Thursday, May 29, 2014

Parmesan-Herb Bread Pudding

I was flipping through the channels the other day and caught the opening sequence of Anne Burrell's Secrets of a Restaurant Chef. In it, she described what she'd be making that day and her herbed bread pudding caught my eye. 

You see, I have been a bread pudding fan for many many years. Sweet or savory, I love 'em. Reading the recipe online brought to mind the sinfully delicious cheese souffle that my friend Paul makes from time to time.  I freaking love that souffle.

So, without further ado, here's my version of this rich deliciousness.

2 eggs
1/3 c. milk (I used 1%)
1/3 c. half & half
1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese
pinch of cayenne pepper
kosher salt
1 c. day old bread chopped into 1/2 inch chunks. (I used two slices of fresh sandwich bread, toasted lightly. I have to admit, I was pleasantly surprised with how well this worked.)
1 Tbsp chopped fresh herbs OR 1 tsp dried herbs OR some combination thereof (I used basil and oregano, but will try all kinds of variations in the future. Some examples might be dill & parsley, thyme & lemon zest, cilantro & cumin)

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

Mix together the eggs, milk, half & half, grated parmesan, cayenne and salt. (I did this in a 2 cup measuring cup.) In a medium bowl, mix together the bread and herbs and pour the liquid over it all. Cover the bowl and let it sit for 1 hour.

At this point, I sorta screwed up. I found the deepest muffin tin I had and buttered two of the cavities. I divided the mixture into the two holes, which filled them to the brim. The egg and bread proceeded to expand in the oven as it cooked and made a little bit of a mess.
Next time I'll probably divide it into three, and maybe they'll be prettier.

Bake the puddings for 30-35 minutes (I left mine in there until the tops started to look a little bit brown. This was 35 minutes for my over-filled muffin cups.)
Even though I buttered the muffin tin well, these still stuck to the pan a little bit, so they're not as pretty as Anne's.
But DANG are they tasty.

Here are a few things I've learned after making this a few times.

1.) Using paper muffin liners makes cleanup a TON easier.
2.) You can use whatever cheese you have on hand. For this batch, I switched out the parmesan for extra-sharp cheddar and it was beautiful. (Next time... bacon and bleu cheese).
3.) If you spread the "batter" out among more cups, you can drop the baking time down to 25-30 minutes and it makes adorable little "cakelets" that are perfect finger-food.
4.) From now on, every time I have the butt-end of a loaf of day-old crusty bread in the kitchen, this will be breakfast.

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