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)