Thursday, March 31, 2016

Recipe #111: Cinnamon Bread Pudding with a Maple Syrup, Lemon Zest & Fresh Strawberry Sauce

I first had this dish probably 15 years ago when staying at a lovely B & B in Connecticut with my good friend and travelling partner, Cindy.  I had never had bread pudding before, and really wasn't looking forward to it, but was I in for a big surprise.  It was quite tasty and had a maple syrup/butter sauce with infused with fresh lemon zest and fresh strawberries and blueberries.  I have been making this recipe for company I have had over ever since I got home from that trip.  In fact, I was featured on our local pbs fundraising program on tv, making this recipe in front of the television camera for zillions of people to view.  Was I nervous, you betcha, but I was a hit nearly as much as the bread pudding itself.  George, who had hosted years of these cooking shows, looked like he had died and gone to heaven after tasting it.  Yes, he could have been acting, but you know when you look at someone's face when something is genuine.  This bread pudding is not dry inside, more custardy, and the sauce is "to die for".  Okay, time to cook... 

8-10 slices cinnamon bread (depending on                2 1/2 cups 2% milk
        how high you like your pudding)*                        4 eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla                                                                        1/4 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon                                                                  1/4 cup sugar

*You want to take the cinnamon bread out the night before and leave it on a cookie sheet overnight so it dries out a bit.  This time I had just bought the bread so while the oven was heating up, I placed all the slices on the rack that you see below, so both sides would dry out at the same time, and left it in the oven for about 5-8 minutes...

MAPLE BUTTER SYRUP

1 cup real maple syrup (please don't use                   2 tbsp butter
    the fake stuff)                                                              1/2 cup strawberries, chopped
1/2 cup blueberries, optional                                       1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1-2 tsp fresh lemon zest (depending on how
    much you like lemon...I use 2)

Place everything in a medium saucepan except the berries on low heat and whisk until incorporated.  Add berries just a few minutes before serving.

Put kettle of water on to heat to boiling.  In the meantime, evenly divide bread cubes among 4 greased 4" ramekins sprayed well with cooking spray.  In a medium bowl, combine milk, eggs, sugar, vanilla, nutmeg and cinnamon.  Place ramekins in a 9x13 pan and fill each with custard mixture.  Press down just a little.  Fill pan with 1" boiling water.  Bake at 375 for 35-45 minutes, until top is brown and crusty and a butter knife stuck down in the middle comes out clean.  Remove from oven and take ramekins out of pan.  I use my bare hands, and yes, it's a bit of a challenge, but mitts will get wet from the water unless you can hold either end of the pan and dump some in the sink.  Immediately run a knife or offset spatula around the inside, turn over, then put right side up on a plate.  Repeat with each one.  Some pudding may stick around the side..don't worry.  Serve with warm syrup.  Bon appetit!

this is exactly how I served the dish on the air...

I bought a loaf of sliced cinnamon bread and just about made a double batch...I used the whole loaf for this post...

I used 4 4" and 4 3" ramekins...perfect for the whole loaf of bread...

the bread cubes after pouring the custard in...

press the whole mixture down just slightly...


aah...nicely browned on the top...

look at the crust on that...yum-my...

the inside is very custardy....

Monday, March 21, 2016

Recipe #110: Want a Beer? Have One of Phil Hildebrandt's Margaritas!

Who is Phil Hildebrandt, you might wonder?  One of my neighbors.  He brings a pitcher of these to special events in our community.  Of course, he can never make them fast enough, or enough of them to last very long.  These margaritas are FABULOUS!  I love them even more than the ones I have featured previously, only because you don't need to squeeze fresh limes and make a simple syrup.  Not that that's a big deal or anything, but if it gets me to the drink faster, it's a good thing.  This recipe uses a 12 oz can of beer...yes, you read correctly, a can of beer.  I have never bought beer, and it's really mind-boggling just how much of it is out there to buy.  Phil said you can use regular or light beer.  I've also adjusted the recipe for those of you who have 16 oz cans of beer in the fridge.  These go down real easy...Now, let's mix...

12 oz tequila, I use gold or silver                               1 12 oz can of beer
12 oz can frozen limeade                                             6 oz triple sec

If you have 16 oz cans of beer...

16 oz tequila                                                                  1 16 oz can beer
1 12 oz can frozen limeade, plus                               8 oz triple sec
   4 oz fresh squeezed lime juice

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl, then pour into a pitcher.  At this point, you can add ice, and blend, but I prefer mine on the rocks.  Bon appetit!




I usually add a packet of equal and mix in with the beer and limeade just because I like a little sweetness...

no, this is not grapefruit juice, but a batch of margaritas I put in this container, and in the fridge they go...then, I always have margaritas when I want one...or two...