Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Apple bread pudding is North Carolina festival winner

The apple festival is a delicious rite of autumn. And in fact, in Henderson, NC, one of the largest apple-producing counties in the United States, they have an apple festival each year. It goes on for three days, with a parade, grand marshal, apple queen, arts and crafts booths, and many food vendors. The works.

Every year too their local newspaper holds an apple recipe contest. This year Jay Farris won a prize for his apple bread pudding, which is brimming with Granny Smith apples and toasted pecans. And to top off that mouth-watering combo, he created a delectable sauce that’s flavored with apple juice and Calvados apple brandy.

Thanks to my friends on the AkaFallsInn_Hawaii Internet group for contributing this recipe – list owner Sonia Martinez of Hawaii, and Mary-Anne Durkee of California. They know a good recipe when they see one.

I can just imagine curling up by the fire on a cool fall evening with a big bowl of this pudding. It doesn’t get much better.

(Prize winner in Western North Carolina apple recipe contest)

2 cups granulated sugar
5 large eggs, beaten
2 cups milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups or 4 slices Fireside Restaurant bread (a local restaurant), or other white bread, toasted and cubed
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup chopped and toasted pecans
1 cup peeled and diced WNC Granny Smith apples
For the sauce:
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
3/4 cup WNC apple juice
1 egg, beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup Calvados apple brandy (sub apple juice for no alcohol)
1 decoratively-sliced WNC apple (without the peel) for garnish

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease 10-by-10 or 9-by-13 inch pan. Mix together granulated sugar, eggs and milk in a bowl, then add vanilla. Combine chopped apples and stir well. Pour over cubed bread and let sit for 10 to 30 minutes (or until thoroughly absorbed).
In another bowl, mix and crumble together brown sugar, butter and chopped pecans. Pour bread mixture into prepared pan. Sprinkle brown sugar mixture over the top and bake for 35 to 50 minutes, or until firm or set. Remove from oven.

Sauce: Mix together granulated sugar, apple juice, butter, egg and vanilla in saucepan over medium heat. When simmering, add sliced decorative WNC apple slices. Add Calvados (or apple juice), stirring well. Reduce to about 1/2 cup of liquid and then pour over bread pudding. Serve warm or cold.
(Recipe 2008 from Jay Farris, Hendersonville, NC)

Apple bread puddings are autumn specialty

Fall’s in the air here on the Rhode Island shore. We love the crisp, cool weather, the sight of a few leaves turning on the trees, and the promise of fresh, crisp apples.

Also, on the bread pudding front, the apple recipes are ‘a comin’ in. We can’t wait to share them with you all. We like apple bread pudding as much as apple pie, so we can’t wait to try these new ways with apples. Topped with good vanilla ice cream, you can’t do any better. Today’s recipe is one of the easiest we’ve seen in a while, which fits in fine with everyone’s busy fall schedules. And because it contains no eggs or milk, this dish makes a fine vegan dessert. It was shared on Recipezaar by Cindi J, who also took the enticing photo. She first tasted the recipe years ago at a Pampered Chef party and has enjoyed it ever since.


6 cups cinnamon raisin bread, cubed (approx. 10 slices)
1/4 cup butter, melted
3 Granny Smith apples, sliced
1 (12.5-ounce) jar caramel sauce

Cube bread and toss with melted butter. Set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 9x9-inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
Slice apples thinly (you can leave peel on if desired), and evenly layer one-half of apples in bottom of prepared dish. Top apples with one-half of the bread cubes, making sure to layer as evenly as possible.
Pour one-half of jar of caramel sauce over bread and repeat layers with remaining ingredients. Bake for 30 minutes. Serve warm. Serves 6.
(Recipe from Recipezaar 2008, contributed by CindiJ. Photo also by CindiJ.)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Autumn bread pudding features pears, cranberries and apricots

There’s a touch of fall in the air today. It feels good – nice and crisp and sunny, with temps just hovering around seventy degrees. And on the bread pudding scene is this recipe for autumn, full of the color and flavor of apricots, cranberries, and pears.

It comes from the folks at King Arthur Flour, whose shop and cooking facility I visited recently in Norwich, Vermont. This trip makes a delightful fall excursion. While you’re there, you can sample some of their fresh breads, attend a cooking class, or just enjoy the ambience.

They suggest using a nice, rich bread such as brioche or challah for this pudding. Mmmmm, this one’s irresistible.


7 cups (about 9 ounces) cubed leftover bread (brioche and challah are nice)
6 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups milk
1 cup half and half, cream, or milk
15-ounce can pears in light syrup
1/2 cup dried apricots
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 325°F. Lightly grease a Polish stoneware shallow fluted bowl, or 9" x 13" baking dish.Whisk eggs in large bowl. Add sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt, and whisk until thoroughly combined. Add milk and half and half, continuing to whisk. Stir bread into egg mixture, using large spoon or spatula to mix everything together until bread is thoroughly coated. Let stand for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.Drain pears, reserving syrup for another use if desired. Cut pears into 1" pieces. Cut dried apricots into slivers. (Scissors sprayed with a little non-stick vegetable oil spray work well here.) Fold all the fruit into bread-custard mixture and pour it into baking pan. Bake for 50 minutes (for 9" x 13" pan) to 60 minutes (for Polish dish), until pudding is puffed, lightly browned, and a knife inserted in center comes out clean. Let pudding cool for at least 15 minutes before serving. Drizzle with caramel sauce and serve with ice cream, if desired. Yield: 12 servings.
(Recipe from King Arthur Flour, 2008)

Peanut butter and jelly stars in kids' recipe

Kids in the kitchen – they’re either rummaging through the shelves for a snack, or complaining that “there’s nothing to eat.”

We’ve found that one way to keep them happy is to encourage them to try their own hand at cooking – and in fact some of my happiest moments were the times when one or more of my young kids would stand on a chair next to the counter, helping prepare a favorite treat – often chocolate chip cookies!

Last night as we were leafing through some food magazines, we came across a recipe that’s perfect for children to make. Easy-prep, and it contains the ever-popular peanut butter and jelly – that’s hard to beat.

Is this a bread pudding? No way, but it does contain some of the basic ingredients, bread, milk and eggs. So it goes into the ‘Almost Bread Pudding’ category, and we can’t wait to try this one with our grands.


12 slices bread
3/4 cup peanut butter
6 tablespoons (or more) jelly or jam
3 eggs
3/4 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter

Spread peanut butter on 6 slices of bread. Spread jelly on the other 6 slices. Put one slice of each together to form sandwiches. In mixing bowl, lightly beat eggs; add milk and salt and mix together. Melt butter in large skillet over medium heat. Dip sandwiches in egg mixture, coating well. Place in skillet and brown on both sides. Serve immediately. Makes 6 servings.
(Recipe from Taste of Home Collector’s Edition 1999)

Monday, September 8, 2008

Slow cooker white chocolate bread pudding is hot in the heat

We ushered in Hurricane Hanna here the other day, fortunately with just a small ‘poof’ of wind and a steamy, warm day. But it was perfect weather for trying out a bread pudding in the slow cooker - not adding any more heat to the house. This pudding came all the way from Arizona, sent by my Internet buddy, Marlene Shillington. She thought this dish, with its white chocolate, colorful dried fruit such as cranberries or cherries, and brandy, would make a wonderful holiday dessert. But no way were we going to wait that long to try this sweet delicacy.

Marlene found the recipe on Sunday Dinner Club, a group on the Web devoted to good food and recipes. And, while she was contemplating making it with a quick bread, such as a cranberry/banana or cinnamon bread, I decided to just go with the recipe as is – my freezer is bulging with leftover Italian bread that screams “Lemme outa here,” each time I open the door.

It was a snap to put together and, unlike some slow cooker bread puddings, which take many hours to cook, this one was ready in just under two hours. I plumped the dried cherries in brandy, then added them to the first layer of bread – I didn’t bother to drain them - why waste a good thing? I served the pudding topped with additional chopped white chocolate, some dried cherries on the side, and whipped cream. It was very fine for breakfast as well.


1/3 cup dried cherries or dried cranberries
3 tablespoon brandy or bourbon
1 (3-ounce) bar white chocolate (a high-quality brand, such as Tobler or Lindt)
2 tablespoons butter
6 cups stale French bread cubes
4 eggs
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup half-and-half
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Soak cherries or cranberries in brandy (or juice) for at least one hour, until plumped. Coarsely chop the chocolate bar. Meanwhile, bring all remaining ingredients to room temperature. Generously butter crockery insert of a 3-1/2-quart slow cooker. Cover bottom with half of bread cubes; then scatter with half of drained cherries and chopped chocolate. Layer on remaining bread cubes, and top with rest of cherries and chocolate. Whisk eggs and sugar until smooth; then whisk in half-and-half and vanilla until well-blended. Carefully pour over bread mixture, gently pressing down on bread to moisten all cubes. Cook on high for 1-3/4 hours, without lifting lid, until set and puffed. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes 6 servings.
(Recipe from Sunday Dinner Club on Yahoo groups on the Web.)
Portia's note: I didn't bring the ingredients to room temp, as suggested in this recipe. It came out fine.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Bacon tomato tartlets star for dinner munchies

One of the fun things about this blog is trying out the recipes. Most of them are winners, and yesterday’s tomato tartlets were no exception. We made them before dinner last night and if I hadn’t whisked most of them away to store in the freezer for next weekend’s company, we’d have had to make another batch. Eager hands were grabbing them up.

Here’s a photo we took before they disappeared from the plate.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Bacon tomato tartlets are bread pudding wannabees

Did we say tomatoes? Again?

You bet your sweet beefsteaks we did! For one thing, we can’t resist sharing the great and sometimes unique recipes using juicy, flavorful tomatoes, either fresh from your garden or your local farmers’ markets. I was intrigued by today’s recipe, which falls under the category of “Almost Bread Puddings.” It does feature a bread product - biscuits - as well as cheese, and mayo, which of course contains eggs. But mostly I liked the idea of making some small tartlets, which can also be frozen and reheated later. If there are any left.

I found this recipe in a newsletter from Lisa Shively of NC, who’s a fellow foodie, cookbook author, radio personality, and contest judge, among her many talents. Food, once a passion, is now a full-time job for Lisa, who has teamed up with the NC Sweet Potato Commission to write her most recent cookbook, Lisa Shively’s Fat Little Sweet Potato Cookbook , which you can find on her website,

Lisa’s love of food goes beyond the food itself. She feels that a good home-cooked meal creates “lasting family memories of everyone gathering at the table … .” And while it’s challenging to fit a family supper into a busy schedule, she calls their time together “priceless.” We share her sentiments, and we can’t wait to try this recipe.


1 (12-ounce) can flaky biscuits
6 slices deli bacon, cooked, drained and crumbled
1 medium tomato, seeds removed, and chopped
3 ounces Mozzarella cheese, grated
1/2 cup real mayonnaise
1 teaspoon dried basil leaves
3/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

Split each biscuit into 3 pieces (the flaky biscuits pull apart easily into their natural layers). Spray MINI muffin tins lightly with cooking oil, Press split biscuits into muffin tins. You may not use all the biscuits. Mix remaining ingredients together and fill each of the pastries with mixture. Bake in 350 F.-degree oven for 10 to 12 minutes. Makes 24 mini-muffin tartlets. These can be frozen and reheated for unexpected guests.
(Recipe from Lisa Shively’s Kitchen Helpers newsletter, contributed by Jere Ann Ocker, 2008.)

Friday, September 5, 2008

Hot sauce heats up tomato bread pudding

Like the tomato crop, the bread pudding recipes just keep coming in. So many nice ones using tomatoes that it’s hard to decide which one to try next. And some, like today’s recipe, have been around for a few years.

“This dish is sooooooo good, and one can add whatever one wants or simply do it as is,” says MaryLee McAllister of Ohio, who contributed the recipe. She likes to use her heirloom tomatoes in this bread pudding, which she actually found in an article in the now-defunct Cincinnati Post from Joyce Rosencrans, their food editor at the time. “Tabasco Chipotle Sauce adds a nice, different, rather smoky taste,” notes MaryLee, who adds, “I like lots!”

Monterey Jack and Parmesan cheeses also give this pudding an extra kick along with chopped fresh onions and herbs. And, depending on the size of your group, you can enjoy this dish for dinner, and also serve it for brunch the next day.

Prep. Time: 35 minutes

Baking: 30-40 minutes

1 pound fresh tomatoes
12 cups bread cubes (from 12-ounce French bread)
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon dried Italian herb seasoning (or mix basil, oregano, thyme)
4 cups milk
5 eggs, slightly beaten
1/4 teaspoon hot sauce, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter or spray a 13X9-inch baking dish. Set aside. Dice tomatoes to approximately 3 cups (medium dice). (Peel and seed if desired.) Place bread cubes in single layers on cookie sheets; bake until toasted, about 5 minutes, turning once or twice. Add toasted bread cubes to tomato bowl, along with shredded Jack and Parmesan cheeses, onion, and herbs. Spoon into baking dish. In same large bowl, whisk together milk, eggs, hot sauce, and salt. Pour over tomato mixture. With pancake turner, press down bread to cover with custard mixture. Let stand 5 minutes. Bake at 350 degrees F., uncovered, for 30-40 minutes, until a knife inserted in center comes out clean. Cool slightly before lifting out squares to serve.
Recipe from Joyce Rosencrans, Food Editor, Cincinnati Post, 1998.
(Notes from MaryLee: Tabasco Chipotle Sauce gives a nice smoky taste, and she likes lots. Also, she uses sea salt.)

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Hawaiian bread pudding features coconut and rum

One of the very best things that’s happened since I started this blog just a few months ago is the connection I’ve made to so many wonderful people who have contributed recipes, made comments, and added their own expertise and dishes to the mix.

One such person is Mary-Anne Durkee, who lives in California and has traveled the world seeking out exotic and wonderful foods. Mary-Anne, also a fan of bread pudding, recently created her own version of a recipe from chef Austin Szu. She posted it on the AkakaFallsInn_Hawaii group, which showcases the best of the Big Island. She describes this pudding as “sort of Hawaiian with a Nutella® (Italian) twist.” Now there’s an intriguing combo. Leis and fedoras?

Nutella®, a chocolatey hazelnut spread, which is used in the presentation, was first created in the 1940s by Pietro Ferrero in Piedmonte, Italy, says Mary-Anne, who also is an editor for iFood.TV and owner of the Tomatomania list on Yahoo. Mahalo for this flavorful recipe!

1-1/2 cup coconut milk
1-1/2 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
8 large eggs
1 cup sugar
4 tablespoons. Malibu coconut rum
1 pound Hawaiian bread, crust sliced, white cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 cups shredded coconut, finely chopped into smaller pieces
1 stick butter, room temperature
Extra coconut and macadamia nuts for topping and presentation (see below)

Heat milk, cream and vanilla in a pot until just boiling. In separate bowl, whisk eggs and sugar together until sugar is dissolved, and then carefully temper in the hot dairy. Add rum and mix well.
Slice the crust off loaf of Hawaiian bread in large pieces and cut remaining white bread into 1/2-inch cubes. Mix room temperature butter with shredded coconut and spread it on inside of Hawaiian bread crust pieces and white bread pieces also. Lay all crust pieces crust side down in a 13x9x2-inch baking dish. This will form the crust layer at the bottom of your bread pudding. Add bread-cubes mixture and toss to coat. Transfer bread cubes to baking pan and lie them on top of crust layer. Pour mixture over bread in baking pan and smooth top with a spatula. Let mixture stand for 25 minutes to allow bread to absorb the custard.
Bake at 325 degrees F. until center is set and bread pudding is golden brown on top, about 55 minutes. Let stand for 30 minutes to cool slightly.
For coconut topping and macadamia nuts, toss and roll them in finely chopped crystallized ginger, and lightly toast in oven.
(Recipe adapted by Mary-Anne Durkee for the AkakaFallsInn_Hawaii group from a recipe by chef Austin Szu.)
Note: the Hawaiian bread is similar to Portuguese sweet bread.