Thursday, July 22, 2010


There is nothing quite like the carbohydrate.  I find that I eat 4 main food groups that consist of carbs, tomatoes, cheese and chocolate.   It’s a great diet, you should try it.  I am always happy with a carb on my fork and most of the time I regret those last four bites but hey, that’s what unbuttoning your pants are for, am I right?!?
Back to the carbs at hand, bread pudding. Now if you don't like bread pudding, you can just get out!  Seriously it is un-American to not like bread pudding and I may judge you if you say otherwise.  Last night our Frat Brother Todd came over for dinner and I made enough food to warrant the last meal before the apocalypse.  The plan was to cook 2 full chickens earlier in the week the night Todd came over so there would be plenty of meat and then I could use the left-overs for Chicken Marsala, which we all know Brian already had the distinct pleasure of ruining this week… However we had Todd over later in the week, so now we have lots of meat and only a few recipes left with which to work.  I’m not mad about this, because the bird is good. REAL nice. So, 2 birds, roasted carrots and onions, a cheddar and leek bread pudding and a mixed berry bread pudding. Fat much?
I plan on doing an entire series on how to roast the hell out of a bird, so I’m not going to spend much time on it now. But I will tell you the key to a fantastic bird is to be liberal with the butter, in, around, on, and under the skin. GET ON IN THERE, don’t be shy.  Lots.  Sorry for ruining your diet with my roast chicken, but in my house, that’s how it’s gonna be.  

I will however, tell you about the tale of 2 bread puddings and how it rocked my world last night. Once upon a time last week at the farmers market, I stumbled across a gorgeous loaf of brioche which spoke to me in a seductive way. He said “I am soft and sweet and I am begging you to put me in your oven” To which I obliged. Since we are a 2 person household, an entire bread pudding casserole as a side is a little overkill.  I had all this bread and I thought, oh Gee how will I use you before you go bad, little bread loaf? Oh DUH lets make 2 different ones. (I know the logic is off. But it’s how my brain works.) SO I had a conference call with my gal Martha and she told me about this leek and gruyere bread pudding. Now, in moderation I can eat gruyere, but we aren’t talking about moderation we are talking about bread pudding so naturally I switched this recipe to include my best girl friend, white sharp cheddar.  When you change one element of a recipe you can’t just go haphazardly, you have to respect the flavor components of the cheese. Gruyere and Cheddar, are not sister, or kissing cousins even. Gruyere is France and Cheddar is Wisconsin.  So after some changing around, below is my adapted recipe for Cheddar and Leek Bread Pudding. 

White Sharp Cheddar and Leek Brioche Bread Pudding
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for baking dish
  • 4 leeks, white and pale-green parts only, thinly sliced crosswise, rinsed well
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • Pinch of paprika
  • 2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 3 large eggs plus 1 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 1 loaf day-old brioche,crusts removed, cut into 3/4-inch slices and then halved crosswise
  • 1 cups grated White Sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Fontina cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 10-inch (10-cup) round baking dish. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add leeks and garlic; cook, stirring often, until soft, about 10 minutes. Add wine; bring to a boil. Cook until reduced by half. Transfer half of the leek mixture to a bowl, and reserve.
Whisk cream, milk, nutmeg, paprika, salt, and pepper into leek mixture in pan; bring to a simmer. Temper egg with cream mixture. (Add 1/2 cup hot cream-leek mixture to eggs and yolks in a medium bowl, whisking. Whisk in another cup cream-leek mixture; return egg-leek mixture to pan.) Cook, whisking, until thickened, 3 minutes.  Be sure to keep an eye on this. Timing is sensitive and you don’t want the custard to separate.
Arrange 8 or 9 pieces of bread in prepared dish. Pour 2 cups egg-leek mixture over bread. Sprinkle half the reserved leeks and half the cheeses over bread. Let stand 10 minutes. Arrange remaining bread in a slightly overlapping circle on top, and then add remaining egg-leek mixture. Sprinkle with remaining leeks and cheeses. Let stand 10 minutes.
Cover dish loosely with foil, and place in a small roasting pan. Add enough hot water to reach halfway up sides of dish. Bake until golden brown and set, about 55 minutes. Remove foil, and bake until deep golden brown, about 20 minutes more. Let cool in dish on a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Now to counteract that savory hot mess, we move straight along to the mixed berry bread pudding.  I got these INCREDIBLE blackberries and some raspberries (If the blackberries and the raspberries are in an arm wrestling match the raspberries get owned, but they were still good…) which needed to be used before going south.  Cue the mixed berry goodness!

Mixed Berry Brioche Bread Pudding

·         Butter for ramekins
·         4 eggs
·         3/4 cup whole milk
·         3/4 cup heavy cream
·         1 tablespoon vanilla extract
·         1 teaspoon lemon zest
·         1/2 cup sugar, plus more for dusting and topping
·         4 large slices brioche bread
·         2 cups mixed berries (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries or whatever you have on hand), plus more for garnish

Lemon Fondant:

·         2 cups powdered sugar
·         2 tablespoons water
·         2 lemons, zested and juiced
Butter and sugar 6 (6-ounce) ramekins.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, cream, vanilla extract, lemon zest, and sugar. Combine well with a whisk - then let it settle so there are no air bubbles on the surface otherwise these will cause lumps in your anglaise.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Tear the brioche up into large pieces using your hands, add to the custard mixture and toss to combine. Equally divide the berries among the ramekins and top with the bread mixture. Gently press down so they are packed evenly. Sprinkle with more sugar, then refrigerate for 10 to 15 minutes to let soak.
Bake for 25 minutes in the center of the oven. (you can choose to do this in a water bath, I didn’t only because at this point I didn’t have room in the oven!) The pudding is ready when it has puffed up and the custard is set. The top should be a nice golden color. Remove and allow to cool slightly.
Make the fondant. In a mixing bowl combine sifted powdered sugar, water, lemon zest and juice.
Once the pudding has cooled slightly, invert onto an individual serving plate. Drizzle the lemon fondant over warm bread pudding and serve with extra fresh berries.

Thus a tale of 2 bread puddings was born and immediately put to sleep. In my belly.
Happy carb loading!


  1. Sarah HammelJuly 22, 2010

    Dear Whit - do you have any leftovers of the savory option?

    Love, Blanche

  2. Meghan BartleyJuly 23, 2010


    Holy bejesus. A. I have never had bread pudding, and while you may now want to punch me, I think the better idea would be to make me some next time we are in the same zip code...please... :)
    B. I can't let Dan ever read your blog because I'm pretty sure he would pick up his things, walk out our front door and proceed to drive to Chicago to live on your doormat.
    C. I love you. Tell Brian he's a lucky man...