‘Tis the Season to be Seasonal!

ZucchiniSummer is over, and I’m ready to take advantage of the bounty of Fabulous Fall! At Chef Toni’s we’re constantly getting the freshest ingredients from Dellwood, our farm in Upstate New York. The key to keeping things fresh this fall is letting special seasonal ingredients shine in your favorite dishes.
The harvest season is an exciting one for our school, and every dish benefits from the use of just-picked ingredients from Dellwood. Beautiful squash come across my countertop hours after they’re plucked from the ground, and your children get to enjoy their wonderful taste hours after that. Knowing exactly where produce comes from is a great feeling, and we teach every Junior Chef that comes into my kitchen about the unique nature of the products they’re enjoying.

The New York Times recently wrote that 80% of American eaters consider sustainability a priority when making food choices. Even if supermarkets have become a year-round marketplace for fruits and vegetables from all around the world, my priority is keeping things as local as possible. Featuring our fresh produce in our weekly menus means we’re spending less money on expensive products that need to be shipped to New York from faraway lands, and helps us redefine how the children should look at the idea of fresh produce! We’re also starting to put together a Composting program at Chef Toni’s, using our ample outdoor space to minimize our carbon footprint and create organic material that can be used at Dellwood!

Keep things local this season and highlight New York’s bountiful apple crop with an easy and delicious dish that will wow your family at breakfast! Junior Chefs can help you prepare this Apple French Toast Casserole the night before, letting the fall flavors meld together and turn into something magical by morning! Enjoy your breakfast, and remember to eat, cook, and play with love!

Apple French Toast Casserole

• 4 tablespoons butter
• 3 large apples, peeled and sliced thinly (Chef Toni suggests Cortland or Empire)
• 3/4 cup brown sugar
• 2 tablespoons water
• 1 teaspoon cinnamon
• 8 slices Italian bread, 1 inch thick
• 4 large eggs
• 1 1/4 cups milk
• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Melt the butter in a large skillet and add apples.
Cook and stir for 5 minutes.
Add brown sugar, water, and cinnamon and continue to cook and stir for 10 minutes until apples are tender. Spoon mixture into 13×9 baking dish.
Cover apples with bread slices, making sure to cover the entire surface, trimming to fit if needed.
Beat eggs until foamy, then beat in milk and vanilla.
Pour egg mixture over the bread slices.
Cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
In the morning, remove the dish from the refrigerator and let it stand while oven is preheated to 375 F.
Remove plastic wrap, bake uncovered for 35 minutes, or until bread is golden and firm. Let sit 10 minutes before serving.

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