Bourbon Bread Pudding (with Bourbon Sauce)

Bread puddings are boring, right? Well, they are. Ever since the restaurants ruined them by overdoing it (on every menu in mid- to low-end restaurants and practically all diners), or doing it wrong (soggy, disgusting messes), or re-engineering it too much (pumpkin sage bread pudding).

I like my bread pudding simple and straightforward.

I think that simplicity and straightforwardness in this Fine Cooking recipe have converted people who would not eat bread pudding (or are total bread pudding snobs) into bread pudding lovers. But beware of the calories. I know that something like this does not belong in a blog like this but life is not about deprivation and if you don’t occasionally treat yourself, then you will over do it in other ways. Believe me I know what I am talking about.

Anyway, I digress. I make this in small ramekins for the most part because when done in 6-oz ramekins, the calories add up and very quickly.

Ingredients

For the Pudding

  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 3 Tbs. bourbon (grand marnier will do if you are in a bind)
  • 5 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 lb. stale white bread with crusts, preferably Italian or French, torn into 1-inch pieces

For the Bourbon Sauce

  • 1.5 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/8 tsp. cinnamon
  • 3 Tbs. bourbon

First do the pudding: In a 1-quart saucepan over low heat, combine the raisins and bourbon and heat and stir until the liquid is evaporated and the raisins are plump, about 8-10  minutes.

In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs with the sugar, vanilla, spices, and salt. Stir in the cream until well blended. Toss in the torn bread and plumped raisins and stir. Let the mixture stand for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, to allow the bread to soak up the liquid. TIP: You can make this far ahead of time and refrigerate the mixture for 3-4 hours.

Heat the oven to 350°F. Butter eight 6-oz. (or 10-12 4- to 5-oz ones) ramekins. Fill the ramekins about 3/4ths. Pour any remaining custard over the top of each. Set the cups in a baking pan or shallow roasting pan and add enough hot water to the pan to come halfway up the sides of the cups. Bake until the puddings are browned on top about 30-40 minutes.

While the pudding is baking, make the sauce: In another  small saucepan, combine the cinnamon, cream and sugar. Dissolve the sugar over medium heat and let the mixture come slowly to a boil. Cook, simmering gently, until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the bourbon. Serve the sauce on the side.

Since the bourbon in the sauce will not burn off, you will have a somewhat lively (not strong) bourbon taste… If you are serving to kids or people who act like kids, then skip the sauce or don’t share. More for you.

Here is the nutrition information on this recipe, for both 8 servings (6-oz ramekins) or 12 servings (4-5 oz ones):

bourbon pudding 12 servings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For 8 servings using 6-oz ramekins:bourbon pudding 8 servings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spinach, Barley and Gruyere Timbale on Marinara

Are you totally intimated by my use of big cooking words? Better yet, are you impressed?

Ha. Timbale is just another way of saying molded custard, like a quiche without a crust.

I love this dish. It is filling and satisfying and not a million calories. I feel better, richer and happier every time I serve it. The textures, the various tastes all simple and complex depending on the bite… The homemade marinara underneath perfectly complements the dish. And it looks fucking awesome. Just make sure you butter the ramekins well. And a baking pan large and deep enough to use as a water bath for the ramekins.

For the uninitiated, the tasks at hand may be intimidating but fear not. It is a bit labor intensive but it is worth it. I have done this so many times that I deem this one an easy dish. Not because I am so talented but because I have enough practice. And dammit, I am talented, even if it is just a little bit.

The first few times I made this dish, I served it as one of the many courses… Since then, I bought much smaller ramekins so people don’t get so full. The way I have outlined the recipe here, I would suggest serving this as a main course. And it is vegetarian to boot.

Ingredients

For the Marinara

  • 28 oz of diced tomatoes (2 cans)
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/8 tsp. sugar
  • 2-3 sprigs of basil leaves

For the Timbale

  • Butter for ramekins
  • 6 eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 cups tightly packed blanched spinach (from 1.5 lbs of baby spinach or 3 lbs from fresh on stem), finely chopped
  • 2 tsps. fresh thyme, chopped 
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 cup cooked barley
  • 3 oz. Gruyère cheese, grated (in a tight spot, use Parmesan)
  • 2/3 cup 2% milk
  • Salt, to taste
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • Several basil leaves, julienned, to dress the plate

Makes 6 1-cup ramekins or 8 5-0z ones. Prepping the ingredients will take about 30 minutes. Cooking and baking time will add up to 2 non-consecutive hours, without needing much attention.

Make the marinara. In a blender or food processor, pulse the tomatoes.

In a 4-quart sauce pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic to the pan and let it get only just fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the tomato, sugar, salt and the basil to the pan and bring to a gentle boil. Once boiling, reduce to simmer and let simmer for 20-25 minutes, stirring once in a while. When done, remove the basil sprigs. You can prepare the marinara a day ahead and keep it in the refrigerator.

Start making the timbale. To blanch the spinach, first wash the spinach well if using from a bunch (rather than out of a pre-washed bag). Fill a large bowl with 20-30 cubes of ice and then fill the rest with cold water. Bring a large pot of water to boil and using a strainer or steamer basket, boil the spinach in batches, no more than 20 seconds per batch. Transfer immediately to the cold water. Drain and squeeze out excess water. I leave the spinach in another strainer over a bowl so it drains as I prepare other stuff.

Butter 6 1-cup ramekins (or 8 5-oz ones), making sure the sides and bottom get generously ‘oiled.’

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Beat the eggs in a large bowl and stir in rest of the ingredients and add 3/4 tsp of salt. Scrape the mixture into the ramekins, filling them only 3/4th of the way and no more. Place the ramekins in a large baking pan deep enough and fill it with enough hot or boiling water to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins.

Place the baking pan in the oven and reduce heat to 325 degrees. Bake for 30-40 minutes until set and a skewer inserted in the center of a ramekin is almost clean.

While the timbale is baking, reheat the marinara sauce. When it is time to serve, spoon 3-4 tbsp of the marinara on each plate. Run a knife around each ramekin and unmold on to plates. Ramekins will be hot so be careful. Dress up with julienned basil leaves.

Here is the nutrition information on this recipe:

spinach timbale nutrition facts 2

Arugula and Watermelon Salad (with Goat Cheese or Feta)

There are a million arugula salad recipes on the web. I asked myself… Do we really need another one? Well, I think we do. If I browse the recipes I find, I see that most are drenched in oil and cheese. Well, with that much oil and cheese – topped with watermelon – any old crap will taste great. How about making something healthy out of it, without sacrificing the taste? That was the idea of coming up with this particular recipe. I did a version of this 2 weeks ago and another version this week. I like this week’s version better so here is the recipe…

Arugula and Watermelon Salad (with Goat Cheese or Feta)

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup orange juice, preferably freshly squeezed
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1 Tbsp honey (1.5 tbsp if the arugula is from a farmer’s market since organic ones tend to be sharper)
  • 1/4 cup shallots, finely chopped
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 6 cups arugula, loosely packed
  • 2 cups watermelon, diced to chunks and loosely packed
  • 4 oz goat cheese or feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint, roughly chopped
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pepper, to taste
  • Cherry tomatoes (OPTIONAL)

Prepare the vinaigrette by first combining the orange juice, lemon juice, honey, shallots with a whisk and then drizzling the olive oil in as you whisk to form an emulsion. In a large bowl, combine the arugula, watermelon, mint and the cheese. Coat with the vinaigrette and toss well. Adjust salt and pepper. If you’d like, you can dress it up with cherry tomatoes as you serve.

Makes 6 servings. Here are the nutritional facts:

Arugula Watermelon Salad Nutrition Facts

Green Beans and Shallots with Toasted Nuts and Goat Cheese

It appears that I am on a green beans kick…

This time, I made it with shallots, walnut oil and goat cheese. It is NOT a revolutionary approach or anything. I just want to try new things with green beans, that’s all.

I had this dish with roasted chicken breast and a glass of Austrian sparkling wine (it was Brut, 2006).

Green Beans and Shallots with Toasted Nuts and Goat Cheese

Ingredients

  • 1 lb., green beans, trimmed
  • 2 Tbsp shallots, minced
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsps walnut oil
  • 2 oz goat cheese, crumbled
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

In a boiling pot of water, cook the beans 3 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl with ice water to stop cooking. I usually recommend cooking the beans for another minute or so but this time, you will cook the beans a bit with the shallots so 3 minutes seemed to be enough.

In a small non-stick fry pan on medium heat, toast the walnuts, stirring frequently for about 3-4 minutes.

In a large skillet on medium heat, saute the shallots in the olive oil for a minute or so. Then add the walnuts and the beans. Saute for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add salt and pepper (small pinches should do).

Serve immediately,  topped with goat cheese.

Makes 4 servings. It could probably serve more folks but I figured the calories on Sparks People recipe calculator for 4 people. Here are the nutritional facts:

Green Beans with Nuts and Cranberries

A summer-fresh taste in minutes, really. Nutritionally, it is a bit on the high side fat content-wise, but you can justify it as a side dish with a nice grilled protein… fish or chicken would go well. By the way, I thought I did a pretty awesome job with the picture on this one. I am getting better and better. Who knew I had a knack for photography? I digress.

Green Beans with Nuts and Cranberries

Ingredients

  • 1.5 lbs. green beans, trimmed
  • 1/2 cup roasted nuts, unsalted mix (I prefer to roast it myself with what I have at home)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • Salt and pepper

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add one tablespoon of salt and the green beans and cook until tender, 4-5 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl filled with ice water to stop the cooking.

If roasting the nuts you got, put the nuts in a non-stick pan over low heat. Roast, stirring occasionally while the beans are cooking, for about 4-5 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine the nuts, the olive oil and the cranberries.

Drain the green beans. Pat dry them with paper towes as you transfer them to the large bowl with the nut mixture. Toss to coat. Adjust taste with salt and pepper, and possibly some red pepper flakes. You can serve this warm or at room temperature. I wouldn’t recommend putting it in the fridge before serving. The flavors will get lost.

Makes 8 servings.

Here are the nutritional facts:

No more posts.