Monday, June 30, 2008

Peach bread pudding is summer favorite

We can’t get enough of the fresh fruits of summer. And even though it’s too early yet to enjoy our own home-grown garden varieties, we’ve been indulging our fancies in the produce section of the supermarket, one of our very favorite spots. Last week it was brimming with rows of colorful offerings, from whole watermelons, to rich red strawberries, to shiny blackberries. The peaches looked especially rosy and inviting too, coming from hotter climates than our New England shoreline.

It will be a few months before our own peach tree bears anything remotely worth sampling (they’re about the size of golf balls at the moment) so we picked up some market-variety fresh peaches. They looked good too, not like the ‘rocks’ you sometimes buy and bring home, only to get mushy as they ripen.

We sliced some up for breakfast. But before they got too ripe, we decided to combine them with some bread slices that were screaming, “Make us into bread pudding.” Bread does that in my kitchen. In a pinch you could also use frozen peaches, but thaw them first and add a little sugar. We thank our friends Anne and Moe from the CookbooksEtCetera cookbook collector’s group on the Web for contributing this recipe.


2 eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk, scalded
1-1/4 cups water
4 thick slices buttered bread, cubed
1-1/4 cups ripe fresh peaches, peeled, sliced & sugared

Beat eggs with sugar, flavorings, and salt. Combine the milk and water; beat into the egg mixture. In a greased 1-1/2-quart casserole, layer the bread, milk mixture, and peaches until all ingredients are used. Set casserole in a pan of hot water and bake at 350 degrees F. for 40 to 50 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Serves 6.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Fourth of July bread pudding is colorful holiday treat

The Fourth of July is almost here, and that means lots of good down-home food. We’ll be at a family gathering where everyone will pitch in to bring one of their specialties. I usually just volunteer “whatever’s needed.” Which could be anything from banana muffins to, believe it or not, my current favorite dish, a corn and bean salsa that’s out of this world.

But I digress. The topic here is still bread pudding. And for the Fourth, we’ve conjured up a decorative and delish red-white-and-blue offering that’s made from fresh summer fruits – strawberries, raspberries, and blues. Sweet and plump fresh strawberries have been at their peak for picking in this part of the northeast US, so we couldn’t resist adding them to this wonderful dish. I have such fun creating these new versions of bread pudding, and if I do say so myself, this is one of the best! You can double it too, and bake it in a larger container to serve a larger group.

Here’s to a happy and safe Fourth!


3 slices day-old Italian bread, cubed (about 1 cup
1/2 cup (generous) mixture of fresh blueberries, raspberries, and sliced strawberries
2 large eggs
1/2 cup half & half OR heavy cream
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons butter, melted
Dash cinnamon

Place bread cubes in bottom of buttered or cooking-sprayed 1-1/2-pint (3-cup) baking dish. Add fresh fruit, tossing with bread to combine. In bowl, whisk together eggs, half & half or cream, sugar, vanilla, and melted butter. Stir in cinnamon. Pour liquid over bread mixture in pan.
Let sit about 30 minutes to allow bread to absorb liquid. Sprinkle with cinnamon/sugar. Bake in preheated 350-degree F. oven about 45 minutes or until pudding is firm and slightly browned on top. Serve warm or at room temp topped with whipped cream and some fresh berries on the side. Serves 4.
© 2008 Recipe by Portia Little.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Spicy apple bread pudding is old-fashioned favorite

There’s something about an apple dessert that conjures up memories of great aromas coming from the kitchen. Add some spices such as cinnamon and ginger, and then a little molasses and it gets even better.

We couldn’t wait to try this wonderful sounding bread pudding that was sent to us from Nancy Bascom, who’s a member of the AkakaFallsInn_Hawaii group on the Web. Now, granted, apples don’t turn up on lists of fruits that are native to Hawaii, but since we were discussing bread puddings, people managed to find recipes they hadn’t seen in a long time and that were tucked away in drawers or cookbooks. Nancy said she has had this recipe for so many years, she can’t remember where it came from originally. Obviously it’s a keeper!


2 1/2 cups thinly sliced apples
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup finely chopped nuts
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 1/2 cups scalded milk
2 cups bread cubes
1/2 teaspoon ginger
Dash of salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup molasses
2 eggs, beaten

Mix apples, brown sugar, 1/4 cup nuts, and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Put in buttered 2-quart casserole. Mix milk and bread cubes together. Mix remaining nuts, cinnamon, and other ingredients; stir into milk mixture. Spoon bread/milk onto mixture in casserole. Set in pan of warm water and bake at 305 degrees F. for 50 to 60 minutes. Serves 4 to 6.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Fresh lemon sauce puts bread pudding over the top

There’s something about summer and lemons. Their gentle fragrance cools you even on the most sultry days. Add a slice of fresh lemon to iced tea or water, squirt some lemon on some shrimp kabobs, or enjoy real lemonade made with real lemons. Just the scent of lemon is refreshing.

We also like to make a lovely fresh lemon sauce to spoon over a warm bread pudding. Nothing too complex about the pudding – just our basic favorites: milk, eggs, stale bread, sugar, and some spices. The lemon sauce takes it over the top – just like the Boston Celtics did last night – yay, Boston, champs again after 22 years!


1 loaf day-old French bread, broken into pieces
1/3 cup golden raisins
Cooking spray
4 large eggs
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 cups (1 quart) whole milk
Cinnamon and/or nutmeg to taste
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1-1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

Pudding: Scatter bread pieces and raisins in cooking-sprayed 9x13-inch baking pan. Whisk together eggs, sugar, vanilla, milk, and spices. Pour liquid mixture evenly over bread. Let stand about 1/2 hour for bread to absorb liquid. Bake in preheated 350-degree F. oven for 1 hour or until pudding puffs up and browns slightly on top. Serve warm or at room temp with warm sauce.
Sauce: Melt butter in pan on stove or in microwave. Stir in confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice; whisk together until smooth. Thin out with a little water if sauce is too thick.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Rich bread pudding with rum sauce is crowd pleaser in New Orleans

Great cooks seem to gravitate to New Orleans. One of them, Pepe, has created his own wonderful bread pudding that he tops with a delectable rum sauce. Recently, while feeling a little adventurous (and what good cook isn’t?), he added some coconut milk and flakes to his basic recipe and served it to a crowd. “There were no leftovers,” says Pepe.

His original version, however, which is rich with rum, raisins, and almonds, is printed below. His wife claims that the pudding has so much flavor that it doesn’t need the sauce. But Pepe finds the sauce makes it even better.

Pepe says his favorite dessert, in addition to ice cream, is bread pudding. He recalls his own mother’s bread pudding, which she made in Cuba using bread crumbs, fresh orange juice, raisins, and caramelized sugar. (Just the thought of these ingredients makes our heart beat a little faster!) Of course, like most of our moms, who were good cooks, she didn’t write anything down. He hopes to experiment and duplicate his mom’s bread pudding one of these days when he has some free time. Mahalo Pepe for sharing your excellent bread pudding!


1 loaf French bread, cut into cubes
5 eggs, beaten
2 cups of sugar
13 ounces evaporated milk
3 cups milk
1 can condensed milk
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup melted butter
1/2 cup raisins
4 ounces dark rum
2 ounces slivered almonds

Spray a 3-quart baking dish with cooking spray. Sprinkle lightly with water. Combine eggs with sugar and mix well. Add milks, cinnamon, and vanilla, blending well. Stir in butter. Stir in rum. Sprinkle raisins and almonds over the bread cubes. Pour egg mixture over bread cubes. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 45 to 60 minutes.

3 tablespoons flour
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup milk
1 cup evaporated milk
3 Tbsp rum
Combine butter, flour, and sugar in a saucepan. Gradually add milks, stirring constantly. Cook over medium heat to thicken. Remove from heat and stir in rum. Serve hot over bread pudding.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Pina Colada Bread Pudding parfait is summer dessert perfection

Could there possibly be too much bread pudding? We enjoyed the pina colada version for dessert yesterday, and also for snacks, and even shared some with neighbors. We munched on some with our morning coffee. And we drizzled chocolate syrup on it just for a change. But there’s still some left over. Time to brainstorm ……….

It’s pudding parfait time!!

We layered chocolate sauce, pudding, and whipped cream in a champagne glass, then topped it with some chopped macadamias and a little crushed pineapple. Ahhhhhhhhh. I’m in love again.


1 cup of bread pudding (or whatever is left)
1/4 cup chocolate, butterscotch, or another favorite sauce
Whipped cream or topping
Nuts, sprinkles, or chopped fruit for garnish

In tall stemmed glass, layer sauce, bread pudding, and whipped cream for a few layers. Top with whipped cream and garnish of your choice.
© 2008 Recipe by Portia Little

Thursday, June 12, 2008

'Calypso' bread pudding is low-cal version of Pina Colada dessert

We must admit we did indulge ourselves in the Pina Colada bread pudding yesterday. Who could resist something so fragrant with pineapple and bananas and rum?

Today, however, as we contemplate the prospects of wearing a bathing suit to the beach, we’re thinking of a slimmer version of this bread pudding that’s rich in flavor, but lower in calories.

Created by JoAnna Lund, author of numerous diet cookbooks, today’s recipe for Calypso Bread Pudding uses JoAnna Lund’s Healthy Exchanges® method of exchanging one ingredient for a healthier choice. JoAnna, who passed away about a year ago, considered bread pudding to be her “absolute favorite dessert.”

JoAnna remarked about this recipe, which appears in Cooking Healthy with a Man in Mind (1997, Healthy Exchanges, Inc.): “The rum flavor and plump raisins in this version will make every man’s heart beat fast, his hips sway, and his feet want to tap tap tap!” She indeed had a way with words as well as recipes.

In memory of JoAnna Lund and all of our special family members and friends who we have lost to cancer, we are participating in the Cook for the Cure fight against breast cancer. I encourage you to check out this link and to send in a donation.

(from Cooking Healthy with a Man in Mind by JoAnna Lund)

1 (4-serving) package Jello sugar-free vanilla cook-and-serve pudding mix
2/3 cup Carnation Nonfat Dry Milk powder
1 cup (one 8-ounce can) crushed pineapple, packed in fruit juice, undrained
1-1/2 cups water
1 teaspoon coconut extract
1/2 cup raisins
8 slices reduced-calorie white bread, torn into pieces
2 tablespoons flaked coconut

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 8x8-inch baking dish with butter-flavored cooking spray. In large saucepan combine dry pudding mix, milk powder, undrained pineapple, and water. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until mixture thickens and starts to boil. Remove from heat. Stir in coconut extract and raisins. Add bread pieces. Mix gently to combine Spoon mixture into prepared baking dish. Evenly sprinkle coconut over top. Bake 30 to 35 minutes. Divide into 6 servings.
Each serving equals:
HE: 1 fruit, 2/3 Bread, 1/2 Skim Milk, 13 optional calories
164 Calories, 0 gm Fat, 7 gm Protein, 34 gm Carbohydrate, 240 mg Sodium, 1 gm Fiber
Diabetic: 1 Fruit, 1 Starch

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Enjoy Pina Coladas in bread pudding form

It’s time to enjoy our favorite summer drinks. But why not try them out a new format?

Did we say ‘bread pudding’? You bet your dog days of summer we did! Today’s bread pudding is enhanced with the wonderful ingredients from that tropical beverage – pineapple, cream of coconut, and rum, and laced with a fragrant raisin-pineapple-lemon-peel mixture that’s absolutely divine.

And one of the best parts about this one is that you don’t have to heat up the house to make it. Put the ingredients in your slow cooker in the morning, then let ‘er go on LOW for several hours. Or on HIGH for a while, then down to LOW for the grand finale. As with all the slow cooker puddings, or in fact any slow cooker recipe, I always like to check from time to time to make sure it’s not clinging to the edges or getting too crusty.

I made some changes to this basic recipe when I put it together today. For one thing, I did not remove the crusts from the bread – like who, on a hot day or any day, is going to bother! And I for one do like some ‘crusty’ texture in my bread pudding. Also, I found that you really don’t have to puree all the liquid ingredients and bananas separately – just toss them all in the blender or food processer together and blend until they get to the puree stage. If your puree machine doesn’t hold all these ingredients in one batch, however, just do them in two separate blendings. The point I’m trying to make is that you don’t have to measure out exactly half the liquid each time.

We’ll have to be patient. We started this one around noon, so it won’t be ready until almost suppertime. Here’s to beating the heat and summer bread puddings!


1 10-ounce can frozen pina colada drink mix
1 6-ounce can pineapple juice
1 12-ounce can evaporated milk
1/2 cup cream of coconut
2 bananas, sliced
3 eggs
1/4 cup light rum OR 1/3 cup Irish cream
1 cup golden raisins
1 8-oounce can crushed pineapple, undrained
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1 loaf French bread, crusts removed, cubed (about 6 cups)

In blender or food processor, puree half of following: drink mix, pineapple juice, evaporated milk, cream of coconut, and bananas; pour into large bowl. Puree remaining half of liquid ingredients with eggs and liqueur. Combine purees.

In bowl, combine raisins, pineapple with juice, and lemon peel; set aside. Place about two thirds of bread cubes in slow cooker that has been buttered or sprayed with cooking spray. Top with 1 cup raisin-pineapple-lemon peel mixture. Top with remaining bread, then remaining raisin mixture. Pour pureed ingredients over all. Poke in several places with knife to release air bubbles and make sure liquid and bread are combined. Cook on LOW about 6 hours. OR, cook on HIGH for 2 hours, then LOW for 2 to 3 more hours, or until pudding is puffy and slightly browned on top, and set. Serves 8-10.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Slow cooker bread pudding with vanilla sauce beats the heat

We complained when it was too cold not long ago, and now it’s pay-back time. In the northeast corner of the US, we’re sweltering with high temps and humidity. And even though I’m not a big fan of AC, right now it feels pretty darn good. Even here on the New England shore, the ocean breezes seem to be on vacation.

But, the quest for bread pudding must go on!

Thankfully there are other ways to cook up a delicious pudding without heating up the oven. Today’s treat, which you can top with a wonderful vanilla sauce, “bakes” nicely in the slow cooker. It’s a good idea to keep an eye on this one toward the end of the cooking time so it doesn’t get too crispy around the edges. Also, you can sub another one of your favorite dried fruits for the raisins, such as cranberries, cherries, or apples.

I’m grateful to all the folks who sent me this recipe. I guess I’m not the only one who’s in heat. Well, uh, over bread pudding that is …


8 cups cubed day-old bread
2 cups milk
4 eggs
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 cup raisins

Spray slow cooker with cooking spray. Put bread in slow cooker. Combine next 6 ingredients, beat until smooth. Stir in raisins. Pour over bread and stir gently. Cover and cook on low for 3 hours. Watch so it doesn't get too hot and get crispy around the edges.

Vanilla Sauce:
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla, or to taste

Melt butter in saucepan. Stir in flour until smooth. Gradually add water, sugar and vanilla. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Pineapple bread pudding is tropical weather reminder

The weather was so hot and steamy here over the weekend that it was almost tropical. Sunny and in the nineties. Where were those ocean breezes hiding? We had to enjoy it, however, because, this being New England, we knew it could turn to raw and nasty overnight.

It seemed the right time to make a bread pudding with pineapple, that sweet, fragrant fruit from Hawaii.

Morning is a nice time to fit in some baking before the temps heat up outside. We were delighted to find this easy-prep bread pudding recipe, sent to us from Betty from California via the Akaka Falls Inn Hawaii group on the Web. We put it together right after breakfast, starting out as you would making a cake, beating the butter, sugar, and eggs together with an electric mixer. Then it’s a snap to fold in the bread, pineapple, and nuts, and the oven does the rest.

A little dab of whipped cream will do ya to top it off (and those of you who don’t remember that ‘little dab’ll do ya’ commercial are just babies). Thanks Betty for sharing this recipe.

Diana Rattray, Your Guide to Southern U.S. Cuisine)
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 eggs
1 can crushed pineapple, drained (14 ounces)
2 cups French bread cubes (about 1/2-inch pieces)
1/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

In large bowl with mixer on medium speed, beat butter, sugar and cinnamon about 1 minute, scraping bowl frequently. Add eggs; beat on high speed 2 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Fold in remaining ingredients; pour into greased 1-1/2-quart casserole. Bake in preheated 350-degree F. oven for 40 to 45 minutes, or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Serves 4.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Blueberry French toast is make-ahead brunch dish

When blueberry season arrives here in New England, we’ll be ready. Lately we’ve come across a wealth of blueberry bread pudding recipes, enough to keep our teeth and tongue blue for a long time.

The sweet blues are a natural for adding to bread pudding. There’s no peeling or chopping involved – just pop them into a baking dish with the usual suspects: bread, milk or cream, eggs, a sweetener and a dash of spice. Of course, there’s nothing like the sweet fresh blueberries that you pick yourself. Our backyard blueberry bush is full of blossoms so we hope to have a good crop this year. But they won’t be ready for picking until mid to late summer, so for now we’ll have to settle for the packaged ones at the super.

This recipe caught my eye because you can make it ahead to bake in the morning for breakfast or brunch. And while the title designates this dish as “French toast,” with the cubed bread, as opposed to slices, it seems more pudding than toast to me.

I have to thank my friend Kathy Jorgensen from California for sending me this recipe. Her input after testing the recipe was most helpful too. She felt there was too much cream cheese, and while it was tasty, she’d cut down on the cheese in the future. She also added an extra cup of berries, and shared the dish with some friends, who liked it also.

With her comments in mind, I then adapted my own smaller version, which I’ve also included following the original recipe. I used bread slices, which I spread with cream cheese, but I did maintain the 1 cup of berries. It was delicious too, so now we have two recipes to choose from.

(from Taste of the Midwest by Midwest Living)
Makes 8 servings Prep: 20 minutes
Chill: 2 hours Bake: 25 minutes

12 slices dry white bread, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 8 cups)
2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
12 eggs
2 cups milk
1/2 cup maple syrup or maple-flavored syrup
Blueberry-flavored, maple, or maple-flavored syrup

1. Place half the bread cubes over bottom of well-buttered 13x9x2-inch baking dish (3-quart rectangular). Sprinkle cream cheese and blueberries over bread cubes. Arrange remaining bread cubes over blueberries.
2. In large mixing bowl, beat eggs with rotary beater; beat in milk and the 1/2 cup syrup. Carefully pour egg mixture over bread mixture. Cover and chill in refrigerator for 2 to 24 hours.
3. Bake, covered, in 375-degree F. oven for 25 minutes. Uncover and bake about 25 minutes more or until knife inserted near center comes out clean, and topping is puffed and golden brown. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Serve warm with blueberry-flavored or maple syrup. Makes 8 servings.
*Note: To dry bread slices: Arrange bread in single layer on wire rack; cover loosely and let stand overnight. Or cut bread with 1/2-inch cubes; spread in large baking pan. Bake, uncovered, in 300-degree F. oven for 10 to 15 minutes or until dry, stirring twice; cool. Nutrition facts per serving: calories: 503 total fat: 30g cholesterol: 386mg sodium: 497mg carbohydrate: 40g fiber: 1g protein: 19g


4 slices Italian bread, enough to fit in 2 layers in bottom of casserole dish
2 ounces cream cheese, softened, or enough to spread thickly on bread slices
1 cup blueberries
4 large eggs
1 cup milk or cream
2 tablespoons maple syrup

Cover bottom of buttered 1-1/2-quart casserole with 1 layer of bread slices, which have been spread with cream cheese. Sprinkle blueberries on top. Add second layer of bread slices. Whisk together eggs, milk or cream, and maple syrup. Pour over bread. Let sit about an hour or overnight. Sprinkle generously with cinnamon-sugar. Bake in 350-degree F. oven for 45-60 minutes, or until puffed and browned on top. Serves 4.
(Recipe adapted from Blueberry Surprise French Toast Casserole by Portia Little)

Donut bread pudding honors National Donut Day

Who’d ever have thought there would be a day to celebrate a donut? Not that I don’t think it’s a good idea. In fact, I’m always happy to sing the praises of my favorites, starting with the jelly donut, bursting with red jelly oozing out of that little hole in the bottom. Then there’s the honey dip, or glazed, depending on where you’re from, in either regular or chocolate. And the classic dipping donut, plain, but certainly not ordinary in flavor, and great with your favorite cuppa.

And as if they weren’t absolutely terrific just on their own, some clown decided to take some stale donuts – like who has donuts left over to get stale? – and make them into bread pudding!

The recipe apparently caught on, though, and it made the rounds a few years ago. With the unlikely combo of stale donuts, fruit cocktail (yep, that canned stuff with the little square peaches), and condensed milk, this is seriously sweet bread pudding. And to top it off, there’s a Butter Rum Sauce – well, now you’re talking!

Here’s to National Donut Day!!!


2 dozen stale donuts, any kind you like
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
2 4.5-ounce cans fruit cocktail, undrained
2 large eggs, beaten slightly
Dash salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Butter Rum Sauce (recipe below)

Break donuts into chunks and place in 9x13-inch glass buttered baking dish. Mix together condensed milk, fruit cocktail, eggs, salt, and cinnamon; pour over donuts. Let sit about 30 minutes, pushing down donuts into liquid. Bake in preheated 350-degree F. oven about 60 minutes. Serve warm topped with Butter Rum Sauce. Makes 10 to 12 servings.

1/2 cup butter
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons rum (or to taste)

In saucepan, melt butter and slowly stir in powdered sugar and rum. Heat until mixture bubbles.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

M.F.K. Fisher's bread pudding was "innocent"?

Reading M.F.K. Fisher is a trip.

We are enthralled with the food and travel memories of Mary Frances Kennedy Fisher (1908-1992), who, in her gastronomic prose, addressed wartime shortages in How to Cook a Wolf, the sexual habits of the oyster in Consider the Oyster, and enjoying simple fresh food in Alphabet for Gourmets. I could read these books over and over again.

Mary Frances also enjoyed bread pudding.

In her later years, while living in a custom-designed one-person house on a ranch in Sonoma Valley, California, she’d sit on her porch and sip her favorite white wine/Campari while enjoying the “innocent sky” of a sunset. She also liked to serve a bread pudding, which she described as “innocent,” to her guests before they retired for the night. With the addition of wine, rum, or some kind of booze, perhaps this dessert was not as “innocent” as she claimed.

And while her bread pudding could most likely be baked in a moderate oven, M.F.K. chose to have hers cooked in a double boiler over low heat. In those days she would often direct guests and others to help prepare her food. After this delicacy, slumberland was calling.

Here is a sentiment from M.F.K. to enjoy with our bread pudding:
“First we eat, then we do everything else.”
That about says it all for today.

(as dictated by M.F.K. Fisher to Barbara Quick)

4 slices dry French bread
Sweet butter
1/2 cup raisins
1 cup water or wine or booze, approximately
2 eggs
1 pint (2 cups) milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or rum
1/2 cup brown sugar

Thickly butter 4 slices of dry French bread (it should be sweet butter and bread that has some substance – no limp white bread for this). Cut it into bite-size pieces.
Plump a half a cup of raisins in water or wine or booze. Beat two eggs in a pint of milk. Add some vanilla or rum, and 1/2 cup brown sugar.
Put half of the bread nibbles in the top of a double boiler. Add half the raisins and half the liquid. Then add the rest of the bread, raisins, and liquid. Put some nutmeg on top.
Cover closely. Put over generously boiling water. Turn down the heat. Don’t peek for 70 minutes. Then take the lid off, let the pudding cool, and turn it out onto a pudding dish. Serve with cream. Serves 4.
(Recipe found in Wild Women in the Kitchen – 101 Rambunctious Recipes & 99 Tasty Tales)

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Tomato Brie Bread Pudding is lunch tomorrow

It’s not often that you see tomatoes as an ingredient in bread pudding. In fact, Jesse Ziff Cool, the author of the cookbook, Tomatoes, A Country Garden Cookbook ( © 1994, Collins Publishers, San Francisco), writes that “Even mentioning tomatoes in bread pudding brings looks of chagrin.” She adds further, however: “I know if I could get the skeptics to take just one bite they would be sold forever.”

So, I was convinced. Decided to give it a try for lunch tomorrow. The Brie, celery, and onions sound like a good balance for the acidity of the tomatoes.

We heard about this cookbook and recipe in a review by Beverly Woike of Ohio, another friend of ours on the Internet cookbook collectors’ group, CookbooksEtCetera. When you join this group, you find out about cookbooks you never even know existed. We’ve learned too about some great sources for cookbook finds such as yard sales, library book sales, and flea markets. And we’ve added shelves in our house to accommodate our growing collection. That’s what happens when you join this group. It's almost as addictive as bread pudding.

Anyhow, back to the topic at hand. I plan to use stale Italian bread in this recipe rather than the soft white called for in the recipe. I have a mountain of Italian bread in my freezer just begging to be made into bread pudding. In fact, when I open my freezer door, the breads look at me and say, “Hey, when’s our turn?”

Honest they do. Spooky the cat will back me up on this. Here’s to tomato bread pudding!

(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 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.

Mexican bread pudding with cheese is sure to please

Sometimes I wish there were a way to transmit a lovely scent from my kitchen into cyberspace and have it arrive in someone’s e-mail box. As the recipient, you could turn it on or off as you wished, like your volume. If you liked chocolate, you could just inhale the aroma of those gooey brownies and not risk the tasting calories. And if you couldn’t stand scallops, you could just adjust the odor knob to zero.

Today’s bread pudding filled the house with such an incredible aroma of nutmeg and cinnamon that I wished I could have shared it with you all. The recipe comes from Anne Murch Guiterrez, who’s waving from South Texas. She adapted this recipe for Capirotada con Queso, or Mexican Bread Pudding with Cheese, from a source that she has lost track of – one of those recipes you keep in your drawer and remember to try long after you have copied it.

One nice thing about this recipe is that you don’t have to heat up the whole house while the pudding bakes in the oven. It’s done in just minutes in the microwave. And even though this dish contains a whole cup of grated Cheddar, that flavor is masked by the spices, raisins, and brown sugar. It just adds to the richness. Anne suggests using good-quality Cheddar when you make this dish because some of the pre-packaged brands of grated cheese can produce an oily result.

I tested this recipe this morning, assembling the ingredients in order ahead of time so they were ready to nuke and mix when ready. The pudding set nicely and pulled away from the edges of the pan. I didn’t have a glass or ceramic pan with a center post, so I set a small glass filled part way with water in the center, which worked just fine. Also, I checked the pudding for doneness along the final nuking step, taking it out after it was firm. I think this sweet treat would be wonderful topped with a big scoop of good vanilla ice cream.

Thanks Anne for sharing your delectable bread pudding!

CAPIROTADA CON QUESO (Mexican Bread Pudding with Cheese)
(Recipe adapted by Anne Murch Gutierrez)

2 cups milk
1 3-ounce package cream cheese, cubed and softened
5 slices lightly toasted white bread or French bread, cubed
1/4 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 eggs, well beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup pecans, chopped
1/2 cup seedless raisins
1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

In 2- or 4-cup glass measuring cup, stir together milk and cream cheese. Microwave on HIGH 4 minutes, stirring once. Place bread cubes in well-buttered 2-quart microwave-safe dish. (Note: use a dish with a center post; or place a small glass or custard dish in the center.) Pour hot milk mixture over bread cubes and let soak 10 minutes.
Micromelt butter in 4 cup measuring cup on HIGH 1 minute or less, until melted. Stir in brown sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt and beaten eggs, mix well. Add vanilla, pecan, and raisins. Pour mixture, along with shredded Cheddar cheese, over bread cubes and stir lightly until blended. Microwave on HIGH 7-8 minutes. If needed, rotate dish 3 or 4 times. Let stand 5-10 minutes before serving. Serves 6.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Banana bread pudding has tropical flavor

As I skated in a nearby park today, I wondered what it would be like to live in a tropical Paradise such as Hawaii where the weather was warm and balmy every day.

Here in New England, after a cool spring, we’re just starting to enjoy outside activities without wearing a coat. So on this fair, sunny afternoon I dreamed about distant lands and also the fresh produce that’s available to enjoy in spectacular cuisine.

Our good friend, Hawaii food columnist, and cookbook author Sonia Martinez has compiled her food articles and recipes, which were originally published in The Hamakua Times, into a cookbook, Tropical Taste. After growing up in Cuba, Sonia found, on moving to Hawaii, many of the same varieties of exotic fruits and vegetables she was familiar with.

In an article titled “Going Bananas,” she discusses the two major groups of dessert bananas in Hawaii, the Cavendish and the Brazilian. She also includes a wonderful recipe for banana bread pudding and a banana sauce to top it off. Mahalo Sonia!!

(from Tropical Taste cookbook by Sonia Martinez)

1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
Vegetable pan spray
2 slices day-old whole wheat or raisin bread
1 small banana, cut into 1/4-inch slices
4 eggs
1 cup skim or low-fat milk
1 teaspoon vanilla or rum extract
Ground cinnamon, optional
(Banana Sauce below)

Lightly coat 4 (6-ounce) custard cups with cooking spray. Into each cup, tear 1/2 slice of bread into cubes. Add 4 to 5 banana slices in each cup. Place cups in large baking pan, filled with about one inch hot water.
In covered blender container or medium bowl, blend or beat together well eggs, sugar, milk, and flavoring until well blended. Pour over bread and bananas. With back of spoon, press bread and bananas below custard. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Refrigerate several hours or overnight OR bake immediately in 350-degree F. oven until knife inserted near center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove; cool on wire rack 5-10 minutes. Serve warm or chilled.

1/2 cup sugar
1 cup water
3 bananas, sliced
2 eggs, well beaten
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Pinch salt

Boil 1/2 cup sugar and 1 cup water to make syrup, until it threads. Remove from heat. Add banana slices. Add lemon juice and well-beaten eggs. Add pinch salt and mash and beat it all together until smooth. (You can use a blender.) This sauce is wonderful over the banana bread pudding.

Bread pudding "pears" with pecans for breakfast

Knowing I had to get away at the crack of dawn the other day, I needed to plan a breakfast that would take a minimum of effort. Bearing in mind that I’m usually comatose before my a.m. java ingestion takes effect. Cold cereal? No way.

I consulted with my kitchen companion and culinary advisor, Spooky the tuxedo cat, who pointed to the remains of some great Italian bread on the kitchen counter that had come from our open hearth wood-fired bakery in town. Aha! With creative juices flowing, I added chunks of the bread to a ceramic casserole dish. In the fridge was a lovely Anjou pear, which I chopped up and tossed in with the bread. After pouring on the egg/milk mixture I decided it needed a crunch factor, so I topped it all with some whole Georgia pecans.

I’d added pears to a bread pudding only once before and had forgotten how wonderful they can be – more subtle than tangy apples and with a delicate sweetness. You don’t even need to peel them, which is a plus too. Breakfast hasn’t been that good in a long time. Well, uh, since I had my last breakfast bread pudding!


1-1/2 cups dry Italian bread, town into pieces
1 small firm pear, unpeeled, diced (about 3/4 cup)
2 large eggs
1 cup whole milk, or half & half, or heavy cream
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup (about) pecans – in large chunks or kept whole
2 tablespoons butter, melted

Spray ceramic baking dish with cooking spray. Toss in bread pieces and diced pears. In medium bowl, whisk together eggs, milk or cream, brown sugar, and vanilla. Pour liquid over bread/pear mixture. Top with pecans, drizzle with melted butter, and sprinkle with sugar/cinnamon. Let sit about 1/2 hour. Bake in 350-degree F. oven for 45-60 minutes or until puffed and browned on top. Serves 2-4.
© 2008, Recipe by Portia Little.