Quick & Easy|
By Beverly Barbour
Good to the last crust
Waste not, want not! Throw not away that rusty, crusty last bit of bread. Wasting bread it is like throwing away not pennies but nickels and dimes, these days.
We can always turn dry bread into croutons or breadcrumbs of course. But before it gets rock hard bread can make itself useful.
If you have been holding onto the tail end of a baguette, cut it in thin slices and set it on a rack to dry out completely. Store it away in the freezer or a tight can or jar until you need something tasty to serve with a soup or a salad. Bring it forth and brush it with dipping oil or just with olive oil and herbs d'Provence, poppy or sesame seeds. When you are nearly ready to gather the gang around the table, toast your oiled slices in the oven or toaster oven. Delicious and they taste even better when you meditate about the price of crackers these days.
Oddly enough bread puddings have found their way onto the menus of some of the priciest restaurants in any town you care to name. I know that I have mentioned this before but my mother used to break up any leftover chocolate cake, brownies or cookies, mix with torn white bread in a greased casserole or baking pan and pour whole milk in just until you could see the milk. Into the oven it went. The bread and chocolate produces a puffy marbled pudding that leaves everyone asking for the "recipe." It's a bit embarrassing to give it to them.
Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding
This calls for Irish Cream liqueur but you could substitute whole milk, half-and-half, cream or chocolate syrup. Or, any nut- or chocolate-flavored liqueur.
3 whole eggs
In a large bowl whisk together eggs, yolks, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla until eggs are light and creamy. Stir in the liqueur, half-and-half and milk. Add bread and zest, making sure that the bread has been pushed down to completely immerse in the liquid. Let it stand at least an hour or overnight, stirring occasionally. Add chips, nuts, and coconut; stir well. Pour mixture into well-buttered loaf pan; stick small pieces of butter into the pudding; cover with foil and bake in a water bath at 325 F for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Remove the foil for last half hour. Cool for 2 hours, then unmold and cut into 8 slices.
Orange Sauce for Bread Pudding
You can add any orange liqueur such as Cointreau or Grand Marnier or just add the zest of a third orange instead.
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, strained
In a small bowl combine lemon juice and cornstarch to make a lump-free mixture; set aside. Over medium heat melt butter and sugar together; add zest and cook for 30 seconds. Then slowly whisk in orange juice and cloves; bring to a low simmer for about a minute and then whisk in lemon juice mixed with cornstarch (no lumps allowed), whisking constantly. When sauce is thickened, add vanilla and orange liqueur; simmer 30 seconds longer. Makes about 2 cups.
Dieter's Cheese Souffle
Bread replaces the butter and flour roux that most soufflés are based upon.
4 slices stale bread
Preheat oven to 325 F. Grease a 1 1/2 quart souffle dish or smaller ramekins. Crumble bread finely into large mixing bowl. Heat milk until almost simmering. Meanwhile, beat egg yolks. Remove milk from heat and whisk small amount into egg yolks. Gradually add egg mixture to remaining milk. Whisk in salt, mustard and cayenne pepper. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until slightly thickened. Remove from heat and stir in cheese and pimiento until cheese melts. Blend into bread. Beat egg whites until stiff, but not dry, peaks form. Thoroughly fold into bread mixture. Pour into baking dish(es). Bake 1 hour or until golden brown and firm to touch. Serve immediately. Serves 6.
Southern Bread Pudding with Whiskey Sauce
Bourbon is the whiskey of choice in most of the South. You use the sauce as a part of the pudding before baking, so you do need to make it first.
Sauce: Put butter and sugar into heavy saucepan over medium heat. Stir with a wooden spoon until butter melts, then stop stirring and continue cooking until syrup reaches 280 F on a candy thermometer (about 10 minutes). Remove pan from heat, stir in cream, whiskey, cashews, pecans and vanilla; set aside.
Pudding: Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter medium baking dish and set aside. Beat together milk, sugar, eggs, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt in a medium bowl. Soak bread slices in milk mixture, then fit them snugly in a single layer in prepared dish (you may have to squeeze slices together). Pour any remaining milk mixture over bread. Spoon two/thirds of the sauce over the bread and bake until crusty and brown, 45 to 50 minutes. Serve pudding with reserved sauce and top with whipped cream flavored with brown sugar, whiskey and vanilla. Makes 12 servings.
The proof is in the pudding (literally)!