When it comes to entertaining, I like to be overprepared. If I'm making Martha Stewart's oh-so-genius macaroni and cheese, you can bet I'll double up on the creamy béchamel and noodles; for this crispy skillet chicken with briny olives and caramelized lemons, I bulk up the poultry and go heavy on the marinade.
Maybe it stems from my fear of leaving a guest hungry, or perhaps it's a result of that one time when I didn't buy enough tomatoes to make Marcella Hazan's infamous sauce for a group of 10. (The result was dry and tragic.)
Either way, it means I often find myself stuck with a pile of leftovers to either force upon my already stuffed guests (they'll thank me later) or take for lunch a few days in a row (life could be worse, right?).
There is, however, one particularly tricky item I can't seem to find new life for after a cookout: buns. Whether they be of the hamburger or hot dog variety, I'm always left with a surplus of perfectly good bread that inevitably turns rock-solid stale after a few days. Why? I couldn't figure out what to do with them—except make a sandwich, of course. Until recently.
A few weeks ago, I had friends over to test out one of Food52's grilling contest recipes: juicy flank steak sandwiches with a tangy blue cheese coleslaw. (I highly recommend giving them a try, by the way.) The recipe calls for ciabatta rolls, and just like clockwork, I had a few leftover rolls sitting in my pantry, waiting to be forgotten.
The following day, our entire team had to work from home—we had an event taking place in the office. Having skipped my usual breakfast routine of stopping for coffee and an eggy sandwich at my favorite corner spot, I found myself a wee bit peckish just before noon. With few suitable breakfast options in my fridge—save for an egg or two and some milk—I had a couple options: Starve until lunchtime, or get creative. I paced the kitchen for a few minutes, thinking. I was peeking into my pantry when it hit me: The rolls! Of course! These still-soft, buttery buns would make the perfect vehicle for French toast.
I set to work, using this ridiculously easy and very reliable French toast recipe as my guide. Less than 10 minutes and a few drizzles of maple syrup later, I was scarfing down my carb-iphany. They were light, fluffy, and just the right amount of sweet. The future of unwanted, unloved burger buns looked brighter than ever before.
"What if I had been stuck with hot dog buns instead," you ask? Though I have yet to try it myself, my rapturous visions consist of me stuffing the French toast–ified hot dog buns with breakfast sausage, a slice of bacon, and yes, more maple syrup.
Other ideas: Let the buns harden up and make homemade breadcrumbs à la our co-founder, Amanda Hesser; take the sweet route and whip up this rum glazed coconut bread pudding; or stick with the breakfast-ish theme and bake this cheesy potato bacon casserole. Just remember: If you think outside of the sandwich construct, the possibilities really are endless.