Sunday, February 24, 2013

Breakfast Bread Pudding

My company has three fully staffed offices which I visit regularly, but I seem to get much more done when I work from my home office, so no one was surprised when I asked if we could hold our biweekly Directors’ Meeting at my home.  It’s a little further of a drive for most so I promised a treat.  Since we meet early in the morning, I offered to make “Breakfast Bread Pudding” which is always a favorite. 

There is a wonderful artisan restaurant in nearby East Nashville which I frequent often, especially for breakfast.  They serve the most delicious brioche bread made in house daily.  I can’t seem to leave the restaurant without taking a loaf or two home.  I carefully wrap and place the unsliced loaf into the freezer and save it just for an occasion like this.  Bread pudding, whether sweet or savory, is something I make when I have stale bread and most breads work well; but if I have a choice, for sweet bread pudding I prefer brioche, challah, Hawaiian Bread or plain white bread.  For savory bread pudding I typically use a baguette, Italian bread or plain white bread.

§     1 large loaf of brioche, challah or Hawaiian bread cut or torn into 2 inch cubes
§     6 extra-large eggs at room temperature
§     1 cup sugar
§     2 cups of whole milk
§     2 cup half and half
§     2 teaspoons pure vanilla
§     6 tablespoons unsalted butter
§     1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
§     warm maple syrup, for serving

Optional Ingredients:
§     golden raisins
§     dried cranberries
§     chopped pecans
§     orange zest with a splash of orange juice
§     bananas with brown sugar
§     chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, milk, half and half, vanilla and salt and set aside.  In most bread pudding recipes I add 4 whole eggs, 2 egg yolks and reduce the amount of liquid, but I prefer my breakfast bread pudding to be more moist and fluffy.
Spray the casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray to keep the bread pudding from sticking and dot the bottom of the dish with butter to add flavor. 
Tear or cut the bread into cubes and distribute evenly in the baking dish. 
Pour the custard mixture over the bread and allow to soak for 10 minutes, pressing down gently.
Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. 
Uncover and bake for an additional 30 minutes or until the pudding puffs up and the center is set. 
Remove from the oven and serve with warm maple syrup.  If you are not serving maple syrup, you may want to increase the amount of sugar to 1 1/2 cups.
For a printer friendly copy of this recipe, go to Breakfast Bread Pudding. Enjoy!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Lasagna Roll-Ups

When I offered to prepare something for Darlene’s birthday party, one of the items requested was lasagna.  I love to make lasagna and I love to eat lasagna, but I always feel like it’s awkward to serve at a buffet dinner.  If the lasagna is warm and the cheese is gooey, you carefully cut a piece and the lasagna begins to ooze and run.  If you wait until it sets, it’s barely warm enough to eat.  So several years ago, I came up with the idea of Lasagna Roll-Ups. 

I use the same ingredients as in my lasagna, but I create individual portions for easy plating.

§     2 jars store bought or 8 cups of homemade tomato sauce
§     1 16-ounce box lasagna noodles
§     4 cups ricotta cheese
§     1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
§     3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
§     2 large eggs
§     1 teaspoon dry oregano
§     1 teaspoon garlic powder
§     salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  In a medium sized bowl, mix the ricotta, 1/4 cup of the parmesan, 1 1/2 cups of the mozzarella, eggs, oregano, garlic powder and salt and set aside.
Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the lasagna noodles and cook until al dente stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes.
Fill a bowl with salted ice water.  Remove the pasta from the boiling water and transfer to the ice water to stop the cooking. 
Drain the pasta and spread on a clean towel or cutting board in a single layer.  Spray a 9 x 13 inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.   Coat the bottom of the baking dish with a ladle or two of sauce.  Spread 1/4 to 1/3 cup of the cheese filling down the center of each lasagna sheet and loosely roll up.  Transfer to the baking dish and repeat with the remaining noodles.  
Cover with 2 to 3 cups of sauce and sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup parmesan cheese.  Bake uncovered until the lasagna rolls are heated through. 
Sprinkle the remaining 1 1/2 cups of mozzarella cheese over the rolls and return to the oven for about 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted. 
Serve with a bowl of warm sauce. For a printer friendly copy of this recipe, go to Lasagna Roll-Ups. Enjoy!