I love to cook and I love to eat good food.  Alas, the fact that I work 9-5 means that I can't do either as much as I would like, and like many I am often stuck at my desk during my lunch "hour".  My solution is to try to bring my lunch to work as much as I can.  This is my collection of recipes, all made quickly the night before (either as lunch or as dinner with leftovers that can be taken in).  Happy eating.

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Strawberry and rhubarb bread pudding

I had some old baguette and the last few inches of a loaf of homemade bread that were just on the far side of fresh, and not quite good enough for salvage in the toaster.  I cut it up into cubes with the intention of making Barbara Kingsolver's asparagus and morel bread pudding (which I think came by way of Deborah Madison).  Alas, no asparagus presented itself, so the bread went into the freezer.   

This past weekend, I had settled in for an afternoon of cooking and wanted to whip up something to finish off our lazy dinner.  I had bought some new season rhubarb and found myself with an extra box of early strawberries that I needed to use.  I wasn't really in the mood to make pie or short crust, and had slightly exhausted myself on crumbles this winter, but then remembered my bread cubes in the freezer.  I thought that a golden and puffy bread pudding, faintly scented with vanilla but grounded with a hint of ginger, would be the perfect showcase for these ruby-hued harbingers of spring.

What I hadn't quite taken into account was that, at that point, my bread cubes were really, really stale.  I whipped up my milk and cream mixture (I should have used Steph Chows'recipe!) and put the bread in to soak.  30 minutes later, the liquid was gone and the bread was still rather hard.  So more milk went in.  15 minutes later, yet more milk.  I have never seen anything retain so much liquid, with the possible exception of my swollen feet after a trans-atlantic flight.

Nevertheless, it all came out pretty well in the end.  I baked it with some brown sugar and almonds sprinkled on top, and drizzled just the last few drops of cream over before serving.  The rhubarb and strawberries held their own individual shapes and flavors, and my bread, gorged with dairy, held it all together.  Lesson learned: use frozen, stale bread cubes for bread crumbs unless you want to buy stock in dairy farms.

Strawberry and rhubarb bread pudding.

Day-old bread, cut into cubes, approx. 3 cups
2 eggs
1/2 C. half & half or single cream 1/2 - 1 C. low-fat milk -- add more or use less milk depending on how dry the bread is.  It should be quite moist by the time it is baked.
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 T. finely chopped crystalized ginger
1 1/2 C. rhubarb, sliced into 1 inch segments
1 1/2 C. strawberries -- left whole if small, or halved if larger, stems removed
1/4 C. slivered almonds
4 T. brown sugar
1 T. flour

Whisk eggs, cream, milk, vanilla, and ginger together.  Mix with bread in a large bowl and cover, letting the liquid absorb for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Chop rhubarb and mix with the flour and 2 T. brown sugar.  Cut up strawberries, mix with rhubarb, then stir through bread mixture.  If there is a large amount of liquid left in the bread soaking bowl, pour off before mixing with the fruit.

Spread mixture into a 9x9 in. non-stick metal pan, or lightly grease a glass or ceramic dish.  Strew almonds over the top, and then sprinkle with the remaining 2 T. brown sugar.

Bake at 350 until the bread is puffed and the rhubarb is cooked through.


Heather said...

isn't it so much fun to decide what to do with old bread? so many possibilities! this looks DELICIOUS!

Chow and Chatter said...

that looks wonderful great way to use old bread, and lovely concept for your blog

Libby Murphy said...

How creative and it sure does look and sound fabulous! I'm thrilled to meet you through this bloggging universe and delighted to have you as a guest at TwirlandTaste.
Happy Twirls

Sarah, The New Girl said...

That looks so good!! What a great technique for day old bread :) I've never made something like that before! Can't wait to try!

Kim (@ Paper Apron) said...

Confession: I've STILL never cooked with rhubarb, but this looks so tasty and sounds like it smells incredible, so I'll be on the lookout for some rhubarb on my next market visit. I have a freezer filled with 'day old bread' and the strawberries are blooming in my garden, so this looks like the ticket!

Caitlin said...

AH-MAY-ZING! I love the ingredients (minus the death nut-I'm not supposed to eat almonds) I grew up with a rhubarb bush (tree?) in my backyard.

stephchows said...

Mmmmm love the added strawberries and rhubarb! Great idea!!

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