I had never heard of French toast until I was well into my adolescent. Besides, the standard breakfast at our house consisted of a bowl of rice and miso soup, accompanied by a piece of grilled fish or an egg, so the idea of eating something sweet like the French toast with a drizzle of maple syrup sounded bizarre to me. I always wondered why my American friends were not getting in trouble with their parents for eating dessert before breakfast.
My first encounter with grilled cheese came later in life too. I think I was first introduced to it at Bob’s Big Boy as part of a 1:00 a.m. hangover remedy (aka the rite of passage for all young adults).
But there was something that my mother used to make for me and my sister growing up in Japan that resembled a combination of French toast and grilled cheese that she called, “omado no pan,” which translates to a “bread with window.” She made it for us on weekends and special occasions, and whenever she served up the grilled sandwich with savory egg custard and ooey gooey yellow American cheese in the middle for breakfast, I knew I had a wonderful day ahead of me.
Here is the recipe of my mother’s “Window Bread” with a little bit of my own twist. I hope you would take the recipe for a spin on a weekend with your family — just like we did in our small but fun-filled house in Japan 🙂
Omado no Pan (“Bread with Window”)
Two pieces of white bread
1 large egg
1-1/2 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon crushed garlic
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons chopped Parmesan Riggiano (my mother uses American cheese but those artificial ones scare me so I substitute it with Parmesan)
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
Ketchup and Tabasco to taste
① Beat the egg, milk, garlic, and mustard together in a small bowl and set aside.
② Cut out the center of each bread with a knife. I like to cut it as close to the edge as possible so that I can pour in as much of the egg custard and cheese as possible! I used the white bread I pick up at a Japanese supermarket here (they are a little thicker than the usual bread) but any bread of your choice will do.
③ Put the pan with olive oil in medium low heat and place the hollow bread on the pan.
④ Pour half of the egg custard in the cavity of the bread. Don’t worry if the custard spills outside of the cavity. You can always squeeze it back in once it’s cooked.
⑤ Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese on top of the egg custard. I liked to chop mine instead of grate it in so that I can really taste the chunk of cheese when cooked.
⑥ Before the egg custard fully cooks and cheese completely melts, put the middle piece back on the bread (shutting the “window,” so to speak). Brush the olive oil on the other surface and flip. Cook until the surface is nice and golden brown.
⑦ Repeat for the second piece. If you have a pan big enough, you can cook two at the same time. I just didn’t happen to have one handy.
⑧ Sprinkle the chopped parsley and enjoy with a little ketchup and Tabasco sauce!