Croissant Bread Pudding

The poll results for what I should blog next……Croissant Bread Pudding…sorry Ben, grits are next I promise.fin2I love bread pudding…..with no raisins:) I love all food without raisins.  I am that girl in restaurants that always asks “does your bread pudding have raisins in it?” Sadly, the answer is usually yes, except in New Orleans. Best response I ever got to my annoying question “no darlin’ we don’t do that down here” I remember my mom and I both squealing with glee, although we may have been drunk…. we were on a culinary cocktail tour after all.

I’ve messed with plenty of bread pudding recipes, most are too sweet and or too dry. This one I’m sharing with you is over the top rich, but moist and nourishing. Tons of eggs, buttery croissants, not too much sugar…..prefect. Could be breakfast with coffee or for dessert, just add a sticky sweet bourbon sauce.

Here is what you’ll need.

  • 3 extra large whole eggs
  • 8 extra large egg yolks
  • 5 cups half n half
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons real vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 large croissants or 20 mini croissants, chopped in 2 inch chunks

Not everyone has croissants laying around needing to be used up. I bake off tons each morning at work and sometimes they get burned…..yes it happens to all of us. So I trim off the dark bottoms and save them up. This recipe definitely benefits from day old croissants, or two days old…even better. Ready? Pre heat your oven to 375°yolksThis is the 3 whole eggs and and the 8 yolks. If using large eggs add 2 extra yolks.weteggmixadd the half n half, vanilla and salt, whisk until well incorporated. set asidecrosschopChop your croissants (these are the minis I used) larges one chop in cubes.gratinsreadyFill your baking dishes with the chopped croissant. I used one 2 qt casserole dish, two 16 oz ramekins and 2 smaller 7 oz ramekins. Break it down for your needs, one big casserole for a party, lots of minis for take to the office treats.filledsoakFill each baking dish with the egg half n half mixture, let it soak for about 15 minutes, making sure to push the croissants down into the liquid. The mixture will puff up during cooking so do not overfill your baking dishes.bainmarieReady some bain maries or water baths for your ramekins/casseroles. Each one needs to be in a larger baking dish with boiling water added half way up the ramekin. Bake for 45 minutes. The smaller dishes should be done, larger dishes will take another 20 minutes. Bake until the mixture is set and slightly browned in top. fin1Cool and eat slightly warm or chill and eat, tasty both ways. Add some fresh chopped strawberries too. I’d like to share a comment I got on this recipe, “all bread pudding should taste like this” Phil N. Seattle, WA, James agreed.

 

Ginger Cake

Recipe 9 of 103

Gingerbread is a childhood memory for me. Every summer my Mom and I would go to the Del Mar Fair. There were two things we always did every year, eat gingerbread and take pictures in the photo booth.gingerbreadhut

My Mom would sing this song on our way to the little pink gingerbread hut. Actually anytime gingerbread was on a menu, served at a party, seen on TV or anywhere it was mentioned we would both start singing the gingerbread song. I thought it was a song my Mom made up, she has a serious silly gene that she has so lovingly passed on to my kid and me. About a month ago I made gingerbread cupcakes for her birthday and she set out to find the original song so here it is for you all to enjoy.

Now on to April’s Ginger Cake, it’s a spicy, moist, rich treat for sure. The kicker is tons of fresh ginger and to seal the deal……tons of whoop cream!

Here is what you will need.

Serves 8-10

1 stick unsalted butter at room temp, a bit more for the pan

2 1/2 cups AP flour

1 tablespoon ground ginger

1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 1/2 cups boiling water

1 cup unsulfured light molasses, not blackstrap

1 teaspoon backing soda

1 packed cup of dark brown sugar

1 large egg

1/4 cup freshly grated ginger

Preheat oven to 325° position rack in the middle of your oven

Butter a 8 inch springform pan that is at least 3 inches deepcakepanCut an 8″ circle of parchment paper and line the bottom of the pan…like this.drymixMeasure and mix all the dry ingredients except the baking sodamolassesMix the molasses, boiling water and baking soda until all are dissolved.
In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy about 3 minutes, scraping the bowl as you go, then add egg, mix until incorporated. gingerfreshAdd the grated ginger….look at all that ginger!! I was seriously geeking out at this point. I love fresh ginger.readytomixAlternately add the dry mix and the molasses mixture until all combined.oventimeFill your prepared pan and place on a baking sheet in the oven. Bake for an hour or until a toothpick or a wooden skewer comes out clean. Let the cake cool a bit in the pan before you remove the ring from the springform pan. Not too long though its lovely served warm.

Get your whoop cream ready and dollop it generously over a warm slice of ginger cake. Remember when I say whoop cream, I mean make it yourself, no canned crap. Whip heavy whipping cream with a little powdered sugar or no sugar until fluffy, maybe add a bit of vanilla extract and zest some orange rind over the whoop like thiscake

I loved this recipe, very easy and it has forever changed my taste for “gingerbread” I’m sure I’ll partake at the little pink hut again in my life but I will make this cake forever to satisfy my ginger cake needs.

Chopped Chicken Liver on Toast

Recipe 8 of 103

This one is for my Mom, she loves chicken livers. This is from the chapter called “nibbles” April serves this at the Spotted Pig in NY, it’s a staple on her menu. I will admit I hated liver growing up, my mom tried her best to get me to like it, but I wasn’t having it. Later in my life I fell in love with pate, so liver and me have since made friends. This dish is so easy and delicious.livertoast1

Here is what you will need

serves 4

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, more for drizzling

heaping 1/4 cup finely chopped shallots

1 large clove garlic, peeled and thinly sliced

2 tablespoons madeira

2 tablespoons port

1/2 pound chicken livers (get good livers, Mary’s organic air chilled are divine! can be purchased at whole foods paycheck ) trimmed and separated into lobes

maldon salt

small handful of parsley leaves

crusty thick bread for the toasts

shallotsgarlicChop the shallots and slice the garlic like thissautesgHeat a saute pan with 2 tablespoons of oil, when its nice and hot add the shallots, saute for a minute or so then add the garlic, cook until shallots and garlic are softened but not too browned.addhoochDeglaze the pan with the Port and Madeira, be careful the alcohol may start to flame up. Quickly remove from heat, stir all the bits off the bottom of the pan and pour into a small bowl and set aside.

liverThis is not a very appetizing picture, but I wanted you to see the lobes. Pat the livers dry with a paper towel gently. fryliverWhen the pan is good and hot, add the livers in a single layer, cook on one side until golden about 1-2 minutes, flip them over and cook for another minute or so, add a teaspoon of salt at this pointfryliver2They should be bouncy and slightly pink in the centers, do not over cook them. Turn off the heat and add the shallot, garlic, alcohol mixturefryliver3Scrape up all the sticky bits on the bottom of the pan, transfer to a bowl and let cool for a few minutes. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the livers, add more salt and black pepper to taste. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and mash it up, leaving some big chunks and some creamy parts too. Let cool to room temp.addparsleyServe on any kind of toasty crunchy bread you likelivertoast2So GOOD and so good for you! Liver cooked right is delicate, earthy, rich, packed with iron and delicious. Try it. Don’t be ninny.

Pagnotta Country Bread






Yield: 4 – 6″ rounds or 2 – 12″ rounds


Ingredients
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water 105 degrees

7 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 tablespoon salt

2 3/4 cups  cool water
1-2 tablespoons of Olive Oil, good green tasty kind.




3/4 cup biga; see recipe below


Instructions
Mix yeast with warm water and let sit till creamy, about 15 minutes.
Measure flour into bowl, stir in salt, then add yeast mix, cool water, and biga. 

Mix until thoroughly combined like below, it will be wet and sticky.

Now the kneading begins. This will take 15 to 20 minutes, with 1 minute breaks every 5 minutes. On a well floured sturdy surface, start to knead the ball of dough. Pushing the heal of your hand in the center of the dough and turning it into itself. Keep your hands floured and add more flour to prevent sticking to the kneading surface. You’re looking for stretchy, smooth non sticky dough when finished. These pictures show the process and how the dough should appear and feel.

Shape into a ball, place in bowl with olive oil and cover with a towel, and let rise till doubled, about
1 1/2 hours. 


Punch down, fold edges into the middle to make a ball again, cover then let rise again till doubled (about an hour).
Divide the dough into 2 or 4, tucking it under into the middle form each into a round or oval shape, place on well floured cutting board.


 Preheat the oven to 425, with baking stones inside if you have them. These are uncoated quarry tiles we got at a tile store for about $1 each. Way cheaper than the fancy bread stones at Williams Sonoma or Sur La Table. This way you can buy what you need to fit your oven, to create a big flat baking surface for lots of  bread.

Let dough rise 45 minutes or so, till the dough springs back slowly when indented with a finger. Mist the oven with a spray bottle containing water. Cornmeal the peel. Put the bread in, flipping the loaf over onto the peel. Then mist again. 

After 5 minutes mist one more time, and reduce the oven to 400 degrees. Bake another 30 minutes or so, till done. The bottom should have good hollow sound to it and a dark crust. Let cool a bit, then go at it !! There is pretty much nothing better than warm bread right out of the oven. Here’s a goofy picture of me and my bread, it was yummy.



It’s not hard to make bread, it is time consuming with all the rising. This bread freezes well and you can shape it however you like, rolls, baguettes or rounds.


This recipe came from the Il Fornaio Baking Book, it’s a great bread book, get it if you want go further with bread. The Olive Bread is delish !


Biga
Ingredients

  • 3/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water 105 degrees
  • 3 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cups cold water



  • Directions

Place the warm water in a small bowl, and sprinkle the yeast over the top. Let stand until yeast has dissolved and is foamy, about 15 minutes. Measureflour into a large bowl. Make a well in the center, and pour in the yeast mixture and cold water. Use a sturdy spoon to mix it together until sticky and difficult to stir, but nevertheless thoroughly combined. Cover and allow to ferment for 24 hours in the refrigerator before using. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. To use, rinse a measuring cup in cool water, scoop out the amount of starter needed, and bring to room temperature.

I will mix the Biga and let it ferment for a week, then I portion it out and freeze it.