Baked Blueberry Bread Pudding: For years I discounted the functionality of leftovers. Food in its next day form doesn’t necessarily need to be consumed as a stale, rubbery, soggy, or saturated platter. Rather, I have recently taken it upon myself to see these items as an ingredient for a transformed masterpiece. Leftover roasted vegetables? Re-heat and toss a fried egg on top with some pesto. Leftover bread = bread pudding for dessert! I don’t even like baking (too scientific for my liking) and this was beyond easy to create. Confession: I didn’t measure at all because I think like a cook not a baker; therefore, these are estimates below.
The players: 2 cups stale bread cut into cubes, 3 cups milk, 1 egg, 1 tsp vanilla, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp gran marnier(optional), 2 tbsp sugar, 3 tbsp butter, 1 cup blueberries
The process: In oven-safe canisters or bowl, toss in the bread. In a separate bowl, mix in the following: milk, egg, vanilla, cinnamon, liqueur, sugar. Pour over the bread. Slice the butter up and layer over top with the blueberries. Bake at 375 degrees for 30-45 minutes. Liquid should be absorbed and the bread on top crispy. Scoop vanilla ice cream on top. Serves 2-4
Re-inventing Grilled Cheese: A good ol’ childhood favorite with the volume turned up. Insert a chicken breast, creamy brie, sautéed mushrooms and you’ve got yourself a grown up meal. Check out my salad concoction to pair with the sandwich… you’ll feel like you are a guest at a chic Parisian bistro!
Romesco is the new hummus! I love fruit in its natural form… no glitz, no glam, just peeled or chopped. Contradictory to my healthy cravings, I tend to only partake in the veggie family at dinner time. Carrot sticks and celery as a stand alone snack give me as much as excitement as gearing up for a long work week – blah! Over the years I have learned that the allure of these earthy treats increases with some sort of dipping concoction.The processed ranch packet mixed in with fattening sour cream trend has thankfully passed. Raw almond or peanut butter with a slight drizzle of honey are the best quick fix option for your carrot type delights. Mediterranean hummus, a chickpea and herb blend, has gained popularity as another protein rich, healthy alternative. Like all things, this novelty will eventually no longer stimulate the taste buds. I’ve blown through roasted red pepper, cilantro, garlic, edamame, and olive flavored hummus to the point where I can’t even look at the Mediterranean olive bar at Wegmans any more. In desperation for a new snack dipper, I created this Spanish inspired Romesco sauce. Originally tested with my mother-in-law using an epicurious.com recipe, I’ve since then tweaked it to my liking. Tasty with raw or roasted vegetable spears as well as over grilled steak and chicken. For vegetarians, layer up rice, beans, and Romesco for a hearty and protein rich meal.
- 2 red bell peppers
- 2 tomatoes (roma or on the vine)
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1/3 cup mixture of roasted unsalted almonds and hazelnuts
- 1 tbsp sherry vinegar
- 2-3 tbsp quality extra virgin olive oil
- salt and red pepper flakes to season
- Optional: 1 slice stale white bread (preferable straight from bakery:french, italian, etc.)
- 2 tbsp fresh Italian parsley
Roast the garlic still in skin, red bell pepper, and tomato at 400 degrees. Pull out the garlic after 10-15 minutes, tomatoes after 15-20 minutes, and bell pepper after 20-30 minutes. All should be softened. Roughly chop tomato and bell pepper and squeeze juice out. In a food processor or blender, add all ingredients until smooth but with a slightly nutty texture. Serve chilled with vegetables or warm over meats. Tip: Add honey if desire a sweetness or greek yogurt for a creamy sauce.
Despite recent challenges, Australia truly is making a comeback. Focus of the week: First Drop wines.
Re-visiting comfort food one more time before summer arrives. Your guide to a rainy day cure… pasta and vino!