Sunday, January 16, 2011

Savory Bread Pudding

Remember the Easy Bake Oven?  I loved that thing growing up.  What a great idea; independent cooking for kids.  You didn't have to ask Mom to open the oven for you or help you stir thick batter.  You just opened a little pouch of mix, added a couple tablespoons of water, got out a cereal spoon, and viola, ready to be poured into a cake pan the size of an English muffin, and put into the Easy Bake Oven to be cooked by the heat of a light bulb.  Ten minutes later and you were enjoying a thumbprint-sized cookie or a small mouthful of cake.  Yum!  Once I tried to create my own recipe.  I put some strips of raw potato in hoping to net a few french fries.  I got distracted and came back to three charred inedible black potato strips.  My Mom kindly showed me how to use the timer to "remind" myself to check the oven.  This memory came back to me as I pulled my bread pudding out of the oven and thought, hmm, a little browner than I had intended.  Glad I caught it before it got too dark. 

We ate this for dinner, and really enjoyed it.  It would also make an excellent dish for a brunch or Sunday breakfast.  It's so versatile too.  You could add any number of different vegetables and/or some chirizo or bacon if you feel the need for some meat.  Just do yourself a favor and set the timer!

From Edible Santa Barbara, Winter 2010

 3/4 loaf or about 1/2 pound of day-old bread
4 eggs
2 Cups whole or skim milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
black pepper
4 ounces grated cheese (Gruyere or cheddar)
1/4 Cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
Olive oil
1 onion or 2-3 leeks, white portion only, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1 small bunch of chard (or kale, or any other green), stems removed and leaves cut into thin slices
1/4 grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cut bread into 1-inch cubes to loosely fill an 8-inch souffle dish or 2 quart baking dish.  In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk.  Add the dry mustard, salt, and pepper.  Add the bread cubes and combine until bread is thoroughly moistened.  Stir in the grated cheese and chopped parsley and set aside.  

In a saute pan over medium heat, add enough olive oil to lightly coat the bottom.  Add the onions, garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until softened.  Add the greens and a little salt.  Reduce heat, cover and cook until greens are tender, 5 to 15 minutes depending on the thickness of the leaves.  Add a little water to the pan if it dries out.

Place half of the bread mixture in the baking dish, then add the greens and onion mixture.  Then add the remaining bread mixture.  Top with the grated Parmesan cheese.  Bake for 45 minutes or until pudding is set and lightly browned on top.  Let sit for a few minutes before serving.          

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