A little French fancy does the trick for a tasty summer lunch

Great recipes for warm weather - bacon and cream chees French toast and a lemon cheesecake
A little French fancy does the trick for a tasty summer lunch

Bacon and Cream Cheese French Toast by Di Curtin

THE weather looks settled for a few days. We’ve already enjoyed some great summer sunshine, but the mercury looks set to rise to sizzling in the coming week. An outdoor lunch could be on the cards this weekend. I’ve got the perfect menu to serve up for sunshine eating.

The main is a simple and fast open sandwich type dish based on a classic French recipe.

French Toast is what the French make when the bread has gone stale. Known as ‘pain perdu’ which means ‘lost bread’ its made by dipping the stale slices in an eggy mix and frying in butter. This magically rejuvenates the bread and turns it into a delicious snack often served at breakfast.

This weekend, I’ve adapted that idea by adding some savoury smoked bacon and cream cheese to top the French toast, which turns it into a more substantial lunch dish. I’ve given a recipe for four slices, but you might want more as its so moorish! Simply up the recipe ingredients for the amount you want to serve. Serve it with a salad on the side.

FOR DESSERT

To follow, a zingy lemon cheesecake. I much prefer a Swiss style baked cheesecake to a chilled one set with gelatine. The texture is completely different and for me, it wins out easily over the mousse like texture of its chilled cousin.

Not difficult to make either, but it just needs a little extra time for cooling and chilling.

Use fresh organic unwaxed lemons if possible, as they have delicious depth of flavour.

For convenience, I’ve used a pack of frozen summer berries to make the compote. You can use fresh berries if you prefer, but frozen ones are more than adequate for a compote to serve on top of the cheesecake.

This dessert makes a lively tasting and colourful finish to a summer lunch - and there will be plenty leftover to have another slice with coffee later!

Bacon and Cream Cheese French Toast

Ingredients (Makes 4 slices) 3 fresh free range eggs 150mls cream Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper 4 thick slices sourdough bread, preferably stale 8 rashers smoked dry cured bacon 2 tbsp plain or herb and garlic cream cheese Maple syrup for drizzling Whisk the eggs with the cream Season Method:

Pour into a shallow dish and soak the bread both sides for a couple of minutes. You want it to be soaked in the mix but not so soggy it breaks up.

While bread is soaking, fry bacon crisp in a clean pan. Remove and reserve, keeping warm.

At the same time, beat cream cheese soft with a splash of milk.

When bacon is cooked, melt butter in bacon pan. Add the bread slices to brown and crisp on one side, then turn over to brown other side.

Remove from pan to a warm plate.

Spread with cream cheese and top with bacon rashers.

Finish with a drizzle of maple syrup.

Serve with a salad of baby leaves and cherry tomatoes tossed with a French vinaigrette dressing.

Baked Lemon Cheesecake with Berry Compote

Ingredients (Serves 6) 175g digestive biscuits 75g butter, melted For the filling:

500g cream cheese 100g caster sugar (or more to taste) 150mls cream 2 large fresh free range eggs and 1 yolk Grated zest of 2 large unwaxed lemons and juice of 1 lemon 1 tbsp fllour For the compote:

500g frozen mixed summer berries 2 tbsp sugar or to taste Splash of water Method:

Whizz biscuits in a processor or crush in a bag with a rolling pin.

Place in a bowl with melted butter and stir to combine.

Press into the base of a 20cm deep sided loose-bottomed greased and lined cake tin in an even layer. Chill to set.

For the cheesecake, beat cream cheese soft with sugar. Stir in cream, then beat in eggs, one at a time. Beat in egg yolk. Add lemon juice and zest and flour and stir to combine.

Spoon mix over biscuit crumb base. Level surface and bang tin to knock out any air bubbles.

Bake in a pre-heated oven, Gas 4, 350F 180C (160C fan assisted) for about 40 minutes or until cheesecake is set but still wobbly in the centre. Cover top loosely with foil if it gets too brown Turn off the oven and leave the cheesecake inside to cool.

Remove from oven and chill till ready to serve.

Make the compote while the cheesecake is baking. Place berries in a pan with sugar and water. Bring to bubbling and simmer gently for a few minutes till the fruit is soft and starting to break up a bit.

Remove from heat and cool.

Remove the chilled cheesecake from tin onto a serving plate. Dust with icing sugar.

Serve slices of cheesecake topped with compote and fresh cream on the side if you wish.


Beer Match

IF you’re having a lazy day and don’t have to go anywhere afterwards, you might fancy a little tipple with this. Very little beats a cool beer on a warm day and this is the perfect lunch snack to enjoy with a beer. Lidl’s Craft Brewing Co Range of beers made by Rye River Brewing Co. in County Kildare includes robust and refreshing Irish Lager. This lager has a vibrant style, with depth of character from the hops in the mix. Find The Crafty Brewing Co. Irish Lager in 500ml bottles at €1.99.

RECEIPT

FRENCH TOAST

Sourdough loaf €2.50

Free Range Eggs (half dozen) €2.10

Cream 250mls €1

Beechwood Smoked Bacon 2 x 200g packs €4.58

Cream Cheese 200g 59c

Maple Syrup 332g €3.99

Total: €14.76

BAKED LEMON CHEESECAKE

Cream Cheese 3 x 200g packs €1.77

Eggs half dozen €2.20

Cream 250ml €1

Unwaxed Lemons x 4 tray €2.49

Digestive biscuits 400g 44c

1kg frozen mixed summer berries €2.95

Total: €10.85

GRAND TOTAL: €25.61

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