Bread pudding duo sm

Broccoli, ham and cheddar (top) and pear-cranberry bread (bottom) puddings

Who doesn’t love bread pudding? It is warm, comforting, inexpensive and incredibly easy to prepare. It also makes for a great last-minute or make-ahead brunch or dessert dish, as you can have the ingredients prepped in no time and either throw it together and pop it right into the oven, or let it sit in the refrigerator overnight and bake it off in the morning.

With the following basic base recipe for bread pudding, you’re free to experiment with all sorts of sweet and/or savory combinations. I’ve also listed recipes for both a sweet and a savory bread pudding using the base recipe. I usually use French or Cuban bread, but if you’re feeling extra naughty (and not counting calories) challah bread and croissants make a great substitute. Heck, I’ve seen Paula Deen use a dozen Krispy Kreme doughnuts in her bread pudding!

The base recipe for bread pudding is all about the ratio and simple math. For a basic custard base, you’ll want to use a 2 to 1, milk to egg ratio. A large egg is about 2 ounces, so for every egg you use, you’ll need 4 ounces (1/2 cup) of milk. (And the ratio is the exact opposite if you’re ever making a quiche.) Instead of using just milk, sometimes I’ll do half milk and half heavy cream for a richer custard base. But if all of this math is too much for you, just follow my recipe below.
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Here are some more fun and delicious-looking recipes and articles that have caught my eye this past week; both from my site and from some pretty sweet-looking foodie blogs.

I have decided to finally put my fabulous new cast iron dutch oven to work. And what will be my inaugural dish? A take on this Beef Carbonnade stew from Epicurious with a few steps from The Joy of Cooking (a.k.a.: my favorite cookbook) thrown in. I’m using Fuller’s London Porter for the stewing liquid and adding a red bell pepper and potatoes to the rest of the veg in the stew. Stay tuned for pics and the recipe!

BabyCakes bakery in Downtown Disney: Vegan and gluten-free indulgence – My review of the new branch of NYC’s popular vegan bakery.

An unlikely pair: Cheese paired with coffee is a buzz for your taste buds – Our cheese guru, Kira, pairs different cheeses from various coffee blends from a local roaster. Be sure to check out her fab blog, Whey Cool Curds.

The Urban Daddy blog touts these Boozy Donuts, “warm donuts injected with some of your favorite cocktails.” Unfortunately, they can only be found at Flex Mussels in NYC and the recipe isn’t listed online. I smell a copycat recipe challenge.

Add to the ‘Want to Make’ list:

The Brazilian cocktail (Yum Sugar) – This South American-inspired drink is “one part healthy smoothie, one part fizzy spa cocktail.” And, no, it’s not named after the popular waxing technique.

Baked Buffalo Chicken Nachos (How Sweet Is Is) – If buffalo chicken dip and nachos had a baby, this would be that dish. And it would be delicious. Easy game day fare! …even if you’ll just be watching the Puppy Bowl next Sunday.
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The rice cooker was a lifesaver when making sushi in culinary school (and that’s about the only time we were allowed to use a household appliance). I found it to be useful because cooking rice perfectly on the stove is not as easy as one would think (and I’m not talking about the boil-in-bag kind). Outside of class, those cookers are convenient if you eat rice frequently, but never suited my personal cooking needs, or piqued my interest. Until I was shown the way, at least.

I was scrolling through my Google feeds — packed with various food blog posts — and stumbled upon an article about rice cookers from the New York Times. What’s this?! Not only can it cook perfect rice, but it can steam, bake, saute, braise, simmer, poach and more?

Turns out, you can make a whole meal in this contraption, and it doesn’t even have to include rice! Of course, you can make rice-based dishes such as pilafs, Italian risotto, Indian biriyani, Thai curry dishes, Chinese fried rice, rice pudding, etc. But you can also cook other grains and legumes — barley, oats, quinoa, lentils, beans — great bases for soups and one-pot meals. If you simply switch the machine to “cook” and let it heat up, you can also saute and braise. For example, to braise baby back ribs: add your liquid and ingredients of choice, close the lid and switch it to “cook.” It’ll be done in less than an hour.
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bistro_burger

The weather here in the Tampa Bay area has been absolutely gorgeous lately, an has put me in the mood for some grilling action. I’ve had a hankering for a big juicy burger for ages, but I wanted to try something different than a plain old patty with American cheese on a boring bun.

I was at the book store and noticed the Sutter Home Build a Better Burger cook-off cookbook in the bargain section. It inspired me to create a gourmet burger of my own (and also reminded me that I had forgotten to enter last year, again). I didn’t find any one particular recipe that I wanted to use, but it got my creative juices flowing. Fortunately, being a foodie, I usually have all sorts of fancy cheeses, condiments, etc. in my fridge and pantry, so I decided to throw together a “bistro burger” (I thought that name sounded better than: “fancy-schmancy burger”).

Recipe after the break: (more…)

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