Croissant Bread Pudding

December 10th, 2009

It is very early on Thursday morning and I have just baked Ina Garten’s croissant bread pudding because today is Barefoot Blogger posting time. Peggy of Pantry Revisited chose this first Barefoot Contessa recipe for the month of December and it is a good one. I was especially interested in this bread pudding because I have been experimenting with dishes to serve at a brunch later in the month. The beauty of the dish is that it goes together quickly and is so adaptable. I did not add anything extra to the recipe this time, but it lends itself to many flavor options. Peggy added cinnamon and pecans. You could also add orange or lemon zest to it. It might even be good with almonds and almond extract. I halved the recipe because we were not anxious to eat a casserole that serves 10. I also used the small croissants and dried cranberries instead of raisins. Let me know if you have other suggestions and feel free to join our group of Barefoot Bloggers.



3 exra large whole eggs
8 extra large egg yolks
5 cups half and half
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
6 large croissants, preferably stale, sliced horizontally
1 cup raisins


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the whole eggs, egg yolks, half and half, sugar, and vanilla. Set the custard mixture aside. Slice the croissants in half horizontally. In a 10 by 15 by 2 1/2 inch oval baking dish, distribute the bottoms of the sliced croissants, then add the raisins, then the tops of the croissants (brown side up), being sure the raisins are between the layers of croissants or they will burn while baking. Pour the custard over the croissants and allow to soak for 10 minutes, pressing down gently.

Place the pan in a larger one filled with 1 inch of hot water. Cover the larger pan with aluminum foil, tenting the foil so it doesn’t touch the pudding. Cut a few holes in the foil to allow steam to escape. Bake for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake for 40 to 45 more minutes or until the pudding puffs up and the custard is set. Remove from the oven and cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Printable recipe

Gruyere Cheese Souffle

October 21st, 2009

The Barefoot Blogger recipe for this Thursday is Ina Garten’s Blue Cheese Souffle. It was chosen by Summer of Sexy Apartment. You may want to visit her blog. She was just at an Ina book signing and I am happy to report that the Barefoot Contessa is aware of our little group. Yea! I made one change to the recipe. I am not a fan of blue cheese, so I just substituted an equal amount of gruyere cheese and the souffle was perfect. I served it in my favorite charlotte mold.

I remember the first time I made a souffle. My husband and I were spending the summer in Allentown, Pennsylvania because of his job. We had a second floor apartment in an old building with an antiquated kitchen. I had just taken cooking classes back home in Greensboro and was anxious to put all of my new found knowledge to the test. I cooked many things that summer in my less than stellar kitchen, but it is the souffle that stands out in my memory. I had no Kitchen Aid stand mixer to whip my egg whites and no beautiful souffle dish in which to display my triumphant billowy custard, but it was a beauty nonetheless. We sat at our 1950’s era chrome table in our vinyl chairs and dined on the most elegant dish I had ever prepared. The jug wine wasn’t bad either.


3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing the dish
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan, plus extra for sprinkling
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup scalded milk
Kosher sat and freshly ground black pepper
Pinch cayenne pepper
Pinch nutmeg
4 extra-large egg yolks, at room temperature
3 ounces good Roquefort cheese, chopped ( Or Gruyere )
5 extra-large egg whites, at room temperature
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar

Preheat oven to 40 degrees F.

Butter the insides of an 8-cup souffle dish (7 1/2 inches in diameter and 3 1/4 inches deep ) and sprinkle evenly with Parmesan.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat. With a wooden spoon, stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly for 2 minutes. Off the heat, whisk in the hot milk, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, the cayenne and nutmeg. Cook over low heat, whisking constantly, for 1 minute, until smooth and thick.

Off the heat, while still hot whisk in the egg yolks, one at a time. Stir in the Roquefort or Gruyere and the 1/4 cup of Parmesan and transfer to a large mixing bowl.

Put the egg whites, cream of tartar, and a pinch of salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on low speed for 1 minute, on medium speed for 1 minute, then finally on high speed until they form firm, glossy peaks.

Whisk 1/4 of the egg whites into the cheese sauce to lighten and then fold in the rest. Pour into the souffle dish, then smooth the top. Draw a large circle on top with the spatula to help the souffle rise evenly, and place in the middle of the oven. Turn the temperature down to 375 degrees F. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes (don’t peek!) until puffed and brown. Serve immediately.

Cheddar Corn Chowder

October 8th, 2009

The Barefoot Blogger challenge for this week was chosen by Jill of My Next Life. I love a good chowder and Ina Garten knows how to make a chowder that sticks to the ribs. Fresh corn this time of year is starchier than the succulent small kerneled variety of early summer so it is perfect for chowder. The potatoes add heft and earthiness to the dish and the bacon and cheese just make it darn good. There is turmeric in the recipe and I was curious as to why she chose that spice until I added it to the pot. The turmeric enhances the golden hue of the dish. Some might think that the chowder is a bit bland but sometimes it is good to let the natural flavors take star billing.

The only change I made to the recipe was to leave out the olive oil, because I figured that the bacon fat and butter were more than adequate in the fat department. I also halved the recipe because it makes enough to feed a food blog convention.


8 ounces bacon, chopped
1/4 cup good olive oil
6 cups chopped yellow onions (4 large)
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
12 cups chicken stock
6 cups medium diced white boiling potatoes, unpeeled (2 pounds) I peeled mine
10 cups corn kernels, fresh (10 ears) or frozen (3 pounds)
2 cups half and half
1/2 pound sharp white Cheddar cheese, grated

In a large stockpot on medium high heat, cook the bacon and olive oil until the bacon is crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and reserve. Reduce the heat to medium, add the onions and butter to the fat, and cook for 10 minutes, until the onions are translucent.

Stir in the flour, salt, pepper, and tumeric and cook for 3 minutes. Add the chicken stock and potatoes, bring to a boil, and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. If using fresh corn, cut the kernels off the cobs and blanch the kernels for 3 minutes in boiling salted water. Drain. (If using frozen corn, you can skip this step.) Add the corn to the soup, then add the half-and-half and Cheddar. Cook for 5 more minutes, until the cheese is melted. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve hot with a garnish of bacon.

Beatty’s Chocolate Cake

September 24th, 2009

I missed the first Barefoot Blogger Thursday of the month because of travel and other obligations, so I was determined not to miss the second one. Mary of Passionate Perseverance selected Ina Garten’s Beatty’s Chocolate Cake because it is her birthday. Happy birthday Mary! Unfortunately Mary had a problem with the cake. Visit her wonderful blog to see how she salvaged a near disaster. Actually, I can empathize with her. This cake was not easy. It was easy to mix and bake. The addition of a cup of coffee to the mix, made it almost too thin in my opinion. My cake did not run over in the pans as her’s did, but once I removed it from the pans after it was baked, it was very crumbly and hard to handle. Perhaps I did not bake it long enough, even though it was in the oven for the prescribed amount of time. I just knew I would not be able to pick it up and layer it. The only solution I could think of was to put the layers in the refrigerator on their cooling racks to see if it would help. The freezer is another good idea. Once they were very cold, I was able to manipulate them onto the serving plate and frost them.

This is a very good moist cake and the frosting is easy and delicious. The addition of coffee to the cake and frosting seems to bring out the chocolatey taste. The only addition I made was to sprinkle the top of the cake with toffee bits. It helped to hide the cake crumbs peeking out of the frosting! You may want to check in with the other Barefoot Bloggers to see how they did with this cake. I know I am curious.


Butter, for greasing the pans
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
2 cups sugar
3/4 cups good cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk, shaken
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 extra-large eggs at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanill extract
1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee


Chocolate Buttercream, recipe follows

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter 2 (8-inch) round cake pans. Line with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans.

Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.

Place 1 layer, flat side up, on a flat plate or cake pedestal. With a knife or offset spatula, spread the top with frosting. Place the second layer on top, rounded side up, and spread the frosting evenly on the top and sides of the cake.

Chocolate Frosting:

6 ounces good semisweet chocolate (recommended: Callebaut)
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 extra-large egg yolk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon instant coffee powder

Chop the chocolate and place it in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir until just melted and set aside until cooled to room temperature.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until light yellow and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg yolk and vanilla continue beating for 3 minutes. Turn the mixer to low, gradually add the confectioners’ sugar, then beat at medium speed, scraping down the bowl as necessary, until smooth and creamy. Dissolve the coffee powder in 2 teaspoons of the hottest tap water. On low speed, add the chocolate and coffee to the butter mixture and mix until blended. Don’t whip! Spread immediately on the cooled cake.

White Pizzas with Arugula for Barefoot Thursday

August 27th, 2009

This was a very easy recipe in spite of the length of the directions. Do not be put off by them. Andrea of Nummy Kitchen has chosen another brilliant recipe from Ina Garten, our Barefoot Contessa guru. The Barefoot Bloggers meet online on the second and fourth Thursday of the month to cook one of Ina’s recipes.
There are so many things I like about this recipe. The yeast dough is easy to make and does not take hours. There is a wonderful garlic oil, infused with thyme and red pepper flakes that would also be good in vinaigrettes or drizzled on vegetables. The pizza is healthy with the salad right on top of it and it lends itself to so many variations. How about adding thinly sliced tomatoes and piling on a Caesar salad instead of the arugula or adding olives and feta and topping with a Greek salad. The recipe makes six 8 inch pizzas, but can easily be halved for just a few. Thanks Andrea for another great recipe.
For the dough
1 1/4 cups warm (100 to 110) water
2 packages dry yeast
1 tablespoon honey
Good olive oil
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for kneading
Kosher salt
4 cloves garlic, sliced
5 sprigs fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
For the topping
3 cups grated Italian fontina cheese (8 ounces)
1 1/2 cups grated fresh mozzarella cheese (7 ounces)
11 ounces creamy goat cheese, such as montrachet, crumbled
For the vinaigrette
1/2 cup good olive oil
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
Freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces baby arugula
1 lemon, sliced
Mix the dough.
Combine the water, yeast, honey and 3 tablespoons of olive oil in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. When the yeast is dissolved, add 3 cups of flour, then 2 teaspoons salt, and mix on medium-low speed. While mixing, add up to 1 more cup of flour, or just enough to make a soft dough. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes until smooth, sprinkling it with the flour as necessary to keep it from sticking to the bowl.
Knead by hand.
When the dough is ready, turn it out onto a floured board and knead it by hand a dozen times. It should be smooth and elastic.
Let it rise.
Place the dough in a well-oiled bowl and turn it to cover it lightly with oil. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and allow the dough to rise at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Make garlic oil.
Place 1/2 cup of olive oil, the garlic, thyme and red pepper flakes in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over low heat. Cook for 10 minutes, making sure the garlic doesn’t burn. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. (Be sure your oven is clean!)
Portion the dough.
Dump the dough onto a board and divide it into 6 equal pieces. Place the doughs on sheet pans lined with parchment paper and cover them with a damp towel. Allow the dough to rest for 10 minutes. Use immediately, or refrigerate for up to 4 hours.
Stretch the dough.
Press and stretch each ball into an 8-inch circle and place 2 circles on each sheet pan lined with parchment paper. (If you’ve chilled the dough, take it out of the refrigerator approximately 30 minutes ahead to let it come to room temperature.)
Top the dough.
Brush the pizzas with the garlic oil, and sprinkle each one liberally with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the pizzas evenly with fontina, mozzarella and goat cheese. Drizzle each pizza with 1 tablespoon more of the garlic oil and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until the crusts are crisp and the cheeses begin to brown.
Make the vinaigrette.
Meanwhile, whisk together 1/2 cup of olive oil, the lemon juice, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
Add the greens.
When the pizzas are done, place the arugula in a large bowl and toss with just enough lemon vinaigrette to moisten. Place a large bunch of arugula on each pizza and a slice of lemon and serve immediately.
TIP Make sure the bowl is warm before you put the water and yeast in; the water must be warm for the yeast to develop.
TIP Salt inhibits the growth of yeast; add half the flour, then the salt, and then the rest of the flour.
TIP To make sure yeast is still “alive,” or active, put it in water and allow it to sit for a few minutes. If it becomes creamy or foamy, it’s active.

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