Home Cooking From Celebrity Chef Donatella Arpaia
Broadayworld Food and Wine continues our recipe series from renowned chefs with dishes that are easy to prepare and guaranteed to please. Here's one for breakfast or a brunch meal. This luscious French Toast by Donatella Arpaia is perfect for home cooks.
Oven Baked French Toast with Cranberry Compote
- butter for greasing
- brioche bread or leftover panettone
- 8 whole eggs
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1⁄2 cup whipping (heavy) cream
- 1⁄2 cup granulated sugar
- 1⁄2 cup brown sugar
- 2 tbsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp lemon extract
- 1⁄4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1⁄4 tsp salt
- freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 stick cold butter, cut into pieces, plus more for serving
- 3 cups of cranberries
- I cup of orange juice
- 1 cup water
- 1⁄2 cup sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- Pour the Cranberry Compote ingredients together and let them simmer until cranberries are soft and begin to burst for about 7 minutes
- Grease the baking pan with butter. Cut brioche bread or Panettone in 1 inch slices and evenly distribute in the pan.
- Crack the eggs in a big bowl. Whisk together the eggs, milk, cream, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla and lemon.
- Pour evenly over the bread. Cover the pan tightly and store in the fridge until needed (min I hour).
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Remove the bread mixture from the fridge and sprinkle with cinnamon, nutmeg sugar, and pieces of cut butter. Bake for 45 minutes to achieve a softer, more bread pudding texture or for 1 hour or more for a firmer, crisper texture.
- Top with cranberry compote and drizzle with warm maple syrup.
Celebrity Chef, TV personality, restaurateur, and cookbook author, Donatella Arpaia, is best known for her role as head judge on Food Network's Iron Chef America and the Next Iron Chef. She is a regular contributor to NBC's The Today Show where she offers her culinary expertise and mouthwatering recipes. Arpaia's distinctions include one of Crain's "40 Under 40", the "Hostess with the Mostest" by Zagat and one of the "Most Powerful Women in Manhattan" according to the New York Post.
As the child of first-generation Italian immigrants, Donatella Arpaia fondly remembers spending her summers in Italy. These early years had a formative influence on young Arpaia and provided her with the foundation for her expertise in southern Italian cuisine. After a very brief career as an attorney, Donatella decided to follow her passion and opened her first restaurant Bellini at the age of 26, which celebrated the Italian cuisine of her youth. She then partnered with Chef David Burke to open the critically acclaimed Davidburke & Donatella. This powerful duo's connection was evident by the success of the immensely popular eatery. Despite all of Donatella's accomplishments as a restaurateur, she returned to school earning Le Grand Diplôme for Classic Culinary Arts at the French Culinary Institute and the Italian Culinary Academy.
Donatella furthered her expansion by teaming up with then unknown chef Michael Psilakis as they opened a string of highly acclaimed restaurants such as Dona, Anthos, and Kefi in Manhattan as well as Eos and Bistro E in Miami. These projects and more have collectively earned substantial praises, such as Michelin Stars, Five Diamond Awards, and James Beard nominations. Donatella is a two-time winner of the New York Food & Wine Festival's Meatball Madness competition where she beat out major names in the culinary world. Donatella currently sells the same meatballs in frozen form on HSN alongside her signature line of kitchen solutions. She also designed an entire entertaining collection for Frontgate.
In 2016, Donatella debuted her first upscale quick service pizza concept, Prova Pizzabar, in Grand Central Terminal. Most recently, she opened her second location in the Moxy NYC Times Square hotel and has plans to expand the concept throughout the country. Donatella is a mom of three and wife to renowned heart surgeon, Dr. Allan Stewart.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Donatella Arpaia