Leek and Gruyere Bread Pudding

March 1st, 2016

Leek and Gruyere Bread Pudding 1

The inspiration for this leek and Gruyere bread pudding came from a side dish that I had in a restaurant in Washington DC last month.  It was served with roasted chicken and a light gravy.  One of the recipe sources that I use quite often is Epicurious.  Both my Daughter-In-Law and I think highly of the recipes found on this source.  It doesn’t hurt that the recipe came first from Thomas Keller.  It was outstanding.

You should use a brioche or challah bread.  The eggy bread adds richness to the casserole.  I adapted the recipe.  I used the same amount of leeks and cheese, but halved the rest of the recipe.

Leek Bread Pudding 2

At the restaurant the bread pudding was served as an individual cake.  So I experimented with cutting rounds out of the finished casserole with a biscuit cutter.  It worked very well and we enjoyed the scraps for another meal.  As an aside, we have not been eating much bread lately, but we made a happy exception for this delightful dish.

LEEK AND GRUYERE BREAD PUDDING (Adapted from Epicurious)

Recipe shown as written.  I used the same amount of leeks and cheese and halved everything else.


    • 2 cups 1/2-inch-thick slices leeks (white and light green parts only)
    • Kosher salt
    • 4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter
    • Freshly ground black pepper
    • 12 cups 1-inch cubes crustless Brioche or Pullman sandwich loaf
    • 1 tablespoon finely chopped chives
    • 1 teaspoon thyme leaves
    • 3 large eggs
    • 3 cups whole milk
    • 3 cups heavy cream
    • Freshly grated nutmeg
    • 1 cup shredded Gruyere Cheese


    1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
    2. Put the leek rounds in a large bowl of tepid water and swish so that any dirt falls to the bottom of the bowl. Set a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat, lift the leeks from the water, drain, and add them to the pan. Season with salt and cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes. As the leeks begin to soften, lower the heat to medium-low. The leeks will release liquid. Stir in the butter to emulsify, and season with pepper to taste. Cover the pan with a parchment lid, and cook, stirring every 10 minutes, until the leeks are very soft, 30 to 35 minutes. If at any point the butter breaks or looks oily, stir in about a tablespoon of water to re-emulsify the sauce. Remove and discard the parchment lid.
    3. Meanwhile, spread the bread cubes on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for about 20 minutes, rotating the pan about halfway through, until dry and pale gold. Transfer to a large bowl. Leave the oven on.
    4. Add the leeks to the bread and toss well, then add the chives and thyme.
    5. Lightly whisk the eggs in another large bowl. Whisk in the milk, cream, a generous pinch of salt, pepper to taste, and a pinch of nutmeg.
    6. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of the cheese in the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Spread half the leeks and croutons in the pan and sprinkle with another 1/4 cup cheese. Scatter the remaining leeks and croutons over and top with another 1/4 cup cheese. Pour in enough of the custard mixture to cover the bread and press gently on the bread so it soaks in the milk. Let soak for about 15 minutes.
    7. Add the remaining custard, allowing some of the soaked cubes of bread to protrude. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup cheese on top and sprinkle with salt.
    8. Bake for 1 1/2 hours, or until the pudding feels set and the top is brown and bubbling.

Printable Recipe


Turkey With Leek and Artichoke Bread Pudding for Thanksgiving

November 24th, 2014

Leek Bread Pudding 1

It is the start of the holiday season.  With the approach of Thanksgiving our kitchens will become steamy, aromatic and warm until we sprawl exhausted on our sofas on New Years Day vowing never to eat again.  But for foodies it is the best of times.  The Thanksgiving feast is just the warm up.  We have done something a little different this year.  We have already had our Thanksgiving dinner.  We will not be with family and friends this year so we decided to travel on the Thanksgiving weekend.  We are going to Savannah to take in the historic downtown area.  So David and I cooked a simple Thanksgiving meal for the two of us this weekend.  David was in charge of the turkey.  He smoked it on the grill and I will let him tell you about it at the end of this post.  I did all of the side dishes.  A new one for me this year was this Leek and Artichoke Bread Pudding from Ina Garten’s new cookbook, Make it Ahead.  How perfect is that?

Leek Bread Pudding 2V


Instead of my standard dressing, this savory bread pudding hit all of the marks in my book.  I have an affinity for leeks and artichokes and the fact that it can be made ahead of time is a real timesaver at Thanksgiving.  You will love the combination of flavors with the salty pancetta on the top and the creamy base.  We found it to be a great alternative.

Thanksgiving Dinner 2014 1

Here is our intimate Thanksgiving table.  David laughed at me for the care that I took dressing the table.  It is a bit over the top, but I enjoyed having the leisure to make it special.  I have to say that everything was delicious.  The meal included David’s moist smoked turkey, his special gravy, mashed potatoes, my Mother’s cheesy green beans with bacon,  Ina’s leek and artichoke bread pudding and Sam’s (My Carolina Kitchen) French cranberry sauce.

Thanksgiving Dinner 2014 2

I am turning it over to David so that he can tell you about his turkey and gravy.

I (David) have been wanting to smoke a turkey for a long time, but Penny would never let me do it for Thanksgiving when we would normally have guests for dinner, fearing that I might muck it up and she would not have a decent bird to serve to company.  (Penny here, plus no gravy).  I told her about a week ago that I planned to smoke a turkey for myself for the fun of it and she could eat some if she liked it….or not.  My plan was simple, to have smoked turkey and a couple of appropriate sides for a normal Saturday night supper, but my simple plan somehow morphed into the table that you see above.  That’s what being married to a food blogger will do for you.  I did get a good chuckle out of the elaborate table setting for a two-person, not-quite-Thanksgiving meal. Anyway, I got to smoke my turkey.

As some of you know, I have a Kamado ceramic egg style grill back in Lake Lure, but not down here in Florida, so I was faced with cooking it on the gas grill that I have here.  After Googling “smoked turkey recipe” and reading about several candidate techniques, I zeroed in on Meathead Goldwyn’s  method as spelled out in excruciating detail on his most excellent website Amazing Ribs.  He’s the go-to guy for all things barbecue.  You can take a look at his website for the gory details, all 42 printed pages of it, but suffice it to say that his techniques are based on the science of cooking meat, including the underlying thermodynamic and heat transfer principles, which greatly appeals to me, this retired thermodynamics professor.

In short, you coat the bird with his “Simon and Garfunkel” rub (I bet you can guess the main ingredients) both under and over the skin.  Then you set up your grill for indirect cooking with the bird on one side over an aluminum roasting pan filled with chopped-up onions, carrots, and celery, along with the turkey neck, heart, gizzards, wing tips, and “Pope’s Nose”, some herbs and spices, and about three quarts of liquid.  I used two quarts of water, a bottle of white wine, and a cup of apple juice.  The liquid left in this pan at the end of cooking, and after straining out all the solids, is the “gravy” you can serve with the meat without the bother of thickening it with flour.  Use the burners on the other side of the gas grill for supplying the heat to produce smoke from a couple of chunks of foil-wrapped wood (I used cherry) and to keep the turkey side of the grill at around 325F as measured with a digital thermometer at rack height. Our ten-pound bird took about 2 hours to reach the target temperature of 160F in the thickest part of the breast, at which time the temperature of the thighs was 170F….perfect.  During a 15 minute rest period the temperature at both locations will increase about 5 degrees.  The result is a juicy bird with crisp skin and a nice mellow smokey flavor and some delicious broth to go with it.  If you decide to try this, you should definitely take a look at the Amazing Ribs website for details.

That is all from the two of us.  We wish everyone a bountiful Thanksgiving.  We are thankful for all of you.

LEEK AND ARTICHOKE BREAD PUDDING ( Make it Ahead by Ina Garten )

8 cups ( 1-inch-diced ) day-old bakery white bread, crusts removed
3 ounces thinly sliced pancetta
6 cups ( 1/2-inch-diced ) leeks, white and light green parts ( 5 Leeks )
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup dry white wine, such as Pinot Grigio
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 (9-ounce) package frozen artichoke hearts, defrosted
3 tablespoons minced fresh chives
2 teaspoons minced fresh tarragon leaves
4 extra-large eggs
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup good chicken stock, preferably homemade
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 cups grated Emmentaler Swiss cheese (8 ounces)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the bread cubes on a sheet pan and bake for 15 minutes, tossing once, until lightly browned.  Place the pancetta in on layer on another sheet pan and bake in the same oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until lightly browned.  Place the pancetta on a plate lined with paper towels and set aside.

Meanwhile, soak the leeks in water until they’re clean, and spin them dry in a salad spinner.  Heat the butter in an 11-inch pot over medium heat, add the leeks, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the wine, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper and cook for 5 minutes, until the wine almost evaporates and the leeks are tender.  Of the heat, mix in the artichokes, toasted bread cubs, chives, and tarragon.

Whisk the eggs, cream chicken stock, nutmeg, and 1 teaspoon salt together in a large bowl.  Spoon half of the bread mixture into a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking dish.  Sprinkle with half the Emmentaler and add the remaining bread mixture.  Pour on the cream mixture, sprinkle with the remaining Emmentaler, and press lightly to help the bread absorb the liquid.  Dice or crumble the pancetta, scatter on top, and sprinkle lightly with pepper.  Set aside at room temperature for 30 minutes to allow the bread to absorb the cream mixture.  Bake for 45 to 50 minutes. until the pudding is puffed and golden.

Make it Ahead:  Assemble the bread pudding and refrigerate for up to 2 days.  Bake before serving.

Printable Recipe

A Look Back at 2014

January 4th, 2015

We had a busy holiday season with family and friends.  We traveled to North Carolina to spend time with family in Cary and Jacksonville and then back to Lake Lure to attend to some Winter tasks.  We spent the New Year in Myrtle Beach with old friends, ate well, celebrated joyously and returned to Lake Lure a little heavier and totally worn out.  It is cold and dreary here with constant rain and fog and my cooking has been minimal.  So before we return to Florida this week, I thought that I would reflect back on some of the dishes that were favorites in 2014.  I will begin with January 2014.

Pork Tenderloin with Grapes 3

I had just discovered Mimi Thorisson’s lovely blog Manger.  One of the first dishes I made from her blog was this Pork Tenderloin with Grapes.  We loved it and my eyes were opened to the possibility of actually cooking grapes.  It was also a pretty dish that tasted heavenly.

Tortilla Soup 1

February found us in Cary celebrating our Grandson’s third birthday.  My DIL Kristen made this warming Tortilla Soup on a snowy day.  I could use a bowl of it right now.

Polynesian Meatballs 2V

We enjoyed these Polynesian Meatballs as the weather was improving.

Asparagus Tart 1With Spring in the air and fresh asparagus in the market we indulged in this easy Asparagus Tart. 

Triple Cinnamon Scones V


King Arthur Flour has a wonderful blog called Flourish.  This recipe for Triple Cinnamon Scones sounded so good that I purchased their cinnamon chips and cinnamon filling mix to make them.  I have been making them ever since.  They are the best scones I have ever had.

Blueberry Galette 1

In June I made this wonderful Blueberry Galette.  The rosemary in the crust was an unusual addition and went so well with the blueberries.  I will be making this often.  The crust also has whole wheat flour in it which I love.

Raspberry Tiramisu 2

Summer is berry season and I couldn’t resist this lovely Raspberry and Blueberry Tiramisu.  Perfect for the 4th of July.

Spicy Glazed Salmon 1

In August our grill was kept busy.  This Spicy Glazed Salmon was an easy fix with only three ingredients.

Couscous with arugla 2

September at the lake is usually still warm.  Cool salads are always welcomed.  This Israeli Couscous and Arugula Salad from Ina Garten is delicious.

Acorn Squash 4

October is apple season in Western North Carolina.  This Maple Glazed Acorn Squash with Sausage, Apple and Sage is a perfect Fall dish.

Leek Bread Pudding 1

In November, this Leek and Artichoke Bread Pudding was on my Thanksgiving table.  The recipe came from Ina Garten’s new book Make it Ahead.

Ham Loaf 2V


Finally, in honor of family tradition, in December I made my Mother’s delicious Ham Loaf.  It brought back memories of Christmases past.  2014 was a very good year.  I am looking forward to the year ahead and wish all of you a Happy New Year.



Dining on the Road

February 18th, 2016


We have had a whirlwind week of travel, going from sunny Florida to North Carolina, South Carolina, and Washington DC. where snow, ice and blowing winds reminded me that winter is not my favorite season.  But regardless of the season, warmth and good food can be found anywhere if you take the time to make good selections.  Fortunately we were lucky to be guided by family (Dave and Darla) to one of their favorite restaurants in Vienna, Virginia just outside of D.C.


Clarity is a neighborhood bistro with two talented chefs in the open kitchen.  The food is creative American fare.  I enjoyed the above Roasted Pennsylvania Chicken with leek and gruyere bread pudding, garlic roasted French beans and chicken jus.  I will be trying to duplicate the bread pudding very soon.


Darla had the Seared New-England Sea Scallops with potato gnocchi, pork belly and cream.  This is another dish that would be fun to duplicate.

IMG_0004Dave ordered the Hand-rolled Tomato Fettucini Puttanesca.  All of the pastas at Clarity are handmade.

IMG_0005My David had the Carolina Mountain Trout with duck confit, edamame, fennel and trout roe.  Trout roe is so pretty.  I recently saw it used with parsnip hoe cakes and creme fraiche.  If anyone knows where I can find trout roe, I would appreciate your input.

We had many more fine meals while traveling and I will let you know about them in future posts.  In the meantime, I am headed to the market to buy leeks and Gruyere to make a tasty bread pudding.

Thanksgiving Tried and True Side Dishes

November 16th, 2015


With Thanksgiving approaching, I wanted to share a few dishes that have been on my table and on my blog in the past years.  These are recipes that have worked well for me and I am sure they will add a special punch to your usual menu.  Notice that I am not including a recipe for turkey.  I would not presume to tell you how to cook your turkey.  Everyone has their personal idea of the best way to do that.  Let’s start with appetizers.  Because there is a huge meal waiting in the kitchen, appetizers should be light.  These Candied Spiced Almonds require a little attention upfront, but can be made way in advance.


I always love homemade savory shortbread crackers and the addition of dried cranberries to these appetizer rounds make them perfect for the holidays.  The recipe for these Chipotle Cheddar Cranberry Nut Wafers can be found here.


If you prefer your sweet potatoes as a first course, this Creamy Sweet Potato Soup is sure to be a hit. It is easy too.  The sweet potatoes are cooked in the microwave and the mixture comes together smoothly with an immersion blender, although you could puree it in a blender or food processor.


Leek and Artichoke Bread Pudding makes a great dressing if you do not stuff your bird.  It is an Ina Garten recipe and you can make it ahead of time.  Bacon can be substituted for the pancetta or you can leave it out all together if you have vegetarians at the table.

Cranberry-Lime ChutneyThis Cranberry-Lime Chutney is definitely a new take on cranberry sauce.  It is a combination of fresh cranberries, lime, apples, onion, raisins, pecans, and lots of spices.  It is best made ahead of time.


Instead of a green bean casserole, try these Green Beans Gremolata.  This dish is best made with the thin French Haricot Vert.  They have been readily available in several supermarkets that I visit.  They are usually found in a cellophane bag. The beans are cooked quickly and then tossed in a mixture of garlic, parsley, parmesan and pine nuts.


This Maple Glazed Acorn Squash with Sausage, Apple and Sage could almost be a meal on its own.  But it would certainly look pretty on the Thanksgiving table.


Instead of an apple pie you could make an Apple Bundt Cake.  This spice cake with a caramel frosting is a snap to make and there is a good tip on how to turn your cake out of the bundt pan easily.


If you are in a hurry you could make this Pumpkin Dump Cake.  For a while this cake was on my DIL’s family Thanksgiving table every year.  I first made it for Kristen for her birthday and she loved it so much that she shared it with her family.  They adopted it for Thanksgiving.

Apple Crostada 2

Instead of that apple pie you could make this free form Apple Crostata.  This is one of my favorite desserts.

Enjoy the preparations and fun of the Thanksgiving holiday.

© Penny Klett, Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen. All rights reserved.