We just got back from a much needed break at my in-laws farm in Virginia, this is where M grew up. We ate a lot of biscuits, had lunch with author Emily Nunn who wrote The Comfort Food Diaries (I strongly recommend, you should read this), pickled beets, fried chicken and casseroles.Read More
I couldn't be happier, you guys! I found out last night that I'm nominated in the Best Photo based Food Blog category at the International Association of Culinary Professionals for the 2016 awards that are to be held this April in Los Angeles! The past four years have been a blessing. They've been an amazing journey filled with fun and growing pains. From starting this blog to talking about food and through it, my experiences as an immigrant, to learning about photography but also just learning more about myself. I'm thankful for this blog and grateful, that you've been a part of my journey sharing the ups and downs along the way. Thank you!
What better way to celebrate this moment than with a childhood favorite, bread pudding! It took me a while to fathom that bread puddings are usually baked in the United States since my mother always steamed them whenever she made them at home and this is one dish she made often. I love both versions for different reasons. The American version, has a delicious crispy crust while the steamed version is soft and comforting. No matter what you look at it, bread puddings are one of the tastiest ways to use up leftover bread. I think it's the simplicity that makes it so appealing, a few ingredients with endless possibilities. Mom always uses vanilla extract and raisins and slices of milk bread. Bread pudding is breakfast converted to dessert and it's all about comfort.
This version is infused with dried chamomile flowers and long black pepper (which look like little pine cones). There's a creamy sauce that's infused with the spices and a sneaky helping of raisins in that give a burst of sweetness in each and every bite. This is a very simple recipe and you could modify and bake it if you wanted to. I use the bundt pan to steam the pudding and give it a more cake like shape which makes it a little fancier but again it's all up to you. Make it the way you want to and make sure to enjoy it!
A couple of kitchen notes that you might find useful when preparing this pudding;
- My recipe is loosely adapted from Mark Bittman's recipe in the New York Times. His recipe is baked while this is steamed.
- If you can't find long black pepper, you can easily sub 1/4 teaspoon of coarsely ground black pepper for the pudding and sauce, each.
- I use this bundt cake pan which is also a great pudding basin and you can order the cooling rack and steamer rack to go with it. I just use the cooling rack as the steamer rack all the time and it works perfectly. Another option is to use an English pudding basin like one of those pretty Mason Cash bowls but this bundt pan and it's lid remove all the extra work from making a good seal to prevent water from entering the pan.
- I don't use too much sugar in this recipe, as challah is pretty sweet to begin with and too much sugar masks the flavor of the chamomile and black pepper.
chamomile and long black pepper steamed bread pudding
yields: 6 to 8 servings
for the bread pudding
2 cups whole milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter + extra for greasing the pan
1/4 cup dried chamomile flowers
4 long black peppercorns, coarsely crushed
4 tablespoons sugar
6 cups challah bread cut into 2 inch cubes (an entire challah loaf)
2 large eggs
4 tablespoons raisins or sultanas
for the sauce
1 1/2 cups whole milk
2 tablespoons dried chamomile flowers
2 long black peppercorns, coarsely crushed
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons cornstarch
for the bread pudding
1. Place the milk, butter, chamomile, peppercorns and sugar in a thick bottomed medium-sized saucepan. Heat on medium-low heat stirring occasionally for about 2 minutes until the butter melts, then increase heat to medium-high and bring the contents to boil stirring constantly. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Once cooled strain the liquid and discard the solids using a fine mesh sieve.
2. While the milk is cooling, grease a 2 quart bundt pan with a little butter. Then place a layer of challah cubes and sprinkle a tablespoon of the raisins. Add another layer of bread and sprinkle the raisins. Repeat until you reach the top.
3. Lightly whisk the eggs into the cooled and strained milk mixture. Pour this liquid over the bread in the bundt pan. Cover the bundt pan with its lid and allow to sit for 10 minutes. Place a plate or a round cooling rack into a large stockpot, place the sealed bundt pan on top of the plate/rack. Pour enough tap water (at room temperature) to about 1 inch less than the height of the bundt pan. Place a heavy weight such as a bowl or plate over the bundt pan, cover the stockpot with a lid and heat the stockpot on medium-high heat until the water begins to boil. Continue to boil for another 1 minute and remove from stove. Allow the bundt pan to stay in the stockpot for another 5 minutes before removing from the stockpot. Remove the lid and run a butterknife between the edges of the pan and the pudding. Invert the bundt pan over a serving plate and allow to sit for 10 minutes to release. (If it doesn't release using the flat end of the butter knife to loosen the sides).
To prepare the sauce
4. Place the milk, chamomile, peppercorns, and sugar in a medium-sized thick bottomed saucepan. Heat on medium-high, stirring occasionally until the milk just starts to boil. In the meantime, make a slurry of the water and cornstarch in a small mixing bowl. Vigorously whisk the cornstarch slurry into boiling milk and continue to cook until it thickens. Remove the saucepan from the stove and strain the solids and discard the solids using a fine mesh sieve. Pour about 1/2 cup of this warm sauce over the pudding just before serving with a little extra on the side.
Visiting M's parent's on their little farm out in Virigina, is always a treat! It's quiet, the internet is slow so you're basically cut off from the world but in many ways it's a blessing. You get to disconnect from everything else that's going on and you're forced to relax. You get to appreciate everything you have in your life a little more and start to pay attention to things around you. In many ways it's the best gift we could give ourselves. A brief respite from our lives.
For some reason, it was apparently colder in CA than it was here on the East Coast, this Christmas. It's been raining like crazy, the fields were soaked in water and there were many moments that I almost slipped and broke my behind in the muck when I went to visit the mules and animals on the farm. M's mom loves her animals and raises goats that she milks herself to make goat milk soap. A couple of years ago, she taught me how to milk a goat, it's an interesting experience! I don't even know how to describe it. They now have two donkeys and they protect the goats from coyotes! I had no idea donkeys could scare coyotes off.
Christmas morning, I baked a batch of popovers from Bon Appetit Christmas issue and some cheddar biscuits with herbs. Basically, we've been eating constantly every day. There is no rest for the tummy when we go to visit family. I think it is the general theme of our family vacations for both of us as we don't visit that them often so our trip transforms into a daily request of all our favorite dishes that we've missed.
On one morning, I baked a kale and sausage bread pudding with M's mom. So here she is cooking with me in the kitchen and we're cooking a savory bread pudding (in many ways this is also a casserole).
I'm also giving away this gorgeous baking dish from Le Creuset! All you need to do is a leave a comment and tell me what you want to cook in it and I will pick a randomwinner! The contest is only open to legal US residents and ends on January 3rd 2016 at 12 pm. Have an amazing New Year friends!!!
Here are some kitchen tips that you might find useful when preparing this dish;
- I added less salt than I normally would since the sausage I used was heavily seasoned. Adjust your salt amounts if you know that how the sausage will taste. I prefer to stick to the lower amount because you can always sprinkle a little salt later over the pudding when serving.
- Use whatever type of kale or bread you like. Mustard greens and chard leaves will also work well in this recipe.
kale and sausage bread pudding
yields: 2 servings
2 1/2 cups whole-wheat or rye bread country style, diced into 1" cubes
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup cooked Italian breakfast sausage (I used spicy pork)
2 cups whole milk
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher sea salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
1 cup packed kale leaves, torn (midrib discarded)
5 fresh sage leaves, julienned
1. Place a wire rack at midlevel in the oven and preheat to 375F. Take a baking sheet and line it with parchment paper. Mix the cubes pieces of bread along with the olive oil in a large mixing bowl. Spread this out on the lined baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes until the bread is browned and crispy. Remove from oven and allow to cool on a wire rack.
2. Take a medium-sized skillet and heat on medium-high heat. Crumble the sausage and cook until the sausage is completely cooked and lightly browned. Drain the fat and keep the sausage aside.
3. Lightly butter a 1 quart oval baking dish and keep aside. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk the milk, eggs, baking powder, salt, cayenne pepper and black pepper. Fold in the kale, sage, and sausage. Carefully fold in the toasted croutons. Pour the mixture into the baking dish, lightly wrap with cling film and refrigerate for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
4. Place a wire rack at midlevel in the oven and preheat to 400F. Remove the cling film and bake the pudding for 30 to 35 minutes until the center is firm to touch. A knife should come out clean from the center of the bread pudding. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes on a wire rack. Serve warm.
Disclaimer: Thank you to Le Creuset for sponsoring this giveaway. All opinions expressed are purely my own.