Saturday, March 7, 2009

Highlights from the Past Few Weeks

Since I'm so behind, rather than bore everyone with whole posts about every meal I've made in the past few weeks, here are the highlights!

I love rice and beans. They're cheap, healthy, and packed with goodness. And, there are plenty of ways to dress them up. Rather than go my normal Mexican route here, I added some Indian spices for an almost Biryani rice and beans. Cook jasmine rice. Cook onions and garlic with your favorite selection of beans and add spices like curry powder, cumin, chili powder, etc. I also added mixed raisins and almonds, and had mango chutney on the side. Delish.

I barely even remember what I put in this salad. There was lettuce, grilled chicken, roasted beets, candied pecans, and parmesan cheese. And maybe pears. It had a lot going on, but tasted great.

Our favorite Italian restaurant, Sapore, is long gone, but I often miss their simply done pasta dishes. Here I tried to recreate one by making a spinach pesto and mixing it with ricotta.

A few years ago Evan and I took a cooking class at the Institute of Culinary Education. It was awesome, and one of the recipes that I was surprised to love and use often was for bread pudding. It's an incredible use for slightly stale bread - it turns it into a delectable dessert!

Almond Bread Pudding with Warm Bourbon Sauce
Adapted from ICE

Bread Pudding:
2 eggs 3/4 cup sugar
3 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract (I didn't have so just used extra tsp vanilla)
1/2 cup currants (I left this out)
1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
8 ounces stale French bread, sliced 1/2 inch thick (any loaf of bread will work, I used a baguette)

Warm Bourbon Sauce:
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
3 tablespoons half and half
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup bourbon

For the Bread Pudding:

In a bowl combine the eggs, sugar, milk, cream, butter, vanilla and almond extracts, currants, almonds, and nutmeg. Whisk to blend well. Put the bread slices in a large bowl and pour the egg mixture on top. Let stand, turning the bread as necessary, until the bread is soft and saturated with the custard mixture, about 30 minutes. Arrange the bread slices in 2 layers (I only did 1 layer) in a lightly greased 8-inch square or round baking dish and pour any unabsorbed custard mixture over the top of the bread. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, up to 2 hours. Preheat the oven to 350F. Bake the bread pudding until the custard is set and the top is lightly browned, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.

For the Warm Bourbon Sauce:
Combine the sugar, butter, and half and half in a medium saucepan over lw heat and cook, stirring frequently, until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat. In a smal bowl, stir 1/4 cup of the hot sauce with the egg yolk until well blended (this tempers the egg so you don't scramble it). Pour the mixture back in the pan with the remaining sauce, stirring constantly over medium-low heat. Remove from heat. Cool for about 5 minutes then stir in the bourbon to taste.

To Serve:
Place a piece of bread pudding on a plate and drizzle with the warm bourbon sauce. Whipped cream would be a nice substitute or addition as well.

1 comment:

Steph said...

that pesto looks amazing!! and chili fest sounded like a blast. can't wait to come next yr :)