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Allow bread to dry out the day before making this dish; if bread is soft, it will absorb too much of the egg mixture and be soggy.
For the sauce, puree strawberries in a food processor or blender until smooth. Transfer to a small sauce pan, add lemon juice and 1/4 cup sugar and bring to a boil. Reduce heat slightly and cook until sauce begins to thicken, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and skim off foam. Pour sauce into a small pitcher or creamer.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, vanilla extract and remaining teaspoon of sugar until smooth. Place bread slices in a shallow pan large enough to hold all 4 slices in a single layer. Pour egg mixture evenly over the bread slices and let stand for 2 minutes, then turn and coat the other side. The bread should be soft and soaked through but not soggy. Drain off any extra egg mixture.
Lightly coat the bottom of a large nonstick skillet with nonstick cooking spray and warm over medium heat. When the pan is hot, add the bread slices. Cook for 2–3 minutes on each side until golden brown and the center springs back when gently pressed. Serve immediately with warm strawberry sauce and garnish with mint.
Nutritional information per serving (1 slice plus 1/4 cup sauce): 310 calories, 17 percent fat (6 grams), 69 percent carbohydrate, 14 percent protein, 3.2 grams fiber, 3 milligrams iron, 123 milligrams calcium, 50 micrograms folate.
1/4 cup graham crackers, coarsely crumbled
1/4 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
1 pint small-curd cottage cheese
3/4 cup sugar
8 ounces mascarpone cheese
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350° F. Combine graham crackers and pecans in a food processor and process until finely ground; wash food processor so it is ready to be used again. Line the bottoms of 6 4-ounce ramekins with circles of parchment paper. Press 2 tablespoons graham cracker mixture into an even layer in each ramekin; set aside.
Place cottage cheese in a strainer and let drain, shaking occasionally to remove excess liquid. Transfer to the food processor and process until completely smooth. Add sugar and process for 30 seconds. Add mascarpone cheese and lemon juice and process until smooth. Add eggs and vanilla and process until velvety smooth and thick.
Spoon cheese mixture into the prepared ramekins, filling to within 1/4 inch of the rims. Place filled ramekins in a 2-inch-deep baking dish. Pour about 1 1/2 inches of boiling water into the baking dish, being careful not to get any in the cheesecakes. Bake for 45 minutes or until the centers are firm to the touch. Remove from oven and let cool completely.
To unmold, heat a thin knife under hot water and run between the edge of the cheesecake and the ramekin. Place an individual dessert plate over the top and invert, tapping lightly on the bottom. Remove ramekin and gently peel off the parchment paper from the graham cracker crust. Chill for at least 1 hour (up to 24 hours) before serving. Garnish with fresh mint and a curl of lemon zest.