Savory Saturday: Bread Pudding

Savory Bread Pudding

I do not recall encountering bread pudding prior to making my home in the South. It was not a traditional dessert served at family dinners, nor was it seen all that much in  Ohio or Florida where I lived before. (Notice I do not consider Florida a part of the south. That state has a uniqueness all its own.)

Only once in recent years did bread pudding make its appearance at home. (Notice I still refer to home as the place my mother resides despite living in an area with a different zip code). My grandmother brought a homemade bread pudding to a holiday gathering. I don’t remember much about that dessert except no one really expected a bread pudding to make an appearance. But she made it because that is what sounded good to her. I can appreciate that!

Savory Bread Pudding

I can also appreciate this savory bread pudding. Up until now, I had only considered the dish as a type of dessert. As it turns out, this was not all that bright on my part since my mom has made what essentially amounts to a savory bread pudding to enjoy on Christmas morning for as long as I can remember. Except we call it a casserole. Ah, semantics.

Her traditional bread pudding, a.k.a. egg  casserole, uses a loaf of white bread and features cheddar and ham. This savory bread pudding uses a baguette and features the flavors of Gruyere and vegetables. I can happily report it is rather delicious. The flavors meld together so nothing is overpowering. What’s more, the dish is filling without feeling too heavy.

Savory Bread Pudding

 

I do not have much experience with bread puddings, but given they do not require a whole lot of technical expertise, and they make use of my favorite food (bread), I anticipate making a few more in the future.

If you are in a sweet mood, click on over for a Tiramisu Bread Pudding or a S’mores Bread Pudding recipe.  If you are in the Charlotte area and want to order a good bread pudding, the best I’ve tasted thus far is over at Fran’s Filling Station. Until the next sweet treat, enjoy a Savory Saturday!

Savory Bread Pudding

Savory Bread Pudding
 
Author:
Recipe type: Side
Ingredients
  • 4 eggs
  • 1½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1½ teaspoons thyme leaves
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2½ cups milk
  • 2 cups grated cheese (Gruyere preferred)
  • 1 stale baguette
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • ½ large red onion
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1 package frozen spinach, thawed
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
Instructions
  1. Cut a stale baguette into 1-inch cubes. You should have about 8 cups of cubed bread. If the bread is not stale, simply dry it on a sheet pan in the oven at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes.
  2. In a medium bowl, lightly beat the eggs with the mustard, thyme leaves, salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper.
  3. Whisk in the milk and the cheese.
  4. Placed the bread cubes in a large bowl, then pour the liquid mixture over the bread. Stir to coat, and allow the mixture to soak into the bread for 15-30 minutes. You may need to stir the bread a few times as it soaks.
  5. While the bread soaks, prepare the vegetables.
  6. Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.
  7. Saute the chopped onion and mushrooms until soft, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about one more minute.
  8. Stir the cooked onion and mushroom mixture and the thawed spinach into the soaked bread. Be sure to squeeze as much water out of the spinach as possible before stirring it into the bread.
  9. Use the remaining tablespoon of olive oil to grease a 9 x 13 dish. Pour the bread and vegetable mixture into the prepared dish.
  10. Bake at 375 degrees F for 45 minutes. The bread will be browned and the mixture bubbling when it comes out of the oven.
Notes
This dish can be prepared up to one day in advance. Simply refrigerate the mixture until ready to bake.
 

Chocolate Chip Cookies of the Cornflakes & Marshmallows Variety

Cornflake Chocolate Chip Marshmallow Cookie

The email came in with the subject line, “A Cookie That’ll Send You to Rehab.‏” That meant it was going to be good. As good as something like Crack Pie perhaps. And since the Cornflake Chocolate Chip Marshmallow Cookie recipe was written by the same person responsible for the Crack Pie, I believed in the subject line. That and the fact pretty much anything has me at marshmallows.

Imagine the sadness I experienced when the first batch came out burnt to a crisp after a dip in oven much shorter than the recommended 18-ish minutes. So I tried again…and again…and again. And time after time after time I failed. What the heck?

Don’t get me wrong, the cookies were edible. If you like an overwhelming flavor of salt in your sweets and burnt edges to your cookies, that is. And if you like super thin cookies, these may very well send you to rehab.

In all seriousness though, I did eat a few of these cookies simply because they fascinated me. There was so much about them that could have gone right. Yet in actuality, so much went wrong. Why?

Cornflake Chocolate Chip Marshmallow Cookies

First off, I think the 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt is too much.If you can get past the salt, or decide to reduce its amount, you will likely find the cookies have a delightful toffee-like taste. I certainly did. And if you can get the occasional cookie with a marshmallow toasted just right, your mind will be instantly transported to a summer campfire where the perfect marshmallows are roasted over red hot coals.

Secondly, though the recipe cautions, “Do not bake room-temperature disks — they will not hold their shape”, that was not enough to prevent near-paper-thin cookies. I say heck with refrigerating the disks of dough and freeze those babies. That definitely helped the cookies hold their shape, and as a lone chick in the kitchen, I could bake just one or two at a time throughout the week for perfect portions.

Admittedly, as a weekend baker who is just barely beyond the rank of a kitchen novice, I have zero credibility to criticize a recipe provided by Christina Tosi of Momofuku’s Milk Bar. The woman’s won a James Beard award for heaven’s sake. Yet here I am, winner of nothing more prestigious than a coloring contest, criticizing her recipe.

But I write what I experience. A lot of the time I hear people say how they can’t cook or they can’t bake. And after cookies like this, I see why. If this is the first thing I ever baked, then I would probably quit too! But I am evidence that you should not quit.

Cornflake Chocolate Chip Marshmallow Cookies

Whenever I hear someone say they like my cookies but they cannot bake, I think, “but all I did was follow the instructions.” And when you have good instructions – i.e. a well-written recipe – your food will turn out. I am convinced of it.

If I ever get around to trying these cookies again, I will most certainly reduce the salt and likely the fat to see if that helps reduce the cookies’ spread. But getting around to these cookies again is a pretty big if.

As I was taking their pictures, I thought to myself, “you know, these cookies are like the teenage boys of cookies.” They try to be cool, but really, they are just full of nonsense. With plenty of other delicious cookie recipes in the world, I just don’t know that it’s worth putting up with the nonsense to try these again. Maybe you can prove me wrong.

Cornflake Chocolate Chip Marshmallow Cookies

Cornflake Chocolate Chip Marshmallow Cookie
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 15-20
Ingredients
  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 1¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ⅔ cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 egg
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1½ cup flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1½ teaspoon salt*
  • 3 cups Cornflake Crunch (see notes below)
  • ⅔ cup mini chocolate chips
  • 1¼ cup mini marshmallows
Instructions
  1. Cream the butter and sugars together on medium speed for 2-3 minutes.
  2. Add the egg and vanilla and beat 7-8 minutes.
  3. Reduce speed to low and add the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix just until dough comes together, no longer than 1 minute, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  4. Still on low speed, add in cornflakes and chocolate chips until just incorporated, about 30-45 seconds.
  5. Add in the marshmallows.
  6. Place ⅓ cup of dough at a time onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Gently pat the tops of dough domes flat.
  7. Wrap pan in plastic wrap and refrigerate** for at least 1 hour or up to 1 week. (Do not bake the dough at room temperature as the cookies will not hold their shape.)
  8. When ready to bake, arrange the chilled disks at least 4 inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  9. Bake at 375 degrees F until cookies are browned on edges and just beginning to brown toward the center. This could take anywhere from 12-18 minutes. The cookies will puff, crackle, and spread as they bake.
Notes
To make the Cornflake Crunch 5 cup cornflakes ½ cup milk powder 3 tablespoons sugar 1 teaspoon salt 9 tablespoons butter, melted In a medium bowl, crush cornflakes to about a quarter of their original size. Add the milk powder, sugar, and salt to the bowl and mix. Add the melted butter and toss to coat. The mixture will form into small clusters. On a parchment-lined sheet pan, spread clusters and bake at 275 F for 20 minutes. When done, the clusters should appear slightly toasted and smell buttery. Allow to cool completely using. "Stored in an airtight container at room temperature, the crunch will keep fresh for one week; in the fridge or freezer, it will keep with one month." This yields about 4 cups, and the cookie recipe calls for 3 cups. I threw my leftovers into some Rice Krispie treats. *I wrote the cookie recipe as seen in my original copy, but I strongly recommend reducing the salt by ½ to 1 teaspoon. **I also strongly recommend freezing the dough rather than refrigerating. At room temperature, cookies will keep fresh for 5 days; in the freezer, they will keep for 1 month.
 

Once in a Blue Moon Cupcakes

Blue Moon Cupcakes

As a little girl, I once looked up at a sliver of a moon and pointed out the moon was broke. As a big girl, I like to drink Blue Moon. Some may argue my tastebuds are broke.

Since today marks the first blue moon in nearly three years, I thought it fitting to kick off the long weekend with cupcakes and beer. Cheers!

Blue Moon Cupcakes

 

Blue Moon Cupcakes

Blue Moon Cupcakes

Blue Moon Cupcakes

 

Once in a Blue Moon Cupcakes
 
Author:
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • For the Cupcakes
  • 1⅓ cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup Blue Moon beer
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon orange extract
  • 1 orange, zested
  • For the Frosting
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ⅓ cup water
  • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 2 egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon orange extract*
Instructions
  1. Whisk together the flour with the baking powder, baking soda, and salt and set aside.
  2. Cream the sugar and butter in a mixing bowl.
  3. Add the vanilla extract, the orange extract and the orange zest to the butter and sugar.
  4. Add the dry flour mixture and the beer and milk to the mixing bowl in three alternating additions, starting and ending with the flour.
  5. Fill the wells of a muffin tin lined with papers about ¾ full with batter.
  6. Bake at 350 F for 20-22 minutes. A toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake will come out clean when done, and the tops of the cupcakes will spring back lightly when touched.
  7. To make the frosting, combine the sugar, water and cream of tartar in a saucepan over medium heat.
  8. Heat until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture bubbles.
  9. While the sugar mixture heats up, beat the egg whites, vanilla extract and orange extract until soft peaks form.
  10. Very slowly add the hot sugar mixture to the mixing bowl. (Go slow so you don't cook your egg whites). Continue to beat until stiff peaks form.
Notes
The frosting recipe listed above is beyond plenty for 12 cupcakes. I would recommend halving the ingredient amounts listed.