About 4 years ago I went to Thailand with my family, which is our homeland. It was me, my sister, brother, brother in law and my two nephews for almost the entire summer while the boys were out of school. I was a vegetarian at the time and the trip will be forever remembered as “How to annoy your family by being an annoying vegetarian vacation.” My family also found tremendous pleasure in playing the game, “Let’s make fun of the vegetarian in the family.” I went all around Thailand waiving all sorts of delicious foods like noodles with shrimp and various meats on sticks with aromatics of ginger and garlic. I tried in vain to eat anything that met my vegetarian requirements. When I went to a restaurant and asked for something vegetarian, they’d give me a plate of stir fried veggies with slices of pork. Hey now! It has veggies! However, my nephews, (who were raised in the states), were eating grilled whole catfish on a stick, sold from a street vendor with no gloves, within 5 minutes of being in the country.
One memorable morning, involves an ill-advised breakfast dining decision on my part for the family, at an airport Burger King that somehow also was our most expensive meal during our entire summer in Thailand. See, the food in Thailand is so fresh and so good, and yet so inexpensive. You can have a lunch of some amazing fresh caught snapper with ginger, chili and garlic for about $2.00 per person, and that includes your drink and tip. Well, one day, we were traveling from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, which is in the mountains and we were flying out of a small domestic airport. I spot a Burger King and insist we all eat there, because, well I can eat a meatless breakfast sandwich! Never mind that it might have been the weirdest choice to eat with all the wonderful culinary options in Thailand! So, we wound up just getting some coffee and random sandwiches and hash browns for everyone. Our greasy, gross breakfast for 6 people totaled $40 for a quick pre-flight meal. Afterwards, my food nauseated family looked at me like I’d just kicked our imaginary family dog. Well, when we landed in Chiang Mai, our taxi driver took us to some restaurant that looked like my Thai auntie’s backyard and we had an amazing lunch of various fish, pork and beef dishes (I ate veggie noodle soup). Our 15 dishes turned out to be $40, the same price as our measly gross Burger King breakfast, to feed a family of six. We even fed our taxi driver.
Obviously, this trip was the beginning of the end of my vegetarian phase. I had to learn to be flexible, especially when it came to traveling with others. I still don’t eat pork or beef, but my mother taught me to still always make it for others, because it’s good karma. Meaning, even if you don’t eat something, if others you love do, you still make it for them because you’re doing something good for others.
I make a dish, Mandarin Challah French Toast that I serve for brunch that is so simple, (vegetarian), and makes everyone happy. To keep everyone really happy, you’ll also want to serve this with Chipotle Bloody Mary with Sriracha Hot Sauce.
See, you don‘t need to complicate your life for breakfast, you just need to keep things simple and then your family won’t give you stink eye!
Mandarin Challah French Toast
- 6 eggs
- 1 cup whole milk
- Grated orange zest of 2 Mandarin Oranges
- 1 tablespoon organic raw honey or agave
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 large loaf challah or brioche bread
- Unsalted butter
- Pure maple syrup
- Segments of Mandarin oranges (optional)
- Sifted confectioners’ sugar (optional)
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, orange zest, raw honey, and nutmeg. Slice the Challah bread in 3/4-inch thick slices. Soak the slices in the egg mixture, set aside on a plate.
Using medium heat, put 1 tablespoon butter in a large IMUSA sauté pan or the double burner griddle pan. Taking the soaked Challah slices, cook for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until nicely browned. Place the cooked French toast in a casserole and keep it warm in the oven. Working in batches, cook the remaining soaked bread slices, adding butter as needed, until it’s all cooked. Serve hot with maple syrup, fresh slices of oranges and/or confectioners’ sugar.
Chipotle Bloody Mary with Sriracha Hot Sauce
- 1 oz Chipotle Flavored Vodka
- 3 oz good tomato juice
- 1 oz Sriracha Sauce
- 2-3 dashes Worcestershire sauce
- Juice of 1 lemon wedge
- Juice of 1 lime wedge
- ½ teaspoon of fresh horseradish
- Freshly cracked sea salt and black pepper
- ½ oz of olive brine
- 1 stalk celery
- 2 olives
Add chipotle vodka, tomato juice, Sriracha hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, lemon and lime juices, horseradish, olive brine, salt and pepper in a large shaker or highball glass, with ice.
Pour back and forth between two mixing glasses.
Pour into a highball glass and add garnish.
**Using an IMUSA bamboo skewer, take a wedge of lime and 2 olives to garnish. Place stalk of celery in glass and enjoy!