Savory Bread Pudding

Posted: January 26, 2010 | Author: Alyssa | Filed under: Alyssa, delish | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments »

After last week’s fried chicken debacle, I felt the need to redeem myself by trying a new recipe.  I was a little nervous, because unfortunately this past week was even worse than the previous, so god only knew how I was going to screw up this time.  Perhaps I could screw up ramen noodles, the easiest food on earth.  Maybe destroy a salad and make it inedible…at this point my life is so ridiculous that I wouldn’t be shocked if a foray into cinnamon toast resulted in the amputation of a toe.  The good news is, it can’t really get worse from here, so I might as well just start assuming that its going to get better.  Which is why I decided to set out on a new adventure entitled: Alyssa tries to make bread pudding for the first time without F-ING it up, burning the building down, or losing a toe.

I’ve been looking at this recipe for a while on epicurious.com for leek bread pudding, which sounds super good.  Although the more I thought about it, it felt like it was kind of missing something, and we all know by now that I can’t just leave well enough alone with a recipe, I have to mess with it.  The first thing I decided to do was to take away some of the ridiculous salt they have you put in as well as some of the butter and make up for it by adding a couple slices of diced pancetta (I KNOW, I add bacon to everything, but seriously how is that bad?).   I also traded out the emmentaler for havarti, which was not entirely based on flavor, rather than price.  In small town Ohio, good and affordable cheeses and breads are kind of difficult to find (I was shocked too), so I have to make do with what I can.  I love havarti because its so creamy and delicious, but I think you could substitute for pretty much any cheese that melts smoothly.

I added the pancetta to the sautee pan with the leeks so that they absorbed all the pancetta-y deliciosity.

raw leeks and pancetta

Make sure you cook the leeks until they are extremely soft.  They should fall apart fairly easily when you press them with a spatula.  Some of them will get a little brown and crispy (same with the pancetta), but the rest should almost melt.  That way they will absorb into the bread with the custard and bring its flavor with it.

cooked leeks and pancetta

I also used a little extra cheese when I was layering, because you really can’t go wrong with cheese.

Luckily for me, this turned out really well and when I pulled it out of the oven I felt like I was on Food Network Challenge transporting my 6 foot tall muppet cake to the table without destroying it, because leave it to me to get through this whole recipe and then drop it on the floor as I lift it the one foot up from the over to the stove top.  Thanks to a steady hand and a prayer to the food gods, I was successful and had this to show for my efforts:

Leek bread puddingI really wish that I could somehow make your computer screen scratch’n'sniff right now because I was salivating as this cooled just smelling it from the living room.  It turned out beautifully, and it is just what I needed to get my mind back on track.  I’m taking it as a sign that since this recipe went so well, things will start to look up soon :)


Alex Runs, Joh Cooks p. 5

Posted: November 5, 2009 | Author: Johanna | Filed under: Alex Runs Joh Cooks, Johanna | Tags: , , , , , , , | 18 Comments »

WOW!! Can you believe we’re already at part 5 of this series??? I know I can’t! Here’s the thing, though. We’re at part 5. Alex’s race is less than 3 weeks away. The donation deadline is in a week. And with that in mind, I’m imploring you. Please. Leave me a comment, so I can give her a dollar, or 2 dollars from you. So I can do what little bit I can, to show her how proud of her I am for doing this amazing thing to raise money to fight the disease that has hurt her family. Tell your friends, send them links, Tweet this, do whatever you have to do. I’m willing to donate for every single comment I get on one of these posts by November 15th.

Saumon Aux LentilesThere are 2 excellent things about this dish. The first, is that it’s french. The second, is that it involves salmon, lentils, and leeks. Maybe that adds up to 4 good things, but either way….. It’s a great great dish. (And yes, in case you’re scoring at home, Salmon is ok with Alex the Vegetarian. I checked.) The excellent things about this dish expand the more you look into it, but before I go into those, I’ll go into one unnecessary thing.
There is a compound butter made with tarragon, chives, mustard, and lemon juice. I love compound butters, but they’re not exactly great for your health — slapping an extra tablespoon of butter onto a salmon filet that you’ve cooked in butter, seems excessive, even to my butter-loving soul. In that spirit, I would advocate for skipping the additional quantity of Mustard-Herb butter.  2 tablespoons of butter should suffice, and halve the rest of the things in it.

And now, on with the recipe. Saumon aux Lentiles – or, Salmon with Lemtils.

I’m going to suggest that you follow the link to get the ingredients and items, since I got this directly from Gourmet March 2008, and in a shocking turn of events, I followed it to the letter. (more or less) You can also totally halve this and serve it for 2. I had a LOT of lentils left over, although I only cooked 2 portions of salmon, so I ended up eating lentils with fried eggs the next day, and it was delightful. So, for what that’s worth.

Step 1: The Lentils
Put the green lentils, water, and 3/4tsp of salt in a pot, bring to a boil, Simmer until just tender, and let them hang out for 5 minutes. Then, take out half a cup of the cooking water (it will be a funky color. Do not be deterred) and drain.
Zey Are FronchOne CupAvec du SelThe flavor's in the funk.

Step 2: The Leeks
I’m pretty sure that the leek is my favorite vegetable. Unless a chickpea is a vegetable, in which case, it wins. Are legumes vegetables? I know that in French, “legume” means “veggie” but I need a ruling. ALYSSA!!! You’re a Bio teacher – are chickpeas vegetables?
Regardless. Leeks rock. Except for one thing. They’re kind of a pain in the ass to clean, because they grow in sandy soil. So in order to clean them, you lop off the dark leafy bits, and you lop off the white root-looking end. Then, you cut them in half, top to bottom, so you have 2 long halves (ish). Then, you put each half round-side up, cut IT in half the long way, and then rotate your knife and cut them into half-moons the short way. I promise, this is all worth it, and there will be pictures. Once you have all of your leek bits cut up, place them in a big bowl or pot of cold water, and swish. Then, walk away.
Lop the root end off Each long half, cut in halfIt's hard to cut while taking a photoSwish, and walk away

While the sand and grit from the leeks is sinking to the bottom of the pot or bowl, get out a saute pan and put in some butter. Then, when the butter is melted, gently scoop out the leeks, leaving the grit at the bottom of the receptacle. Plop them in the saute pan and cook until softened. Then, add the lentils, their cooking liquid, and 2 tablespoons of the compound butter, and cook until the lentils are warm.
Carefully scoopingSauteing until softThe mustard-herb butterZee lentils!!!

Step 3: The Salmon
The rest of this dish is quite simple. Pat your salmon filets (skin on is fine) VERY dry with a paper towel. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Melt some butter in a non-stick pan, and get it pretty darn hot. Once the butter stops foaming, put the filets in, and cook for 3-4 minutes per side, depending on how well you like salmon cooked. Then, put some lentils and leeks on a plate, and top with the salmon. Easy peasy, one-two-threesy.
Fishy Fishy FISHY!!!!!*cough* Till the foam subsides. Ish. The flip. Zee bed of zee lentils and zee leeks

This dish is delicious. It’s frenchy. It’s got lots and lots of good protein, and fiber, and good fats. If you didn’t want to use the butter-sauteing method for the Salmon, by all means you could broil it. The lentils and leeks will still provide plenty of flavor, and salmon is a flavorful fish, although I really like the crisp that sauteing gave the skin.
Enjoy, and remember:
Alex Runs. I Cook. You Comment. I Donate.
WE ALL FIGHT CANCER.


Circle of life

Posted: November 1, 2009 | Author: Alyssa | Filed under: Alyssa | Tags: , | 3 Comments »

I have been promising the guys I work with that I would have them over for dinner for WEEKS now, and the other night I finally followed through.  Since they are guys I had to make something that was hearty and filling, but still pretty cheap to make, so I decided on meat loaf and mashed potatoes.  I have already gone into my meat loaf recipe, so you guys should know that by now, however I did make a new ‘appetizer’ that I was pretty impressed with.  Screw onion rings…leek rings are the way to go!  They were so amazing, I was even impressed by myself.  All you have to do is take a couple of clean leeks, and cut them into about 1/2 inch slices.  Pull apart the rings so that you have about two to three layers per ring.  Dredge them in flour, then dip them in a milk and egg mixture, then back in the flour and into the oil (at 350ish) until they are golden brown.  Make sure you season the flour with salt and pepper so that their flavor really pops.  The best thing about leek rings is that they are more tender than onion rings, a little sweeter and take a lot less time to fry.  I still have to perfect this, perhaps add some garlic and try buttermilk instead of regular milk, but even in its most basic form, these round pieces of deliciousness are awesome and I recommend giving them a shot.  This will definitely be a newcomer in the super bowl food lineup :)  This is also great because one leek gives you a ton of rings, so its more cost effective :)

IMG00205-20090920-2216

This is all that was left of 4 large leeks with just three people eating…..it was a hit :)

Thanks for reading!

TT



Johanna: The Improviser

Never quite follows the recipe. Doesn't really measure. Tastes with her fingers. Somehow, it always works.

Alyssa: The Triple Threat

Can do it all. And modest to boot.

Bakezilla: We Use Mixers Too

She likes to bake. Actually, baking is the only thing she does. It's a passion.

Rita: The Kosher Chick

Restrictions have nothing on her.