Sunday, August 31, 2008

Savory tomato Brie bread pudding is seasonal delight

Goodbye to August. It was a good one, and while summer is on the wane, we look forward to still more days when we can enjoy New England weather.

And, okay, if you’ve been paying attention, you know that we featured this recipe back on June 4th. We finally tried it last week, making use of our garden tomato crop.

It’s a winner – fragrant with the aroma of fresh tomatoes, sweet onion, and celery, and accented by a gentle suggestion of Brie. This savory pudding is good served warm or at room temp; and it would make a wonderful brunch dish or light supper.

I made a few changes, which I’ve noted at the end of the recipe. I felt the soft bread would be too soggy, so I toasted the pieces in the oven until just crisp on the outside. And, making only half the recipe for our twosome, I used one egg and 1 egg substitute (Egg Beater). The pudding is colorful with reds and greens, which would make it a nice Christmas dish … but let’s not get ahead of ourselves …

(from Tomatoes, A Country Garden Cookbook, by Jesse Ziff Cool)

6 lightly packed cups of soft white bread
1 yellow onion, coarsely chopped
2 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
1-1/2 sticks unsalted butter
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
2 pounds ripe tomatoes, seeded and coarsely chopped
8 ounces Brie cheese, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
3 eggs, lightly beaten
2 to 3 cups chicken or vegetable stock, homemade or canned

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Break bread into small pieces and place in large bowl. In medium saucepan, saute onions and celery in butter over medium heat. Season with salt and pepper. Pour sauteed mixture over bread and toss. Butter 2-quart baking dish. Spread layer of bread mixture on bottom. Cover with a layer of tomatoes and a third of the cheese. Continue layering, ending up with a layer of bread mixture on top. In small bowl, whisk together eggs and 1 cup chicken stock. Pour over dish. All bread should be lightly moistened. Add more stock if necessary. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top. Bake for approximately 35 minutes or until pudding is fluffy, firm and golden brown. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving. This bread pudding is also great when served at room temperature. Serves 6.
(Hints from Portia: I made half the recipe and substituted an Egg Beater (1/4 cup) for 1 egg, along with a second real large egg. For the bread, I tore up some hamburg buns and toasted them for 5 minutes on a baking sheet at 350 degrees F. Baked it in an 8”-square Corningware dish sprayed with cooking spray. The layers are as follows: 1/3 bread, 1/2 tomatoes, 1/3 cheese, 1/3 bread, 1/2 tomatoes, 1/3 cheese, 1/3 bread, 1/3 cheese. I used a generous 1 cup vegetable stock combined with the eggs, which made just the right amount of moisture.)


Sonia said...

Portia, this sounds absolutely delicious! For the last two years I have been head judge and coordinator of a You Say Tomato...! contest sponsored by a local tomato grower. We have had some unusual recipes using tomatoes, but none like this one to day....!

Portia Little said...

Sonia, this dish is not only tasty, but also colorful enough to make a lovely appearance on a buffet table. Congrats on being head judge - wish I could be there to taste the winning tomato entries!