Tag Archives: bread

Raspberry-Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding

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Bread pudding is the oh so humble dish that is oh oh so good. I mean, who would think that a dish built around stale bread cubes could end up being so impressive. And bread pudding is just that; crusty bread that has been soaked in a rich egg and milk custard and baked. It can be made as is or you can make it fancy with the addition of fruit, chocolate or even nuts. You really can’t go wrong.

Bread pudding is one of my favorite ways to use up old bread. I am so lucky to have really good bread readily available here in Belgium. It tastes wonderful when it is still warm from the oven (which is how it is most often bought here). The bread is so good that it usually disappears before the end of the day but sometimes it doesn’t. And when it doesn’t bread pudding is on the menu for the next day.

I love combining fruit with chocolate so this bread pudding is one of my favorites to make. It can be served as either a dessert or a brunch dish. I’ve served it both ways and it has always been met with great appreciation around the table. Because the chocolate chips and raspberries are evenly distributed throughout the dish, you get a bit of their sweet and tangy goodness in every bite. It is really important to use fresh fruit; if raspberries aren’t in season strawberries or even bananas can be substituted. Just be sure to fold them in right before baking so their keep their texture and color.

RASPBERRY-CHOCOLATE CHIP BREAD PUDDING

1 day-old baguette, cut into 3/4-inch cubes

4 eggs, at room temperature

1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

3/4 tsp. vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

4 cups milk

1 cup fresh raspberries

1/2 cup miniature chocolate chips

Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

  • Lightly butter an 10 inch souffle dish. Add the bread cubes and spread them evenly throughout the dish.
  • In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, brown sugar, vanilla and salt until well blended.
  • Pour in the milk and whisk until combined.
  • Pour the mixture over the bread cubes. Let stand for at least 1 hour or cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate over night.
  • When you are ready to proceed, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. If you have refrigerated the bread mixture overnight, allow it to sit for 20 minutes at room temperature before proceeding.
  • Sprinkle the raspberries and chocolate chips over the top of the bread cubes and using a rubber spatula, gently fold them into the bread. You don’t want to break the berries but you do want them to be evenly distributed throughout the pudding.
  • Place the baking dish in the oven and bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center of the pudding comes out clean.
  • Serve warm or at room temperature dusted with the confectioners’ sugar.

Serves 8

 

Croque Monsieur, Madame & Provencal

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It’s Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion. If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing I want to do is cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat. The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries or have easy access to and allow you to put a real meal on the table in between 30 and 45 minutes. Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.

One sandwich served three different ways. Its a staple of French bistros and makes for the perfect snack, lunch or light dinner. Its a go-to dish that pleases just about everyone. And as such, it has become my own go-to dish to make at home as well as a reliable dish to order from restaurant menus. What it is? It’s a Croque Monsieur–or Madame or Provencal–if you like.

The concept is simple, take good quality ham and cheese, layer it on bread that has been brushed with bechamel sauce and grill it. Add a slice of tomato to make it Provencal or top it with a sunny side up to turn it into a Madam. It’s a sandwich that is meant to be eaten with a knife and fork and tastes perfect when washed down with a cool glass of Rose wine. Its so easy and so good. So go ahead and make yourself one tonight.

CROQUE MONSIEUR (or MADAME or PROVENCAL) 

To make the bechamel sauce:

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons all purpose flour

1 cup whole milk

Pinch of ground nutmeg

1 bay leaf

Salt & pepper to taste

  • Melt the butter in a small saucepan set over medium heat.
  • Add the flour and whisk for 1 minute.
  • Gradually whisk in the milk, then add the ground nutmeg and bay leaf.
  • Increase the temperature to high and  whisking constantly, boil until the sauce thickens, about 2 minutes.
  • Season with salt and pepper.

For the sandwiches:

4 slices white sandwich bread

4 ounces thinly sliced Black Forest ham

4 ounces sliced Gruyère cheese

1 tablespoon melted butter

1/4 cup grated Gruyère cheese

2 slices tomato (optional)

2 eggs, cooked sunny side up (optional)

  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  • Spread the bread slices with the bechamel sauce, making sure to extend the sauce all of the way to the edges.
  • Place two slices of bread, bechamel side up, on a parchment lined baking sheet.
  • Top with the ham and half of the cheese. Add the tomato, if using.
  • Top with the remaining slices of bread, bechamel side up, then top with the remaining cheese.
  • Bake the sandwiches until the cheese is brown and bubbling, about 10 to 15 minutes.
  • If you are making Croque Madams, cook the eggs in a hot skillet coated with non-stick cooking spray.
  • When the sandwiches are toasted, slide the eggs on top of the sandwiches and serve immediately.

Serves 2

 

Asparagus w/ Chorizo & Croutons

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It is Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion.  If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing you want to do to cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat.  The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries or have easy access to and allow you to put a real meal on the table in between 30 and 45 minutes.  Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.

I love asparagus for its mild, spring like flavor but in this dish, from the Smitten Kitchen, this wonderful vegetable takes on a whole new persona. The spices of Spanish chorizo sausage combines with crusty croutons, crunchy almonds and tender white beans and the asparagus in a surprisingly flavorful and definitely interesting dish. Trust me on this one, the combination of ingredients might seem a bit odd but the results are out of this world. Plus the dish is fast to make. So fast and easy that it just might be one of my favorite Fast Friday dishes yet. So try it for yourself before the asparagus is gone for the season. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

ASPARAGUS w/ CHORIZO & CROUTONS

1 pound thick asparagus
1/4 cup olive oil
6 ounces Spanish chorizo cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1 1/2 cups French bread croutons cut into 3/4 inch peices
1/4 cup whole almonds
1 cup cooked beans
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • Snap off the tough ends of each asparagus stalk and cut into 3 or 4 pieces.
  • Heat the oil in a large skillet set over medium-high heat. When the oil shimmers, add the chorizo and saute for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the asparagus, croutons, almonds and salt and pepper. Stir well.
  • Cover and sauté over high heat for 5 to 6 minutes (thinner asparagus might be done sooner), tossing or stirring the mixture a few times, so it browns and cooks on all sides.
  • Add the beans and season with additional salt and pepper if needed.
  • Toss and cook for an additional 2 minutes or until the beans are heated through.
  • Serve immediately.

Serves 4

 

Fondue Neuchateloise

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Its national cheese fondue day so what better way to celebrate than with a piping hot pot of melted cheese and wine? (Actually, any night is a great one for fondue). Fondue was trendy in America back in the 1970s then seemed to fall out of favor for many years. But we love fondue in our house and are it regularly before it became trendy again. But here in Belgium, where fresh French Bread, crisp German Reisling wine and Swiss cheeses are all readily available, making this dish is a natural.

FONDUE NEUCHATELOISE

1 pound shredded cheese (I use a variety of Jarlsberg, Emmenthaler, and Greuyer)

3 tablespoons flour

1 garlic clove

1 3/4 cups dry Reisling wine

1/4 cup kirsch

salt & pepper to taste

  • Dredge the shredded cheese in flour.  I like to use a large Ziploc bag to combine everything.
  • Rub the inside of a fondue pot with sliced garlic.
  • Slowly heat the Reisling in the pot until small bubbles form.
  • Add the cheese, a handful at a time, until the cheese melts, stirring well after each addition.
  • Keep mixing until the mixture bubbles slightly.
  • Add the kirsch and season with salt and pepper.
  • Remove from heat and keep warm on a table warmer while eating.

 

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Cannoli French Toast

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French toast is a breakfast and brunch favorite in my house. There is something about the simple ingredients of bread, eggs and milk that turn what should be a basic meal into something special. But why stop there? These pantry staples are just the jumping off point for endless possibilities of morning culinary fun.

Case in point is this stuffed French toast, adapted from the Noble Pig website that brings a touch of dessert to your morning meal without being overly sweet. The recipe is inspired by classic Italian cream filled dessert of cannoli. I’ve used my own cannoli filling recipe, infused with lemon zest and a touch of Grand Marnier. And to complete the dish, and give you a serving of fruit, I’ve topped the French toast with some of the juicy fresh strawberries that are just beginning to appear in my local markets.

CANNOLI FRENCH TOAST

1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar plus more for dusting

1 cup ricotta cheese

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

Pinch nutmeg

3 eggs

1/2 cup milk

1 teaspoon Grand Marnier, other orange liqueur or vanilla extract

12 slices sandwich bread, crusts removed

1 cup sliced strawberries

  • Sift confectioners’ sugar into a small bowl, then stir in ricotta cheese, lemon zest and nutmeg.
  • In a shallow dish (a cake pan works well), beat the eggs, milk and Grand Marnier.
  • Trim the crusts off 12 slices of sandwich bread and using a rolling pin, roll out the bread to flatten.
  • Place 6 slices of bread on a flat surface then add 1 tablespoon of the ricotta cheese mixture to the center of each slice. Top with the remaining 6 slices of bread.
  • Heat a large non-stick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium heat.
  • Working in batches, dip the stuffed bread slices in the egg mixture and transfer to the skillet.
  • Cook, turning once, until puffed and golden, about 3 minutes.
  • Dust with more confectioners’ sugar and top with the sliced strawberries before serving.

Serves 6

Fondue Neuchateloise

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What better way to ring in the new year then with good friends and a bubbling pot of cheese fondue. We love fondue in our house and made it special (and ordinary) occasions before it became trendy again. But here in Belgium, where fresh French Bread, crisp German Reisling wine and Swiss cheeses are all readily available, making this dish is a natural. So in honor of New Years, here’s our old family recipe.

Happy 2015. May the new year be filled with health, happiness and lots of good food!

FONDUE NEUCHATELOISE

1 pound shredded cheese (I use a variety of Jarlsberg, Emmenthaler, and Greuyer)

3 tablespoons flour

1 garlic clove

1 3/4 cups dry Reisling wine

1/4 cup kirsch

salt & pepper to taste

  • Dredge the shredded cheese in flour.  I like to use a large Ziploc bag to combine everything.
  • Rub the inside of a fondue pot with sliced garlic.
  • Slowly heat the Reisling in the pot until small bubbles form.
  • Add the cheese, a handful at a time, until the cheese melts, stirring well after each addition.
  • Keep mixing until the mixture bubbles slightly.
  • Add the kirsch and season with salt and pepper.
  • Remove from heat and keep warm on a table warmer while eating.

 

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Buttermilk Potato Sandwich Buns

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There is nothing better than the aroma of homemade bread filling the house.  Unfortunately, many people shy away from baking their own bread because of the time or the intimidation factor.  In reality, neither needs to be the case.  With a little planning fresh-baked bread can be a regular part of your home cooking regime.

These rolls are an adaptation of a King Arthur Flour rosemary potato roll recipe.  I think the addition of buttermilk adds a nice tang to the dough but you can also use regular powdered milk.   As an added bonus, the dough only needs to rise for 45 minutes so these are a relatively “quick” yeasted dough recipe.  The dough will be very soft and sticky so be sure to have extra flour ready before you transfer the dough to a work surface.  These rolls are  soft and the perfect base for any of your favorite sandwiches.  (My personal favorite is as the base of a honey-soy pulled pork sandwich).

BUTTERMILK POTATO SANDWICH BUNS

1 1/4 cups water

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons dried buttermilk powder

1/2 cup dried potato flakes

1 tablespoon sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon cornmeal

1 egg, lightly beaten

2 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons Artisan Bread Topping (optional)

  • Place the water, olive oil, flour, dried buttermilk powder, dried potato flakes, sugar, salt and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook.
  • Turn on the mixer and stir until the dough comes together and is smooth and elastic, 7 to 10 minutes.
  • When the dough is smooth, transfer it to a well floured work surface and fold it over several times in order to expel any excess carbon dioxide.
  • Divide the dough in to 12 even pieces and allow to relax for 10 minutes before proceeding.
  • Roll each piece of dough into 1 10-inch rope then coil (like a sleeping snake), and tuck in the end so that it pokes up through the middle.
  • Place the rolls about 2 inches apart on a baking sheet that has been lightly dusted with the 1 tablespoon of cornmeal.
  • Cover with greased plastic wrap and allow to rise for 45 minutes or until they have doubled in size.
  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  • Brush the tops of the risen rolls with the beaten egg then sprinkle lightly with the salt and Artisan Bread Topping, if using.
  • Bake the rolls in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until they are golden brown.
  • Remove them from the oven and allow to cool completely before serving.

Yields: 12 rolls

Roasted Red Pepper Bread

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The dough for this bread comes from the Noblepig.com blog.  I first made this recipe with a gouda and prosciutto version of a bread I found on their website.   I loved how easy and quickly the bread dough came together with my only utensil being a wooden spoon to mix the dough.  (No Kitchen Aid stand mixer required).  Loving the texture and flavor of the bread I decided to experiment with other fillings.  After trying several options, roasted red peppers, with their sweet but slightly smoky flavor, is my favorite. The bread is great warm on its own or makes a great accompaniment for a hearty soup.

The recipe produces two good sized loafs.  Because the dough can be refrigerated, you can save half of the dough for a later use. Simply cover tightly and refrigerate for up to four days until ready to use.  If you do this you can have a mid-week loaf of fresh bread without the work.

ROASTED RED PEPPER BREAD
 
2 tablespoons granulated yeast
3 cups lukewarm water
5 1/2 cups bread flour, plus more for dusting
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 large red bell peppers
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon yellow cornmeal
 
  • Add the yeast to a large ceramic bowl.  Pour in the warm water and stir to combine with a wooden spoon.  Add the flour and salt.
  • Mix with the wooden spoon until the flour and salt are fully wet.
  • Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place to rise for at least 3 hours.  After 3 hours place the dough in the refrigerator overnight.
  • To roast the peppers:  Preheat a grill to high and place the peppers directly on the grill.  Rotate them as they char until all of their surfaces are blackened.  Remove from the heat and allow to cool.  When they are cool enough to handle, slice them open, remove the seeds, and cut into thin strips.
  • When ready to bake the bread, place a metal baking pan on the bottom rack of the oven.  Fill it with water.
  • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  • Meanwhile, butter the bottom of an 11 x 17 inch baking tray and sprinkle the cornmeal over the butter to prevent the break from sticking.
  • Divide the dough into two even loaves, shaping each into a ball then flattening with your hands to form discs.
  • Brush each dish with the olive oil then evenly sprinkle the roasted peppers over the flat surface of each piece of dough.
  • Bring the sides of each disc together enveloping the peppers into the center of the ball.  Pinch the edges together to form a seam and prevent the peppers from escaping their envelope.
  • Place on the baking tray, seam side down, several inches apart.  Sprinkle the dough generously with flour.
  • Let rest on the baking tray for 30 minutes.  Right before placing in the oven, score the top of the
  • bread with an “x” or other decorative mark, cutting right through the dough.9)  Bake for 30 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let cool 15 minutes before slicing.
Yields 2 loaves

Banana Praline French Toast Casserole

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Breakfast and brunch are my favorite meals but it is often to hectic in the morning for me to cook a full and satisfying meal.  Weekends provide ample opportunity but I am often torn between wanting to just sit and enjoy my coffee and feeling up for the challenge of whipping up a full meal.  The solution?  Enter the breakfast casserole.  Whether sweet or savory, all of the work is done the night before with the only morning requirement being preheating the oven.  It doesn’t get much easier than this.

BANANA PRALINE FRENCH TOAST CASSEROLE

For the French Toast:

1 loaf crusty French bread

7 eggs

1 1/2 cups whole milk

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

3/4 cup sugar

2 bananas, sliced

2 tablespoons vanilla extract

For the topping:

1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon salt

8 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces

  • Lightly coat a 9 x 13 inch baking pan with cooking spray.  Tear or cut the bread into bite sized chunks and place in the prepared pan.
  • In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, cream, sugar, and vanilla.
  • Carefully fold in the banana slices then pour over the top of the bread taking care to make sure everything is submerged in the liquid.
  • Cover tightly and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
  • In a small bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, pecans, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.
  • Add the butter and toss to coat.  Cover and store in the refrigerator.

When you are ready to proceed:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Remove the casserole from the refrigerator and evenly sprinkle the crumb mixture over the top.
  • Bake, uncovered for 50 minutes.
  • Allow to cool for 5 minutes then serve topped with additional butter and maple syrup.

Serves 12

Apple & Cheddar Bread Pudding

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As a New England native no slice of apple pie is complete unless it is accompanied by a wedge of sharp Cheddar cheese.  In my opinion, the sweet-savory pairing of the apples and cheese is a natural fit.  In wanting to bring this flavor combination to my brunch table I decided to introduce the apples to a favorite bread pudding.  After all, if apples and cheese are as good together as bread and cheese are, the combination of the three is a sure winner.  And I was right.

The pudding is an adaptation of Paula Lambert’s Gouda Bread Pudding.  It is neither too savory nor too sweet making it the perfect brunch dish.  If you are short of time in the morning, you can prep the ingredients the night before and allow the bread to soak in the custard overnight.  In the morning all you will need to do is assemble the pudding layers while the oven pre-heats. It doesn’t get much easier or faster than this.  The pudding can be part of a larger meal but we like it accompanied by crispy fried bacon and a seasonal fruit salad.

APPLE-CHEDDAR BREAD PUDDING

4 eggs
2 cups milk
1/2 cup creme fraiche or sour cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 baguette
2 tablespoons butter
2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
2 large firm apples, peeled and coarsely shredded
1/4 dark brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • Break the eggs into a large mixing bowl.  Add the milk, creme fraiche or sour cream, and salt and whisk until well combined.
  • Cut the baguette in half, then cut it into quarters and finally into 1-inch cubes.  Add the bread to the egg mixture and toss to combine.  Leave to soak up the liquid at least 10 minutes.
  • Squeeze out any excess liquid and place the shredded apple in a small bowl.  Sprinkle with the brown sugar and nutmeg and gently toss to combine.
  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Generously butter an 8-inch to 10-inch casserole or souffle dish.
  •  Transfer 1/3 or the soaked bread to the casserole and sprinkle 1/4 of the cheese on top.  Add 1/3 of the apple mixture.  Repeat layering the bread, cheese, and apple until the casserole is filled.  You should have 3 or 4 layers of bread and cheese.
  • Pour any remaining egg mixture over the bread.  Finish by sprinkling the remaining cheese in a thick layer on top.
  • Transfer to the oven and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the bread pudding has puffed up in the center and the top is crusty and brown.  Serve hot.
Serves 6
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