By Kevin Williams
One of my favorite Amish cookbooks isn't really Amish at all. Well, it sort of is, sort of isn't.
The cookbook is by Sherry McKenney, former owner (with her husband), of the charming Murphin Ridge Inn in Adams County, Ohio. I have so many memories of Murphin Ridge. My "Amish career" started near there (a story for another day), I spent a fun weekend with Rachel's family there once very early on in our relationship, and, later, Rachel and I spent a winter weekend there as I intensely pushed to finish writing and pulling together one of cookbooks.
The Murphin Ridge was owned and operated for years by Darryl and Sherry McKenney who ran the place with a wonderful combination of efficiency and personality. People who operate B&Bs have a tough, tough job, I think....you have to be chatty and warm with the guests who want that, but also know when to give space to the guests who prefer being left alone. Somehow Sherry and Darryl knew how to do that and they combined their personal skills with great hiring skills, bringing in talented young chefs to shape the menu. The Inn has been owned by new people for the past four years. I've met them and they seem very nice and time will tell (in the world of B&Bs change comes slowly) how the inn evolves under their watch.
You can get a copy of the book on Amazon for some good prices and, at least to me, my signed copy is a sentimental treasure. The Inn will always live on for me through that book which takes you through the storied hills of Adams County, Ohio in a combination of little vignettes, stories, and recipes There is an Amish influence on many of the dishes, because the Murphin Ridge kitchen staff went out of their way to procure local produce, meats, and recipes from local Amish. The Murphin Ridge Inn is located in the heart of that area's sprawling and wonderful Amish community. The book has traditional recipes like whoopie pies and breading pudding combined with more sophisticated recipes like scratch-made mushroom tarragon soup and back ridge grilled pork. Sandwiched in between are comfort food classics like this nutty baked French toast.
- 1 pound or a 16 slice loaf of bread
- 8 eggs
- 2 cups milk
- 2 cups half and half
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1 /2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 /2 teaspoon cinnamon
- NUT TOPPING:
- 3 /4 cup butter, softened
- 1 1 /3 cups brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons dark corn syrup
- 1⅓ cups coarsely chopped nuts
- Grease a 9 X 13 pan.
- Layer the bread inside the pan to within half inch of the top;
- Mix the remaining ingredients (NOT THE NUT TOPPING, Add that the next morning) and pour the mixture over the bread.
- Let it soak overnight in the fridge.
- Combine all of the topping ingredients in a bowl and spread the topping over the bread just before baking.
- Bake at 350 for 50 minutes until puffy and golden.