Oooh...where to begin with this beauty! It's a family recipe that began waaaaaay before my time! It's always been the breakfast of choice for special occasions, Christmas, Easter, birthdays....it's yummy!
As a child growing up, one of the most memorable things about the holiday's was the gathering of our family. Since then, we've all moved and are separated by hundreds of miles so we don't get to see each other very often...but the memories live on. We're a large family. My grandparents had 5 children...and when you add spouses and grandchildren (that would include me) to the mix, thats a lot of people getting together.
Every Christmas morning, we would all meet up at the crack of dawn (everyone was required to arrive in their jammies) and open presents. You should've seen the piles of wrapping paper that needed to be cleaned up (being careful not to toss anything with the paper by accident...like...a new toy that's hidden in that pile by accident. It's not fun searching through it all again, trying to find the new dress for your doll, that ended up actually being under the robe on the couch).
Anyways, it was Papa's job (with great love and pride) to make breakfast. His specialty was his french toast. Once in a while he'd make his wonderful Blueberry Blintzes (which is a recipe for another time)...but this is my favorite. After all the presents were opened, we'd all hover around the kitchen, waiting to fill our plates (wishing you could nab an extra slice of salami!!) Papa would bellow, good naturedly, "GET OUT!!" to all us kids getting under foot (he took his job very seriously) but we just couldn't wait and had see how much longer it was going to be before we could eat. But when you're feeding close to 20 people....whew....that took a while to prepare and made for a very long food line.
Papa is no longer with us (and he is missed greatly) but his legend lives on. I called Nana the other day to find out what the recipe is actually called and how it began. She said it didn't have a name (which I suspected) and said I could name it. But all there's years, we've just referred to it as Papa's French Toast, so thats what it is. As for the origin, well....it started way back when they lived in Canada (when my mom was just a little girl). Papa didn't like sweet things therefore refused to pour syrup on his french toast. Instead, he'd go shopping at the various ethnic stores and come home with bags of meat...what ever looked good to him at the time, sausage, salami, you name it, he bought it. He was a huge meat eater! He started putting this meat on his french toast....and at some point added parmesan cheese to it.....and a star was born.
I have not met a person who tasted Papa's French Toast that did not love it. When I mention what's on it, I get a "face" (everyone imagines french toast as a sweet food and can't wrap their head around the idea of salami and parmesan cheese as a topper). But once they've tried it, they're hooked!
This year my youngest baby turned 18 and this was her special birthday breakfast. You see, it's still a favorite...going into the next generation!
Let me start by saying....this french toast is always made with sourdough bread. And the salami we use is always Hebrews National Beef Salami. Why? It's a flavor thing. Plain and simple. It's the best combo.
Just to run down the ingredients, you'll need:
Beef Salami (not dry)
Sour Dough Bread (Francisco brand is the best, if you can get it)
Parmesan Cheese, grated
Sooooo...start out by mixing your egg mixture. I have found that the best egg to milk ratio is 1/4 cup of milk for every egg. Don't add sugar or vanilla or anything like that. Remember...this is a savory french toast, not sweet. Sprinkle a little salt in there too.
Thinly slice up the salami, allowing about 3 - 4 slices per french toast slice.
Then you're going to fry up the slices so they're nice and brown on each side. Also, you want to cut a slit in each one, from the center out....
If you don't, they do this.....
See the ones in the back of the pan? They start puffin up like a pup tent. So slice em and make em look like little pac-mans so they stay flat in the pan.
Set the salami aside on a paper towel and start working on the french toast. Once the toast is done, spread a little butter on, fit about 3 - 4 slices on the toast (you want enough on there so you can have a bit of salami with each bite of french toast) and sprinkle parmesan cheese aaaaaaall over the top!
Serve and savor the incredible flavor...so simple and so good!