Monday, February 21, 2011

The Proof is in the Pudding!

Bread pudding is a classic comfort food we find ourselves craving again and again. As a dessert, it's amazing when served warm with a drizzle of chocolate, caramel or Bourbon sauce. As a savory side dish, it works as a delicious complement to duck, steak or chicken. Savory bread pudding, especially one loaded with cheese, pairs well with a light salad for a hearty brunch.

1. Basic Bread Pudding

In its simplest form, bread pudding is a great dish to make when all that French bread you bought has gone stale. Besides bread, all you need is milk, eggs and sugar. You soak the bread in milk while mixing the eggs and sugar in a separate bowl. Once the milk has been absorbed into the bread, add the egg & sugar mixture and bake at 350 F for 35-45 minutes.

As a dessert, Basic Bread Pudding typically contains Vanilla, Cinnamon and Raisins, but all of those are optional and can be substituted for flavorings you like more.

2. Sweet Style

Sweet bread puddings are great for dessert and can be customized with all of your favorite ingredients. If you're a chocolate lover (aren't we all?), you'll go nuts for this version: Chocolate with Walnuts & Chocolate Chips. If you're craving a taste of the South, try this Classic version topped with Bourbon Sauce. If you want a little extra fruit, try this one with Banana & Caramel.

Basically, once you have the classic bread pudding base, feel free to thrown in any fruit including apples, bananas, blueberries or raisins and bake away!

3. Savory Style

The base of Savory Bread Pudding is the same as for Sweet, except you skip the Sugar and focus on Bread, Milk and Eggs. After that, you can add a mix of vegetables and cheeses based on what you like to eat or what would pair well with your main dish. Feel free to get creative! For instance, here's a savory pudding with zucchini, sun-dried tomatoes and Swiss cheese.

A classic version of savory bread pudding uses Mushrooms and Marjoram because they pair well with most meaty main courses. As with any bread pudding, feel free to experiment with your favorite cheeses and veggies. Believe us, the bread pudding can handle it!

For a brunch entree, add your favorite breakfast meat and cheese into the pudding. One idea is to start the day off right with this pudding with ham, fontina cheese and spinach. But, sausage and bacon work great in bread puddings as well.

4. Time to get Saucy

Your favorite chefs never eat bread pudding alone- they always top it with a delicious sauce. For the sweet ones, Caramel or Chocolate sauce always hit the spot. For savory ones, try a tasty Mushroom or Cheese sauce.

Now that you have the tools, the next time you notice a loaf of stale bread or some apples a little bit past their prime, don't despair, make bread pudding!

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