Thursday, October 29, 2009

Make Halloween bread pudding with trick-or-treat candy

Those Halloween goblins will soon be knocking at your door for trick-or-treat candy. If you bought more treats than you need, there may be some left over to munch on yourself. Or, for a fun and creative way to use them up, chop up some of the chocolate bars and add them to a basic bread pudding. We added a splash of brandy to the mix, then stirred in some dried cherries. After it baked to a nice golden brown on top, we served it with a dollop of whipped cream. Happy Halloween!

Halloween Trick-or-Treat Bread Pudding

2 or 3 slices bread, spread lightly with butter or margarine, and cubed (about 2 cups)
8 to 10 mini chocolate bars, chopped into chunks
1/2 cup or so dried cherries
1 cup milk
1/2 cup half-and-half
2 large eggs, beaten with fork
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons apricot or other brandy (or vanilla extract0
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine cubed bread, candy chunks from 8 mini candy bars, and dried cherries in cooking-sprayed 1-1/2-quart baking dish. Scald milk and half-and-half. In bowl, combine eggs, sugar, salt, brandy, and cinnamon. Add scalded milk slowly to egg mixture, stirring to combine. Pour liquid over bread mixture in pan. Sprinkle top with remaining candy chunks. Bake in preheated 350-degree F. oven 50 to 60 minutes, or until firm and browned on top. Serve warm or at room temp topped with whipped cream or ice cream. Serves 4 to 6.
(© 2009 Recipe by Portia Little)

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Bread pudding with bourbon sauce recipe comes from New Orleans

When it comes to bread puddings, you can’t beat New Orleans – theirs are among the very best. So when our friend Pepe, who resides in that great city, sent us a recipe for bread pudding topped with a rich bourbon sauce, we were off to find the ingredients.

Sure enough, there in the freezer sat some Italian bread just waiting to be included in a wonderful dessert. As we waited for the bread to thaw, we gathered the other ingredients – sugar, milk, raisins, and pecans, along with the stuff that gives it such a great aroma, the vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg. We found some bourbon to use for the sauce, although we could have subbed some other spirit such as brandy or rum if necessary. Also, we combined the bread, raisins, and pecans in the baking dish before pouring on the liquid.

The result was a nice, puffy, browned pudding that will make a terrific dessert for tonight. In fact, if I were to choose the very best bread pudding of all, this one would rank way at the top of the list. And it has the rich flavor of great bread puddings without all the heavy cream, eggs and high-fat ingredients.

This recipe was adapted by Joe Barkson and posted to his Worldwide Recipes site from a recipe by Paul Prudhomme from his book, "Chef Paul Prudhomme's Louisiana Kitchen." Thanks Pepe for giving us the heads up on this one!

Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce
3 eggs
1 1/4 cups (300 ml) sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon (7 ml) vanilla extract
1 teaspoon (5 ml) freshly ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon (5 ml) ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons (60 ml) butter, melted
2 cups (500 ml) milk
1/2 cup (125 ml) raisins
1/2 cup (125 ml) coarsely chopped pecans
5 cups (1.25 L) very stale French or Italian bread, with crust, cut into cubes
1 recipe bourbon sauce (see below)

Using electric mixer or wire whisk, beat eggs until extremely frothy, about 3 minutes with electric mixer, about 6 by hand. Add remaining ingredients except bread and beat until thoroughly mixed. Place bread cubes in greased oven-proof baking dish and pour egg mixture over them. Toss bread to coat with egg mixture and allow to sit at room temperature for 45 minutes, until virtually all liquid is absorbed. Bake in preheated 300F (150C) for 45 minutes, then raise oven temperature to 424F (220C) and bake an additional 15 to 20 minutes, until pudding is well browned and has puffed up. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature with bourbon sauce. Serves 8.

Bourbon Sauce
1/2 cup (125 ml) butter
1 cup (250 ml) sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
2-3 tablespoons (30-45 ml) bourbon, brandy, rum, or spirit of your choice

Combine butter, sugar, and egg in small saucepan and cook over low heat, whisking constantly, until mixture thickens - do not boil. Remove from heat and stir in bourbon. Serve immediately or refrigerate and reheat before serving. Makes about 2 cups (500 ml).
(Adapted by Joe Barkson’s recipe site, Worldwide Recipes, from "Chef Paul Prudhomme's Louisiana Kitchen" By Paul Prudhomme.)

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Brioche bread pudding is topped with rich vanilla sauce

I don’t know about you, but sometimes this dismal weather can get to you. We’ve had more than our share of dank, dreary, cool New England days this spring. A sure cure for me is a wonderful dessert such as today’s bread pudding made with chunks of rich brioche, heavy cream (don’t skimp on the good stuff, we can find our bathing suit bodies later) and the creamy European-style butter, Plugra®. I discovered this rich butter recently and I don’t know how I’ve managed to live so long without it. It's great for baking because it has a lower water content than regular butter. Use unsalted for baking and cooking, and the salted version at the table as a spread.

Top this decadent bread pudding with a vanilla butter sauce, also made with Plugra® and a whole cup of white wine, and you’re in bread pudding heaven. And thanks to my good friend Risa Golding in New Jersey for sharing this recipe.


Brioche bread pudding:
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups half-and-half
4 ounces granulated sugar
16 ounces chopped brioche bread, 1/4-inch size (1 day old)
8 ounces Plugra® European-Style Butter, unsalted, melted
3 ounces brown sugar

Combine heavy cream, half-and-half, and granulated sugar and set aside.
Place chopped bread in buttered baking dish.
Pour prepared liquid mixture over bread and let soak for 1 hour.
Combine melted Plugra® butter and brown sugar; set aside.
Bake at 375 degrees F., covered, in a water bath (set baking dish in larger pan of very hot water) for 1 hour. After 30 minutes baking, brush top with melted butter and brown sugar sauce mixture. Continue baking for remaining 30 minutes, uncovered.

Plugra® vanilla butter sauce:
1 cup white wine
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 vanilla bean
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 pound Plugra® European-Style butter, unsalted, softened

In small saucepan, combine wine, sugar, and vanilla bean. Simmer to half; add heavy cream and reduce by half again. Immediately beat in half the Plugra® butter to form a creamy paste.
Over low heat, continue beating in a piece of butter at a time just as previous piece is almost fully incorporated. The sauce should have the consistency of a light hollandaise sauce.
To Serve: Spoon warm bread pudding into 3-ounce serving cups and top with sauce. Yield: 12 3-ounce servings.
(Recipe by Chef Dewey Losasso, Executive Chef/Co-Owner, North One 10 in Miami)

Friday, May 15, 2009

Brunch French toast features apples and cinnamon

It’s brunch season. Time to invite family and friends over for a meal that’s hearty but not too filling. Unless you want it to be, of course. It’s a relaxed way to entertain. Set out some of your favorite dishes such as quiche, colorful fresh fruit salad, scones, ham or sausage, and good coffee. And if you’re looking for some great dishes to serve, the new cookbook, “Gale Gand’s Brunch! 100 Fantastic Recipes for the Weekend’s Best Meal” is a terrific resource. Gand, the co-owner of Tru restaurant in Chicago, was also host of the Food Network’s “Sweet Dreams” show about baking that aired until 2008.

She says her recipe for Baked Cinnamon-Apple French Toast falls “somewhere between French toast and bread pudding,” She preps it the night before, so all she has to do in the morning is pop it in the oven. Mmmm, we can just smell the cinnamon …

6 medium apples (use an assortment)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut up into small cubes, plus more for the baking dish
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
8 slices Texas toast (thick presliced white bread)
8 large eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 1/2 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon vanilla
Honey butter (1 stick unsalted room temperature butter with a pinch salt and 1 tablespoon honey beaten in)

Peel, core and cut apples into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Heat butter in saute pan over medium heat until it starts to foam. Add apples and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Turn off heat and stir in brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Set aside.Lightly toast bread. Cut toast slices in half to make triangles. Butter 9x13-inch baking dish and arrange bread in two rows, overlapping in dish.
Beat eggs in medium bowl; then whisk in granulated sugar, milk and vanilla to make a custard. Pour custard over bread triangles and spoon apples over top. Cover, and refrigerate overnight.The next day, heat oven to 350 degrees F. Uncover baking dish. Bake 50 to 60 minutes, until custard is set and doesn't shimmy when you shake pan. It will puff up and brown slightly. Remove from oven and let rest 10 minutes before serving. Serve in squares or large spoonfuls, with honey butter. Makes 8 servings.
(Recipe from "Gale Gand's Brunch! 100 Fantastic Recipes for the Weekend's Best Meal," by Gale Gand with Christie Matheson)

Brunch sausage strata is packed with flavor

Turn up the heat for breakfast by serving a Mexican sausage strata that’s easy to prep the night before and bake in the morning. This dish caught my eye because of its colorful topping, which makes for an attractive serving – the salsa of your choice. With an eye toward healthful eating, this dish can be made with whole wheat bread, skim milk, and reduced fat cheese, without sacrificing any flavor. It comes from the folks at the Better Homes & Gardens recipe site, which offers up some good reasons to cook at home.


Nonstick cooking spray
5 slices white or whole wheat bread, cubed
6 ounces ground turkey sausage
3 large eggs
1 cup skim milk
1/2 cup light dairy sour cream
1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese with jalapeno peppers (2 ounces)
1/3 cup shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese
1/3 cup salsa

Coat 9- or 10-inch quiche dish with nonstick cooking spray. Spread bread cubes evenly in dish. Set aside. Crumble turkey sausage into medium skillet; cook until brown. Drain off fat. Pat with paper toweling to remove excess fat. Sprinkle cooked sausage over bread cubes in quiche dish.
In medium mixing bowl beat together eggs, milk, and sour cream. Stir in Monterey Jack and cheddar cheeses. Pour egg mixture over sausage in quiche dish. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Uncover and bake in 325-degree F. oven for 35-40 minutes, or until center is set and top is golden brown. Remove from oven. Let stand for 5-10 minutes before cutting. To serve, cut strata into wedges. Spoon some salsa on top of each serving. Makes 6 servings.
Make-Ahead Tip: Assemble strata. Cover and refrigerate up to 24 hours before baking as directed above.
Nutrition facts: Cal 254, Total Fat (g) 13, Sat Fat (g) 6, Chol (mg) 134, Sodium (mg) 556, Carb (g) 17, Fiver (g) 0, Protein (g) 18. Percent daily values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.
(Recipe from Better Homes & Gardens online recipe site)

Friday, May 8, 2009

Stuffed French toast is Mom's Day brunch treat

If you’re the cook for the Mom’s Day gathering, and also the mom, you’ll want to give yourself a break and make dishes that are both easy and delicious. Today’s stuffed French toast, which is a bread pudding wannabe, is rich with the addition of cream cheese, raisins, and fragrant cinnamon.

Calories? Not to worry. The folks at Cooking Light have made this with reduced-fat cream cheese and also egg substitute. But you can always use real eggs if that’s your preference. Make it ahead to sit in the fridge, then pop it in the oven before serving time.


24 (1-ounce) slices cinnamon-raisin bread
Cooking spray
3 cups 1% low-fat milk
2 cups egg substitute, divided
1 cup half-and-half
1 cup sugar, divided
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 (8-ounce) block fat-free cream cheese, softened
1 (8-ounce) block 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
Bottled cinnamon-sugar (optional)

Trim crusts from bread. Arrange half the bread in 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Combine milk, 1 1/2 cups egg substitute, half-and-half, and 1/2 cup sugar in large bowl, stirring with whisk. Pour half of milk mixture over bread in dish.
Combine 1/2 cup egg substitute, 1/2 cup sugar, vanilla, nutmeg, and cheeses in food processor or blender; process until smooth. Pour cream cheese mixture over moist bread in dish. Top with remaining bread; pour remaining milk mixture over bread. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.
Preheat oven to 350° F.
Uncover and bake at 350° F for 55 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar, if desired. Yield: 12 servings (serving size: 1 piece)CALORIES 340 (30% from fat); FAT 11.3g (sat 5.1g,mono 3.3g,poly 0.9g); IRON 3.7mg; CHOLESTEROL 26mg; CALCIUM 197mg; CARBOHYDRATE 43.2g; SODIUM 447mg; PROTEIN 16.7g; FIBER 1.5g
Recipe from Cooking Light, DECEMBER 2001)

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Almond brownie bread pudding is chocolate decadence

Got leftover brownies or chocolate cake? Well, it doesn’t happen often in this household. But we are baking extra desserts for the Mom’s Day company, so on the off chance that there might be some stale brownies hanging around afterwards, here’s one delicious way to use them up.

We got the heads up on this recipe from Betty in California, who spotted it on “It sounds decadent,” she says, and according to ‘DAUGHTERSOFDECEMBER’, who submitted the recipe to the site, it’s a “spin on bread pudding. Brownie chunks replace the bread in this rich … twist on the traditional bread pudding.”

It features not only the actual brownies, but also some chopped semisweet chocolate. Hey, there can never be too much chocolate, so we’re going to give this one a whirl.


4 1-ounce squares semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 cups prepared brownies, cubed
1-1/2 cups milk
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup chopped almonds, divided

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Lightly butter one 2-quart baking dish.
2. Melt chocolate in microwave-safe glass or ceramic bowl in 30-second intervals, stirring after each melting, for 1 to 3 minutes (depending on your microwave). Do not overheat or chocolate will scorch. Set aside.
3. Place brownie chunks into prepared baking dish. Beat eggs in large bowl. Whisk in melted chocolate, milk, brown sugar, white sugar, eggs, vanilla extract, and half of almonds. Pour milk mixture over brownie cubes and sprinkle with remaining almonds. Bake until knife inserted into center comes out clean, about 45 minutes.
Makes 8 servings.
(Recipe from, submitted by DAUGHTERSOFDECEMBER)

Mom's Day Bread pudding features apricots, cherries and caramel sauce

We’re back from a long vacation, just in time to celebrate Mom’s Day. Of course it wouldn’t be a holiday without some great food - a yummy feast topped off with some terrific desserts. Did we say bread pudding? Yowsa!
Today’s recipe arrived just in time to share with all our favorite moms. Who could resist this delightful pudding sent by Mary-Anne Durkee of California, who is one terrific cook and foodie, as well as a site editor for and writer on cultures and cuisines for various media venues. This caramel-sauce-topped bread pudding recipe is chock full of dried apricots and cherries, two of our very favorite fruits. She found it in the October 1998 issue of Bon Appetit. In the user rating index, 100 percent say they'd make it again. Can’t get a much better endorsement than that.
Happy Mom’s Day to all!


4 cups sugar
2-1/4 cups water
4 ounces dried apricots, thinly sliced
4 ounces dried tart cherries or dried cranberries
3 cups whipping cream
2 cups whole milk
8 large egg yolks
1-1/2 24-ounce loaves sliced white bread, crusts trimmed, each slice halved

Combine 1 cup sugar, 2 cups water, apricots and cherries in medium saucepan. Bring to boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat. Cover; let stand 20 minutes. Strain fruit; reserve fruit and soaking liquid separately.
Combine 1 cup sugar and remaining 1/4 cup water in heavy medium saucepan. Stir over low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat; boil without stirring until deep amber color, brushing down sides of pan with wet pastry brush and swirling pan occasionally, about 12 minutes. Remove from heat. Gradually whisk in 1 cup reserved soaking liquid (mixture will bubble vigorously). Stir over low heat until caramel thickens slightly, about 6 minutes. Add 1 cup cream. Bring to boil and simmer until caramel thickens slightly, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Cool caramel sauce 30 minutes, whisking occasionally. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover caramel sauce and fruit separately and refrigerate.)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Bring 2 cups cream and milk to simmer in another medium saucepan. Remove from heat. Whisk 2 cups sugar and egg yolks in large bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in warm milk mixture. Cool custard slightly. Lightly butter 13 x 9 x 2-inch glass baking dish. Arrange enough bread in single layer over bottom and up sides of prepared dish to cover completely, trimming bread to fit. Sprinkle reserved fruit over bread. Arrange remaining bread slices over fruit, trimming to fit and overlapping slightly.
Pour custard over bread. Press bread gently to submerge into custard. Let stand until custard is absorbed, about 10 minutes. Bake until custard is set and bread is golden brown on top, about 55 minutes.
Rewarm sauce over low heat. Serve pudding warm with sauce. Serves 8.
(Recipe from Bon Appetit , October 1998)

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Winter weather brings bread pudding recipes out of hiding

I’ve been double-dipping today. So chilly outside it was a great day to huddle in the kitchen and try out not just one, but two new bread pudding recipes. I’d picked up a new cookbook in Barnes & Noble the other day, and I must admit I bought it mostly because of the enticing photo of chocolate-stuffed slow-cooker French toast - a bread pudding in disguise and with chocolate too – how could I resist? Then there was the blackberry-caramel bread pudding recipe that crossed my path recently – I decided to give that one a try too. Ah, the house is smelling sooooooooooo lovely.

I’m waiting for these puddings to finish cooking, so I’ll report on them in the next blog article. But meanwhile here’s another slow-cooker recipe I can’t wait to try – it’s made with whole wheat bread, dried pears (or a combo of pears and apricots), and has some booze and a crunchy, nutty topping. Thanks to Anne and Marlene for sharing this one!


1 loaf (about 1 pound) whole-wheat multi-grain bread, preferably stale, cut into large cubes (about 6 cups)

1 quart (4 cups) half-and-half
4 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons whiskey or bourbon
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
12 ounces dried pears or a combination of pears and apricots, chopped
Topping:1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon mixed together
1 1/2 cups walnuts or pecans, toasted
Whipped cream or yogurt

If bread is not stale: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spread bread cubes out on baking sheet and cook until toasted, about 10 minutes. Whisk half-and-half, eggs, sugar, whiskey, vanilla, salt and nutmeg together in large bowl. Toss bread cubes and dried fruit together and place into slow cooker. Pour custard over top and press down lightly until all bread is covered with custard. Cover and cook on LOW until pudding puffs and is just set, about 3 1/2 hours. Remove insert from slow cooker and cool on rack, about 20 minutes. Spoon pudding into large cups or bowls and sprinkle each serving with cinnamon-sugar, and toasted nuts. Top with whipped cream or yogurt, if desired. Serves 8.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Mushroom sausage bread pudding masks as a "strata"

March has roared in on the New England coast. Snow, wind, and cold, with the promise of more to come. Happens every year. We’d frolicked as we usually do during the tease of a few days of warm, sunny weather in late winter. But we weren’t fooled. Winter won’t really take a hike from this neck of the woods, or seashore as the case may be, until at least May. As for going out like a lamb? I’d be surprised.

So it’s time to curl up by the fire with a big helping of comfort food and perhaps some good wine to go with. Today’s dish, which calls itself a “strata,” contains some of the best ingredients to keep you warm – mushrooms, cheese, sausage, and to add a healthful note, some whole-wheat bread. We can’t ignore that fiber content because everyone’s reminding us of it these days.

What a wonderful dish this would be for breakfast, brunch, or even a main-course meal. I haven’t made it yet, but when I do, I’ll add fresh mushrooms, sautéed just slightly, instead of the canned variety. And, the packaged grated cheeses may be okay in a pinch, but for the best flavor, get some good Cheddar and Swiss, then grate your own. If you’re eager to try it, you don’t really have to refrigerate it overnight either, just an hour or so will do, before baking.

Here’s to the return of winter. We know you never really left. You were just hiding under that seaweed.


1 pound pork sausage

10 slices cubed whole-wheat bread
1 (4-ounce) can mushroom stems and pieces
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese
6 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup milk
1 cup half-and-half
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Cook sausage and drain. Place bread cubes in greased 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Sprinkle with sausage, mushrooms and cheeses.In a bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Pour over top. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Remove from fridge 30 minutes before baking. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees 35-45 minutes or until knife inserted comes out clean.Makes 10 to 12 servings.
Note: If you’re short on time, you can refrigerate for just an hour or so before baking.
(Recipe from "Hey, Good Lookin' What's Cooking? Volume 2,” a fundraising cookbook compiled by the Waverly Junior Woman’s Club of Waverly, IL, to benefit area projects.)

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Bread pudding ice cream uses up the leftovers

Of course there can never be too much bread pudding. But sometimes when you’ve overextended yourself and baked a humongous pudding, it’s just possible that there may be some left over.

What to do? Kristin in Canada shares this recipe for bread pudding ice cream. Which is just what the name suggests – chunks of any kind of your favorite bread pudding stirred into a likewise favorite ice cream. We tried it and it’s wonderful – you crunch down on some frozen bread pudding chunks as the creamy ice cream dissolves on your tongue. You can make your own ice cream using this recipe, or just use a good store-bought variety and mix in the bread pudding pieces, then freeze for a while. This actually reminds me of a flavor of ice cream they used to call ‘frozen pudding,’ but which is now referred to as ‘rum raisin.’ The possibilities with this treat are limited only by your imagination. They should all be as easy as this one.


2 eggs
2/3 cup sugar
1 1/3 cups milk
2 cups heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract or bourbon
1 cup cubed bread pudding

Beat eggs and sugar together for 5 minutes, until thick and creamy. Stir in milk, cream and vanilla or bourbon. Refrigerate overnight. Freeze in an ice-cream freezer following the manufacturer’s instructions. Halfway through the process, add bread pudding cubes and finish. (Recipe from "Southern Food & Plantation Houses" by Lee Bailey, 1989)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Mardi Gras bread pudding is festive dessert

Supper clubs have been cropping up all over the U.S. – gatherings of folks who enjoy good food and good fellowship.

And in fact, our own special group met last weekend at a charming pre-Civil-War home in Newport, where we celebrated a Mardi Gras theme with colored beads, flowers, Hurricane cocktails, and jambalaya.

And for dessert - you knew I was getting to this – a rich and wonderful bread pudding that was made even more delightful by a topping of melted white chocolate mixed with cream. This pudding is the original creation of Chef John D. Folse, who notes that bread pudding is considered the “apple pie” of South Louisiana. He attributes the French influence with its crusty French bread, and the German population who gave a good supply of milk and eggs, to providing one of the area’s premier desserts.

So here’s a toast to Mardi Gras, and to fine food, but most of all to our extra special supper club friends!


3 (10-inch) loaves French bread
4 eggs
6 egg yolks
4 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup milk
1 cup sugar
9 ounces white chocolate

Slice French bread into 1/2-inch thick round croutons and set aside. In large mixing bowl, whisk together eggs and egg yolks. Set aside. In large saucepan, combine cream, milk and sugar. Bring mixture to a low simmer then add white chocolate. Whisk until chocolate is completely melted. Remove pot from heat, and quickly stir in whisked eggs. Blend thoroughly to keep eggs from scrambling. In 9" x 13" baking dish, place bread slices in 2–3 layers. Pour half of cream mixture over bread. Press bread gently, allowing cream mixture to be absorbed evenly into bread. Once most of mixture has been soaked up, pour remaining cream over bread and press gently. Cover dish with foil and let soak a minimum of 5 hours prior to baking. Preheat oven to 300°F. Bake covered approximately 1 hour. Remove foil and bake 45 additional minutes or until top is golden brown. This bread pudding is best chilled in refrigerator overnight, then cut into squares and heated in individual portions in microwave. If desired, create a white chocolate sauce for topping bread pudding by combining 8 ounces melted white chocolate and 3 ounces heavy whipping cream. This may be done in a double boiler or microwave.
(Recipe from the kitchen of Chef John D. Folse, CEC, AAC)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Mushrooms star in hearty bread pudding

Okay, time to put a lid on all those Valentine’s Day sweets. Enough already! Now we must consider some foods that don’t contain sugar. Yes, we must. And believe it or not, we do have other favorites besides chocolate. So today we’re going to whip up a dish that’s full of a very special ingredient, the mushroom. You can never have enough of these heavenly critters, if you ask me, and this one is bursting with earthy creminis, those hearty although younger, smaller cousins of the portabellas. This pudding hits all the comfort food buttons on a cold New England day in February. Nice for a main dish or lunch offering, along with some crisp salad greens.

Thanks to Kristin Molnar of Canada who gave us the heads-up on this wonderful recipe that comes from Every Day with Rachael Ray. You can always count on Rachael for a recipe that’s delicious and not too time consuming.


3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Two 6-ounce packages cremini mushrooms, sliced
2 cloves, garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Salt and Pepper
6 large eggs
2 cups milk
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 baguette, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add mushrooms, garlic, thyme, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and cook, stirring, until mushrooms are browned, 8 to 10 minutes.
In large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, 2 tablespoons Parmesan, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Stir in bread cubes and let soak for 10 minutes. Stir in mushroom mixture and mozzarella. Transfer to greased 1-1/2-quart baking dish; sprinkle remaining 2 tablespoons Parmesan on top. Bake until golden, about 45 minutes. Let stand for 15 minutes before serving.
Serves 4. Prep time: 30 minutes. Bake time: 45 minutes.
(Recipe by Christina Stanley-Salerno on Every Day with Rachael Ray, February 2009. Photo by Kana Okada.)

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Valentine's Day bread pudding says "I love you"

I think I spotted every male over the age of 12 out shopping for Valentine’s Day – puzzling over cards, heart-shaped boxes of chocolates, and cuddly teddy bears. And in the kitchen we’re planning our own feast – a decadent chocolate bread pudding, flavored with Kahlua, and the ever-popular Valentine’s Day chocolate. This is healthier for your sweetie than many of those ultra-rich desserts too. Made with reduced-fat milk and just one egg, the recipe comes from Cooking Light magazine, and the flavor is superb!!!

If you can’t find Hawaiian bread, which is a soft sweet bread, you can substitute a good egg bread, such as challah.

Here’s to chocolate, and romance, and happy Valentine’s Day!!


1 3/4 cups (1/2-inch) cubed Hawaiian sweet bread
2/3 cup 2% reduced-fat milk
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1 tablespoon Kahlúa (coffee-flavored liqueur)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Cooking spray
1 ounce semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons frozen fat-free whipped topping, thawed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Arrange bread cubes in single layer on baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 5 minutes or until toasted. Remove bread from oven; decrease oven temperature to 325 degrees F.
Combine milk and next 5 ingredients (milk through egg) in medium bowl, stirring well with whisk. Add bread, tossing gently to coat. Cover and chill 30 minutes or up to 4 hours.
Divide half of bread mixture evenly between 2 (6-ounce) ramekins or custard cups coated with cooking spray; sprinkle evenly with half of chocolate. Divide remaining bread mixture between ramekins; top with remaining chocolate.
Place ramekins in 8-inch square baking pan; add hot water to pan to a depth of 1 inch. Bake at 325 degrees F. for 35 minutes or until set. Serve each pudding warm with 1 tablespoon whipped topping. Yield: 2 servings.
CALORIES 319 (30% from fat); FAT 10.6g (sat 5.2g,mono 3.6g,poly 0.8g); IRON 1.8mg; CHOLESTEROL 121mg; CALCIUM 125mg; CARBOHYDRATE 45.3g; SODIUM 141mg; PROTEIN 9.8g; FIBER 2.1g
(Recipe from Cooking Light, January 2003. Photo by Becky Luigart-Stayner; styling by Lydia DeGaris-Pursell)

Monday, February 9, 2009

Vanilla chai bread pudding is easy and delicious

One of my most favorite places to shop for food in the whole wide world is Trader Joe’s. Whenever I get up to Massachusetts I stop in the Trader’s in Framingham, where I load up my cart. So when I came across this bread pudding I knew it had to be great, flavored with Trader’s chai mix.

Using chai tea and also agave nectar in a bread pudding is also a neat and original idea. It was posted on the Cooking with Trader Joe’s blog by Deana Gunn, under the vegetarian and vegan recipes. Ahhh, I can just smell the wonderful aroma … sigh …


A little more than 1/2 of a 1-lb challah loaf cubed into 1/2-inch chunks (about 6 cups worth)
3 eggs
1 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 tablespoons Spicy Chai Latte Mix powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup agave nectar
You will also need six 6-ounce ramekins (These are the smaller size ones which are 3.5 inch diameter)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.Place cubed bread in medium sized bowl.
3. In separate bowl, combine eggs, cream, powder, vanilla, and agave. Whisk together until mixture is smooth and all powder has dissolved.
4. Pour mixture over bread and let it soak for 10 minutes. Do not stir since that will create a mush. Once or twice, using large spoon or spatula, gently flip some of the bread over so that mixture soaks in evenly.
5. Fill each well-buttered or oiled ramekin with some of the bread. Press gently to compact slightly.
6. Place ramekins in baking dish and fill baking dish with hot water until water is halfway up sides of ramekins.
7. Place in oven (carefully!), drape with foil, and bake for about 30 minutes until bread pudding is firm in center.
8.Pop out of ramekin if desired. Serve warm with ice cream, frozen yogurt, or drizzle with chocolate sauce. (Note from Deana Gunn: In the photos, I garnished it with a piece of candied ginger.
(Recipe posted by Deana Gunn on the blog, Cooking with Trader Joes, 2009)

Chocolate bread pudding souffles are low-cal Valentine goodies

We must serve something chocolate for Valentine’s Day. That’s a given. Choosing from a long list of delectable treats is a problem. Well, of course we could solve it by making them all. And high on our agenda is today’s recipe for these lovely soufflés that are not only special, but also low in calories.

Thanks to Betty in California for sharing this recipe, and also to the Betty Crocker Test Kitchens for coming up with it. They suggest serving these desserts as soon as they come out of the oven.


Nonstick cooking spray
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1-1/3 cup fat-free milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1-1/2 cups dry French bread cubes (crusts removed)
1 tablespoon margarine or butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 egg yolks
3 egg whites
3 tablespoons sugar

1. To attach foil collars to eight 5-ounce soufflé dishes, fold eight 12x4-inch strips of foil in half lengthwise. Lightly coat one side of each strip with nonstick cooking spray; sprinkle each with 1/4 teaspoon sugar. Place collars around ungreased soufflé dishes, sugar side toward center, extending 1 inch above dishes. Secure with tape or piece of 100-percent-cotton string. Set soufflé; dishes aside.
2. In medium bowl stir together 1/4 cup sugar, cocoa powder, and cinnamon; add 2/3 cup milk and vanilla. Stir in bread cubes; set aside.
3. In small saucepan melt margarine or butter. Stir in flour. Add remaining 2/3 cup milk. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Remove from heat. In large mixing bowl beat egg yolks for 5 minutes or until thick and lemon-colored. Gradually stir in flour mixture; stir in bread mixture.
4. Wash beaters thoroughly. In large mixing bowl beat egg whites until soft peaks form (tips curl). Gradually add 3 tablespoons sugar, beating until stiff peaks form (tips stand straight). Fold bread mixture into beaten egg whites. Divide among prepared soufflé dishes.
5. Bake in 350 degrees F; oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until knife inserted near centers comes out clean. Serve immediately. Makes 8 soufflés.
Nutrition Facts Per Serving: Servings: 8 soufflés Calories 153 Total Fat (g) 4 Saturated Fat (g) 1 Monounsaturated Fat (g) x Polyunsaturated Fat (g) x Cholesterol (mg) 81 Sodium (mg) 137 Carbohydrate (g) 23 · Total Sugar (g) x Fiber (g) 0 Protein (g) 6 Vitamin A (DV%) 16 Vitamin C (DV%) x Calcium (DV%) Iron (DV%) Diabetic Exchanges Starch (d.e.) 1.5 Fat (d.e.) .5
(Recipe from Betty Crocker Test Kitchens)

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Simple bread pudding brings memories back

I have just finished the book, “The Tenth Muse, My Life in Food,” by Judith Jones, a memoir from the legendary editor who published Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. With its down-to-earth approach to both food and people, this book provides a wonderful history of American gastronomy, including Jones’ publishing experiences with James Beard, M.F.K Fisher, Edna Lewis, and Lidia Bastianich, to name just a few culinary luminaries.

And, ta tum, Jones is also a huge fan of bread pudding! Ya just gotta love this woman!

In the back of her book, Jones provides a selection of recipes, including one that she calls simply, “Bread Pudding.” She mentions having a bread pudding at a country inn in Wales that brought back memories of puddings she’d had in her childhood. As she talks about the “hot raisins bursting in my mouth, the sensation … so powerful that the tears rolled down my cheeks (adding a little salty flavor,” you have to marvel at her descriptive qualities.

We made the pudding from the recipe in the book and it was indeed delightful, in the way that basic bread puddings are. And this one had the added charm of a hint of lemon, from both freshly grated lemon rind, and also lemon juice. It’s one of those classic bread puddings that will stand the test of time. I used Italian bread slices in this recipe and did not remove the crusts.

Jones provides hints to go along with many of her recipes, such as the one for this dish that she says she found when working with Edna Lewis: “I discovered … how much better crushed sugar cubes are than plain granulated sugar as a topping. They’re particularly good if you’ve stored them in a jar with a vanilla bean.” She also comments that she’s had bread pudding “for breakfast straight from the fridge.” Now there’s a gal after my own heart.

(a favorite of Judith Jones, from her book, The Tenth Muse, My Life in Food)

2-1/2 cups milk
2 tablespoons butter, plus a little for buttering the dish
3 slices homemade-type bread, crusts removed, crumbled to make 1-1/2 cups
1/2 cup raisins
Grated rind of 1/2 lemon
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
3 large eggs
3 tablespoons sugar
About 4 gratings of nutmeg (about 1/8 teaspoon)
Topping: crushed sugar cubes, to make about 2 tablespoons
For serving: heavy cream

Heat the milk with the butter, stirring until melted. Remove from the heat, stir in the crumbled bread, raisins, grated lemon rind, and lemon juice, and let cool to lukewarm. Separate the eggs, and beat the yolks into the milk and butter along with the sugar. Beat the whites in a clean bowl until they form soft peaks, and fold them into the pudding mixture. Season with nutmeg, and turn into a lightly buttered shallow baking dish. Sprinkle the crushed sugar cubes on top. Set the dish in a pan of simmering water, and bake in a preheated 325-degree oven for 1 hour. Serve warm with a pitcher of heavy cream.
(From The Tenth Muse, My Life in Food, by Judith Jones, 2007)

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Jelly doughnut bread pudding is Valentine's Day red

In addition to bread pudding and chocolate, what really makes my mouth water is a jelly doughnut. Or actually more than one jelly doughnut. So when I saw this recipe for Jelly Doughnut Pudding, of course I was intrigued. It was posted by Alex Witchel in The New York Times this past week, and thanks to Nancy Mosher of New York for alerting me to the article.

On a richness scale, this one scores as close to a Ten as you can get, with heavy cream, eggs and egg yolks, and of course the doughnuts themselves. We’d like to try it, but there’s usually not a crumb left when we have jelly donuts in the house. It does sound very pretty for Valentine’s Day, however, with alternating layers of sliced donuts and custard.

(Time: About 2 1/2 hours)

3 1/2 cups heavy cream, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups whole milk, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
8 large eggs
4 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
14 jelly doughnuts, preferably filled with raspberry jam
Butter, for greasing pan

1. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Fill a kettle with water and place over high heat to bring to a boil. In a large mixing bowl, combine cream, milk, 1 1/2 cups sugar, eggs, egg yolks and vanilla. Whisk to blend.
2. Using a serrated knife, gently slice doughnuts from top to bottom in 1/4-inch slices. Butter a 9-by-12-inch baking pan and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon sugar. Pour about 1/2 inch of the cream mixture into pan. Arrange a layer of sliced doughnuts in pan, overlapping them slightly. Top with another layer, pressing them down slightly to moisten them. Top with a small amount of cream mixture.
3. Arrange 2 more layers of sliced doughnuts, and pour remaining liquid evenly over top. Press down gently to moisten. Sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon sugar. Cover pan tightly with foil, and place in a larger pan. Fill larger pan with boiling water until three-quarters up the side of pan.
4. Bake for 1 hour 50 minutes. Remove foil and continue to bake until top is golden brown, about 15 minutes. Turn off oven, open door slightly, and leave in oven for an additional 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Yield: 8 to 10 servings.
(Recipe posted by Alex Witchel in The New York Times, January 28, 2009)

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Chocolate-cherry bread pudding is for Valentine's Day

Who couldn’t help notice, starting right after the Christmas holidays, the profusion of red stuff peeking out from shelves in supermarkets, pharmacies, and book stores? We’d hardly had time to put the decorations away when we were bombarded with another reason to celebrate.

But now we’re getting in the mood for Valentine’s Day, which will be here before we know it. For me, the best part of that day is that it’s one more opportunity to feast on chocolate. (Not that we need a reason…) Chocolate kisses wrapped in red foil, assorted chocolates in a big red heart box, and those chocolate covered cherries doused in a lovely liqueur. Just for starters.

So when I spotted this recipe recently, it had Valentine’s Day written all over it. This bread pudding is made from rich croissants, and the custard is studded with chocolate chips and cherries – who could resist this special sweet? It’s from a wonderful cookbook by the name of Upper Crusts - Capital Lifestyles by Sheilah Kaufman, culinary instructor and author of 25 cookbooks. Subtitled: Fabulous Ways to Use Bread. So of course she had to include bread pudding!

In the next few posts, in addition to some other great puddings, we hope to bombard you with recipes for luscious bread puddings to serve for Valentine’s Day. And they just might include chocolate. Here’s to sweet romance!!


1 teaspoon butter

3 stale croissants
1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup dried cherries
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup cream
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon Cassis or vanilla extract

Generously butter a 9x9-inch baking dish.
Cut croissants into 1/2-inch pieces (as best you can) and scatter cubes, chips and cherries into prepared dish.In large bowl, whisk together sugar, cream, eggs and Cassis until sugar dissolves. Pour sugar/cream mixture through sieve into prepared baking dish. Gently push down cubes so that they absorb egg mixture. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.*
Preheat oven to 350°.
Bake for 30 minutes or until center is puffy and golden. Serve hot.
* If in a rush, skip chilling. Instead pour only half the egg mixture in, push down to absorb; wait 5 minutes before pouring on some more but not all, leaving tops of cubes just above the liquid line. Serves 6.
Approximate nutrients per serving: calories, 395; protein 6 g; carbohydrates, 36 g; fat, 26 g; cholesterol, 144 mg; sodium; 188 mg.
(From Upper Crusts - Capital Lifestyles by Sheilah Kaufman, © 2007)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Pineapple bread pudding is tropical delight in January

It’s snowing like crazy here. The wet flakes sting your face, and the wind takes your breath away, and your fingers tingle inside your gloves. When ‘the weather outside is frightful,’ as the old song goes, we dream of far-off lands where the sun shines, and the beaches beckon, and the skies are blue. We can only picture ourselves on a Hawaiian island, sampling the luscious tropical fruits. But instead we'll have to settle for a fragrant pineapple bread pudding. Today’s recipe comes from a couple of gals who live where you don’t have to wear layers of thick clothing and heavy boots each time you venture out - Anne in Texas, and Marlene in Arizona.

They got this recipe from a friend in Maine who claims “this one is sure to please, and has flavors to rave about, and has less fat and calories than you would imagine, and is fit for you and is fit for yours.” It doesn’t get much better than that. And anyone in Maine is probably fantasizing about warmer climates now also. Ayup.


6 slices raisin, white, wheat, or oatmeal bread, cut in cubes

1 can (about 15-ounce) pineapple with syrup, cut-up (can use sugar-free)
1/2 cup golden raisins, chopped
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup sugar( can use sugar substitute, or half and half sugar and sugar substitute)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray 2-quart glass baking pan heavily. Add bread cubes. Drain pineapple, reserving liquid. Add pineapple and raisins to bread mixture. Beat eggs with buttermilk, sugar, spices, vanilla, salt, and reserved pineapple juice. Pour egg mixture evenly over bread. Cover and bake 1/2 hour. Turn down heat to 350 degrees F. and bake 20 minutes longer, uncovered, or until pudding is set and tests done. Serves 4.
(310 calories per serving provided you use sugar substitute and fat-free products)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Honey oatmeal bread makes superb bread pudding

In honor of January being Wheat Bread Month (who invents these things anyhow?), we’re including a recipe for a special bread made with oatmeal, honey, and whole wheat flour. Not that we need a reason to post this recipe, which we made into a glorious bread last week. We’ve been enjoying it toasted and topped with butter, sliced thin for sandwiches, and in the Morning Glory Muffin bread pudding, which was the topic of yesterday’s article.

The King Arthur Whole Grain Baking cookbook, the source of the recipe, describes the loaf as “moist and relatively close-textured, perfect for sandwiches.” The recipe also suggests a cinnamon-swirl filling, but we think it’s great just as is. No frills or fancy stuff. I didn’t add the chopped nuts either.

And, in the interests of buying local - for the honey I used 100 percent pure honey that’s gathered and bottled and sold right here in our little seashore island town. In fact, it comes from my neighbor across the street. Now you can’t get more local than that! They call it ‘The Perfect Swarm’ and it’s lovely. Wish they could bottle the aroma also.


1-1/4 cups (10 ounces) boiling water
1 cup (3-1/2 ounces old-fashioned rolled oats
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) unsalted butter, cut into 3 pieces
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup (3 ounces) honey
1 cup (4 ounces) traditional whole wheat flour
1-2/3 cups (7 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (1 ounce) nonfat dry milk
1/2 cup (1-7/8 ounces) finely chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)
2 teaspoons instant yeast

Place boiling water, oats, butter, salt and honey into medium bowl, stir, and let mixture cool to lukewarm.
Mix remaining dough ingredients with oat mixture, and knead – by hand, mixer, or bread machine – until you’ve made a soft smooth dough. Place dough in lightly-greased bowl, cover it, and let rise for 1 hour; the dough should be doubled in bulk.
Lightly grease 9x5-inch loaf pan. Gently deflate dough – it will be sticky, so oil your hands – and shape into 9-inch log. Place in prepared pan. Cover gently with lightly greased plastic wrap or a proof cover, and allow to rise till it’s crowned 1-1/2-inches over rim of pan, about 1 to 1-1/2 hours. Near end of bread’s rising time, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Uncover and bake bread for about 45 minutes, tenting it with foil after 20 minutes to prevent over-browning. Bread is done when golden brown and instant-read thermometer inserted in center registers 190 degrees F. Remove from oven, and after a minute or so turn out onto rack. Brush with melted butter, if desired; this will keep crust soft. Cool bread completely before cutting.
(Recipe from King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking, (c) 2006, Countryman Press)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Bread pudding is morning glory muffin wannabe

In a creative frame of mind? We had fun today making up a bread pudding version of our favorite breakfast goodie, the Morning Glory Muffin. We took a basic recipe and ran with it, adding golden raisins, coconut, grated carrots, pecans, sunflower seeds, and spices to some leftover whole wheat bread made with honey and oatmeal. We’d made the bread the other day from a recipe in the King Arthur Whole Grain Baking cookbook. (And trust me, this bread is so good, that not much is EVER left over. I’ll post the bread recipe tomorrow in the My Favorite Bread Recipes section of this blog.)

If I say so myself (no modesty genes kicking in here…), this is one of the very best bread puddings I’ve ever had. Do you hear an echo? Have I said this before? You betcha! I plan to enjoy it for dessert tonight, and there’s a good chance I’ll munch on it with my morning coffee tomorrow.

Ingredient details: You can use whatever kind of milk or cream you have on hand. I used one percent milk, and believe it or not, the results were incredibly rich. I’d suggest using a dense bread for this recipe, rather than a soft commercial bread, for a more muffin-like texture.


2 slices dense whole wheat bread or oatmeal bread, buttered and cubed (1-1/2 to 2 cups)
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1/4 cup peeled and grated carrots
1 tablespoon sunflower seeds
2 large eggs
1-1/2 cups milk
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
Dash salt

In greased or cooking-sprayed 1-1/2-quart baking dish (or square glass pan) combine bread cubes, raisins, coconut, chopped nuts, grated carrots, and sunflower seeds. In medium bowl, whisk together eggs and milk. Add brown sugar, vanilla, spices, and salt; whisk to combine. Pour over bread mixture and press bread down into liquid. Let stand while you preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Bake 45 minutes to 1 hour or until pudding is set. Serves 6 to 9, depending on size of portions. Top with cream cheese icing if desired, or whipped topping of choice.
(Recipe developed by Portia Little © 2009)

Monday, January 12, 2009

Chocolate bread pudding is always in season

So enough of the diet already! We’re sick and tired of watching our calories. We need CHOCOLATE. No frills or fancy stuff. Just any good chocolate will do. Preferably of the darker sweet variety, but hey we’re not picky – we’ll accept whatever falls onto our path. Or candy dish as the case may be.

And a very, although belated, Happy New Year to all my friends in Bread Pudding Land! Thanks so much to all of you who’ve contributed so many wonderful recipes and also made comments. To celebrate the New Year, and also our chocolate craving, here’s a recipe for chocolate bread pudding that swims in a scrumptious bourbon pecan caramel sauce. If we’re going to dive in, this is where we want to be. The pudding has almost a fudge texture. Need we say more?
Thanks to Pepe in New Orleans for suggesting this great bread pudding!


Sauce ingredients:
1-1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1-1/4 cups whipping cream
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted
2 tablespoons bourbon

Pudding ingredients:
2 cups milk (do not use low-fat or nonfat)
2 cups whipping cream
1 cup sugar
8 oz. Scharffen Berger 62% Semisweet Chocolate, chopped
8 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 (1 lb.) unsliced egg bread, crusts removed, trimmed, cut into 1-inch pieces

Directions for sauce:
Stir sugar and water in heavy large saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Mix in corn syrup and lemon juice. Increase heat and boil without stirring until syrup turns deep amber, brushing down sides of pan with wet pastry brush and swirling pan occasionally. Remove from heat. Pour in cream (mixture will bubble up). Stir over low heat until caramel is melted and smooth. Increase heat; boil until sauce is reduced to 1-2/3 cups, stirring often, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat. Mix in pecans and bourbon. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Rewarm before using.)
Directions for pudding:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine milk, cream, and sugar in heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir until sugar dissolves and mixture comes to a boil. Remove from heat. Add chocolate; stir until smooth. Beat eggs and vanilla in large bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in chocolate mixture. Add bread cubes. Let stand until bread absorbs some of custard, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes.
Transfer mixture to 13x9x2-inch dish. Cover with foil. Bake until set in center, about 45 minutes. Uncover, cool at least 15 minutes. Serve pudding warm or at room temperature with warm sauce.
(Recipe by Chef Alison Barshak, chef/owner of Alison at Blue Bell, a suburban Philadelphia bistro)

Basic bread pudding is great start to the new year

January seems to bring out the “let’s pick up the mess from last year” kind of thinking. We’re sorting out closets, tossing out as much as we can part with. But certainly NOT bread pudding recipes. They seem to be growing like piles of New England snow here in the kitchen. We’re making room on our shelves for even more – ones we’ve clipped from magazines, books, and pamphlets, and printed out from the Internet.

It’s time also to get back to the basics – apple crisp, meatloaf, macaroni and cheese. And before we take off on some tangents with new and creative bread puddings, it’s time to check out a basic recipe. That’s where it all begins – then you can toss in handfuls of this and that (fruit, nuts, marshmallows, butterscotch sauce, spices, and yes, of course, chocolate). Here’s a basic formula that you can use to take off and have fun with. We’re talking sweet bread pudding here. If you’d like to create a hearty non-sweet bread pudding, you can just eliminate the sugar or sweetener, and add some cheese, veggies, or other hearty ingredients.

And if you’d like to add or subtract from the basic, well that’s the whole idea. For a more custardy bread pudding, which is the kind I prefer actually, just increase the ratio of liquids to solids. And of course, do the reverse, more bread and “stuff” and fewer wet ingredients for a denser pudding. The kind of bread you use makes a difference too – a denser grainy bread, such as wheat or rye, will take longer to absorb the liquid, so you might want to let it sit for a while before baking. Have fun!


4 cups (about) cubed day-old bread
1/2 to 3/4 cup of fruit, nuts, or whatever you’d like to add
3 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar, or to taste
2 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon ground spice such as cinnamon
1 tablespoon butter
Sugar/cinnamon mix

Place bread cubes along with 1/2 to 3/4 cup of any fruit (and/or other ingredients such as nuts) in greased or cooking-sprayed 1-1/2-quart baking dish. In bowl, whisk together eggs and sugar. Add milk and cinnamon (or preferred spice) and whisk in to blend well. Pour egg mixture evenly over bread, pushing down bread into liquid. Dot with slivers of butter, and sprinkle with sugar/cinnamon, if desired. Let stand while preheating oven to 350 degrees F.
Bake for 45 to 60 minutes, or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Serve warm with whipped cream or topping of choice. Serves 6.
Note: For a non-sweet bread pudding, eliminate the sugar and cinnamon, and add your favorite hearty ingredients, such as cheese, veggies, and meat.
(Recipe developed by Portia Little © 2009)

Friday, January 9, 2009

Low-cal bread pudding features ham, spinach and Gruyere cheese

After we catch our breath from the holiday hoopla, we plan to give a brunch party, inviting some neighbors and friends who we didn’t get to see last month. And knowing that people are watching their calories, we’re on the lookout for recipes that won’t strain the waistline, but are still full of flavor.

Today’s recipe is at the top of our list. No reason not to keep on feasting, even when trying to trim calories. And believe it or not, today’s dish, rich as it looks, has only 276 calories per serving. Yay!

Excerpted from The EatingWell Diet book, this pudding features whole grain bread and egg whites along with whole eggs, thus cutting down on the number of high-cholesterol yolks. The diet gurus suggest using a high-quality ham, which “infuses the pudding with a smoky flavor.” The aroma is divine, enhanced with Dijon mustard and fresh rosemary along with roasted red peppers. The Gruyere is used as a topping.

I bet the brunch crowd won’t believe this dish is a bread pudding!


4 large egg whites
4 large eggs
1 cup skim milk
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons freshly ground pepper
4 cups whole-grain bread, crusts removed if desired, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 1/2 pound, 4-6 slices)
5 cups chopped spinach, wilted (see tip)
1 cup diced ham steak (5 ounces)
1/2 cup chopped, jarred roasted red peppers
3/4 cup shredded Gruyere cheese

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Coat 11x7-inch glass baking dish or 2-quart casserole with cooking spray.
2. Whisk egg whites, eggs and milk in medium bowl. Add mustard, rosemary and pepper; whisk to combine.
3. Toss bread, spinach, ham and peppers in large bowl. Add egg mixture and toss to coat. Transfer to prepared baking dish and push down to compact. Cover with foil.
4. Bake until custard has set, 40 to 45 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle with cheese and continue baking until pudding is puffed and golden on top, 15 to 20 minutes more. Transfer to wire rack and cool for 15 to 20 minutes before serving. Makes 6 servings.
To make ahead: Prepare pudding through step 3; refrigerate overnight. Let stand at room temp; while oven preheats. Bake as directed.
Tip for wilting greens: Rinse greens thoroughly. Transfer to large microwave-safe bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and punch several holes in it. Microwave on High until wilted, 2 to 3 minutes. Squeeze out any excess moisture from greens before adding to recipe.
(Per serving: 276 calories; 10 g fat (4 g sat, 3 g mono); 169 mg cholesterol; 25 g carbohydrate; 21 g protein; 3 g fiber; 746 mg sodium; 422 mg potassium)
(Recipes from The EatingWell Diet, © 2007 by Eating Well, Inc. Countryman Press
. Order the book from Countryman Press, or call 1-800-245-4151.)

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Banana eggnog bread pudding is low-cal, believe it or not

No one enjoyed bread pudding more than our good friend and cookbook author JoAnna Lund, who created so many luscious recipes that are also low in fat, sugar, calories, and cholesterol. In fact, she remarked about this recipe: “I never saw a dessert disappear so fast as when I was testing this one!”

Can’t beat that kind of endorsement!
This is for those who are still in a holiday eggnog kind of mood.


2 4-serving packages JELL-O sugar-free vanilla cook-and-serve pudding mix
4 cups skim milk
1/2 cup raisins
1-1/2 teaspoons rum extract
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
12 slices reduced-calorie white bread, cubed
1 cup (1 medium) sliced banana
1 tablespoon Brown Sugar Twin
1 tablespoon reduced-calorie margarine

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. spray 8x8-inch baking dish with butter-flavored cooking spray. In large saucepan sprayed with butter-flavored cooking spray, combine 1 package dry pudding mix and 2-1/2 cups skim milk. Add raisins. Mix well to combine. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture starts to boil. Remove saucepan from heat. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon rum extract and nutmeg. Add bread cubes and banana. Mix gently to combine. Spread bread mixture into prepared pan.
Bake 35-45 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. In medium saucepan, combine remaining package dry pudding mix, remaining 1-1/2 cups skim milk, and Brown Sugar Twin. Mix well to combine. Let set until 5 minutes before bread pudding has completely baked. Then, cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and starts to boil. Lower heat. Add margarine and remaining 1 teaspoon rum extract. Mix to combine. Continue cooking on low until bread pudding has completed baking, stirring occasionally. Remove baking dish from oven and cut warm bread pudding into 6 servings. For each serving, place piece of bread pudding on serving dish and spoon about 1/4 cup warm rum sauce over top. Serves 6.
Each serving equals: 233 Calories; 1 g Fat; 12 g Protein; 44 g Carbohydrate; 427 g Sodium; 1 g Fiber.
Diabetic exchanges: 1 Starch; 1 Fruit; 1 Skim Milk.
(Recipe from Cooking Healthy with a Man in Mind by JoAnna Lund, 1997)

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Berry bread pudding is low-cal new-year sweet

I want on a baking binge during the holiday season. Breads, cakes, pies, cookies, and of course bread pudding too. We’re just finishing up the last tin of Christmas cookies. So it’s time for the “D” word. As in “dreaded,” “despicable,” and “disgusting.” We’re referring to the Diet, of course. Time to work on shedding those extra pounds. Not easy, especially when you enjoy baking and sweets as much as I do.

We took out our “lite” and low-cal cookbooks that sit on the shelf and whose pages rarely see the light of day. And surprisingly there were a bunch of great-looking bread puddings. So here goes. Today’s recipe, which is fragrant with fresh strawberries, raspberries, and spices, comes from Lighthearted Everyday Cooking by Anne Lindsay. The author says she likes this dessert because “it isn’t too sweet or rich but has fabulous flavor.” She suggests topping each serving with a spoonful of Quick Lemon Yogurt Sauce, the recipe for which is included below.

While this recipe calls for soft margarine, unless it’s the healthful non-hydrogenated kind, I’d opt to use real butter because of the trans-fats issue.


Half a large loaf French bread
1-1/2 cups low-fat milk
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon each nutmeg and cinnamon
1 cup chopped strawberries
1 cup raspberries
2 eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon soft margarine (non-hydrogenated)

Tear bread into 1-inch pieces to make 6 cups. In bowl, combine milk, sugar, vanilla, nutmeg, and cinnamon; stir in bread and let stand for 10 minutes. Stir in strawberries, raspberries, and eggs.
Meanwhile, in 8-inch square baking dish, melt margarine in 350-degree F. oven; swirl to cover bottom of pan. Pour in batter. Bake for 40 minutes or until puffed and browned. Serve warm. Makes 6 servings.
(Per serving without lemon yogurt sauce: 298 calories; 6 g total fat; 2 g saturated fat; 2 g fiber)
(Recipe from Lighthearted Everyday Cooking by Anne Lindsay, 1994)


3/4 cup low-fat yogurt
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
Grated rind 1 lemon

In small bowl, combine yogurt, sugar and lemon rind. Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Makes 3/4 cup.
(Per 2-tablespoon serving: 36 calories; trace grams of total fat, saturated fat, and fiber; 2 mg cholesterol)
(Recipe from Lighthearted Everyday Cooking by Anne Lindsay, 1994)