Almond and Amaretto Pain Perdu with Homemade Peach Sauce and Peppered Bacon Bloody Marys
Known as the birthplace of Orange County, San Juan Capistrano, with its cobblestone sidewalks and aged brick archways, is a quaint and cozy town, filled with colorful traditions and historic heritage. With its mission built in 1775, a rich Native American culture, the equestrian ranches and a collection of historic districts, San Juan Capistrano maintains a strong community dedicated to preserving and celebrating its roots.
Perhaps the most charming of historic districts is Los Rios Street. A collection of cottages, boutiques and cafes, Los Rios Street offers a nostalgic warmth you only find in movies. Massive old trees shade the pavement. Welcoming curated gardens frame long, enticing pathways. The homes, dating back to the 1800’s, hold stories you long to hear. It’s the kind of place you want to spend a Sunday people watching on a quiet bench with a cup of coffee, after you’ve had an amazing brunch.
For that brunch, on historic Los Rios Street, visit the Ramos House Cafe. Founded in 1881, the cafe is a true gem.
“The idea of the Ramos House is simple. Like the old days, its owner lives and works at the house, the wines are kept in the cellar, the herbs are grown in the garden and the ice cream is turned out back. The menu changes daily and everything is made from scratch,” explains John Q, the owner and chef.
My friends and I meet for Sunday brunch at Ramos House ritually. We always order their signature Bloody Mary, served in a Mason Jar with giant crab claws and pickled green beans. Because the menu changes each visit, it’s a challenge pick have a favorite dish, but one for me stands out: the Pain Perdu. I’ve had it many ways at the cafe—traditional with whipped cream, topped with blueberry sauce, even drizzled with caramel. The bread is perfectly crisp and browned with a rich custard interior. It’s a Sunday indulgence I never regret.
Here’s my version I love to make at home, with sliced almonds, amaretto, and a warm peach sauce. There’s also an easy spin on a Bloody Mary, using my favorite mixer, from Stonewall Kitchen (the crab claw is optional, don’t worry!), to finish off a perfect weekend.
Almond and Amaretto Pain Perdu
Inspired by Ramos House Cafe, in San Juan Capistrano, California
For the Custard:
3 cups whole milk
3 cups heavy cream
1½ cups granulated sugar
¼ cup amaretto liqueur
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
¼ tsp kosher salt
In a medium sized bowl, whisk all ingredients together until well blended. Set aside.
For the Pain Perdu:
¼ heaping cup granulated sugar
¼ heaping cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup sliced almonds
12 slices of baguette, sliced 2 ½” thick
½ cup unsalted butter, divided into tablespoons
Preheat your oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with lightly buttered foil. Set aside
In a small bowl, mix the sugar, flour, and sliced almonds together. Set aside.
In a large, deep casserole dish, place the sliced baguette in a single layer. Cover with the custard, turning the bread several times to ensure its completely soaked. Allow it to sit for 20-25 minutes, turning once in between. This will ensure a custard center and crisp exterior.
Dust the top sides of soaked baguette with half of the sugar, flour and almond mixture in an even layer.
Heat 2 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium heat, until the butter begins to bubble. Add four pieces of bread, dusted side down. Saute for about 5 minutes, until nicely browned. Flip the baguette over and dust the other side and saute for another 5 minutes. Place the baguettes on the prepared baking sheet.
Repeat step 5 with remaining baguette slices. Bake the browned baguette slices in a single layer in the oven for 10 minutes to cook through.
Serve hot, topped with Homemade Peach Sauce, fresh whipped cream, sliced almonds, and a dash of confectioner’s sugar.
Homemade Peach Sauce
Makes about 2 ½ cups
2-3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 pounds fresh peaches, sliced
1 teaspoon pure almond extract
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the sliced peaches to the skillet. Saute for 5 minutes, until the peaches soften.
In a food processor or blender, combine the sauteed peaches and remaining ingredients. Puree till well blended.
Set aside until ready to use. Rewarm in a saucepan over low heat.
Bloody Mary with Peppered Bacon
Makes 1 cocktail
1 slice of thick-cut peppered bacon
5 ½ ounces Bloody Mary Mixer (our favorite is Stonewall Kitchen)
2 ½ ounces vodka
Lemon and lime wedges
1 crab claw (optional)
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Prepare a baking sheet with foil. Place bacon slices (as many needed for the cocktails you plan to make) in single layers. Sprinkle generously with pepper. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes, to desired crispness. Set on paper towel to drain.
Fill a glass with ice. Add the Bloody Mary mix and vodka and stir. Garnish with bacon, green beans, lemon or lime wedges, green olives and crab claw. Serve immediately.