Thursday, April 26, 2012
Bread and Eggs
Bread pudding is usually sweet. This is not. It makes a very good lunch.
stale bread- use about 2 cups, maybe a little more
3 oz grated cheese: gouda, cheddar, parmesan- use something nutty.
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon minced rosemary
pinch each of lavender flowers & nutmeg, finely grated
1 heaping tablespoon flour
I have a 6 cup casserole I like to use for this. Butter the bread lightly and cut it up into 2 inch pieces. Put the bread in the dish and add the cheese. Poke the cheese around so it is distributed evenly among the bread pieces. Mix all the other ingredients thoroughly and pour them over the bread and cheese. Let the bread soak up the liquid for 5 minutes or so, then bake at 350 for about 40 minutes. If it still has liquid spots on top at that point, turn the oven off and let it sit in there another 15 minutes.
Points to consider:
1. Use only very good bread. Focaccia works well, partly because it already has lots of fat in it ( no need for buttering) and also because it traditionally has rosemary in it. Leftover baguette slices are also very tasty. Ciabatta would probably be fine, if chewy.
2. The amount of milk will vary depending on how dry your bread is. Baguettes need more milk than focaccia, because they're much crustier.
3. Crustier also means more soaking time required. Before you bake it, the bread should be pretty well moistened, but not dissolving, and there should still be just a little bit of liquid around the edges of the dish if you tilt it up.
4. You don't have to use real milk. Water & dry milk is just fine.
The important thing is to keep it simple. This is not fancy food, it's just a bunch of very ordinary ingredients that happen to taste really good together. You could use any cheese and any bread, but you don't want to frill it up with too may things going on. Plain bread, rather than something full of seeds or nuts, white rather than wheat. I like a mix of either medium cheddar or gouda, and the stuff that comes out of the green can, although that's just because I'm lazy. You can grate your own parm if you want.
You could even skip the lavender & nutmeg, but I encourage you to try it. The rest of the ingredients can verge on boring, and depending on how lavish you feel about the butter, the dish can be quite rich. Nutmeg is complex and earthy but not overwhelming, and lavender is almost atringent, which balances the fat and cheese.
I've made this at least half a dozen times, and once I made it with about a cup each of sauteed broccoli and cauliflower in addition to the bread. If you want to try that version, brown an onion and some minced garlic along with the veggies. You'll also need to increase the amount of milk and eggs by about half. Just eyeball it, it'll be fine.