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.

INGREDIENTS

    • 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

PREPARATION

    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.

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Bobotie

January 19th, 2016

Bobotie 1

Bobotie (pronounced bo-bo-tie or bo-boo-tee) is my first foray into South African cuisine.  South African food is influenced by the native population and the Dutch, French, Indian and Malaysian immigrants.  The resulting dishes are complex and exciting to the palate.  Bobotie is the national dish, thought to be introduced by the Malaysian and Indian servants during Colonial times.  Curry and turmeric have always been important spices in Indian cuisine.  In Bobotie, minced meat is simmered with the spices, almonds and dried fruit, then topped with milk and eggs and baked until set.  It is similar to a Greek Moussaka.

Bobotie 2V

 

I have always been fond of curries.  We had several acquaintances from India through David’s job as an engineering professor.  Dinner parties in their homes always included flavorful and interesting dishes.  One Indian friend came to my home to teach me several Indian dishes including dal and saag, which is a dish using mustard greens.  So when I saw this recipe for Bobotie, I knew that I would love it.  There are so many complex flavors in it.  The curry is there, but you can also taste the sweet dried fruit, the crunchy almonds, the hot chutney and the mild custard.  It is a perfect make ahead dish for company; something a little different.

Bobotie 3

Our Midwest and East coast is supposed to get a major snow storm this weekend.  This would be a great warming oven dish to serve with Cinnamon Basmati Rice with Golden Raisins.  Winter is the best time for arm-chair or kitchen-stove travel.  South African cuisine is very colorful, spicy and sometimes amusing.  One of the roadside dishes that you can get in South Africa is grilled chicken feet and heads.  It is called Walkie-Talkie.  Think I will stick with Bobotie.

BOBOTIE (Adapted from Martha Stewart)

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1 tart apple, such as Granny Smith, peeled, cored and coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger (1 1/2-inch piece)
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 1/2 tablespoons Madras curry powder
2 pounds lean ground beef
1/2 cup slivered almonds (1 ounce), toasted
4 slices white bread, crusts removed
1 3/4 cups whole milk, divided
1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped
2 tablespoons apricot preserves
2 tablespoon hot chutney

4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups remaining milk
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
4 fresh or dried bay leaves

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil, then onions, apple, and ginger; season with salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are golden brown and tender, about 15 minutes. (Reduce heat if vegetables brown too quickly.) Add turmeric and curry powder to onion mixture; stir to combine. Add beef and cook, breaking up large pieces with a wooden spoon, until cooked through, about 10 minutes. Stir in almonds, and cook for 2 minutes more.

2. Tear bread into large pieces, and place in a small bowl. Add 1/4 cup milk and 1/2 teaspoon salt, and let stand until milk is absorbed. Add bread mixture to beef, and cook, stirring frequently, until bottom of pan begins to brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in dried apricots, apricot preserves and chutney, scraping up browned bits from bottom. Remove from heat, and season with salt and pepper.

3. Spoon beef mixture into a 6-cup shallow baking dish. Whisk eggs, nutmeg, lemon zest, and remaining 1 1/2 cups milk in a medium bowl. Pour over beef. Place bay leaves in dish, pressing into filling. Bake until set around edges and center is no longer runny, 35 to 45 minutes. Let stand for 15 minutes before serving. Serve with Cinnamon Basmati Rice.

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Thanksgiving Tried and True Side Dishes

November 16th, 2015

Sugar-Spiced-Nuts-2

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.

Chipoltle-Cheddar-Wafers-1

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.

Sweet-Potato-Soup-1

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-Bread-Pudding-1

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.

Green-Beans-Gremolata-3

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.

Acorn-Squash-4

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.

Apple-Bundt-Cake-11

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.

Pumpkin-Dump-Cake-1

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.

Mashed Potato Casserole and Other Ramblings

May 15th, 2015

Mashed Potato Casserole 1

Allow me to ramble a bit.  This will be a rather disjointed post.  It seems I have been snapping pictures willy nilly with no particular theme in mind.  We did have this mashed potato casserole last week.  David was grilling ribs and I knew that the timing for dinner would remain up in the air.  There are many steps involved in his rib recipe.  So, as not to worry about the mashed potatoes, I turned them into a casserole that could be kept warm in the oven.  The topping of breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese and butter was delicious.

Porch Tulips 1

Yesterday we had an old friend from our college days over for lunch.  She has moved close to our area and we had the best time catching up with each other.  I set the table on the porch, and although it was cool, we enjoyed being outside.

Porch Couscous

Our lunch included Ina Garen’s Couscous and Tuna Salad.  You can find the recipe here.

Porch Salad

I made a simple tossed salad with Spring greens, mandarin oranges, raspberries and almonds and these focaccia breadsticks with an oil and balsamic vinegar dipping sauce.

Porch Sign

David took me out to lunch for Mother’s Day at a small town near us.  After lunch we browsed in several antique shops.  I found this “Antiques” sign.  It is obviously not old, but it looks great hanging on my porch.

Lake Lure House Spring 1

I also found this colorful hanging basket to hang at the entrance to the cottage.

Potato Casserole 2v

MASHED POTATO CASSEROLE

6 medium baking potatoes, peeled and cubed
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 to 1 cup half and half or cream
A large handful of chives, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

For the topping:
1/3 cup Italian style breadcrumbs
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoon melted butter

Place potatoes in a large saucepan with water to cover.  Add a generous teaspoon of salt.  Bring to bowl and cook until tender.  Drain potatoes.  Add butter and enough half and half to mash into a creamy consistency.  Add chives and mix in.

Grease a casserole dish.  Add potato mixture.

Mix together the topping ingredients.  Spread over potatoes.  Place in a preheated 350 degree oven and bake for 30 minutes.  Can be held in a warm oven until needed.

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Ground Beef Stroganoff

April 16th, 2015

Ground Beef Stroganoff 1

Cooking has been a challenge for the past week.  We visited the kids in Cary over the weekend.  Upon arrival at their new house our dog Daisy got away from us.  In an effort to help recapture her and wearing my pretty new impractical flip flops, I fell on a pine needle covered incline.  I wrenched my right leg badly and probably have a sprained ankle.  My week has been one of pain pills and limping.  I am starting to feel better but complicated meals are not something I want to tackle.

Ground Beef Stroganoff 2V

That’s one of the reasons that I loved this Ground Beef Stroganoff recipe.  It is cooked in one pot from start to finish.  Not to mention the fact that it is very tasty.

Ground Beef Stroganoff 3

I am trying to stay off of my feet.  Thankfully we just got Netflix streaming and I have started watching Bloodline.  I am also reading the best novel about food and cooking.  My next post will have a recipe from this delicious book.  In the meantime, if you are out of sorts, just tired, or looking for something quick to make other than Hamburger Helper, you need to try this recipe.

GROUND BEEF STROGANOFF ( Chow.com )

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, stems trimmed and sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/4 stick)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, small dice
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 4 cups (1 quart) low-sodium beef broth or stock
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
  • 8 ounces dried egg noodles
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
  1. Heat the oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring rarely, until browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl and set aside.
  2. Reduce the heat to medium and add the butter. When the butter has melted, add the onion and garlic, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the beef, season with salt and pepper, and break the meat into smaller pieces with a wooden spoon. Cook, stirring occasionally, until it’s just cooked through and no longer pink, about 6 to 8 minutes.
  3. Sprinkle in the flour and paprika, stir to coat the meat, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the raw flavor has cooked off the flour, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add the wine and cook, stirring occasionally and scraping up any browned bits that have accumulated on the bottom of the pot, until almost evaporated, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add the broth, measured salt, and measured pepper and stir to combine. Increase the heat to medium high and bring to a simmer.
  4. Add the noodles and reserved mushrooms along with their accumulated juices and stir to combine. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the noodles are just cooked through, about 6 to 8 minutes.
  5. Remove from the heat and stir in the sour cream. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. Sprinkle with the parsley and serve.

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