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Incredibly Delicious Bread Pudding

29 Nov

bread pudding with croissants

If you’re looking for a good dessert recipe for a holiday potluck, you’ve hit the jackpot.

This is an incredibly delicious bread pudding. I don’t make it often because it’s so rich; it’s in my recipe book as “Incredibly Rich Bread Pudding.” In fact, I think Thanksgiving weekend was the first time I made it because there would be a big crowd at the table and there wouldn’t be any leftovers.

I first experienced this dish at a potluck, where I ate much more of it than I should have. The recipe was originally from the a Barefoot Contessa cookbook by Ina Garten, where it is called Croissant Bread Pudding; I got the recipe from the guest who brought it, but every time I considered making it for a home meal, even with company, I’d look at the ingredients and say, “Nah, I just can’t do it!” because it’s that rich and fattening.

I tried making it with less calorific ingredients, like 2% milk instead of half & half, and regular bread instead of croissants, but it just wasn’t the same.

I’m giving you the recipe as I received it. I did make a couple of minor adjustments when I made it. I had large, not extra-large, eggs, so I used nine yolks instead of eight (but kept the original three whole eggs). I bought a quart of half & half, something I rarely use, so for the fifth cup I used lowfat milk.

I used an electric mixer to whiz the eggs, sugar, vanilla and half & half.

When you put the croissants in the pan (I used minis), you will probably have a few that don’t fit as halves. This is fine; break them up and stuff the pieces into bare spaces between the halves.

The recipe calls for a 10 x 15-inch pan. Mine was 9 x 13 and it worked fine. (I needed my larger baking pan for the water bath!)

It took closer to an hour to bake, possibly because I used a slightly smaller pan than the recipe called for.

This was a big hit at the Saturday-after-Thanksgiving dinner — and there wasn’t a crumb left over!

Ingredients:

3 extra large whole eggs
8 extra large egg yolks
5 cups half & half (you can use some milk if you don’t have that much cream)
1½  cups sugar
1½ tsp. pure vanilla extract
6 large croissants or 12 minis (preferrably day old)
1 cup dark raisins or dried cherries

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Whisk the eggs and yolks, sugar, half and half, and vanilla in a medium bowl. Set this custard mixture aside.

Slice croissants in half horizontally. In a 10 x 15-inch baking dish, distribute the bottoms of the croissants, then add the raisins, then the tops of the croissants.  Be sure the raisins are down inside, as they will burn if they surface while baking. Pour the custard over the croissants and allow it to soak in. Press the croissants many times to insure that they soak up the mixture. Do this for 10 minutes.

Place the casserole into an even larger dish (or a disposable aluminum pan) that you will fill with a few inches of hot water to create a bath.

Place an aluminum foil sheet in a tent-like shape over the entire top of both pans; this allows the pudding to steam. Cut a few holes in the foil to allow some steam to escape.

Bake for 45 minutes or until the pudding puffs up and the custard is set, not jiggly.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

 Serves 8-10 

 

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Maple-Sumac Roasted Walnuts

22 Oct

maple-sumac-walnuts.jpgHere’s a nice, easy recipe that is in the latest issue of Cooking Light, where it was a staff favorite. It would be great as a snack at holiday parties or as a hostess gift. It’s also good as a salad topping if you break the walnuts up a bit. You can get sumac in a Middle Eastern grocery or online. If you can’t find it or don’t like it, you can substitute lemon rind.

Ingredients:

4 cups raw walnuts (about 12 oz.)
⅓ cup pure maple syrup
¼ cup raw white sesame seeds
2 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 tsp. ground red pepper (optional)
½ tsp. ground black pepper
1½ tsp. kosher salt, divided
1 Tbs. ground sumac

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Place walnuts on a rimmed baking sheet or in a large ovenproof skillet. Add maple syrup, sesame seeds, olive oil and red pepper (if desired). Sprinkle with black pepper and 1 tsp. salt and toss until evenly combined.

Roast, stirring occasionally, until walnuts are golden brown and maple syrup is caramelized, 15 or 20 minutes.

Remove from heat and immediately sprinkle with sumac and remaining ½ tsp. salt, tossing to coat.

Let cool at least 10 minutes before serving.

Serves 18

Tuscan Bean Salad

18 Oct

bean salad Tuscan

My daughter made a salad similar to this this for Sukkot, when we were visiting with her family in New Jersey. I didn’t have a chance to get her recipe when I needed to make it for a potluck, so I went online and found this recipe from Wegman’s, the wonderful grocery store we got to know so well last summer when we were at Chautauqua.

Miriam’s recipe and the Wegman’s recipe call for prepared pesto that you can buy in the grocery. But I had some homemade pesto from last year’s basil harvest in my freezer, and this was a perfect way to use it.

The Wegman’s recipe also called for Wegman’s basting oil, which is a terrific product we tried over the summer. It’s olive oil infused with a variety of herbs and is very tasty. But I didn’t have any, and there’s no Wegman’s in Michigan. If you happen to have this  product on hand, use it instead of the olive oil, garlic and oregano in the recipe.

The recipe also calls for green and red pepper. I don’t like green pepper so I used a mixture of orange, red and yellow peppers. Feel free to use any kind of pepper.

You can also play around with the ingredients, adding black or kalamata olives or sliced artichokes if you like.

You can cook the barley ahead of time since it needs to cool before you mix it up with everything else.

The salad is good after a few hours but it’s even better a day or two later, when the beans have had a chance to soak up all the herb flavors.

(Note: after making this and letting it sit for a few days, I felt it was a little dry, so I added more of the dressing ingredients. Twice as much was too much; just a little more would probably be just right. And the full recipe made a LOT. In future I will use about three-quarters the amount of dressing but only half of everything else, unless I’m making it for a big crowd, in which case I will add about 25 percent more dressing. If you like a rather dry salad, stick to the original amounts; it’s still very flavorful!)

Ingredients:

1 cup pearled barley
2 cans (15½ oz. each) great northern beans, drained and rinsed
2 cans (15½ oz. each) garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 red, orange or yellow pepper (or use two different colored half-peppers), cut in ¼ -inch dice
3 or 4 green onions, sliced thin (or use half a medium red onion, cut in ¼ -inch dice)
7 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped (about ½ cup)
3 Tbs. chopped fresh parsley (or 1 Tbs. dried parsley)
⅓ cup prepared pesto
⅓ cup white or red wine vinegar
3 Tbs. Wegman’s basting oil (or use 3 Tbs. olive oil and ¼ tsp. garlic powder and ¼ tsp. oregano)
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Bring barley and 2½ cups water to boil on high heat in large saucepan. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes until barley is tender. Drain and rinse with cold water.

Combine barley, beans, pepper, onions, dried tomatoes and parsley in a large bowl.

In a smaller bowl, combine the pesto, vinegar, oil and salt and pepper and mix well. Pour the dressing over the barley and bean mixture and mix well.

Refrigerate at least 4 hours before serving.

Serves 12

 

Sweet Potato Breakfast Casserole

26 Sep

IMG_3143

Here’s another breakfast recipe that was a big hit during our summer as hosts at the Everett Jewish Life Center at Chautauqua Institution. It would be a great break-the-fast dish after Yom Kippur!

You can mix it up the night before and leave it covered in the fridge. Take it out at least 20 minutes before you want to bake it.

I made it several times. Once I used a package of Morningstar Farms Chipotle Black Bean Crumbles instead of the veggie sausage, and that was also good.  It was even easier because I didn’t have to thaw and crumble the sausage, just dump in the contents of the package.

Ingredients:

4 cups shredded sweet potatoes
4 oz. butter, melted
8 eggs
8 oz. vegetarian sausages (links or patties), thawed and crumbled
12 oz. shredded cheese (Cheddar, Mexican blend, Italian blend are all good)
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 cup finely sliced fresh spinach (or 1 10-oz. package frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry)
2 cups small curd cottage cheese

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Grease a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Mix the sweet potatoes and butter together and press into the pan, covering the bottom.

In a large bowl, blend the eggs well and mix in the sausage crumbles, cheese, onion, spinach and cottage cheese. Spoon over the sweet potato layer.

Bake about an hour until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes before serving.

Serves 8 to 12

 

Natty’s Glazed Honey Chiffon Cake

12 Sep

Honey glazed chiffon cake

Last year at this time I came across a wonderful website from Australia called the Monday Morning Cooking Club. They have a lot of great recipes on their website and have also published a cookbook, The Feast Goes On, available through Amazon.

One of their signature recipes is this delicious Glazed Honey Chiffon Cake. It’s lighter than the usual Rosh Hashanah honey cake because it uses tea instead of coffee as the liquid and calls for whipping the egg whites.

The club ladies gave me permission to use the recipe (I adapted it slightly to meet American standards and terms) and this photo of Natanya, one of their members.

Ingredients:

CAKE
6  eggs, separated
175 g (⅔ cup) superfine sugar
275 (¾ cup) honey
¾ cup light olive or grapeseed oil
¼ cup strong black tea
1½ cups all-purpose flour
¾ tsp. salt
2¼ tsp. baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda

GLAZE

80 g (½ cup) confectioners’ sugar
½ lemon, juiced (or 2 Tbs. lemon juice)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. You will need an angel cake (tube) pan that is not non-stick and has a removable base. Do not grease it.

Whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form. Slowly add half the sugar and continue whisking until the egg whites are stiff but not dry.

In a separate bowl, beat the yolks and the remaining sugar until light and pale. Add the oil and keep beating for a couple of minutes until well combined.

Sift the flour with the baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix the honey into the hot tea. Add these to the egg yolks, alternating wet and dry, beating gently until fully combined.

Gently fold the egg whites into the flour mixture with a metal spoon, until just mixed through.

Pour the mixture into the cake pan and bake for 50 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 320 degrees and bake for an additional 10 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.

After removing the cake from the oven, immediately invert it to cool by balancing the middle funnel onto a bottle neck. The cake will be dangling upside down. (If your tube pan has feet, or if the funnel is higher than the sides of the pan, you don’t have to use a bottle.)

When completely cool, run a knife around the outside of the cake and the funnel. Lift the base out of the pan, then use the knife to ease the cake off the base.

To make the glaze, add the lemon juice (a few drops at a time) to the confectioners’ sugar until you have a thick, smooth paste. Pour over the cooled cake.

Serves about 12

Asparagus/Mushroom Strata

30 Aug

 

asparagus mushroom strataDid you miss me? I was away the entire summer! My husband and I were the “host couple” at a guest house at the Chautauqua Institution in western New York, a magical place I can’t do justice to in a recipe blog.

Our duties as hosts at the Everett Jewish Life Center included making breakfast for the residents of the five guest rooms. Unlike many B&Bs, Everett has a tradition (which predated our tenure) to serve breakfast over an hour-and-a-half period. People wander in and out, which precludes serving omelets, pancakes or anything similar that would have to be ready at the same time for everyone. So I had to look for casserole-type hot dishes to serve buffet-style. I looked for recipes that I could mix up in the evening and leave in the fridge overnight, so all I had to do in the morning was pop it in the oven.

This one was a real hit. It combines asparagus and mushrooms, of course, but also eggs, milk and cheese, held together with a base layer of toasted English muffins. Try it the next time you need a brunch dish!

Ingredients:

2 Tbs. butter
1¾ cups sliced mushrooms
½ onion, finely chopped
½ cup chopped red or orange pepper
5 English muffins, split and toasted
2 cups shredded cheese
1 lb. fresh asparagus, cut in 1-inch pieces
8 eggs
2 cups milk
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. dry mustard powder
¼ tsp. ground black pepper
2 cups shredded cheese (Cheddar, Colby, Monterrey Jack)

Directions:

Spray a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with cooking spray.

Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat, and cook the mushrooms for five minutes. Add the onion and pepper and cook another 3 to 5 minutes until the vegetables are soft and the liquid has evaporated. Set aside.

Arrange 8 muffin halves in the baking dish, and stuff the spaces between the halves with pieces of the remaining muffin. Spread 1 cup of the cheese over the muffins, and distribute the asparagus pieces and the mushroom mixture over the cheese.

Whisk the eggs, milk, salt, mustard and black pepper together and pour over the muffins and vegetables. Spread the remaining cup of cheese over the vegetables. Cover the dish and refrigerate overnight.

Take the dish out of the refrigerator while you preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Remove the cover and bake the casserole for about 45 minutes until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting into squares.

Serves 8 to 10

Slow-Cooker Chicken Mole with Cilantro-Lime Rice

13 Jun

I have long been intrigued by chicken mole, that Mexican dish with the secret ingredients of cocoa and/or chocolate. But since I keep kosher, I have never been able to enjoy it at a restaurant. Not too long ago I saw this recipe in the Detroit Free Press, which seemed easy enough, despite the long list of ingredients, so I decided to give it a try.

A can of chipotle peppers contains about two-and-a-half or three peppers. I didn’t know what I would do with the rest so I threw in the whole can. Don’t do this unless you really like spice, which luckily I do! It tasted great, but it was up there on the heat level.

I went out and bought a great big bar of Trader Joe’s 70% cacao dark chocolate, which I love, only to realize at the last minute that it was certified as “dairy” for kashrut purposes, even though it didn’t contain milk other than possible “traces” (I’m guessing it was made on the same equipment as milk chocolate). So I substituted an ounce of parve (non-milk) semi-sweet chocolate chips, and that seemed to work fine.

Aside from having to measure lots of ingredients, this dish was easy to make, and it was a hit at the company dinner where I served it, in spite of the heat.

I was also serving brisket, so I made regular rice instead of the cilantro-lime rice. I’ll have to try that another time!

Ingredients:

1 cup chopped onion
½ cup raisins
1 canned chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, coarsely chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
3 Tbs. peanut butter, divided
1 can (15 oz.) crushed tomatoes
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground cumin
3 Tbs. cocoa powder
20 oz. skinless, boneless chicken breast
1 Tbs, cider vinegar
1 oz. dark chocolate (70-85% cacao)
½ tsp. salt
3 cups cooked brown rice
2 tsp. lime zest
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
6 lime wedges

Directions:

Place onion, raisins, chipotle pepper, garlic, 2 Tbs. peanut butter, crushed tomatoes, cinnamon, cumin and cocoa powder in slow cooker.

Add chicken breasts. Cover and cook on low setting for 7 hours. Turn off slow cooker.

Using two forks, pull chicken apart into shreds, then stir the chicken back into the sauce.

In a small bowl, combine the remaining 1 Tbs. peanut butter and vinegar and pour over the chicken. Add the chocolate and salt. Cover and allow chocolate to melt, 3 or 4 minutes. Stir to combine.

Prepare rice according to package directions, omitting salt. When rice is cooked, stir in cilantro and lime zest.

Put ½ cup of rice and ¾ cup of chicken on each plate, and garnish with a lime wedge.

Serves 6