11 hours ago
Saturday, April 16, 2011
Here it is. Just in time for Easter (Passover peeps, sorry, no bread recipes allowed, but I will make macaroons for Monday's post!).
Asparagus, leeks, spring flowers popping up......and a beautiful bread pudding.
What could be better?
As you know, bread puddings are very forgiving. You can use whatever cheese you like, any herbs, any vegetable and any type of bread will do.
I would urge you to find Challah (in English "Hallah") bread.
It is a braided egg bread, and traditionally eaten in Jewish homes on Friday nights, to celebrate the Sabbath. Some call it "Sabbath Bread". It's like a brioche. Very light and makes the best French toast.
This would be perfect for Easter brunch, and is my favorite savory bread pudding in the universe. Feel free to add some cooked bacon or ham to the dish before baking.
Stacey's Asparagus & Leek Bread Pudding:
1 loaf of Challah bread (braided egg bread)
3 cups whole milk
a handful of mixed herbs of your choice (I used fresh chives from my garden, and fresh thyme leaves)
salt & pepper
2 cups of Gruyere or Swiss cheese
1 bunch of thin asparagus, woodsy ends trimmed
3 leeks, washed and sliced (white parts only)
2 tbsp butter + 1 tbsp olive oil
cooked bacon or ham (optional)
1/3 cup grated Parmesan for the top
Butter an 8" x 10" casserole dish.
Steam the asparagus spears in a wet paper towel for 2 minutes in the microwave on high, or steam them for a minute in a steamer basket, until they are a nice green color. They should still be firm.
Slice the asparagus into 2" pieces on the diagonal and set aside.
In a large skillet, heat the butter w/ a tablespoon of olive oil and cook the leeks for about 6 minutes on medium heat. Add the asparagus pieces to the leeks and saute for another 3 minutes until vegetables are cooked. Take pan off the heat and set aside.
Make the custard:
In a large bowl, combine the eggs, milk, grated Gruyere cheese, herbs, salt & pepper.
Whisk until a nice custard has formed.
Cut bread into 2" cubes. Place the bread cubes into the big bowl with the custard and carefully toss with a spoon to coat all the cubes in the custard. You want the bread to soak up the liquid.
Spoon your bread cubes & custard into the prepared buttered casserole.
Add the leek & asparagus mixture on top of the soaked bread cubes, and press down with a spoon, so the vegetables get incorporated into the bread mixture.
Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese on top and bake in a 375F oven for 40-50 minutes, until top is golden and bread is puffed up.
Let pudding rest and cool at least an hour before serving.
You could definitely assemble the pudding a few hours before baking it.