Comfort food is usually associated with two things – good memories and calorie-rich food. The fear in taking in so much comfort food has nothing to do of course with the warm memories of childhood days but with those food that brings instant gratification to the body because of its richness in texture, flavor, and calories. To my mind however, indulging one’s self with comfort food once in a while is not a bad thing. In fact, it can be a means to gaining positive feelings at a time when it is most needed.
Nothing says home grown cooking than bread pudding! I must say no matter where you are and how long the years have passed, we all are just softies for home baked bread pudding. I could never say no! Sometimes, I make it a point to have left over bread just so I have a good excuse to make some … even just for a nice sweet afternoon spent absolutely doing nothing!
You all know the basics of bread pudding, right? It’s just day old bread, milk, eggs and sugar mixed together and poured into a pan and baked. Anything else you want to add to it is all up to your creativity and what’s in your pantry. You can add raisins, nuts and other fruit of your choice.
Although it is typically a dessert, why limit yourself to that? Have it for breakfast! You may choose to serve bread pudding with rum sauce, whiskey sauce and caramel. It is just as heavenly with custard sauce or vanilla cream, and even chocolate. Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream or slather on some luscious whipped topping and you’ve got yourself a pretty fancy dessert without the real fuss.
Essentially, it’s going to back to basics … back to where it all matters …it’s what hits home and it always feels just as good as you always remember it. So just play around with this home grown recipe and use your favourite things to eat. You might just come up with a seriously genius creation. Here’s something for you to whip up this coming weekend maybe?
Apple Breakfast Bread Pudding
12 slices day old bread
4 tbsp butter, melted
½ c raisins (optional)
1 apple, peeled, chopped
2 tbsp brown sugar
½ tsp cinnamon powder
4 eggs beaten
3 cups milk
¾ cup white sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
- Mix chopped apples with brown sugar and set aside
- Break 6 slices of bread into small pieces into an 8 inch square baking pan. Drizzle 2 tbsps melted butter or margarine over bread.
- In a medium mixing bowl, combine eggs, milk, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla. Beat until well mixed. Pour half of mixture over bread, and lightly push down with a fork until bread is covered and soaking up the egg mixture.
- Spread over the apple and sugar mixture onto the bread layer and sprinkle with raisin if desired.
- Break the remaining 6 slices of bread over the layer of apples and sugar, drizzle with the 2 tbsps of melted butter and pour the remaining half of the milk mixture. Press down with fork making sure the bread pieces get soaked in the milk.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until the top springs back when lightly tapped.
- Serve warm with custard sauce or go all out with vanilla ice cream.
Photo Credit: missmeng
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It looks like my need to curl up on the sofa and let my husband do the cooking from a few days ago meant something: I’ve come down with a nasty cold. Now, unlike others, I never lose my appetite when I’m sick- what happens is that I crave all sorts of comfort food, from a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken (for lunch yesterday) to this deliciously soothing Carrot and Lentil Soup.
The secret to the goodness of this soup is to serve it with a healthy- and I mean generous dollop of good sour cream. I’m serious when I say that eating this soup somehow makes me feel better right away- is it the sunny orangeness of the carrots? Or the chicken soup base? Whatever, this is soup that makes you sigh. Try it and see:
Carrot & Lentil Soup
5 large carrots, chopped roughly into medium pieces
5 ounces red lentils
1 large yellow onion, chopped roughly into medium pieces
1 large can (16 oz) whole tomatoes
2 cups homemade chicken stock
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
For garnish: chopped fresh chives, sour cream
Begin frying onions with the tablespoon of olive oil in a saucepan. Cook them until translucent only (do not brown). Add in the carrots, and continue cooking for a few minutes. Add chicken stock, and bring to a boil. Add the lentils, turn heat down, and let simmer for around fifteen minutes.
When the carrots and lentils are soft, blend the soup with a hand blender (or a potato masher, in a pinch), adding more stock or water to get it to the consistency of your choice. Add the canned tomatoes, and blend some more. Bring it back to a boil for a minute or so. Serve topped with chopped chives and the aforementioned sour cream.
Nostalgia never goes out of style- especially in the kitchen. Who of us doesn’t crave the food we were brought up with- whether we got it from our moms, our grandmothers, or our family cooks?
On a particularly lazy afternoon last week, I tried out one of the recipes in the book: the Original Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake, which was first created by the wife of a Hellmann’s Mayonnaise sales distributor in 1937. Not quite as exotic as it sounds, the mayonnaise here replaces any eggs, oil and salt one would usually use in a chocolate cake recipe. The lemon juice in mayonnaise also adds tenderness to the cake- much as buttermilk (or the old buttermilk-replacement standby of milk and lemon juice!) would. The resulting cake? Deliciously moist, and extremely pleasing- especially because of the added dates and walnuts. I share the recipe with you here:
Original Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake1 teaspoon baking soda1 cup boiling water1 cup coarsely chopped dates1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts1 cup sugar1 cup real mayonnaise (please use Hellmann’s or Best Foods)6 tablespoons grated unsweetened chocolate (I used regular baking chocolate, but you could use a bittersweet bar and remove part of the sugar)1 teaspoon vanilla2 cups unsifted cake flourGrease and flour a 9x9x2-inch baking pan. In a small bowl, stir baking soda and boiling water together until dissolved. Stir in dates and nuts. In a large bowl with mixer on low speed, beat sugar and mayonnaise together until well mixed. Add grated chocolate and vanilla; beat until blended. Add date mixture; beat. Gradually beat in flour until smooth. Turn into prepared pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 45 to 50 minutes. Cool in pan.
Perhaps my favorite thing about this cookbook, though, is author Michael McLaughlin’s “Gilding the Lily” notes at the end of each recipe. In them, he suggests additions or changes to the recipes. For the HERSHEY’S Hot Fudge Sauce, for example, he suggests stirring in 2 or 3 tablespoons of Grand Marnier, dark rum, or Kahlua, into the finished sauce. Yum.
Back of the Box Gourmet is available at Amazon.