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.

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