavor and good things (fruits, seeds, allergy-friendly ingredients) and can be used in different menu applications: breakfast, brunch, dessert, side dish or coffee/tea break. And it’s actually made of the LEFTOVERS: stale bread/brioche/challah, very ripe banana, cranberry sauce left from holidays, etc. 
It is also fun thing to make with kids. Last week-end one of my friends, a busy mom with two little kids, popped around for a cup of tea after her ski trip and, pudding was the first thing that came to my mind as a quick and uncomplicated treat.  
Photo credit: Natalie Schweiger
Photo credit: Natalie Schweiger
Give your kids some easy tasks like peeling and slicing banana, breaking eggs, distributing crumbs and fruit in the baking dish. Crushing candy cane with the roll (to sprinkle on top of the pudding if the wish be) is another kitchen chore kids adore to do. They would really appreciate the result and their own participation. And of course, a nice cartoon while the pudding is in the oven…
I didn’t have to invent it or look for a recipe – I just used my favorite summer cherry pudding recipe  (the best thing ever to happen to a fresh or frozen tart berry: I’ve tried other recipes, but the acquired taste wins every time) with a few new touches.  I added 1/3 cup of roasted hemp seeds for a slightly nutty taste to upgrade the amount of protein, B vitamins and fatty acids. Feel free to skip this ingredient, or replace it with seeds or nuts of your choice (poppy seeds make also a very good option). 
I spiked the pudding with a bit of Meyer lemon juice and zest and replaced whipped cream dressing with a savory yogurt cream, mixing Greek yogurt with some cranberry sauce and a spoon of maple syrup. Finally, I made a quick cranberry coulis with an old cranberry sauce and some frozen cranberries.
The wonderful thing about this dish apart from being tasty and made of the recycled ingredients (and so comforting during winter cold), is that you can’t have too much of it. If you have any leftovers, please don’t throw them away, just portion them out if necessary and freeze.
Photo credit: Natalie Schweiger
Photo credit: Natalie Schweiger
Although the leftover fatigue is in my blood, I am urging you, please give them a second chance with some further dishes.  Put a slice in a lunch bag, have a piece for a tea break, with your morning café au lait (with grilled cheese on top – why not?), or freeze some and try later as a side dish to grab some of that juicy gravy from a roasted bird.
However you decide to re-purpose this pudding, it will be better, healthier and cheaper than any store bought stuff. Enjoy!
***
One year ago: Easy Eggless Tiramisu
CRANBERRY BANANA BREAD PUDDING
Ingredients:
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup sugar (or brown sugar, or mix of sugar and maple syrup)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of ground nutmeg
2 cups of milk (or almond milk)
4 cups gluten-free white rice flour bread (or challah, or brioche), cut into 3/4 inch cubes
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries (up to 1 ½ cups of berries)
1 large ripe banana, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1/2-inch thick pieces
1/3 cup of roasted hemp seeds (optional)
Zest and juice of 1 Meyer lemon (or 1 orange)
Instructions:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Cut the bread in 3/4-inch squares to make 4 cups. Peel and cut one ripe banana into 1/2-inch thick pieces. Reserve the cranberries.
Using a wire whisk, stir well beaten eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla extract, lemon zest and juice, cinnamon and nutmeg in a medium bowl (or use a blender).
Place 2/3 of the bread cubes in on 9 x 13-inch buttered baking dish (or two smaller ones to make the equivalent volume); distribute cranberries, banana slices and hemp seeds and top with remaining bread cubes. Pour the egg mixture slowly and evenly over the bread mixture.
Bake uncovered for 65 to 70 minutes or until a knife inserted near center comes out clean; cool slightly (or completely, if you would like it to set so you can remove it from the baking dish to the plate) and serve with a dash of yogurt cream and a splash of cranberry coulis or a topping of your choice.
Yogurt Cream for dressing – mix three following ingredients:
1 ½ cups of plain Greek yogurt
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 to 2 tbsp cranberry coulis
Cranberry Coulis (yields 2 cups):
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
1 tbsp grated orange zest
2 tbsp orange juice
1/3 cup granulated sugar or maple syrup (or more if you like it very sweet as opposed to sour-sweet)
1/3 cup water
1 cup cranberry sauce leftovers
Mix the first 5 ingredients in a saucepan and bring to boil over the medium high heat. Lower the heat and let simmer for about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add cranberry sauce and mix well helping to dissolve faster.  Simmer for about 5 minutes or until mixture thickens. Remove from the heat and cool completely.

Green Mountain State & Sour Cherry Banana Bread Pudding

I call this simple dessert the epitome of summer happiness as it truly gives your taste buds that special touch of freshness you can only find in sour cherries. Their season is short, however, so if you are a sour cherry lover, you better hurry to the farmer’s market now for these little delicate fruits only show up once a year and not for long. Sour cherries are amazing in baking: they hold well under the temperature while their tartness and tanginess bring any dessert to a new tasty heights. As antioxidant-rich fruits (viva quercetin!) they are also huge on nutritional benefits and are known to relief stress, prevent cancer, improve cardio-vascular and anti-inflammatory functions.

Bread pudding is often associated with a heavy, cloying desserts most often served during fall or winter, but just wait until you try this one and you will surely be surprised. This recipe was inspired by our recent trip to the Green Mountain State – a week of a prolonged indulgence in the green beauty and locally grown organic food. For most of us Vermont is known for its skiing or fall foliage, but it is actually in summer that it really shines and you can see for your own eyes why it has consistently ranked the healthiest state in America. 
Vermont is so much more than just maple syrup or Ben and Jerry ice cream. It’s a lifestyle. The farmers’ markets are bustling with everything from locally grown food, to cheese and wine, arts and crafts. The switch to more organic, good-for-you products is apparent everywhere, even at the level of the convenience stores.
Lush green mountains, crystal clear lakes, pastoral scenic roads, rolling farmlands, rivers and waterfalls – you notice immediately how ”green and clean” this state is. You can actually enjoy the scenery while driving – no billboards obstructing the view. Back in 1968 Vermonters voted to regulate business for the benefit of the landscape and thirsty travelers. Since that time there has been no billboards along their roads. Surprised? Me too. (Curiously, the billboards are also banned in three other healthy and least populated states including Hawaii, Maine and Alaska).
Living in the green paradise clearly has its perks and you quickly notice that well-being is another Vermonters’ forte. People are shockingly friendly and relaxed. So nice and welcoming (so rare in our remorseful post-affluence society) that I felt I was lost in time somewhere between Norman Rockwell’s characters and Happy Hippies. I had to pinch myself sometimes to make sure I was not having a hallucination.
 Like taking a sip of a clean cold water on a hot summer day, so truly refreshing was my summer-in-Vermont discovery. I promised myself to embark on this wanderlust again shortly. So, when am I going back? This weekend, as a matter of fact. Yep, that’s how much I liked it! But let’s get back to our pain perdu aux cerises (French for our Cherry Bread Pudding), my little tribute to the state of all foods good and wholesome.
This lazy-amazing bread pudding takes only 15 minutes to prepare and easily converts to gluten free if you choose to use a gluten free bread like I did. In fact, I much more prefer it with gluten free bread (I used the most popular white rice flour bread variety you can get anywhere, from Walmart to Loblaws) since its major ingredient is rice, and, rice (as we all know) is awesome in puddings. Fresh sour cherries are of course the star of this dessert, but, frozen, dried or canned sour cherries work well too, or, you can vary the flavor using other sour fruits (i.e. apricots, plums, apples, cranberries, etc.) and adapt it to the summer’s bounty your way. One big ripe banana is a must as it makes a perfect taste & texture juxtaposition with any fruit combination. So, in four easy steps: 

  1. preheat the oven to 350 degrees F; pit the sour cherries using safety pin to make about one cup of pitted cherries; cut the bread in 3/4-inch squares to make about 4 cups; peel and cut one ripe banana into 1/2-inch thick pieces;
  2. using a wire whisk, stir together beaten eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg in a medium bowl (sometimes I use blender for this to cheat on the whisking);
  3. place 2/3 of the bread cubes in an 8x8x2-inch buttered baking pan or dish; distribute cherries and banana slices; top with remaining bread cubes; pour the egg mixture slowly and evenly over the bread mixture;
  4. bake uncovered for 65 to 70 minutes or until a knife inserted near center comes out clean; cool slightly and serve warm with a splash of cream and maple syrup drizzle (optionally, I also splash it with Grand Marnier) or a topping of your choice.

Looks convincing? Tastes too, you bet!
Bon Appétit and have a Happy Summer Time!
***
SOUR CHERRY BANANA BREAD PUDDING
Ingredients:
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup sugar (or brown sugar, or mix of sugar and maple syrup)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of ground nutmeg
2 cups of milk (or almond milk)
4 cups gluten-free rice flour bread (or regular raisin bread), cut into 3/4 inch squares
2/3 cup fresh or (frozen, canned or dried) sour cherries
1 large ripe banana, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1/2-inch thick pieces
Instructions:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Pit the sour cherries using safety pin to make 2/3 cup of pitted cherries. Cut the bread in 3/4-inch squares to make 4 cups. Peel and cut one ripe banana into 1/2-inch thick pieces.
Using a wire whisk, stir well beaten eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla extract, cinnamon and nutmeg in a medium bowl (or use a blender).
Place 2/3 of the bread cubes in an 8x8x2-inch buttered baking dish; distribute cherries and banana slices and top with remaining bread cubes. Pour the egg mixture slowly and evenly over the bread mixture.
Bake uncovered for 65 to 70 minutes or until a knife inserted near center comes out clean; cool slightly and serve warm with a splash of cream and maple syrup drizzle (optionally, I also splash it with Grand Marnier) or a topping of your choice.