Why did I buy a small bag of bebere? I can’t tell you, exactly. One afternoon I saw a jar of the spice blend at Colonel De and impulsively bought a few ounces. Then it was in my kitchen, and I had to use it.
I started with the obvious: Ethiopian food. Lentils. The kind of thing this spice blend was made for.
But a few days later the bebere was still on my mind. I found myself staring at a loaf of brioche and thinking of something Sally Schneider once wrote about savory French toast. So I tried it. My process looked more or less like this:
Put two thick slices of brioche on a cooling rack and let them dry out overnight. In the morning, preheat the oven to 350. Whisk together two eggs, a cup of milk, some salt, some black pepper and a heaping tablespoon of bebere. Pour the custard over the bread in a baking dish and let it soak until you basically can’t stand it anymore–you want most of the custard to have disappeared into the bread. In a cast iron skillet, fry the slices in butter over medium-high heat until one side is very golden. Flip the slices (carefully–the bread will still be quite soggy) and transfer the pan to the oven until it puffs up (10-15 minutes).
The first time I cooked this I took the skillet out of the oven a little before the French toast was done. I cut an X into the top of each slice and dropped an egg into each one, then returned it to the oven until the eggs were cooked. I’m not sure I’d recommend this–you have to get the timing just right to get a runny yolk. Frying an egg separately could be easier.
Also, I finished the dish with a sprinkle of more bebere. Like I said, I had to use it.