Thursday, April 10, 2008

Celebrate spring with an asparagus and Boursin bread pudding

Finally, spring!

After weeks of ‘promises, promises,’ when temps didn’t venture much above the forties, today we have a glorious day. Blue skies, sunshine, and warm enough outside for just a light jacket. In the yard are suggestions of yellow forsythia ready to burst forth from old branches, a lone narcissus bud shyly whispering hello, and lots of the usual potholes in the street. Ah yes, spring IS here on the New England seashore.

And even though it’s available all year round, asparagus just seems to say ‘spring’ to me, with it’s lovely color that changes to bright green when you cook it in a little water. In honor of the season, we made a lovely asparagus bread pudding this morning. Well, the original recipe, calls it a ‘strata,’ but it has the usual suspects – bread, eggs, and milk – so we’re going to call it a bread pudding. We adapted our recipe from one in the Cook’s Illustrated Test Kitchen, so who could go wrong? Instead of baking it in a single skillet as they did, we poured some of the bread/asparagus mixture into a five-inch round ceramic baking dish (enough for two servings, or one hearty one), and baked the rest in a larger glass pan.

We enjoyed the pudding for lunch with a few clementine slices to go along. Boursin cheese makes a wonderful topping for this creamy dish, which is almost like a quiche, with chunks of fresh asparagus and toasty onions. It doesn’t get much better than this.


(adapted from Skillet Strata with Asparagus and Boursin, Cook’s Illustrated, 3/2006)

1 pound asparagus, tough ends cut off
6 large eggs
1-1/4 cups milk
Ground black pepper
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small onion, minced
Table salt
4 slices Italian bread, cut into 1-inch pieces
3/4 cup Boursin cheese, crumbled
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cut asparagus diagonally into 1-inch pieces. Place asparagus in microwave-safe bowl with 2 tablespoons water. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave on high until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Drain. Whisk eggs, milk, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper together in large bowl.

Melt butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Swirl to coat skillet, then add onion and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook until onion is soft, about 3 minutes. Add bread; cook, stirring frequently, until bread and onion are lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Add mixture to egg/bread mixture in bowl; stir to combine. Pour into 2-1/2-quart baking dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Scatter cheese on top. Bake in middle rack of oven 25-30 minutes or until top is puffed and slightly brown. Serves 4.

1 comment:

Joan said...

Porita, I've enjoyed reading all your posts so far on your blog. I think you're doing a wonderful job and so glad you shared where it was with us in the cookbook group. We're proud to have you as our bread pudding queen. I finally figured out how to leave a comment so decided to do so on your asparague BP which sounds so delicious as does your other recipes here. Thanks for introducing me to BP.